Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Your House
So you’re ready to sell your house. No matter what crazy stuff is going on in the world, selling your house is always a big deal. You probably have countless memories there, and you’ve spent time, money and effort making your home a special place. Just remember, if selling is the right thing for you and your family, it’s worth it!
If you’re ready to make a move, you want to do it the smart way. This article will help you learn how to sell your house quickly and for the most money.
Let’s get started!
Selling your house and moving is a big transition to make, but it doesn’t need to be a stressful experience. Learn how to sell a house the right way with these seven steps!
1. Find a stellar real estate agent.
Real estate agents are a dime a dozen. That’s why you don’t need just any agent. You need the right agent to sell your house the best way. Find someone who will super-serve you, negotiate the best deal, and sell your house fast! As tempting as it is to have a relative, a friend from church or your cousin’s husband’s buddy help you, always stick with a vetted professional who has experience and can sell your home for the most money in the shortest amount of time!
Can I sell my house myself?
Look, everybody loves saving money, and selling solo can seem like a great way to do just that. But is For Sale by Owner (FSBO) really all it’s cracked up to be? First of all, if you really want to sell your home—especially if you’re wondering how to sell your home fast—you need to get it in front of buyers—and lots of them. This is where an agent comes in handy.
An experienced real estate agent will give your home a much-needed online presence through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which will expose it to thousands of potential buyers. Even if it feels like homes are flying off the market in your area, that’s even more reason to have a pro by your side who knows how to get you the best deal no matter how many crazy offers, home showings or open houses come your way. Plus, an agent will develop a targeted strategy to market your house to their extensive network of buyers and agents.
Can you save a lot of money by going FSBO? Not really. Even when you sell your home yourself, you still have to pay a commission to the buyer’s agent. You’d only save the commission on one side of the transaction.
A great agent will more than make up for that cost. Consider this: The latest National Association of Realtors data shows that the average home sold by an agent last year brought in $242,000.1 In contrast, the average FSBO home went for $217,000.2 That’s a $25,000 difference!
Consider this: The latest National Association of Realtors data shows that the average home sold by an agent last year brought in $242,000.1 In contrast, the average FSBO home went for $217,000.2 That’s a $25,000 difference!
Trust us—working with a great real estate agent helps you get the most money for your home.
2. Price your home to sell.
The best way to determine your home’s value is to ask a real estate agent to run a comparative market analysis (CMA). This free report compares your home to other homes near you that are comparable in size, have similar features, are currently on the market or have sold in recent months. The comparison allows your agent to more accurately predict what buyers will pay for your home and set a competitive price that’s based on fact, not emotion.
Now, you may be thinking, But in my hot market, homes usually sell above asking price. Well, even if buyers are willing to pay more than asking, your home still has to go through an appraisal once an offer is accepted.
What’s an appraisal? It’s when the buyer’s lender has a professional appraiser assess your home’s value to make sure the loan amount isn’t more or less than the home is actually worth. That way, the lender gets the security they need to move forward with a mortgage application and the buyer is also protected from a seller setting an unrealistic price.
3. Set a home-selling timeline.
- Interview real estate agents: Take time to find a pro who has a proven track record and confidence to boot.
- Outline a plan: Work with your agent to set priorities so you can focus on finishing one task at a time.
- Declutter: Decide what you can live without until your home sells. Then pack it up and get it out!
2–3 Months Before Listing
- Hire a home inspector: Identifying issues early in the home-selling process lets you work the cost of repairs into your budget on the front end so they don’t wreck your deal later.
- Tackle repairs: Ask your agent where your fix-it dollars will do the most good.
1–2 Months Before Listing
- Set the stage: Create an inviting space that lets buyers see your house as their own.
- Deep clean: Scrub every surface until it shines. Hire a pro to make carpets and rugs look—and smell—new again.
- Apply finishing touches: Get your home picture-perfect so your photographer can capture it in the best possible condition.
Again, the key to keeping stress at bay during the weeks and months leading up to putting your home on the market is to make a plan—and then follow that plan.
4.Consider getting a home inspection before listing
Most home buyers know it pays to get a home inspection. But did you realize it’s a worthwhile tool for home sellers too? It’s true!
A presale inspection might cost a few hundred dollars, but it’ll be money well spent. Why? Because it can give buyers the confidence needed to put in an offer once they see the inspection report—and then it can keep them from demanding big bucks during negotiations.
A presale inspection might cost a few hundred dollars, but it’ll be money well spent. Why? Because it can keep buyers from demanding big bucks during negotiations.
So, what’s included in a home inspection? According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), a home inspection covers:3
– Electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems
– Windows, ceilings, walls, doors and floors
– Attic, visible insulation and roof
– Foundation, structural elements and basement
A qualified home inspector combs a property’s accessible areas to assess the home’s condition and identify any health and safety issues. Once the inspection is complete, you’ll receive a detailed report outlining what works and what doesn’t, with recommendations for maintenance and repairs.
Don’t worry about addressing every single finding in your home inspection, but you should pay attention to big-ticket issues when selling your home. These can scare buyers into asking for way more money than it actually takes to fix them. Your agent can help you sort through the inspection findings, but the roof, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems typically take priority. If you have room in your budget, address those repairs before you list.
5. Stage your house and get it ready for potential buyers.
Once you have a clean home, you can begin to stage. Keep your décor colors neutral and try to depersonalize as much as possible. Take down most of your family photos so buyers can imagine their families enjoying your house. Closets are always important to home buyers, so create the impression of spaciousness by storing away out-of-season clothing and miscellaneous gear. When in doubt, less is more.
Staging also gets your home ready for professional photos for your home’s online listing. Your agent should help coordinate the photo shoot, so that’s less pressure on you. Here are a few staging tips to get your home prepared for its glamour shot:
- Stay organized. Again, a tidy home is non negotiable. Channel your inner Snow White and whistle while you work if you have to. Just clean up the place.
- Add extra touches. A pair of decorative pillows or a few green plants will add life to any room.
- Clear the counters. Throw your juicer and blender in the kitchen cabinet. The same goes for your bathrooms. Pitch those personal items in a drawer to keep them out of sight.
- Add more lighting. Bright rooms make your home look bigger. Open the curtains, pull up the blinds, and let the sunshine in! In spaces that don’t get much natural light, a well-placed lamp can make a big difference!
- Go easy on the rugs. Rugs generally don’t photograph well, and they can make your space look smaller. Your agent can help you decide which rugs can stay and which ones should go.
- Put a lid on it. Your toilet, that is. Friends don’t let friends leave the lid up during a nice photo shoot.
- Don’t forget to stage outdoors too. Clean your front porch and place nice planters near your entryway. If you have a deck, pressure wash it and add plants to give the space some life.
6. List your home and survive the showings.
- Make a daily to-do list. Reduce last-minute panic by putting things away as soon as you’re done with them and creating a checklist of simple tasks to knock out before you leave every morning.
- Find a place for your pets during showings. Leaving pets home for showings can get messy, and a yap-happy dog is just plain annoying. Take the fur babies for a joyride or send them to Grandma’s house so buyers can focus on your home.
- Try to be flexible. If you want to make a deal, you’ve got to give buyers time and space to fall in love with your home. Be flexible about scheduling showings, and don’t make buyers step around you—or your feelings—when they visit.
- Tackle the toys. Paring down the piles of plastic is a tough task, but it sure does make cleanup a breeze. Ask your kids to choose a few favorite toys to keep in their rooms, and then store the rest in bins.
Do the best you can, but remember, you’re only human. There will be days you just can’t get everything put away and make it out the door on time. If you get a call for a showing, tell your agent you were running behind so they can prepare the buyer ahead of time. Just don’t miss an opportunity to get your home seen!
7. Negotiate the contract and close.
Pay close attention to these details:
- Purchase price
- Closing or escrow date
- Special allowances for personal property, home improvements and closing costs
- Contingency deadlines for the home inspection, appraisal and buyer financing
- Additional contingencies such as the sale of the buyer’s current home
Once you and the buyer reach a final purchase agreement, you won’t be sitting pretty quite yet.
There’s still a lot to do from contract to closing, so here are some quick tips to help you manage this stage of the game:
- Don’t wait until the last minute to pack.
- Communicate with your buyer.
- Keep your home insurance up to date until you’ve signed the dotted line.
- Make a list of what to bring on closing day.
- Remain flexible because delays can, and will, happen.