Tips on Selling Your Home: A Guide for First-Time Sellers
Selling your home can be a daunting task, especially if you are doing it for the first time. You may have many questions, such as:
- How do I prepare my home for sale?
- When is the best time to sell?
- How do I price my home competitively?
- How do I market my listing effectively?
- What are the common mistakes to avoid?
1. Identify Your Motivation for Selling
Before you start the selling process, you need to have a clear idea of why you want to sell your home and what are your expectations. Some of the reasons why people sell their homes are:
- They need more space or want to downsize
- They want to relocate for work or school
- They want to cash out their equity or pay off debt
- They want to change their lifestyle or neighborhood
Whatever your reason, you need to be realistic and honest with yourself. Selling your home can be stressful and expensive, so make sure you are ready for it. Also, make a list of your non-negotiables, such as your time frame, budget, and minimum sale price.
2. Research the Best Time to Sell in Your Area
Timing is everything when it comes to selling your home. Depending on your local market conditions, some seasons or months may be more favorable than others. Generally speaking, the best time to sell your home is in the spring or summer, when there are more buyers looking for homes and the weather is nice.
However, this may vary depending on your location, competition, and demand. To find out the best time to sell in your area, give me a call and we can go over statistics and options.
3. Commit to a Representation Strategy
One of the most important decisions you need to make when selling your home is how your home will be represented. You have two main options:
- Hire a real estate agent: This is the most common and traditional way of selling your home. A real estate agent will handle all the aspects of the selling process, from pricing and marketing to negotiating and closing. They will also advise you on how to prepare your home for sale, what repairs to make, and how to stage it. In exchange, they will charge you a commission fee, which is paid once closing takes place.
- Sell by yourself (FSBO): This is the option for those who want to save money on commission fees and have more control over the selling process. However, this also means that you will have to do everything yourself, from researching the market and pricing your home to marketing and showing it to buyers. You will also have to deal with legal paperwork and contracts, which can be complicated and risky.
Each option has its pros and cons, so you need to weigh them carefully and choose the one that suits your needs and goals best.
4. Complete Home Improvements
One of the key factors that influence how fast and how much you can sell your home is its condition. Buyers are looking for homes that are well-maintained, updated, and move-in ready. Therefore, you need to make sure that your home is in its best shape before listing it.
Some of the home improvements that can boost your home’s value and appeal are:
- Cleaning: A clean home gives a good first impression and shows that you care about your property. Make sure to deep clean every room, especially the kitchen and bathrooms. Remove any dirt, dust, stains, odors, clutter, and personal items.
- Inspecting: A home inspection can help you identify any issues or defects that may deter buyers or lower your sale price. You can hire a professional home inspector or do it yourself. Check for any problems with the structure, systems, appliances, plumbing, electrical wiring, roofing, flooring, windows, doors, etc.
- Repairing: Once you know what needs fixing, prioritize the most important and urgent repairs. These may include fixing leaks, cracks, holes, mold, pests, broken fixtures, etc. You may also want to update some features that are outdated or worn out, such as paint, hardware, lighting, faucets, etc.
- Staging: Staging is the art of arranging your furniture and decor in a way that showcases your home’s best features and makes it look spacious, inviting, and attractive. The goal is to help buyers imagine themselves living in your home.
5. Price Your Home Competitively
Pricing your home correctly is crucial for selling it fast and for top dollar. If you price it too high, you will scare away buyers and risk having your home sit on the market for too long. If you price it too low, you will leave money on the table and attract lowball offers.
To price your home competitively, your real estate agent can and should do a comparative market analysis (CMA). A CMA is a report that compares your home to similar homes that have recently sold or are currently for sale in your area. It takes into account factors such as location, size, condition, features, amenities, etc.
A CMA will help you determine the fair market value of your home and the optimal list price.
6. Marketing Your Listing Effectively
Your real estate professional is your biggest asset for letting potential buyers know that it is for sale. This is where their marketing comes in. Marketing your listing effectively can help reach more buyers, generate more interest, and create more demand.
- Taking professional photos: Photos are the first thing that buyers see when they browse online listings. They can make or break their decision to click on your listing or move on to the next one. Therefore, your realtor will make sure that your photos are high-quality, clear, bright, and showcase your home’s best features.
- Writing a compelling description: A description is the second thing that buyers see when they click on your listing and a good agent will make sure that it is compelling. It should provide them with relevant and accurate information about your home, such as its location, size, condition, features, amenities, etc. It should also highlight what makes your home unique and desirable.
- Choosing the right platforms: There are many platforms where you can advertise your listing online, such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, social media, etc. However, your agent will have access to an MLS where your home will be featured to thousands of buyer’s agents. (NOTE: MLS is available for featuring your house only to licensed agents). An added benefit of your agent posting your house on the MLS is that it will automatically be posted to many platforms.
- Hosting open houses and showings: Open houses and showings are opportunities for buyers to see your home in person and ask questions. They can also create a sense of urgency and competition among buyers. Your agent can arrange these and be on hand to answer any questions that potential buyers may have about the house.
7. Watching for Closing Hurdles
After you receive an offer (or perhaps even multiple offers) from a buyer and accept it, you are not done yet. There are still some steps that need to be completed before you can close the deal and hand over the keys. These steps may include:
- Negotiating contingencies: Contingencies are conditions that need to be met before the sale can be finalized. They may include inspection, appraisal, financing, title search, etc. Your agent may have to negotiate with the buyer on how to handle any issues or requests that arise from these contingencies.
- Reviewing contracts and disclosures: Contracts and disclosures are legal documents that outline the terms and details of the sale. They may include purchase agreement, seller disclosure statement, closing statement, etc. Your agent will review each of them with you and make sure they are accurate and complete.
- Arranging closing logistics: Closing logistics are the practical aspects of finalizing the sale. They may include choosing a closing date and location, arranging for a closing attorney, transferring utilities and services, etc., Most of the aspects of the closing logistics should be handled by your agent.
8. Move Out
The final step of selling your home is moving out. This means packing up all your belongings and leaving the property in good condition for the new owner. You may also want to leave behind some items that may be useful or appreciated by the buyer, such as manuals, warranties, keys, remotes, etc.
Moving out can be stressful and time-consuming, so you need to plan ahead and organize yourself well. Some tips that can help you with moving out are:
- Start early: Don’t wait until the last minute to start packing. Start as soon as possible and pack one room at a time. Label each box clearly with its contents and destination.
- Declutter: Moving is a great opportunity to get rid of things that you don’t need or want anymore. Donate or have a garage sale for unwanted items.
- Make sure to leave the house in 'move-in' condition - leave it as you would want it left for you.
Lastly, say good-bye to your old house and hello to your new home!