10 Step Guide to Selling Your Home
Ready to put your home on the market? Many people hope for a stress-free sales process, but the simple reality is that those ideal sales seldom happen. It’s pretty rare to list your house one day, find a qualified buyer the next, then close just a few weeks later. Instead, the process is far more complicated, and knowing what to expect when selling your home is key to navigating the days ahead. What are the steps for selling your home, and how will you know what to do next? This guide can take you through the entire process.
Step 1: Choose the Right Time to Sell
Most real estate professionals will tell you there’s a time of year when homes tend to sell the best. While winter tends to be a slower time for home sales, that’s not always true, depending on your market. If you don’t need to be in a rush to sell your home, it may be worth it to wait a few months to list your home. If you choose to list in the winter (or the slower season where your home is located), keep in mind that your home may still sell, it just may spend a bit more time on the market than you’d like it to.
Despite that fact, those buyers who look during the slower season tend to be ready to move on a home quickly, and there are fewer competing sales, so that can make your property that much more attractive. Weigh the pros and cons of the time of year as you prepare to list your home. Do some research to determine the best time of the year to sell a home in your area before you begin to list your property.
Step 2: Decide How to List Your Home
After you’ve decided it’s time to sell your home, you’ll need to determine how you plan to list your property. You can list it on your own, or you can list it with an agent. Listing your home on your own is possible, but it can take a lot of extra work that you may not be ready for. A real estate agent can help you handle all of the paperwork from start to finish, and they’ll market your home for no additional cost.
They take on much of the burden of selling your home, and that may help your property sell faster. Deciding to sell your home on your own at first then later hiring an agent may not prove helpful, either. The more time a home spends on the market, the less likely it is to sell overall, so decide on this point as quickly as possible. If you choose to list your home with an agent, hire one who knows the market well.
Understand how long they’ve been part of the industry, how many sales they do on average, and what their professional qualifications might be. You may also want to get references from friends and family members before you choose a real estate agent who can help.
Step 3: Find the Right Price
No matter how beautiful the neighborhood or how competitive the market is, overpricing your home is a serious error. It can cut your pool of potential buyers in half, so getting it right from the very beginning is essential. If you’re working with a real estate agent, they will help you look at the comparable sales in the area to get some sense of what’s moving on the market and how well it is moving.
You can usually do this on your own by looking at online real estate listing sites to see how similar homes are priced. If you overprice your home, you lose the most critical time your house will be on the market - the first 30 days - and you’ll know it instantly. You should have several showings within days of putting your house on the market, and if the showings aren’t beginning to materialize, you may have a problem. Talk to a professional before you decide on your price. Understand what makes sense in your market area, then determine what’s ideal for your home.
Step 4: Consider a Home Inspection
Not every home seller takes this step, but it can be a good way to ensure the process is hassle-free. It will be something of an investment on your part, but it will help you understand what potential problems you may have before you list your home. A home inspector looks at potential structural or mechanical issues that a home may have before listing your home for sale. That puts you a few steps ahead of the buyer and allows you to tackle the repairs along with any potential prep work, so you’re certain there are no issues down the road.
Step 5: Make the Right Upgrades
Many people make a variety of upgrades when they prepare to sell their home to make it more attractive to potential buyers, but not every upgrade is worth your time and money. What’s more, though, it doesn’t always make good financial sense to invest in upgrades that won’t attract buyers or pay off when you sell the house. Your real estate agent should be able to tell you which upgrades you want to make.
In most cases, though, you’ll want to focus on those upgrades to your kitchen and bathroom. Sometimes simply swapping out a few things or adding a new paint color will be enough. Do some research before you make any changes, though, so you can get the highest possible return on your investment.
Step 6: Clean, Declutter, Depersonalize
The next step in the process is to make your house a little less yours and give potential buyers a chance to envision themselves in your space. To make that happen, all of the clutter needs to be eliminated from your home. If you’re not sure whether you’ll want it in your next space, pack it up and place it in a storage unit until you’ve sold your home. If you think you won’t want it, pack it up and donate it to a charity shop.
After you’ve decluttered, you’ll want to depersonalize as well. Take your family photos down and pack them away for your next home. Pull your child’s artwork from the walls and the refrigerator, too. This will help other buyers imagine themselves in the space instead of associating it with you. Once that step is complete, do a deep cleaning on a room-by-room basis. It may be worth the extra money to hire a professional to help you with this step, as it can get a little intense. You may also want to have your floors professionally cleaned.
Step 7: Invest in a Professional Photographer
If you’re working with a real estate agent, this step will be easy. Most already hire professional photographers to take pictures of their properties. If you’re working on your own, though, or your agent isn’t interested in using a professional, you’ll certainly want to spend the money to hire one on your own.
Maximizing your home’s appeal online means attracting more buyers, and often that means working with a photographer who knows what images to capture, what light will look best, and which photos are going to display the best aspects of your home. The cost of professional home photography frightens many people, but it can be pretty affordable. It’s usually based on the size of your home, where you’re located, and the length of the shoot.
Step 8: List It
After your upgrades are in place and your home looks great, it’s time to list it. If you’re working with a professional real estate agent, this step will be a relatively simple one. They’ll handle all of the listing details, put your property on the Multiple Listings Service so any real estate agent can take a closer look, and take the necessary steps to promote your property. If, though, you’ve chosen to list it yourself, you may have quite a bit of work to do to ensure you’ve adequately advertised.
Step 9: Prepare for Showings
Every day could be another day that a buyer stops by and makes an offer on your property, so take the necessary steps to keep your property clean and looking great. You’ll want to clean things up daily, avoid potential clutter, and make sure your home is ready at every possible moment for a showing.
If a real estate agent calls to show your home, you may only have ten or fifteen minutes to prepare, so make a list of daily tasks that need to be completed to ensure your home looks nice. You’ll also want to leave before an agent brings people through your house, so the potential buyer has the chance to take a closer look at the home without worrying about you.
Step 10: The Final Steps
After buyers have seen your home, the offers are going to start rolling in, and your real estate agent can help you respond to each offer and decide what might be suitable to meet your needs.
In these ten simple steps, you could move from thinking about selling your home to having it sold!