Planning to Sell Your Home? Take These 7 Steps First

Selling your home can be a stressful process that takes more time and money than you may imagine. But, with a plan and preparation, the process can run smoothly. Take these seven steps now so you can sell your house as quickly and as easily as possible.

1. Get educated about the market.

Your agent can help with this (see #2 below), but you should spend some time researching what’s going on in your local market. Learn what to expect in terms of pricing and how long your house may stay on the market.

Understanding local real estate trends will help you have a more informed conversation with your agent about how to price and market your home. You’ll also get a better understanding of how the competition is looking in your area so you can manage your expectations.

2. Find a real estate agent, and take their advice.

A real estate agent is an invaluable resource in the home selling process, so think twice if you’re considering going it alone. Look for an agent who is knowledgeable about your neighborhood and has good customer reviews.

You should also take a look at their past and current listings to see how they market their properties. Do their pictures look professionally photographed? Do they use social media and other creative marketing strategies? What they’ve done for other clients is a good indicator of what they’ll do for you, so do your research to find someone who will go the extra mile.

Leticia Smith, a Realtor with Keller Williams Flagship of Maryland, agrees that you need an agent who has plenty of resources and knows how to use them. “I utilize my vast buyer and agent networks along with access to the latest technology to market your home effectively,” says Smith.

Once you find a great agent, let them do their job! Follow their advice unless you have a compelling reason not to. Your agent is your advocate, negotiator and guide through the sometimes murky waters of home selling. Take advantage of their expertise and resources to get a faster, more profitable sale.

Smith concurs that relying on an agent is key. “Your home will sell for what the market will bear at the time based on buyer demand, available inventory, days on market and an analysis of how your home compares to homes recently sold in your neighborhood. It is my job as your Realtor to advise you based on my knowledge, expertise and experience in these areas.”

3. Get a home stager, and take their advice, too.

It’s hard to look at your house through the eyes of a buyer because, well, it’s your house. You see it the way you see it. On the other hand, a home stager has an objective eye and can make your home appealing to a broad pool of potential buyers.

Ideally, you should consult with a home stager early in the process to get advice on everything you need to do to get your house market-ready. Your stager may advise you to make repairs or improvements that could take time, so it’s better to start early so you don’t feel pressed for time later.

Once your repairs are done, a stager can maximize your home’s appeal by arranging your furniture and décor in a way that highlights your home’s best features. If your house is vacant, a stager can bring in rental furnishings to make your house feel like a home.

Even if you’re short on time, you’re still better off calling a stager for a consultation. A small investment of time and money can translate into a quicker, more profitable sale.

4. Declutter and depersonalize.

This may take a while, so start now. Buyers have a hard time seeing themselves in a house that’s overrun with excessive clutter and personal belongings. Although you’re probably dreading it, the purge has got to happen if you want buyers to fall in love with your home.

Now I’ll be direct here—it’s super stressful to do a major decluttering on a short timeframe, so start early. If you don’t have much time, or if you’re already overwhelmed at the thought of reducing your stuff, create a plan to tackle it, or hire the help of a professional organizer or a clutter removal company.

5. Make repairs and upgrades.

Buyers usually can’t visualize what your house will look like once all of your repairs and improvements are done, so you have to do the work for them. Unfinished projects lead to unanswered questions, which could impact your sale.

Most buyers will ask for an inspection once they make an offer on your house, and that’s where some costly problems can surface. To avoid surprises in the inspection process, consider getting your house checked out now to see if there’s something major you need to fix, then fix it. It’s better to head this off at the pass than let inspection issues stall your sale later.

In addition to repairs, you should also start sprucing things up inside and outside. If you need fresh paint or new carpet, this is the time to do it. Also take a good, hard look at your home’s exterior. You might need to improve your curb appeal so you can impress buyers as soon as they get out of their cars.

6. Make a plan for showings.

Come up with some activities and places to go during your showings, especially if you have kids. Also, come up with some plans for how (or where) you’ll eat your meals during evening showings.

Pets should never, ever be home during showings, so make a plan for them as well. Assume that your house will get foot traffic when you’re away at work, so you may need to pay a kennel or pet sitter to keep your pets when you’re not home.

Remember that you have to be flexible and make your home as available for showings as possible. You have a better chance of selling your home quickly when buyers have easy access to it. When you’re selling on your own, showing times are limited by your availability, and this could hinder a quick sale.

Buyers get frustrated by houses with restricted access, and when it’s hard to get in, they usually move on to the next house. But when you have an agent, they can be available for showings at times when you can’t be there.

7. Keep an eye on your cash.

While you should definitely be prepared to invest some money in preparing your house to sell, you should try to watch your spending otherwise.

Moving can be more expensive than most people imagine, so curb your spending and work out a budget for everything you need to do throughout the selling process. Here are just a few things you should consider:

  • How much money do you need for repairs and upgrades?

  • If your house needs professional cleaning, how much will that cost?

  • If your stager recommends removing some furniture, how much will offsite storage cost?

  • How much will packing and moving expenses cost?

  • If you have pets, how much do you need to pay a pet sitter or kennel?

  • If you’re paying the buyer’s closing costs, do you have to bring any cash to the table?

Alright, I know what you’re thinking—this is kind of a long list. You’re right, but now that you have it, you’re ahead of the game. So don’t be afraid and don’t delay - get going now so you can make the best of your home selling process.

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