Last Updated on July 3, 2023
Much like buying a first home, selling your home can be tricky if you don’t know what to expect. From staging to showing your home there’s a lot to navigate, so we’ll walk you through the entire process, step by step.
17 tips for selling a home
Tip #1: Find the right real estate agent
Your first step is to choose the right listing agent. You’ll need someone who can leverage their expertise to get your house sold, and this is certainly no small feat.
During the listing appointment, the right agent should present you with a full marketing plan as to how they plan on successfully selling your home in a timely manner and for the right price. You’ll also want someone who can accurately price your home, provide home staging tips, and effectively negotiate with buyers when the time comes.
And just as importantly, your agent will advise you once a buyer is under contract to buy your home to make sure you get to the closing table. Make sure you feel comfortable with your agent; sometimes you may need to interview more than one agent to find the right fit for you.
Tip #2: Consider a pre-inspection
Your home needs to be in pristine condition if you want it to sell quickly, but more than just riding every nook and cranny of dirt and dust, consider going the extra mile and having a pre-inspection done.
Your Realtor can provide you with a recommendation for a good home inspector who will be able to zero in on potential pitfalls that could scare off buyers. Get ahead of the game by fixing any serious issues and feel confident that come closing time there won’t be any red flags. A pre-inspection can possibly prevent any surprise repair expenses once you have a buyer. Related reading: What’s a pre-inspection and should you get one before listing your home?
Tip #3: Work on your curb appeal
First impressions are made at the curb, so make sure your home doesn’t fall short. I’ve heard too many stories of would-be buyers driving up to a home for sale, only to speed away before ever stepping foot on the ground, all because of a horrible first impression.
Make sure buyers make it past the front door by dedicating enough attention and detail to your home’s exterior. Strategically placed and well-maintained landscaping goes a long way towards amping up your home’s outward appearance. Give your weathered trim and front door new life by applying a fresh coat of paint, and consider using a pressure washer to excavate dirt that’s taken up residence on your sidewalk, driveway and porches.
Tip #4 Be patient
We’ve all heard stories about houses that go on the market in the morning and are sold by the time dinner’s ready, and while this is certainly every seller’s dream timetable, this isn’t exactly the norm; especially now that the market is shifting.
According to Realtor.com, the median amount of time a home spends on the market in our area at the current time frame (June of 2023) is 43 days. While this is a little bit more than the DOM we experienced during the pandemic housing boom, this figure is still significantly less than an average of 65 DOM, which is what averages were before the pandemic.
Days on market is measured from the time the for sale sign is planted in the yard to the moment the new buyers walk in the front door. This number will of course fluctuate depending on a number of variables, and everything from inventory, location, condition, price and time of year can make time on market ebb or flow.
Tip #5: Stage your home appropriately
Cut down the clutter by boxing up items not essential to what you might need to continue living in your home comfortably. You’ll need to make sure buyers can envision themselves living in your home when they tour it, so make sure to remove personal items while you show your home. Make a cleaning schedule and stick to it–you never know when you might receive a frantic phone call from a Realtor whose client desperately wants to see your home.
Oh, and don’t forget about your furry friends. Get a game plan together now for how you’ll keep them occupied while someone is viewing your home. Related reading: How to stage your garage to increase your home’s value
Tip #6: Price your home to sell
Most buyers find it extremely hard to price their own home. After all, how can you assign a dollar figure to the place where you’ve created so many memories? And for this reason, it’s best to push your feelings aside and let your Realtor call the shots on this one.
They’ll use Comparative Market Analysis to assess the true value of your home relative to the market around it. Additionally, your Realtor will factor in your home’s unique selling points and weaknesses to arrive at their final price point.
Tip #7: Don’t skimp on professional photos
These days, most would be buyers won’t even feel compelled to look at a house for sale with bad photos. Even in a seller’s market it’s best to invest in high-quality photos to help sell your home in a timely manner.
Data backs up this claim and we now know that homes with good photos sell 32% faster. In line with that same study, research shows the more photos, the better. Aim for 20 high-quality, well-staged photos to attract buyers.
Once your Realtor receives the photos back from the photographer, it’s best to go through them together, identifying the best ones and noting any photos that don’t show your space in the best light.
Tip #8: Evaluate your home’s online marketing presence
Before even contacting a realtor, did you know that 44% of all future home buyers start their search for a home online first?
Evaluate your home’s online presence once your home goes on the market to make sure you’re starting the selling process on the right foot. Ensure there are enough photos to accurately show your house in the best light, and your home’s key stats like square footage and the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms is accurate.
Additionally, you want to make sure the listing details are compelling enough to pique the interest of future buyers.
Tip #9: Have a plan for your pets during showings
Just because you’re an animal lover, it doesn’t mean the future homeowners are. It’s best to have a plan for pets during showings. Plan ahead of time so that you’re not frantic when you get a last-minute call from your Realtor about a showing.
If pets absolutely can’t be removed from the home, consider putting them in a crate along with some of their favorite toys. If you choose to go this route make sure you let your Realtor know so they can communicate with the buyers’ agents.
Tip #10: Eliminate odors
Unpleasant odors can quickly ruin a showing. Potential home buyers want to smell a fresh, clean scent when they open your front door. But don’t go overboard and douse your home with tons of harsh-smelling chemicals, either.
To truly remove unwanted smells, try to pinpoint the root of the issue instead of just covering it up. Moldy or musty smells are generally present when you have mold. Try opening up the windows and letting the house breathe as a first response. If that doesn’t solve the issue, work to identify any leaks where water could be accumulating— the roof, chimneys and crawl spaces are all good places to investigate.
Finally, invite a third party over to your house to give you an unbiased opinion about your house scent.
Tip #11: Make small cosmetic fixes
Go ahead and tackle small cosmetic issues before potential buyers point them out. A quick coat of paint and replacing outdated fixtures goes a long way towards impressing buyers.
It’s also a good idea to take the items from your pre-inspection report and address them at this time, too.
Tip #12: Remove all clutter
Your Realtor should give you a good idea of how to declutter your home, but if you want to get a head start, go ahead and start taking inventory of the clutter in each room now. Some sellers even rent storage units to temporarily store clutter until their home is sold. Removing unnecessary clutter instantly makes your home look larger, too.
Don’t forget about areas sellers often overlook during their decluttering binge like your backyard, garage, attic, laundry room and storage closets.
Resist the temptation to pick one room like the office to store unwanted clutter, as buyers will want to see how each and every space will function in a potential home. Related reading: How to tidy up your home, step-by-step
Tip #13: Pay attention to your kitchen and bathroom
Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. If it’s not in the plan or budget to update these spaces don’t hesitate to make small cosmetic tweaks to freshen up the spaces.
A coat of fresh paint goes a long way to update an outdated vanity. You might also consider taking down the builder grade mirror over the vanity and replacing it with a more updated piece for an instant face lift. And don’t forget to add some new white towels to your bathrooms, as well.
Refacing old cabinets in the kitchen is much cheaper than adding new ones. You can also refresh your back splash fairly inexpensively using stick on tiles, which can be done for a fraction of the cost of having real tile installed.Lastly, don’t underestimate the value of completely clearing your counter tops off. Your kitchen will instantly look much bigger.
Tip #14: Don’t underestimate the value of a neutral paint color
Neutral paint colors don’t just sell homes, data shows that they actually get you more for your home! A recent report shows homes with an exterior color of “greige” outsell brown or tan-colored homes by a whopping $3,496. Choosing warm neutrals for the inside of your home pays off too— did you know that kitchens with a warm blue or gray color often go for $1809 more than homes without those hues in the kitchen?
Having trouble deciding on the right neutral for your home? Just ask your Realtor, as they’ll be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to which paint colors do best in each room.
Tip #15: Invest in some fresh home decor
Sprucing up your decor with fresh pillows, throws and decor can really give your home the boost it needs. Add seasonal color through accessories and work to bring the outside in when outfitting your home with new decor.
Tip #16: Review your market position with your Realtor monthly
The housing market changes frequently, so it’s smart to evaluate your home’s listing price relative to the active and recently sold homes on a monthly basis. Pricing a home too high can cause it to sit stagnant on the market, causing potential buyers to wonder what’s wrong with the home. It’s also a good idea to evaluate your photos, as you might want freshen up pictures with each changing season.
Tip #17: Put your bonus room to work
So what if you’ve just used your basement as a glorified storage unit. Potential buyers might be looking for a large space they can use to entertain friends and family, and if your large bonus room just looks like a big closet they might have trouble envisioning how they can make your space work for them.
Take the time to stage each and every space in your home, highlighting the purpose for each room. Consider turning a bonus room into a space to watch the big games, house overnight guests or a recreation room for kids.