We get it – selling your home is intimidating, not to mention emotional. One of the most difficult parts is getting ready to put it on the market. There are the financial considerations, like what you should list as an asking price and how low you're willing to go. Then there are the personal ones, such as how soon you'd like to sell.
Relax; we're here to help. Here's a step-by-step guide to get you on track and help you stay there.
Step 1: Get a home inspection.
Is your home up to code? If you're not 100 percent sure, hire a home inspector before you even start putting your house on the market. An inspector can help you identify potential violations such as:
- Rotting wood or siding
- Leaky plumbing
- Unsafe electrical wiring
If you know about issues like these before you put your house on the market, you can have them fixed by your choice of contractor. This will prevent a delayed closing and will probably save you some money.
Step 2: Check out the neighborhood.
On the national scale, real estate prices are rising but inventory is on the upswing, resulting in a market that's shifting from the seller's advantage to the buyer’s. In your local market, though, things may be different.
Get an idea of the local housing market by driving around and going to open houses.
- What are home sellers asking?
- Is the neighborhood one where luxury features are popular or do people keep it simple?
- How long does it take a sign to change from “For Sale” to “Sold?”
All of this information can give you an idea of the competition. At some point, though, you're going to need a professional.
Step 3: Find a great agent.
Your home is likely to be the most expensive thing you'll ever sell, so you don't want to go at it alone. And you don't want to go with just any agent, either. Shop around and interview a few, asking about:
- Their experience. How long have they been working? If they're relatively new to the industry, do they have a mentor?
- Their local knowledge. What do they know about the neighborhoods that interest you?
- Their focus. Do they work mostly with buyers or sellers?
- Their results. How many homes do they sell per year? How many did they sell last year?
- Their relationships. Do they have references you can check?
- How will they get your home in front of potential buyers? Are they advertising your home in a publication like The Real Estate Book?
Finally, ask about their credentials. Do they have any certifications, such as:
- Certified Residential Specialist (CRS),
- Seller Representative Specialist (SRS),
- Counselor of Real Estate® (CRE®), or
- Graduate, REALTOR® Institute (GRI)?
How often do they take continuing education courses? All of this tells you how well they know the current state of the market and how seriously they take their profession.
Step 4: Maximize buyer appeal.
Buyers want to see themselves in your space. It's hard for them to do that if your home still looks like “you.” Put away everything personal, including family photos.
While you're at it, clear away anything that someone might consider clutter. Minimize the amount of décor and even furniture in each room. Choose a neutral color palette, maybe with a few accent pieces. If you have to, get a storage unit or store your things with friends or family.
When in doubt, hire a home stager. Stagers know just how to arrange a room so that it has the most buyer appeal, and it works.
More than 80 percent of buyers' agents say that buyers have an easier time envisioning a property as theirs if it's staged, and 22 percent of home sellers' agents said that staging increased buyers' offers by 1 percent to 5 percent as compared to similar homes. For 17 percent, the increase was as much as 10 percent.
Step 5: Price your home carefully.
Buyers will be looking at whether your asking price is competitive. To figure out what that means, look at:
- What comparable homes nearby are selling for
- What those home sellers are initially asking
- The balance between supply and demand in your area
This will get you a ballpark figure, but your agent will help you come up with a final number.
When you're preparing to sell your home, the two most important things to think about are:
- Visual appeal
There's more to both of those than meets the eye, so make sure you're working with a trustworthy professional. We have connections with skilled agents all over the country, so check out our roster and get a conversation started today. Good luck!