Selling a house is no small feat. Whether you’ve lived in your home for three years or thirty years, you’ve decided that it’s time to move on. Maybe you’re super excited, nervous, or just really stressed. In many ways it’s a bittersweet moment – leaving behind a house but still treasuring the memories in your heart; unless it’s full of bad memories, then good riddance! Anyway, sorry to get all sappy on you like that. Whether you love this house or hate it, you want it to look stellar so that potential buyers fall in love with it and are willing to buy it for the highest reasonable price.
We have compiled this large masterpost of information and links to other articles that are full of tips and reminders to aid you through the selling process. DISCLAIMER: Seriously, be prepared for an overload of informative links! Click as you need to and maybe even bookmark this page as a reference throughout the selling process. Even if you are not ready to sell your home, but perhaps you’re still toying with the idea, stick around and peek into what the future may have in store for you.
Alright, so let’s get into it and talk about some tips that will help you get the best price for your home!
When Selling your Home, First Things First…
Get ready to hire an experienced agent who knows the ins and outs of the business and can help you price your home well.
You can list your house on your own (For Sale by Owner or FSBO) but if you want to save yourself some stress, consider hiring an agent. An experienced agent can offer you plenty of guidance and advice when selling your home. Real estate transactions are complex and confusing, and it helps greatly if someone else is managing them for you. Additionally, there’s legal and financial paperwork to complete too, so if trying to make sense of dense paperwork is not your strong suit, invest in a real estate agent to simplify these steps and guide you through the selling process.
If you are going to hire an agent for your convenience, it’s best to interview them to see how involved in the process they will be. A thorough agent will be able to counsel you on pricing, marketing, paperwork, some staging and repairing, listing, and showing the house. It’s a good idea to ask your prospective agent if you can speak with one of their past clients. A confident and skilled agent will have enthusiastic clients, so ask around for referrals from happy customers.
These articles will give you some more info on finding and working with a real estate agent:
- How to Choose the Right REALTOR ® – Includes a list of responsibilities and duties that a good seller’s agent should carry out as well as some interview questions.
- Tips on How to Pick the Right Realtor to Sell Your Home – Additional things to do when searching for an agent, like establishing goals and researching.
- Top 5 Qualities in a Real Estate Agent – Here’s what a successful and reliable realtor is like.
- What to Ask a Listing Agent – You might want to interview a few real estate agents before hiring one; here is a list of questions to filter the good from the bad.
Consult with your agent about when to sell and what price to set. It is especially important to price your home correctly. If your house is ambitiously priced above the value of other houses in the area, then there is a high risk that it will be on the market for too long, which is a red flag to potential buyers.
Head over to HouseHunt to find a knowledgeable and experienced agent near you. Check out MoveUp for an estimated value of your home. Once you have found an agent, it’s time to prepare your house for showings and, ultimately, for a buyer.
About 1-2 months before listing
Start by getting organized.
Homes are meant to be lived in, so it’s only natural that the house becomes cluttered now and then, especially if you have messy roommates (i.e. a spouse, kids, pets, etc.). If things are strewn around in various areas of the house, put them in their correct place or collect everything in boxes to sort through.
Get rid of as much as you can so that you have fewer things to move out later. Donate to your local Goodwill or thrift store, host a garage sale, or get busy selling on eBay and Craigslist. Here’s a great and honest guide to getting rid of stuff in your home by LifeHacker: How to De-Crapify Your Home: A Start-to-Finish Guide.
Once everything is tidied up, and you have discarded things that you don’t need, it’s a good time to think about areas in your house that are impractical or unsightly. An organized space is easier to manage. If you need to give particular attention to a specific room or area, it will be easier to move things around in an already organized room. Say, for instance, you need to paint a bedroom; it should be easier to move furniture in and out of the area as necessary because there is little to no clutter on the floor and on top of dressers to work around.
Take note of any broken, dirty, or outdated fixtures that you can repair, deep clean, and update on your own at a reasonable price.
Now is a great time to fix that leaky faucet, refinish kitchen cabinets, and maybe buy some new curtains. Check out the 5 Most Common but Unexpected Home Repairs and a brief guide to fixing them.
This is the time when you want to make sure the walls are clean and free of marks, clean potential mold, and chipped paint. Patch up any holes, sand down any bumps, and then give them a fresh coat of neutral paint. Neutral colors will appeal to more buyers, so they are a safe choice. Check out Home Depot’s thorough tutorial on how to paint interior walls in your home
Are the doors in your home in poor condition? Try installing new doors. Or give your current ones a few coats of paint too. If you have carpet, either invest in a good carpet cleaning or throw it all out and install some new flooring: linoleum, tile, hardwood, etc.
Another thing to consider during this stage is if a home inspector might find something wrong with your home. Get familiar with what home inspectors check for. Do your own inspection, to the best of your ability, and research ways to fix any issues that might come up. Whether you can or can’t fix these issues, be prepared to disclose them during the closing process to any serious buyer. This and other important disclosing information is covered in Things to Disclose When Selling a House. If you are still concerned that your house might have a big problem that you can’t diagnose, then hire your own home inspector to investigate before you sell. TheBalance outlines the basics of what home inspectors look for and other thoughts on Getting Through the Home Inspection for sellers.
The ultimate goal of this step is to increase your home value. Invest your time and money into the most practical repairs and updates that will increase value and make the home look better. Don’t waste your resources on extravagant installations and projects that will probably end up costing you more than the money it might bring in. You should also consult with your agent about what to focus on in order to up your home value. They will have an idea of what the problem areas are in your house and whether it is worth it to fix them.
Ok, so your house is organized, repaired, updated a bit, and has a new coat of paint. At this point, it is about ready to be shown to potential buyers.
About 1-3 Weeks before Listing
Declutter even more! And depersonalize before you show the house.
Yes, you’ve already tidied up a bit and organized some, but now your home is about to be on display for buyers who want to see a spotless house full of potential. This step is so important that it’s worth returning to with a new lens.
As a homeowner, you likely decluttered your home for functionality over looks. As a seller, you must declutter and arrange your house with the view of a buyer in mind, valuing presentation over practicality. Living in your home during this time will probably be a little inconvenient; you might have to halt daily smoothie making in order to store away that blender that has been on your counter for so long.
Firstly, lock away any valuables and sensitive paperwork in a safe or store them somewhere else with people you trust. A lot of strangers are about to enter your home, so this is an important precaution to take. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Arrange and organize the content of your cabinets and closets because buyers will open doors to see every space the house has to offer. Additionally, buyers don’t want to see personal items and personal photos around the house. It was fine to leave these things out during the preliminary tidying since it’s likely that your house was still a ways away from officially being listed on the market and shown to buyers. Now that your home will soon be open for viewing, hide and pack those personal items away! The presence of personal items can make the house seem too lived in, with little room for potential buyers to envision themselves in the home. Think of it this way: a buyer doesn’t want to be forced into imagining what your nightly or morning routine might be based on the contents of your counters. So make sure you remove all toiletries off of bathroom sink. Clear off kitchen counters of small appliances and other things that might make the counter space look cluttered. Remove trinkets that don’t add to the cohesive decor from mantles, night tables, dressers, coffee tables, and shelves. Organize My House has A Guide to Decluttering to Sell your Home with more details on why and how to declutter items that you use often but are just not fitting for selling your home.
Excess clutter is going to leave you with a lot of stuff that suddenly should be packed away. So, even if you aren’t ready to fully move, pre-pack items that are not crucial and store them either in a rented storage container, a friend’s garage, or your transitional apartment. You never really know how quickly you might sell the house, so this will give you a bit of a head start if you do sell quicker than expected.
Selling your home can be pretty emotional too. This depersonalizing and pre-packing of the space will help you begin to emotionally detach yourself from this house, a tough but necessary process when selling a house and moving somewhere else.
Do some extra cleaning to get rid of dust, odors, marks, and scuffs.
You want every surface to be as spotless as possible. Make sure nothing smells bad; a neutral or slightly pleasant smell throughout the house is ideal when showing it for open houses. Ensure that Home Cleaning and Updating is done – be sure to keep vents, appliances, counters, and the bathrooms extra clean.
If you’re lucky, showing your house can be a quick process. However, if you are living in the house during the showing stage, it is extra important for you to regularly clean. Buyers could want a tour at any moment, so it’s best to clean often. Here are ways to Keep Your House Showroom Ready and fresh.
Think about hiring a professional to stage your home.
They will help arrange the furniture to open up the space and advise what to remove from the house as well as what accent pieces can be added to maximize presentation. You want this house to be attractive to others, so try to make each room as cohesive as possible. A properly staged house will encourage and excite buyers. Along with this, lighting should be bright in each room. Dull lighting is a mood killer for buyers as it creates a dingy atmosphere. Make sure to replace light bulbs so buyers can see each room in all of its shining glory.
Articles that dig deeper into home staging:
- The How & Why of Home Staging [Infographic] – The importance of staging your home and how it can increase the value of your home
- How to Stage Your Home – Tips if you are looking to stage your home on your own
Make sure your house has some curb appeal as well.
Curb appeal and home staging go hand in hand; the inside and the outside have to look as best as they can. Take the necessary steps to increase curb appeal. Is the paint chipped and fading? Fix those paint blisters and give the outside of the house a fresh coat of paint. Don’t forget to ensure that the front door looks clean since it can leave a big impression on buyers. Gutters need to be cleaned, and windows washed. The lawn should be trimmed and neat. Or if you have one of those yards full of succulents, make sure they all look healthy! Check that the porch and driveway are clean and presentable. You want the front of the house to look inviting and make the best first impression. A house with good curb appeal will attract more enthusiastic buyers.
When it comes to curb appeal, landscaping is pretty important too. Here are a few articles about landscape and greenery:
- Benefits of Landscaping [Infographic] – Some statistics
- How a Green Thumb Can Get You More Green in the Bank – The value of landscaping goes beyond property value. (get started now for those of you who aren’t selling in the near future)
- Landscaping Do’s and Don’ts [Infographic] – Tips and tricks for maintenance
- How to Stand Out in Every Season with Home Staging – If you live in a place with seasons, this might be a helpful guide.
All of your decluttering, cleaning, and staging is complete. Now the house is in tip-top shape and is ready to be photographed and listed!
During and after the Listing Period
Finally, your home is on the market, and maybe there are even a few serious buyers.
Now step back and let your agent work his or her magic. Don’t be present for open houses as it can only make things more emotional for you and awkward for potential buyers. Here are some other reasons Why You Should Not be Present at Your Open House. So have an idea of place to go or friends’ houses to kick back at during showing times. If necessary, make arrangements for children and pets to be with family or friends during showings.
Think about what might stay with the house when you move. If you have appliances or furniture that are still in good condition, but that you no longer want, including them in the purchase of the home can be a nice bonus for buyers.
When you have gotten an offer, your real estate agent should guide and advise you through the process of closing. However, if you want to look ahead at some helpful information regarding closing costs, check out these articles:
- Who Pays What Closing Costs – Includes a chart with a breakdown of who pays
- Most Common Home Contingencies [Infographic] – inspection, financing, and ownership
And if for some reason, your buyer backs out, here is what to do When Your Home Deal Falls Through. Many things have to line up for a successful house transaction. So pending sales will fall through every now and then, and it could happen to your home. But don’t fret; your agent should be prepared with how to deal with this and what to do next.
The prepping and moving process of selling your home is hectic, but don’t forget to arrange where you will go once your house is sold and you have to move out. Maybe you’ve already bought a new home and are ready to move in. If not, be sure to set up an apartment rental or put most of your stuff in storage and ask if family can take you in for a bit as you transition into buying a new home.