Every year, 40 million Americans move into new homes, but that doesn’t mean moving is an easy process. There are countless challenges you have to navigate when you’re moving and selling your home. It’s important to work with the right people, there are dozens of little details that can’t be overlooked, and even one mistake could mean a lower sale price.
Not to worry: selling a house may be complicated, but we’ve compiled the top tips to sell your home right here. From hiring a real estate lawyer to surviving the house showing process, read on for the top tips to sell your home.
Find the Right Real Estate Agent
When it comes to top tips to sell your home, choosing the right real estate agent is one of the most important.
Real estate agents may be a dime a dozen, but that’s just why it’s so important to find the right one for you. You need an agent who will go above and beyond in serving you, negotiating the best possible deal, and getting your home sold fast. As tempting as it can be to hire that one friend you’ve known for years who sells real estate in their spare time, this is one area where you want to do your own objective research.
It’s also probably not a good idea to try and sell your home yourself. It may seem like an attractive way to save some money, but selling a home is no easy task. You have to get it in front of all the right people, and then you have to convince at least one of them that it’s a good real estate investment for them. An experienced agent can get you in front of thousands of buyers through the exclusive Multiple Listing Service, and then form a targeted strategy to get your house sold fast.
Even if you do sell your home yourself, you probably won’t save that much in the long run. You still have to pay a commission to your buyer’s agent. Besides, having a good agent can more than make up for the cost, because they’re likely to sell your home for a higher price than you’d be able to get.
Price Your Home Right
Price is perhaps the most interesting part of sales, because “the right price” is always subjective to the person buying. In a world where prices are set by sellers in stores and online, it’s easy to forget that no one knows what something’s worth until the market makes that decision. If you’ve lived in your home for years, you may have an elevated idea of its worth just because of its sentimental value to you. The average buyer would have a much less idealistic perspective of your home’s worth. However, if you can find a buyer who desperately needs something unique your home offers (such as wheelchair ramps or state-of-the-art security systems), they just might offer a higher price than you were expecting.
Simply put, your home is worth whatever buyers are willing to pay. The best way to find out what that is would be to have a real estate agent run a comparative market analysis, or CMA. This is a free report which compares your house to nearby properties that are similar. This can give your agent an accurate picture of how much people might be willing to pay for your home.
If you’ve found a skilled agent who cares for their clients, they will be able to walk you through the report and show you exactly what to expect and why. Once you’re armed with this kind of objective information, you can come up with a price that is both realistic and within your best interests. This is pivotal in our top tips to sell your home.
Declutter and Deep Clean
Finding a real estate agent and defining a realistic price are both parts of deciding whether or not to sell. You wouldn’t want to get your hands dirty until you know what to expect, after all. Once you’ve found an agent you like and you’re happy with the expected price range for your home, it’s time to do the real work.
Before you can conveniently make repairs or setup your house for showing, you may have to declutter your home. You don’t have to be a hoarder to end up with a lot of clutter, and it can really make it difficult to prepare your home to sell. You might want to focus on one room at a time. Use two or three cardboard boxes to sort things as you dig them out of closets, drawers, and under beds: some things will be trash to throw away, some will be missing odds and ends, and others will be things that just need to be moved and stored somewhere else. You may have things lying around in your yard that need picked up and sorted, too. Decluttering is rarely fun, but remind yourself that the less cluttered and disorganized your home is, the easier it will be to make it presentable for showing.
After you’ve gotten rid of any trash lying around and put things where they belong, you may want to deep-clean your home before anything else. You should probably shampoo the carpets, mop the floors, dust all surfaces, and thoroughly clean the kitchen and bathrooms. Don’t forget to finish cleaning up the yard and making it presentable. You might want to look for generic cleaning checklists online so you won’t forget anything.
Make Critical Repairs and Minor Upgrades
If you’ve been putting off calling certified electricians to fix a wiring problem, now would be the time to do that. At this stage in our top tips to sell your home, you’ll be making repairs and upgrades to your freshly-cleaned home.
If there’s anything broken around your house and yard, these should hold first priority. Doorknobs, cabinet hardware, and gate hinges are all prone to breaking now and then. Light-switch and outlet covers can crack and need replacing, especially if they’re located outside. Your might have a broken storm window somewhere, in which case you should contact your local residential glass services to have the pane replaced. Walk around your property and watch out for leaky faucets, broken fence posts, and anything else that should be fixed before selling.
After basic repairs, there are upgrades and renovations to consider. While repairs could be seen as your responsibility to the future owners, any upgrades are entirely optional, and only important for increasing the sale price. Because of this, you should look for quick fixes that won’t take much up-front investment, but which are known to pay off after the sale. Mammoth makeovers will probably cost more than you would make in return, so keep it simple.
Simply painting walls, de-staining carpets (if you haven’t done that already), and replacing outdated fixtures can make your home’s perceived value go way up. Curtains and blinds can be cleaned or replaced without much cost. Old and ragged doormats can be replaced with low-cost but attractive ones. If you want to take it further with advanced renovations, you should get your real estate agent’s advice about what changes would pay off the most.
If most of the nice houses in your area have picket fences, you may want to hire fencing professionals to put an attractive privacy fence around your home. However, one upgrade that almost always pays for itself is kitchen remodels. In fact, some people say that when you’re selling a house, you’re really selling the kitchen. If yours is dull, dingy, or outdated, you may want to consider more serious upgrades there. Bathroom upgrades are also a strong investment choice, with small changes like a new faucet or shower curtain going a long way.
Get Your Home Inspected
If you were buying a home, you would recognize the importance of having a home inspection done before closing. But it’s one of the top tips to sell your home, too. Paying to have your home inspected yourself will demonstrate that you’re a responsible homeowner, as well as a conscientious seller. As a result, you’ll have more leverage at the negotiating table, especially since the buyer won’t need to pay for the inspection themselves.
When you have your home inspected, a qualified inspector comes to your property and examines all of its accessible areas. Home inspectors are trained to quickly assess a home’s condition and recognize any health or safety issues. An inspection will normally consist of the following:
- Electrical and plumbing systems
- Structural components like windows, walls, ceilings, floors, and doors
- Roof, attic, and visible insulation
- Foundation and/or basement
- Heater and AC installation quality and condition
Once the home inspector has completed his assessment, they will provide you with a detailed report about your home’s condition. Everything from basic repair recommendations to legal requirements will be outlined there, so if there’s anything left to fix, you can take care of it ahead of time.
Of course, you don’t have to worry about addressing everything on your inspection report. But you should pay careful attention to big-ticket issues, such as any changes you might be legally required to make, and anything that’s likely to stand out to a buyer. If you leave serious issues unaddressed, it can scare would-be buyers into backing out, or into demanding more money than it would actually cost to fix them. Your real estate agent can help you decide which repairs and changes are most important.
A presale home inspection can cost a few hundred dollars, but that’s little compared to the increase in perceived value your offer will have as a result. Since it can keep buyers from making extra demands during negotiations, it’s definitely one of our top tips to sell your home.
Show Off Your House
At this point in our top tips to sell your home, you’re finally nearing the finish line. Your property is in good working order, and chances are it hasn’t looked this good in a long time. But there are a few more things you’ll need to do to give a great first impression to potential buyers.
There’s a fine line between fixing up your home and staging it for house shoppers. Your objective should be for a would-be buyer to see themselves living there, without having to do any mental gymnastics. Family portraits, unusual decor, and even pet food bowls can kill someone’s fantasy when they’re visualizing themselves in your home.
That could mean a lost sale, so prevent this by doing the following:
- When you paint, make sure you use neutral colors that can pretty much appeal to everybody.
- Make sure furniture is coordinated with curtains and other decor. You want all the colors, patterns, and styles to complement one another.
- Clear some closet space. No, you aren’t moving out just yet, but if every room and crevice is packed to the brim with your stuff, it will feel like your house lacks storage space. As a rule of thumb, clear one-third of all your belongings from the house, and make sure the remaining two-thirds is organized and presentable.
- Among things to get rid of, remove family photographs, heirlooms, and anything that the average person might not understand or relate to. It’s great to have niche interests, but not everyone can appreciate obscure decor styles.
- Remove any pets from your property during the open house, and put away the kibble and food bowls. While this may seem harsh and unnecessary, keep in mind that some people are intimidated by unfamiliar pets, even if they generally like animals. Don’t take the risk of running off the perfect buyer.
- Place special emphasis on the front door and the walk leading up to it. Make sure everything is clean, de-cluttered, and arranged in an attractive way. The first impression is the only impression.
- Make sure your entire house is well-lit. Not only will this make it easier for visitors to see what they might be buying, but it makes everything feel more warm, open, and inviting.
These particular top tips to sell your home may seem like a hassle, but they’re important to attracting the right buyer. In a way, you want the house to feel like no one actually lives in it — almost as if it’s on display in a showroom. If you’re serious about selling your house fast and getting the highest possible price, consider hiring a home stager to coordinate furniture and decor for you. They will know how to make the most of your home’s floor plan and make it look its best.
Whenever it actually comes time to show your house to a prospective buyer, make sure everyone’s out of the house in time. You might want to take your pets to a local pet hotel for the evening, or for the length of time that you’re expecting daily visits. Consider taking the family to visit local restaurants and other attractions to pass the time.
It will all be worth it when you make that big sale.
Hire a Lawyer
For the last of our top tips to sell your home, make sure you hire a great real estate closing attorney when you sell. This lawyer will process all documents to finalize the sale, and make sure everything goes as planned.
And there you have it: these are all the top tips to sell your home successfully.