How to Help Sell Your House: 10 Steps
Decide if you’re ready.
Selling a home is a large undertaking, and there are some factors you'll want to consider before getting into it.
- Have I built up enough equity in this house to sell? If you're going to sell at a loss, it's worth reconsidering your options.
- Can I afford the costs of selling a home? Some people rely on the money they plan on getting from the sale to finance the selling costs, but when is that money coming? It's hard to know when, or how much, money will come in when selling a home. It's a good idea to make sure you can already cover the selling costs yourself.
- Am I ready to leave this home behind? Sometimes moving on is difficult, and selling a home can get sentimental. If you're not emotionally ready to depart, and think that might interfere with the sale, (read as: a large chunk of your finances,) take some time to meditate on this thought.
If you feel like you're ready, any nerves are perfectly normal! It's a big change, and can get intimidating, but the right agent will help make it a positive experience.
Find the right real estate agent.
When selling a home, a competent real estate agent can change your life, and an incompetent one could ruin it just as easily. A history of sales is usually a good sign, but you want to make sure those sales are relevant to your home. See how well they know your area. Are they able to point out what buyers will love about your home, and what you should update?
It's critical that your agent knows to either hire a photographer, or how to take professional photos. They should also know how to market your home before they even see it, so make sure they lay out a game plan for you.
Sometimes it takes several agent interviews to find the right one. Remember, you aren't hiring them, you're working together to sell a house and split the profits, albeit modestly (typically agents get a 5% commission that they split between a few people-- usually 4.) You can negotiate the commission, but you want to incentivize both your own and other agents to prioritize selling your home if you want to see the best results.
Choose the right time to sell your house.
Spring and summer are almost always the best seasons to sell. The warm weather makes people want out with the old, in with the new. Buyer's go on the hunt, but sellers also know to list, so the market gets saturated. However, an agent who both knows the market, and how to market, won't have a problem handling this.
Your needs and timelines play a factor too. Once you consider the timeframe you have, like if you're moving soon, or if you're just listing and looking around, it'll help frame the whole sale. Communicate that to your agent so they can frame the sale properly in their mind.
If you're looking for a quick sale, those selling tactics differ from a long-term sale, so it's critical that your agent understands as much about your situation as possible to best serve you.
Work with your real estate agent to determine the best time/way to list your home, then make sure to have your home sale-ready by then.
Declutter your home
Your home will look bigger, better, and its best features will stand out more if it's cleared out. Plus, storage space is a big selling point for buyers, which means the less of your stuff they see in the closets, the bigger your storage spaces will look. You're moving, so it's the perfect time to donate or trash anything you don’t love or need. This'll help the sale, the move, AND everyone's mental transition to a new space. Wins all around.
Remove personalized items for your house.
It's time to take all the things that "make home, home" and put them in a box to the left. Prospective buyers are looking to bring their lives to a new location, a potential fresh start, and seeing personal items from the current residents makes the home feel lived in. It's a feeling as if they're picking up where the last owners left off. That makes it a much better look to show them the house impersonally, and let them imagine themselves leading their new lives in it.
Invest in temporary outside storage.
A great option if you don't have anywhere other than your house to put your stuff is temporary storage. The more you can put into one of these, the better the home will look. Remember, beyond the personal items, the spaciousness of a home and the likability are directly correlated.
Imagine if you pack away an entire guest room. That room is now a potential studio, gym, or nursery to new homebuyers. Do all you can to remove yourself from the home, and let the agents help each buyer picture themselves in it.
Make small upgrades to your house.
Small upgrades to important areas, like the kitchen and bathrooms, can go a long way. You don't want to pump money into a home you're leaving, instead, figure out which upgrades will improve the sale price beyond what you're investing. This will ensure you don't lose money at the expense of selling faster (unless that's the goal).
Go through your home and figure out what small improvements you could make. Are there lights you could replace, rooms you could paint, maybe add some new kitchen appliances that aren't included in the sale, just to help the aesthetic appeal, and always make sure it's clear to your agent what is, and is not, included in the sale.
A few hundred dollars spent on bathrooms and the kitchen could up the price by thousands. If you're unsure, ask your agent. They're a professionals who know what buyers in your price range want to see. Speaking of price range...
Decide how to price your home.
Pricing a house is no easy feat. The market decides what a home is worth, but we can have some small influence on it. Understanding you and your needs is an important factor in understanding how to price your home, but the most important factor is the market.
Pricing is a critical part of agents' jobs, so they have many means of determining the price of a home. In the end they have to list the home at the price point you decide, but it's wise to heed the advice of the experts. Most agents will decline listing a home if the sellers won't listen because they know what works. They want to sell the home as much as you do, but they can only help you optimize for your market-- not conduct miracles.
A studio condo might sell for $1M in Tribeca, but not in a suburb where all the surrounding single-families are all worth $300k. Work with your agent to find the optimal price zone for your market and needs.
Amp up the curb appeal.
The first impression matters-- a lot. You can hire someone or landscape yourself, trim hedges, mow and edge the lawn, pressure-wash at least your walkways and driveway, maybe the whole house if you're feeling it. Also, painting the trim and shutters goes a long way.
Cleaning up entryways, adding more plants, flowers, and such will also improve the property greatly. You can do this on your own in a few hours with YouTube videos, and, if you're really willing to go all the way with it, even raise the price by thousands.
Stage and photograph your house.
Home staging is when you redo the interior design to show the home in a better light. Great agents, or professional stagers, can make a home look good enough that you won't want to move. This is especially important for photographers to get good listing photos.
You can even have people render 3d animations to appear as though an empty house is populated with luxurious furniture. This is potentially much cheaper than doing a real staging if you can find the right graphic artist. Even a look on Fiverr shows artists who will do incredible jobs for even $200 vs the couple thousand staging might cost.
If you're not looking to spend any money on this, here are some DIY options:
- Use neutral colors
- The more natural light, the better
- Keep the interior design Minimalist and function-centric
- Clean everything
- Take photographs in the best light (hi-res, wide-angle shots are ideal)
- Edit the photos. Even using an app like VSCO will make a difference.
- Take horizontal photos.
That concludes our list of tips about how you can help sell your home! Remember, if you're not familiar and comfortable with the real estate process, working with the right agent is the best move. All of these tips take some legwork, research, and effort, but if you're willing to invest the time then you should get the cash reward for it at the end of the rainbow.