Everyone contemplating selling their home dreams of having a straightforward, stress-free, and, ideally, fast experience. The selling process can feel overwhelming, especially if you’ve never done it before.
Although selling your house does involve many moving parts, there are only a few key decisions you need to know about to get you closer to that dream selling experience.
Consider this your go-to cheat sheet about how to sell your home.
Table Of Contents
Selling Your House: With a realtor or without a realtor?
Before you can even consider listing your home, you need to decide if you’re going to enlist the help of an agent or not.
If you choose not to, your home will be listed as “for sale by owner”.
There are some pros and cons to both options–let’s review them.
Pros of Hiring A Realtor
There’s less work for you.
Realtors take on most major responsibilities when it comes to listing and showing your home. They can also help set the price, advise on the best ways to advertise, help with closing, and manage all the related paperwork.
You’ll have expertise.
Any uncomfortable technical or legal issues that may come up will be handled by your agent. You could handle them yourself, but agents deal with complicated negotiations and other things like title exchanges and financing issues regularly.
Your house could sell for more, faster.
Realtors have experience listing, negotiating, and pricing houses to be competitive. They can also assist you with any curb appeal questions you may have. Figuring out listing websites and “what’s hot” on the market may take time to figure out on your own.
Cons of Hiring A Realtor
Looking to move soon?
Check out UniMovers and save 30-50% on your move as compared with traditional moving!
They can be expensive.
All realtors work on commission. The standard amount is between 3-6% of the total price of the home. That could be a pretty penny that would otherwise be in your pocket.
You lose some control.
If you’re very particular about your wants and you’d rather not have someone acting as your go-between, it may be better to list your home as “for sale by owner”.
You have to sign a contract.
When you hire a real estate agent, you sign a brokerage contract that you’d have to terminate if you were unhappy with your agent. This can sometimes be uncomfortable and add stress to an already stressful situation.
The choice is yours
If you decide to manage your home selling without a realtor, all the responsibilities will fall on you.
This means you’ll be in charge not only of clearing your home and preparing yourself and your family for moving, but you’ll also have to balance paperwork, staging, listing, and showings.
While there is a greater amount of freedom in selling on your own (and potentially a lot of extra money in your pocket!), the choice really comes down to how much time you’re willing to spend during the process.
You can use this flow chart to help you make the decision.
No matter how you choose to proceed, you’ll need to know how the selling process works.
The Basic Process of Home-Selling
Regardless of whether or not you decide to sell your home yourself, or hire a real estate agent to help you, the process will look very similar.
Before you think about listing your home, you should consider your home’s current condition. Are there any major problems that could complicate negotiations later on? Are there any small cosmetic changes that could help you sell faster? Have you been meaning to declutter but haven’t gotten around to it?
Your house needs to feel good and look good in order to sell.
Steps: Before Listing
Step 1: Declutter!
Get rid of all the things you’ve been meaning to donate, sell, or give to a friend. Consider getting rid of any old furniture items you’ve been wanting to replace. If there are things that you’re not ready to part with but aren’t crucial to your daily life, consider moving them to storage until you’ve moved to your new place.
Not only will decluttering help you prepare yourself for moving, but it will also make it easier to stage your home and get great photos later.
Pro tip: Don’t neglect the small spaces in your decluttering process. Remember potential buyers will likely open closets and other storage spaces when touring – you don’t want all of your things spilling out when they do!
Step 2: Consider Getting A Home Inspection
Even if your home doesn’t have any major issues that you know of, it may not be a bad idea to get a home inspection.
It’s better to know if there are things that need to be handled before listing, especially if they can be easily fixed.
Getting an inspection can also help you price your home appropriately and save you from any bad impressions from buyers.
In the best case scenario, your house is in great condition and you can rest easy knowing it!
Step 3: Repair and Clean
If your home inspection revealed that your house needs some repairs after all, go ahead and get those scheduled. You’ll want to knock those out before you start staging and listing.
In the meantime, you can get a jump on deep cleaning. If you’re able, you could hire a cleaning team to help.
It’s also a good idea to start removing anything that is super personal from your house. It’s important for buyers to be able to imagine themselves living within a space. Remember, they’re buying your house – not your home.
Once repairs and cleaning are finished, you’re ready for the next step.
Step 4: Staging
Staging your home is about making it look as buyer-friendly as possible. If you have an eye for design, you might handle this on your own, but you can also hire stagers to do it for you.
The price of hiring a stager varies depending on region and home size but could be anywhere between a couple hundred to a couple of thousand dollars.
Hiring a stager may help your home sell faster, but ultimately the choice is up to you.
Step 5: Hire A Photographer
Your home’s online presence is incredibly important these days. High-quality photos could be the difference between your home selling quickly or sitting on the market far longer than you’d like.
Don’t forget to ask your photographer to highlight things about your home that could also be attractive to buyers. Is your home near a lovely park? Does it have incredible views? Is it close to public transportation or other potentially in-demand features?
Bright, clean, and well-lit photos are critical to getting potential buyer’s in your door. Make them count!
Whew! You managed to get your home ready for listing…what’s next?
Steps: During and After Listing
Step 1: Set a price
Before you list your home anywhere, you need to know how much it’s worth. The best way to do this is by checking out “comps” or comparable homes in your area. You should consult the most recent selling price of other homes in your neighborhood that are similar to your home in size and condition.
If you need extra help with this, you could get your home appraised.
Alternatively, if you choose to hire a real estate agent, they’ll help you nail the right number.
Pro-tip: Don’t neglect to take time to get this number right. Some sellers are tempted to price their homes higher than others would. However, pricing a home higher and having to lower the price later may communicate that something is amiss to buyers.
Step 2: Show Your Home
Once you’ve got your home listed, it shouldn’t take too long before buyers start reaching out about viewings.
If you’ve hired an agent, they’ll handle the tours for you.
If you’re selling your house without a realtor, viewings can be difficult. Buyers are likely to pick apart your home or ask questions you may be unprepared for.
If you’re going to sell your house on your own, make sure you can separate the personal memories you’ve had in the space from the buyer’s opinions.
Pro-tip: If you manage your own showings, plan them for the weekends when more people will have greater time availability.
Step 3: Start Negotiating Offers
After your showings are complete, you should start getting offers on your house. You have three options once they’re on the table: you can reject an offer, negotiate a counteroffer, or accept the offer.
When you’re considering which offer to take, you should look at more than just the dollar amount.
If you hire a real estate agent, they can help you navigate offers and choose whichever is most advantageous to you.
If you decide to sell your home without a realtor, you may still want to consider hiring a real estate attorney to not only ensure that you’re getting the best offer but also to ensure that you won’t incur any liability for things that could hurt you later.
Step 4: Close
Congratulations! At this point, you’ve officially accepted an offer and only have closing paperwork to finish.
Once you’ve collected all necessary tax records, mortgage and insurance information, and the original purchase contract, you should be ready to officially close and pass on the keys.
Grab a screenshot of this checklist to help you out in the future.
How To Sell Your House Fast
We’ve already touched on a few things we’ll review here. Here are some extra tips to help your home sell fast.
- Do some basic upgrades and fix your curb appeal. This is an easy way to freshen up your home before listing. Repaint a couple of rooms in your home. Add some fresh flowers to your front lawn. Upgrade hardware like doorknobs or minor light fixtures that feel dated.
- Don’t skimp on cleaning and depersonalizing. The easier a time buyers have picturing themselves living in your space, the better. Remove family photos, religious symbols, and unnecessary nick-nacks–your home will photograph better and appeal to a wider audience.
- Invest in the photos. Photos are the first things buyers will see, and the thing they’ll refer back to. If you can afford it, and your agent offers it, maybe even consider adding a video tour of your home.
- Get repairs out of the way. You don’t want anything hindering the negotiation process from moving quickly once it’s started. If there are any repairs you can make in advance, make them. If there are larger repairs you aren’t prepared to take on, make sure the price of your home reflects that.
- Price it right. Regardless of whether you list your home yourself or hire an agent, make sure the price you list is competitive for your location.
Whether you’re a seasoned homeowner, or a first-time seller, closing a chapter and moving to a new space can be challenging.
All homeowners hope to make the process as easy and rewarding as possible.
If you’re contemplating selling your home, or just need a guide for any future endeavors, knowing the basic steps to home selling can help you feel prepared and confident.
Grace currently lives abroad in Asia. She grew in the Southeastern United States and graduated from College of Charleston, in Charleston, South Carolina. Her degree is in Political Science with a focus in International Relations, but she has a passion for all things communication and writing related.