Selling Your First Home? 10 Tips for a Smoother Process

Every housing payment, every unexpected plumbing leak, and every time you had to mow instead of hitting the lake has turned you into a seasoned homeowner. You’re not sporting rose-colored glasses anymore. 

But selling your house? Now that’s something different!

In the same way that buyers can have regrets (44% of homeowners experience them), sellers too can think “what if?” What if I’d priced higher? What if I’d waited longer to sell? What if I’d spent money on staging?

It may feel like you’re starting all over, and that can be scary. But there are ways to get full price for your home, fast, even when you’ve never sold a home in your life.

Here’s how.

1. Do you really want to sell?

While selling your home is a financial decision, it’s also an emotional one. This was your first home, after all.

Be sure that you’re ready to part ways with your home, otherwise you may unconsciously sabotage your negotiations. This is even more poignant if it’s the home where you brought your kids into the world.

Before putting your home out there on the market, walk through it and relive the memories you have. 

Think about how the house served its purpose during the time you lived there. Recall how great it was to live here with your spouse, children, and other family members. Imagine your life after this sale and whether that picture makes you happy.

Doing this allows you to deal with any anxiety you may have before selling your home. Expect to receive critiques about your home.

If you can think about somebody running down your home without feeling angry, or you can distance yourself from the process, thinking of it from a financial perspective, you’re ready to sell.

2. Find an agent who is very confident they can get your asking price

There is likely no shortage of agents in your area who can sell your home.

Choose an agent with:

  • ◆ Experience in selling homes in your area
  • ◆ Knowledge of current market conditions
  • ◆ A track record of successfully getting his or her clients their desired selling price
  • ◆ Experience in selling your type of property

3. Crunch the numbers

The best outcome would be to walk away with money in your pocket, obviously.

If you’re sure that you want to sell, then run the numbers to see how much it will cost you to sell. As a seller, you’re responsible for more costs than you were when you bought the home.

Make sure the sales proceeds cover your costs and will hopefully leave you with money that you can use to purchase your next home.

Begin with an estimate of your home’s value, minus the balance of the mortgage(s). Next, deduct closing costs, which are often between 6 and 10 percent of your home’s sales price.

Closing costs typically comprise:

  • ◆ Agent commissions
  • ◆ Fees
  • ◆ Taxes

4. Minimize your prep work

After your home is on the market, it accrues something known as “days on market”.

The longer it takes to sell, the more people will pass it up because they wonder “why hasn’t it been sold yet? What’s wrong with it?” And to make it worse, those who do make an offer will make a much lower offer because they may feel that you’ll be desperate enough to take it.

You don’t want that to happen to you.

Take the time before putting your home up for sale to get it “show ready” and you’ll improve your odds of selling faster, and getting close to (if not exactly) your asking price.

Besides cleaning and decluttering, other ways to prepare your home for sale include:

  • ◆ Neutralizing odors to make things fresh
  • ◆ Removing at least 50% of what’s in your closets and organizing what remains to highlight storage space

Tip: Add to your bank account – and inspire your home prep – by selling items you no longer use on places like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist

5. Curb appeal

You can’t sell your home if you can’t get people to walk in the door!

Pay careful attention to your home’s curb appeal.

According to 94.25% of surveyed real estate agents, curb appeal translates into money in a seller’s pocket!

Some ways to improve curb appeal:

  • ◆ Basic yard care – mowed lawn, weeds killed
  • ◆ Entrance – no grime, dirt or cobwebs
  • ◆ Shrubs and trees – well trimmed
  • ◆ Fresh mulch
  • ◆ Fresh coat of paint on door
  • ◆ Clean exterior siding

6. Home staging

As you may know, home staging is showing a home in its best light by using careful furniture and decor selections to create a welcoming space.

Most top real estate agents agree that staging a home can make a significant impact on attracting buyers and helping sellers get more for their home than they might have otherwise.

7. Get a home inspection before listing

Buyers will look for ways to get your home at a lower price. This means they’ll look for things that are wrong that they can leverage to get you to drop the price.

But if you have an inspection done before you list, you can address any issues ahead of time, before the “time on market” clock starts ticking as buyers try to negotiate your sales price down because of needed repairs. 

8. Get professional photos

Once everything has been cleaned, decluttered and staged, take advantage of all of that hard work and bring in a professional photographer who knows how to shoot real estate photos.

There should be one or a few pro photographers that your agent always works with and trusts to do an excellent job. Let your agent handle it.

Although great photos are crucial, be careful with photo “enhancements” – like staging and doctoring – as they can be taken too far.

9. Set a competitive sales price that’s based on current market conditions

Your sales price should be based on recent, comparable sales. A good agent will run a comparative market analysis to help with this. Most of all, trust your agent’s expertise, as your emotional connection could affect what you feel your home is worth.

10. Accept last-minute showing requests, even if it’s not perfect

Having your house look perfect at a moment’s notice might be the most inconvenient part of selling. There’s no telling when your agent will get a call from a serious buyer who wants to schedule a showing right away. If you want your home to sell as fast as possible, you cannot turn down showings.

While you should keep up with the cleaning as much as possible, don’t refuse the showing. Tell your agent that the home won’t be spotless, and they’ll prepare the potential buyer before they arrive.

Then, before they arrive, follow this emergency house showing checklist:

  • ◆ Put the toilet seats down
  • ◆ Stow personal items/toiletries in the bathroom
  • ◆ Wipe down all surfaces
  • ◆ Empty the trash
  • ◆ Do a quick toy and “out-of-place item” round-up and toss in a bin
  • ◆ Put any scattered clothes in the laundry or put them away
  • ◆ Empty the dishwasher and fill with dishes from the sink
  • ◆ Sweep and/or vacuum visible debris
  • ◆ Make beds
  • ◆ Close closet doors

It’s a big job to sell a house, but one you shouldn’t botch. Follow these tips, though, and you won’t have any trouble signing over the keys of your home to the new owners.

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