Hold off on making improvements
While it's tempting to add value to your home ahead of listing, it's better to hold off on improvements, at least until you've hired your agent.
"What you think is going to net you a return on investment may not be what's trending in the market," Chan says. "Your Realtor will know what the buyers in your area are asking for, and more importantly, what they will pay a premium for."
But the danger isn't just making the wrong upgrades, says Chan, who points out that most buyers have a limited budget for improvements.
"If you only want to spend a little money to fix up the place, that's fine because an agent can work with that," he says. "But if you've already spent that money, there really isn't much that can be done."
Working with an agent to determine what upgrades to make also has the benefit of objectivity, according to Chan.
"Sellers are always tempted to go overboard, but they shouldn't because they're moving," he says. "If you run those decisions by an agent, they'll help you stick to what's necessary and keep you from making choices that are specific to your tastes, which might not appeal to buyers."