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There’s no single “best” way to sell a home — it all depends on your unique circumstances and goals. For example, are you looking to net the highest possible price, or do you prefer a race to the closing table with the quickest sale you can get? Or maybe it’s some combination of both. But understanding your options, as well as your area’s local market conditions, can help you make the most of selling your house. Here are some tips to maximize your home sale.
Understand your local market
The dynamics of your city’s local market will have a substantial impact on your home-selling experience. Looking at online listings in your area, particularly for homes similar to yours, will show you what kinds of prices others are asking for their properties. (Keep in mind, though, that the asking price can be very different than the final sale price.)
For the most realistic snapshot of your area, consult with a local real estate agent, who will check comps in the area to assess home values. An agent will also know whether your area is a buyer’s or seller’s market — lucky for you, most of the country currently favors sellers — and about how long it’s currently taking homes to sell. This is known as days on market, and the shorter a time span it is, the faster your deal will get done.
Local economics can also influence the housing market. For example, if a large employer in the area announces plans to expand or reduce its workforce, the housing market can heat up or cool off in response.
Pick a good time to sell
General wisdom holds that the best time to sell a house is in late spring and early summer, which is considered peak real estate season. This seasonality can vary depending on the climate in your area — if you have rough winters, go for the warm-weather months — and demographics, such as whether there are a lot of young families who might want to complete a deal in time for the new school year. If you have the flexibility to time your home sale strategically, following this rule of thumb may prove a smart way to sell.
Set the right price
Determining the right asking price for your home is a strategic part of the process. One key starting point is to get a realistic idea of how much your house is worth. Asking for too much right off the bat might turn prospective buyers off, but no one wants to leave money on the table. This is where a knowledgeable real estate agent’s expertise really shines: Agents know their markets inside-out, and they can help you pick a price that will hit the sweet spot, whether your goal is to earn top dollar or to sell as quickly as possible.
Cost to sell a home
Though you may think selling is all about profit, there are costs associated with selling a house as well. The biggest cost a home seller incurs is typically covering the real estate commissions, or the percentage earned by both your agent and your buyer’s agent. (Yes, the seller pays for both.) This generally totals between 5 and 6 percent of the sale price — so, if you sell your house for $350,000, up to $21,000 goes to the agents.
Typical closing costs for sellers include various fees and taxes related to the transaction, such as escrow or title-transfer fees and transfer taxes. The seller will also be responsible for paying the outstanding balance on their mortgage loan before pocketing any profit made during the sale, and possibly a prorated portion of property taxes as well.
Choosing where to spend your money when selling your home can be a balancing act. You want to make it as appealing as possible to buyers — but you don’t want to sink more cash into home improvements than you are likely to make back in the sale price.
Focus on projects that will add value to the home and maximize its sale potential in a cost-effective way. For example, boosting your curb appeal can help attract buyers without investing much money. This can be as simple as freshening up the landscaping with some bright flowers or putting a new coat of paint on the front door. Professional staging can pay off, too, particularly if the home is either very cluttered or absolutely empty (because you’ve already moved out).
Keep in mind, though, that major projects usually don’t recoup their value at resale, and not everything needs fixing. Ask your real estate agent for guidance if you’re not sure what will be worth doing.
Alternative ways to sell your house
Listing your home with a real estate agent is not the only way to sell.
- If you need to sell fast or need the money right away, consider soliciting offers from iBuyers or house-buying companies in your area. These can operate with lightning speed — but in exchange for the convenience, you’ll likely sacrifice a bit of profit. The quick offers are typically for less than you could make on the open market.
- The for sale by owner (FSBO) route is also an option. Though you won’t need to pay a commission fee to a selling agent, you will be personally responsible for all the work one would do, including marketing your home and negotiating with buyers. It’s a big time commitment.
- If you don’t need the proceeds from a sale right away, renting out your house can be a good alternative to selling. Becoming a landlord lets you generate steady rental income.
You might not necessarily need an agent to sell your house, but working with one will certainly make your transaction easier. Finding a knowledgeable real estate agent who knows the local market well is a great first step: Your agent will work on your behalf to help ensure you sell for the best price, in the most timely manner possible. To find someone you click with, interview several candidates and ask plenty of questions. Getting recommendations from friends and family can also help you find the right fit for your particular sale situation.
The fastest way to sell a home is usually through an iBuyer, such as Opendoor or Offerpad, or a local company that buys properties for cash. This method probably won’t earn you top dollar, as such companies often offer low and then flip the home for a profit, but you can potentially get an offer in 24 to 48 hours and close in a matter of weeks.
There are several strategies that can help you earn the most money when selling your home, including hiring a professional photographer and staging the home for prospective buyers. But your best bet is working with a real estate agent who is an expert in your local market — or even your specific neighborhood. Agents know what buyers in their area are looking for, and how much they’re willing to pay, which can help you maximize your profit potential.
Center your efforts on projects that will maximize curb appeal and boost the value of your home without costing you too much money. Major remodeling projects, like renovating the entire kitchen, likely won’t recoup their cost at resale. Be particularly careful not to start a project that you won’t be able to complete before you list the home. Buyers don’t like to see incomplete work, and it may even make them think you ran out of money — which may make them think they can offer less.