If you’re selling a home for the first time, the prospect of putting your property on the market can seem overwhelming. Selling a home is a lot like buying a home: You need to prepare. Here are six tips to help you navigate a transaction as a first-time seller.
1. Decide on timing
If you’re not under a deadline to move, consider the timing of your sale. It’s currently a seller’s market, so depending on where you live, you might get many offers quickly regardless of when you list. Still, factors like the season and month could affect how fast your home sells. Holidays, for example, can impact the availability of buyers or even your own willingness to show your home if you’re hosting holiday gatherings. If you have children, timing your move around the school year is another common driver. Think about how flexible (or inflexible) you are, and go from there.
If you don’t have wiggle room with your move, another convenient option is to sell your home to an iBuyer, which often allows you to pick your exact closing date.
2. Find a real estate agent
If you worked with a real estate agent to buy your home (and enjoyed the experience), that agent might be willing to list your home now or refer you to another agent who can help. Compare that agent to a few other agents based on their commission rate, listing presentation, communication style, track record, and past client testimonials. As a first-time seller especially, all of these factors can make a difference.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to work with an agent, you can request an offer from an iBuyer, which typically charges a service fee. However, this fee might be lower than an agent’s commission, so if cost is a concern, it’s worth exploring.
3. Settle on a price
One common mistake sellers make is to list too high and then make price reductions. When you cut down the price a few times, some buyers might assume something’s wrong with your home and make an even lower offer. Instead, together with your real estate agent, arrive at a reasonable price that’s aligned with the housing market, including comparable homes in your area.
4. Line up the vendors
Before your listing goes live, complete outstanding maintenance or repairs, as well as hire movers. One tip: While it costs some money, a pre-listing home inspection can help you identify problem areas — and deal with them on your terms — before a buyer does. If you do any major renovating, be sure to keep receipts for the appraisal and for the buyer. Keep in mind that not every remodel recoups its cost, so try to allocate your dollars to only the most worthwhile projects. Your real estate agent can help you determine what’s best.
5. Clean and stage your home
While your decorating choices might suit your taste, not everyone shares the same style, so consider staging your home, so it appeals to a wider range of buyers. You can do this yourself by cleaning and decluttering (which you’ll need to do anyway in preparation for your move), or your real estate agent or a home stager can help. Keep curb appeal in mind, too: This can account for up to 7 percent of a home’s value, according to one academic study.
6. Be patient with showings
There’s no getting around it: Showings and open houses are inconvenient, especially if your home garners lots of interest or stays on the market a while. While it’s tempting to stick around and see what buyers think of your home, don’t. Be prepared to leave so buyers and their agents can tour the property in peace. You don’t want to be responsible for any information you might give during conversation, either.