Advice for Selling Your Home: Top 10 Tips

Selling your home, especially in a down market, is a big decision that requires commitment and a lot of work. It's a lot like romance, in that you must fix up and set the mood of your house. Professionals call it staging - showcasing the best side of a home to create interest and get you top dollar.

Working with an experienced real estate agent will ensure that your home is best optimized and staged correctly. While you could sell the home yourself, 9 out of 10 people don't have the time or energy to successfully sell a house on their own. Either way, it's important that you do your homework and understand the steps required to get the highest price possible for the sale of your property. The following are our top 10 tips to selling your house:

1. Decide If You Are Really Ready To Sell

Check your personal motivation and reasons for selling your house. If you aren't truly committed to selling and the work it entails - it's simply a whim you had one day for a new house across town - you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. Begin to explore what type of new home and neighborhood you are interested in living in and check out pricing. Weigh your options and decided if perhaps you are best to stay where you are.

Be sure to sell your current house before buying a new one. While exploring your options for buying a new house is a good idea, don't get carried away with virtual tours and appointments to view homes. It is almost always more profitable to sell before buying.

2. Disassociate Yourself from Your Old Home

In order to maximize the sale of your home and stay rational during the process, it's important that you put away your emotions and make the mental realization that this house will no longer be yours soon. Imagine yourself giving the keys to the new owners and do not look backwards. Think of your property as a product, and not your home.

3. Know Your House Inside and Out

Become familiar with all the facts of your house including property taxes, zoning, lot size, square footage, etc. Review the terms of your existing loan and contact your lender to find out exactly how much you need to pay off.

4. Find a Good Real Estate Agent

Interview real estate agents and talk to neighborhood specialists. Be careful with friends of a friend or your aunt who just got her real estate license. Your house is one of your biggest assets and is more important than a little favor for someone. Call around and ask potential real estate agents for both a marketing plan that outlines their strategy for selling your house and a comparative market analysis for your home. Get their advice on pricing your house but don't let overpricing fool you.

5. Understand Current Market and Property Laws in Your Area

Do your research of prices of homes similar to yours in your area. Understand the terms of sales and the property disclosure laws that you need to take into consideration. Contact lenders in your area to understand available financial options for your potential buyers. Being well informed will impress your potential buyers if they ask about this.

6. Be Willing To Price Your House Right

Since the housing bubble crash, the housing market has dropped tremendously and there are a lot of foreclosures competing with your house. If you are going to sell your home in a down market, you must be willing to make some concessions on price to compete with bank-owned homes. Based on your research, consider setting your price competitively. You might not get the same attention as a foreclosed home, but you will have a competitive advantage against stubborn sellers who aren't as flexible with their price.

7. Ensure Your House Has Curb Appeal

In a time when there are a lot of cheap foreclosure houses on the market, you can easily give your house an advantage by having it look better than the abandoned house down the street. While it will require a lot of hard work, you should at least be able to get potential buyers through the door. Things to consider:

  • Power wash the outside and remove cracked or faded paint
  • Re-paint outside including trim and doors, in a neutral color that will appeal to the widest breadth of potential buyers
  • Install new exterior lights and/or knockers
  • Spruce up your plants and keep the grass and hedges well trimmed
  • Check that the windows, doors and roof are in good condition
  • Plant yellow flowers that evoke the buying emotion.
  • Keep toys, bikes, etc out of sight.

8. Clear Your House of Clutter and De-Personalize

It's very important that potential buyers are able to picture themselves living in your house. If you have too much clutter and personal artifacts they will be distracted wondering what kind of person is currently living here. Things to consider:

  • Remove personal photos from the walls, perhaps replacing with generic artwork.
  • Remove books from bookcases, especially those that might be considered controversial
  • Pack up knickknacks
  • Clean off everything from kitchen counters to give the appearance of a larger kitchen
  • Keep everything overly organized to send the message that you are meticulous and have taken care of the house. Stack dishes neatly, hang shirts in the same direction, line up shoes, turn coffee cup handles to face in the same way, etc.
  • Remove unnecessary pieces of furniture to make rooms appear larger. Leave enough furniture to convey the room's purpose. Remove extra leaves from tables.
  • Re-arrange furniture to make sense and make the room look the biggest and most open
  • Clean closets to make them look roomy

9. Make Minor Repairs and Make the House Sparkle

Potential buyers are very keen on even the smallest blemishes, disrepairs, dirt, and trash. Go through the house, scrutinize everything and take notes of all the small things that need fixing that could turn off potential buyers. Remember, the buyers are as lazy as you are, and the more things they have to do besides move in, the more concerned they will get. Replace anything your house needs now.

  • Replace cracked counter or floor tiles
  • Patch holes in walls and re-paint with neutral colors - usually white.
  • Fix leaky faucets
  • Fix doors and kitchen drawers that don't close properly or jam
  • Check that all appliances work and are of recent vintage
  • Replace burned out light bulbs and ensure your house has a lot of light
  • Have your carpets professionally cleaned, or if beyond hope, replace them
  • Deep clean everything in the house
  • Ensure that your house doesn't smell: even the smallest things subconsciously effect buyers

10. Set a Budget

Decide how much you are willing to spend to sell your house. Sometimes a little extra expenditures can have large paybacks, while others can leave you in the negative. Things to include:

  • House repairs
  • Real estate commission from agency
  • Attorney, closing agent, and other professional fees
  • Excise tax for the sale
  • Prorated costs for your share of annual expenses, including property taxes and home owner association fees
  • Other fees paid by the seller in your area, including surveys, inspections, etc.
  • Real estate agents are experienced in these costs and can easily give you a close estimate
Don't let this be overwhelming! Let a professional represent you!
Contact a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Preferred Real Estate Agent today.
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