Staged Home Interior

Selling A House: Trusted Tips & Things To Keep In Mind

9-Minute Read
Published on October 21, 2021
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Selling your home is no easy task. You’ll have to stage your home’s interior spaces to make sure that they are enticing to possible buyers. You’ll need to set the right asking price so that you’re not scaring buyers away while also not leaving money on the table. And you’ll have to negotiate with sellers once they do make an offer.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make the process of selling your home as stress-free as possible. You can speed the process, and increase your odds of landing the best sales price, by following some proven home-selling strategies.

How To Tackle Selling Your Home: 5 Basic Steps 

There are five main steps you’ll need to take to sell your home, everything from finding the right real estate agent and reviewing offers to negotiating a final sales price.

Be aware, though, that before taking any of these steps, you must prepare your home for sale. This means clearing your home of clutter and most of your personal memorabilia such as family photos and awards. It could also mean working with a home stager who can reorganize your home’s interior so that your home shows at its best.

You’ll need to spruce up your home’s exterior by doing things like pulling weeds, adding flowers and sweeping your sidewalks. Make sure that your home is clean and neat whenever a showing is scheduled.

Once you’re ready for showings, follow the steps below to increase your chances of a successful sale.

Find A Real Estate Agent

You might be tempted to sell your home without a real estate agent. If you do, you won’t have to pay your listing agent a commission, something that could take eat up to 6% of the profits you make when selling.

But think carefully before making this move. A skilled real estate agent can help you sell your home quickly and for the highest price. This might make paying that commission a smart move.

What does an agent do? Agents list your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so that buyers can find your property online. They schedule showings of your home for possible buyers. They help you set the right asking price.

Agents also help you stage your home so that it looks its best, and they’ll make sure that the online photos of your home also showcase its best features. They’ll market your home to the widest pool of possible buyers. And when you get an offer, your agent will help you negotiate on everything from the final sales price to your move-out date. Your agent will be there, too, when it’s time to sign the papers that officially close the sale of your home.

Be careful when looking for a real estate agent. You want to work with agents who know your community, know what prices homes similar to yours have fetched and has had experience selling properties like yours. Ask for recommendations from any agent you interview. Then call those past clients to find out how responsible and effective the agents you are considering were.

List Your Home

Once you’ve found an agent, it’s time to list your home on the Multiple Listing Service. Doing this will make it available for any possible buyers who are searching online for homes in your community.

Before listing, though, you’ll have to set the right asking price, which is something you’ll work on with your agent. Your agent will consider the prices nearby homes similar to yours have earned when they’ve sold.

You should also make any recommended upgrades for your home, whether that’s replacing old, worn-out carpeting, painting faded walls or installing new kitchen windows. If anything is broken, such as your dishwasher, fix it. And if your front or back yards are choked with weeds, pull them and replace them with flowers or ground covering. You should also order a professional photo session from a real estate photographer. Photos are vitally important when listing your home online.

You should also be prepared to stage your home. During the staging process, you, your real estate agent or a professional stager will remove the clutter from your home and rearrange the furniture and decor to make your rooms look as large, bright and inviting as possible. You might have to pay extra for this service if you hire a professional stager, but the extra dollars could boost the number of offers you receive.

Review And Negotiate Offers 

The goal of listing your home is to receive an offer or, hopefully, several from buyers.

The agents working with buyers will typically send written offers to your listing agent. An offer will include the price that the buyers are willing to pay. Often that price won’t be the same as your listing. In most markets, the price will typically be a bit lower than listing price. However, if you are selling during a seller’s market, when demand is especially high for homes for sale, you might receive offers from buyers who are willing to pay above listing price to nab your home.

You have three options when you receive an offer. You can accept the offer as-is, you can reject the offer outright or you can make a counteroffer. If an offer comes in at a price that is too low, you and your agent can send a counteroffer with a new price. You might go through several rounds of counteroffers before reaching an agreement.

Accept An Offer 

Once you receive an offer you like, you can accept it. To do this, you and the buyers will sign a contract stating the sales price and the date in which the new owners will move in and you will vacate the home.

You should also work with your real estate agent on any contingencies with the offer. A contingency is something that must happen before the home sale becomes official. If certain requirements are not met with these contingencies, the buyers can withdraw their offer without suffering any financial penalty.

One of the most important and common contingencies is a home inspection. Most offers will state that the buyers have the right to hire a home inspector to tour your residence before the sale becomes official. An inspector will look for any problems with your home.

If inspectors find any, the buyers can request that you fix them, provide them money to hire a contractor or deduct the cost of any repairs from the home’s final sales price. If the inspector finds problems that are serious and costly enough, the buyers might have the right to walk away from the sale without losing any money.

Offers will also include an appraisal contingency. Before the home sale can go through, the mortgage lender working with the buyers will send an appraiser to your home to determine its current market value. Lenders want to make sure your home is worth at least as much as what their buyers are paying for it. If the appraisal comes in too low, it could force you to lower the final sales price to keep the sale alive.

Close Your Home Sale 

After the home inspection and appraisal are complete, and if all goes well, it’s time to close your mortgage. Typically, you’ll do this at the office of your buyers’ title insurance provider, though you and the buyers can negotiate a different location. Sellers don’t always attend closings, either. They can sign the necessary documents before closing day. Closings can also be held virtually, which can save time for all the parties in a home sale.

During the sale, both buyers and sellers must sign the papers needed to transfer ownership of your home to your buyers. If you aren’t attending the closing, you’ll sign these papers before the date of closing.

You’ll also need to pay for your sellers’ closing costs. The biggest of these are typically the commissions of your real estate agent and the agent representing your buyers. This can run as high as 6% of your home’s purchase price. You’ll usually pay this out of the proceeds of your home sale.

You might also be responsible for paying closing costs related to taxes and title insurance.

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8 Tips For Selling Your House Faster 

1. Don’t Focus Solely On The Highest Bidder 

It’s tempting when selling your home to automatically accept the highest offer. But be careful: The highest offer isn’t always the best. Be sure to consider other key factors.

For instance, some buyers might ask for seller concessions, closing costs that they want you, as the seller of the home, to pay. Even if these buyers make the highest offer, the costs of these seller concessions might make their offer less valuable.

Consider, too, whether possible buyers have already been approved for their mortgage loan. If buyers have been preapproved for a mortgage, your real estate sale is less likely to fall through. Buyers who haven’t been preapproved for a mortgage might not qualify for a loan, which would scuttle your real estate sale.

If you are listing your home during a seller’s market, when there are fewer homes available then there are buyers, you might find yourself in a bidding war in which several buyers are vying for your home. This could lead to offers higher than your asking price. A bidding war could be lucrative for you, but you’ll have to work harder to determine which offer is the best.

2. Check Out The Other Homes In Your Area

Setting the right asking price is the key to selling your home quickly. You want to list your home at a price that brings in offers but also doesn’t leave profits on the table. Work closely with your real estate agent on this.

Your agent will study the real estate comps in your area (sales of nearby homes similar to yours). Your agent will show these comps to you so that you can set a realistic asking price.

3. Negotiate Offers Carefully

Don’t expect every offer to be exactly what you want. Most buyers will try to reduce your asking price. You must be prepared to negotiate with buyers to arrive at a final agreement that both you and they can accept. This is especially important in a buyer’s market in which there are more homes for sale than buyers who are looking for them.

You might be tempted to ignore offers that you don’t like, especially when buyers are offering a price that is significantly lower than your listing price. Don’t do this. Instead, send a counteroffer with a sales price closer to what you will accept. If you ignore too many offers, you might find that new ones aren’t coming quite as quickly.

4. Be Upfront About Property Issues

Don’t hide any problems with your home. A home inspector will most likely uncover them. And if you hide problems that the buyers later discover, you could face legal action.

You must provide your home’s buyers with a Seller’s Disclosure. This document will list several possible problems with a home. The sellers must check “yes,” “no” or “unknown” to each of them. A disclosure might list, for instance, whether a home’s basement floods, whether it has ever suffered a termite infestation or if it has lead paint or asbestos.

Don’t lie on this form. Your buyers can sue you for damages if you do.

5. Take High-Quality Listing Photos

Your home’s online listing is a key when selling. And photos are especially important.

The better your listing’s photos, the more enticing your home will appear to buyers. That’s why it’s important to include photos that make your home’s rooms appear airy and uncluttered. It’s also why you should take photos of your property’s best features. Have a large backyard and outdoor deck? Include these in your photos. Have an expansive master bedroom? Include photos of it.

Consider working with your real estate agent on hiring a professional photographer to snap photos of your home. And make sure your home is clean and uncluttered before photos are taken.

6. Boost The Home’s Curb Appeal

Another key factor in selling a home is its curb appeal. This is how a home looks when potential buyers drive up to it. If a home looks inviting from the outside, buyers are more likely to tour it. If your front yard is filled with weeds and overgrown grass buyers might drive past.

To boost your home’s curb appeal, plant flowers in the front yard, pull any weeds and keep the lawn nicely trimmed. Consider adding flowerpots to your home’s front porch and sweep sidewalks of leaves and dirt. Keep your home’s windows clean and wash its sidings. If your home needs a new exterior paint job, invest the money. It will pay off.

7. Avoid Real Estate ‘Love Letters’

You might receive “love letters” from possible buyers. These letters will state in detail what buyers love about your home and how hopeful they are that they can buy it. These might sound harmless, but they can violate fair housing laws. And in fact, they’re illegal to receive in the state of Oregon.

That’s because they might contain personal information about the buyers such as their age, race or religion. If you don’t eventually accept these buyers’ offers, they might claim that you turned them away because of these personal factors.

If buyers send you real estate love letters, don’t read them. Instead, pass them on to your real estate agent who will send them back to the buyers’ agents.

8. Don’t Make Decisions Based On Emotion

Finally, don’t let emotions overrule your judgment. You might want to instantly reject an offer instead of sending a counteroffer when buyers offer a price that you think is insultingly low. Don’t do this. It’s better to make a counteroffer.

Don’t let your emotions lead you to list your home at an unrealistically high price, either. It’s understandable that you might overvalue your home. After all, you might have raised a family here. You might have several good memories. But work with your agent to set an asking price that is in line with current market values. Getting too emotional might lead you to list your home at a price so high that buyers won’t make any offers.

Other Home Selling Tips For Maximum Market Success

To maximize your selling potential, there are a few extra things you should do. These could potentially get you more money for your property and save you other headaches down the road.

Be Upfront About Property Issues

Being transparent with prospective buyers about issues with the property is essential. Work with your agent to properly disclose property issues so they don’t come as a surprise on a home inspection. If you don’t disclose a property defect, it could lead to the sale falling through, or worse, you could end up in court.

Take High-Quality Photos For Your Listing

This should be a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at the number of listings with dark, shadowy and blurry photos. Take well-lit pictures of your home that showcase it in the best way. Include as much natural light as possible.

These pictures are someone’s introduction to your house. Bad pictures may mean they won’t even bother viewing your home in person. If you don’t have a good camera or the skills, speak with your agent. Chances are they’ve taken photos of several properties and know what works.

Work On Proper Staging And Curb Appeal

Staging your home for sale is incredibly important. You want to clean and declutter the home to make it presentable. Think about what you would do if you had prestigious visitors coming and wanted to impress them. Then think about what you would do if you wanted them to see themselves living in your home. This means packing keepsakes, artwork and collectibles that show your personality to make room for them to project theirs.

What’s the first thing a potential buyer will see when they pull up? It’s your curb appeal. Impressing them with well-maintained landscaping and fresh flowers is the first step to selling them on your home. Things as simple as a new layer of mulch and a handful of pretty plants can go a long way.

Clear Out Your Extra Stuff

If your home is busting at the seams and you’re in need of more space, you may want to cut down on your stuff. This can mean recycling, donating or selling unwanted items. If you’ll be moving somewhere larger soon, it could mean renting storage to stow away furniture and other large items.

Remember that the more space you make in your home before showing, the larger it will seem to the buyer. If you have every corner filled and are out of storage space, consider options to free up space in your home.

FAQ: Selling A House 

How long does it take to sell a house?

How long it takes to sell your home depends on a variety of factors. Your home will sell faster if it is priced properly. It’ll also sell faster if it sits in a popular neighborhood, is well-maintained and staged. The type of market – a seller’s or buyer’s – matters, too.

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that in August of 2021, homes sat on the market for an average of 17 days before selling. But that was during a hot seller’s market. It could take your home longer to sell, depending on how high demand is for homes when you list your property.

How much does it cost to sell a house?

Selling a home is far from cheap. The biggest expense you’ll face is the agent’s commission. This can vary, but typically, sellers pay the buyer’s and seller’s agents around 6% of their home’s final sales price. If you sell your home for $250,000, you’d pay from $12,500 to $15,000 to your agent. Your agent will then split this commission with the agent who represented the buyers. You’ll typically pay this fee out of the profits from your home sale.

Buyer’s handle most of the closing costs in a home sale. But there are some closing costs that seller’s pay, including title fees and taxes. Typically, these run from 2% – 3% of the home’s final sales price. Again, if you sell your home for $250,000, you’ll pay from $2,500 – $7,500 in closing costs.

As you can see, between closing costs and your agent’s commission, you could spend up to $22,500 if you sell your home for $250,000. Again, you’ll typically pay these fees out of the proceeds from your home sale.

How much work do I have to put into my home to sell it?

You want your home to look as inviting as possible when you are selling. But how much you should spend on repairs depends on your market and the return those repairs will bring. A new kitchen might attract more buyers, but the price of renovating this space might be so high that you won’t see a good return on your investment. But painting your bedroom walls and replacing old carpeting? Those more inexpensive enhancements could pay off.

Your best move is to speak with your real estate agent about what updates could help your home sell faster for a reasonable investment on your part.

The Bottom Line: Prepare Your House To Sell

Selling your home is far from a quick process. It involves setting the right asking price, staging your home so that it looks its best, boosting your residence’s curb appeal and effectively marketing your home to the deepest possible pool of buyers.

Doing this on your own is a challenge. That’s why it makes sense to work with a skilled real estate agent. If you’re ready to sell, you can turn to Rocket Homes℠ to find a listing agent who can help you nab the best price for your home.

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Dan Rafter

Dan Rafter has been writing about personal finance for more than 15 years. He's written for publications ranging from the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post to Wise Bread, RocketMortgage.com and RocketHQ.com.