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Selling A House In 6 Steps: A How-To Guide

8-Minute Read
Published on December 21, 2023
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Selling a home can be a complex process involving several steps. You’ll need to stage your living spaces, take photos for the listing, calculate your asking price and negotiate with buyers, all before you choose the best offer.

Fortunately, there are ways you can make the home selling process as stress-free as possible. You can streamline the steps and increase your odds of landing the best sales price with our how-to guide below.

How To Sell Your House: 6 Essential Steps

There are six 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. Let’s take a closer look at each step and go over some tips you can use to sell your home more quickly.

1. Prepare Your Home For Sale

Before you put your home up for sale, you must prepare the interior and exterior of your house. This means cleaning your home inside and out or even putting away some of your home decor. It could also mean working with a home stager who can reorganize your house so that your property shows at its best.

Clear Out Your Extra Stuff

If your home is bursting at the seams and you need 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.

Stage Your Home

You should be prepared to stage your home as well. 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. The goal is 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.

Increase Your Curb Appeal

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. If your front or back yards are choked with weeds, you may also consider removing them.

2. Find A Real Estate Agent

Your next task will be to find a real estate agent. While you might be tempted to go the “for sale by owner” (FSBO) route in order to avoid paying a commission fee, hiring a real estate professional can offer many benefits. A skilled real estate agent can help you sell your home faster and for the highest price. This might make paying that commission worth the investment.

Hiring an agent also allows you to list your home on the multiple listing service (MLS) so that buyers can find your property online. They schedule showings of your home, host open houses and help you set the right asking price. Not to mention, a good listing agent will give you advice on accepting an offer and fill out the necessary paperwork for the real estate transaction.

Interview Prospective Listing Agents

When you start the home selling process, consider setting up interviews where you can ask potential agents some questions. You might want to work with agents who know your community, are familiar with local home values and have experience selling properties like yours. Ask for references from any agent you interview. Then call those past clients to find out how responsible and effective the agents were.

3. List Your Home

Once you’ve found an agent, it’s time to list your home on the MLS. Doing this will make it available to a wider pool of potential home buyers who are searching online for houses in your community.

In order to complete your listing, your agent will ask you some questions about the property. They’ll ensure that the listing includes details such as the home’s total square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen appliances and more. You can also use the following tips to help create the best possible listing for your house:

Set A Competitive Asking Price

Before listing, 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 of nearby homes similar to yours with a comparative market analysis (CMA). This will help you and your agent determine a fair price that should encourage offers from potential buyers while maximizing your profits.

Prep Your Home For Photos

You should also take the time to prepare your home for photos. This could mean replacing old worn-out rugs, painting faded walls, cleaning off counters or installing new kitchen curtains. If anything is broken, like a damaged wall or crooked cabinet door, fix it. Once your home is looking beautiful, you can schedule a professional photo session with a real estate photographer. High-quality photos are vitally important when listing your home online.

Fill Out Your Seller’s Disclosure

At this stage of the selling process, you’ll also want to complete a Seller’s Disclosure form. 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.

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4. Review And Negotiate Offers

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

The buyer’s agent will typically send written offers to your listing agent. An offer will include the price that the buyers are willing to pay. In most markets, the price will usually be a bit lower than the listing price. However, if you are selling during a seller’s market – when demand is especially high for homes – 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.

5. Finalize The Deal

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 closing date on which the new homeowners will move in and you will vacate the property.

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.

To prevent the sale from falling through, you should consider the following:

Be Prepared To Make Repairs Or Lower Your Price

One of the most important and common contingencies is a home inspection contingency. Most offers will state that the buyers have the right to hire a home inspector to tour the 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.

However, if the inspector finds problems that the home seller refuses to fix, the buyers might have the right to walk away from the sale without losing any money. To keep the sale on track, you should be ready to make some repairs or reduce your asking price.

Get Ready For A Home Appraisal

Offers may 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 the 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.

Even though an appraisal is dependent on many factors, you can help your home receive a more accurate valuation by making some small preparations. For instance, cleaning up your living spaces, creating a list of home improvements you’ve made and being available to answer questions can help the appraiser recognize your home’s value.

6. Close Your Home Sale

After the home inspection and appraisal are complete, and if all goes well, it’s time to close the sale. 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.

Pay Your Closing Costs

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.

FAQs About Selling A House

Do you still have some questions about the steps to selling a house? Learn more with the answers to these frequently asked questions.

How long does it take to sell a house?

How long it takes to sell your home depends on a variety of factors, including the type of real estate market you’re in, how well-maintained and staged your home is and where your neighborhood is located. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, listed properties stayed on the market for 23 days in October 2023. But keep in mind, 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?

The total cost to sell a house depends on the agreement between the buyer and seller. If you’ve agreed to cover some of the buyer’s closing costs, you could end up paying more. But in most cases, your largest closing cost will be the agents’ commissions, typically around 6% of the selling price.

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 depends on your market and the return those upgrades will bring. 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

Selling your home is quite the process. It involves setting the right asking price, staging your living spaces, boosting your residence’s curb appeal and effectively marketing your listing to 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.