If you’re planning on selling your home and moving, whether you’re staying in the same area but need more space or moving to an entirely new area, you are likely wondering just what you need to do to sell your house successfully with minimal fuss. The housing market can be fickle, but there are steps you can take to maximize your return, shrink the time frame, and reduce stress. It’s all about having a clear plan, so just follow these steps, and you’ll be moving on in no time.
The first step to selling your home is to find professionals. You won’t need to hire all of them right away, but you’ll want the list of names handy. Look for contractors, repair professionals, stagers, real estate photographers, a cleaner, an inspector, as well as a real estate agent. The agent should be the first one you hire and can provide recommendations on other professionals to handle any needs you may have during the selling process.
How long have you been in business?
What is your list-price-to-sale-price ratio?
How many homes have you closed in my neighborhood?
Do you have references?
What would be your plan of action for selling my house?
Before you can really prepare your home to sell, you need to pack up as many of your things as possible. Take down all of the photos on your wall, pack away your knick-knacks and travel souvenirs – really, all you should leave out are the things you absolutely need for the next several weeks, like sheets, a couple of pots, pans, and dishes, and any other essentials. Even extra furniture can be prepared to move. Label each box carefully – when you move, it will help you unpack what you need faster, but it will also make it easy to find an item that you unexpectedly need.
Evaluate your home
Now that you’ve packed your things, you’re likely noting small repairs that need to be done – a stain that was under a corner table or some scratches on the wall. It’s much easier to see problems when there’s nothing shielding them from view. Go through your house, room by room, and make a list of every repair that can be done, every element that looks outdated and could be updated, and every task that would be needed to make your home look brand-new. Add on any issues that aren’t visible, but you know about – the leaky faucet in the guest bath, the one plug that doesn’t work, or the window where you always feel a draft in the winter. Not all of these tasks will be or need to be completed, but if you have a thorough list, you can decide what is worth the time and effort versus what isn’t.
Next, sit down and evaluate the costs of selling your home. This can include how much needs to be paid off on your mortgage, any taxes for selling your home, the realtor’s commission, attorney fees, the cost of an inspection, staging costs, repair costs, and anything else that you might have to pay for. Doing so lets you determine what your budget is for repairs and upgrades, as well as how much you’d like to get for the house to cover those costs and net a profit if possible.
Get an inspection
Before you lock down any repair people, have an inspection done. While buyers will likely want their own inspection before closing, doing one now gives you advance notice of any issues so that you can have them handled at your convenience rather than paying a higher cost to resolve them without delaying the closing. Once you have the results, you’ll know what must be done to pass inspection and decide what else you want to do to make your house stand out from other listings.
Complete repairs and renovations
Bring in professionals to handle any repairs and most or all of the upgrades. Be choosy about what projects you decide to invest in, however. Completely gutting and redesigning your kitchen is a bad idea – you simply won’t net a worthwhile return on that. Instead, if your kitchen seems outdated, try painting the cabinets and replacing the hardware. It costs a fraction of a big remodel but can have a significant visual impact on buyers.
Check your curb appeal
Next, go outside. The exterior of your home is the first thing people are going to see, so it’s important that it be inviting. Clean up your gardens, mow your lawn, and stain or paint any spots on your porch or deck that need it. You may also want to think about the plants you’ve been growing – if you have a green thumb and have been cultivating some difficult plants, you may want to take those with you and replace them with hardier options.
Clean, clean, clean
Hire a professional cleaning company to come in and scrub your house from top to bottom. While you may be very good at maintaining hygienic standards, before listing your home, every single inch needs to be cleaned – under the fridge, in the air ducts, even the dreaded baseboards. Professionals can do so quickly and efficiently, saving you a lot of time and trouble. You should also consider hiring a pressure-washing company for the exterior. It can be shocking just how dingy the walkways have gotten, and pressure-washing will also make the siding of your house look brand-new.
Set the stage
It’s time to call in the stager. A professional stager has experience in interior design to maximize the appearance of your home. They will carefully select furniture, rugs, and other pieces to showcase the property’s best features while minimizing flaws, like the oddly-angled wall in your living room or a particularly small bedroom. They also stay up-to-date on trends in interior design, so they know when buyers are looking for home offices over nurseries and can dress rooms appropriately.
Photograph the property
After your house is staged and looks like it belongs in a magazine, bring in a real estate photographer. It’s important to find someone specialized, as they will best know how to use lighting and angles to make your home look its best. Do not use grainy and dim cell phone photos to market your home.
Market your home
Your real estate agent will handle the bulk of the marketing for you, but you should know what they intend, and there are things you should do yourself. Generally, houses are listed on MLS sites, then promoted across both print media and social media to increase the reach to potential buyers. They may also schedule an open house to draw people in to see your home in a no-pressure environment.
Show and receive
Handle the final details
Once you’ve accepted an offer, you’ll have a few weeks to handle any final details. This is when the buyer’s inspection will be done, and you may need to fix any issues found or reduce the sale price in exchange. You’ll also want to finish any other tasks before the closing date, from getting paperwork to notifying your HOA.
Close the deal
On closing day, carefully read and sign the paperwork your agent has drafted and hand over the keys. It’s time to move on to your next adventure!