How Do I Sell My House in California?


|10 min read

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The Golden State is known for its extremely high real estate prices. Does that mean that you can sell a house in California for millions of dollars every time? Not necessarily. Selling property in California is complex. From Bakersfield to San Diego, not all California cities are made equal when it comes to homes. If you’re planning on selling your house in California, this post will give you the clarity and edge needed to come out on the other end on top.

Identify Your End Buyer

Now, be honest with yourself. Who would actually buy your California home? Start with this question and be brutally honest with yourself. Just because you absolutely fell head-over-heels with your house doesn’t mean the next buyer will.

Home sellers in CA can get themselves stuck in a trap because they think that perfect buyer is out there waiting for their property to hit the market. Because of this, they list it at a high price and wait months – only to hear coyotes cackling in the background of the golden hills.

Work with an expert real estate agent and figure out exactly what type of people (or companies) that will be interested in buying your home. Reverse engineer the process by starting with your end avatar buyer. Once you know that, it will be easier to know exactly how to sell your house in California.

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Owner-occupants buy homes to live in. Imagine a family with kids and a dog that wants to move into a home. They’ll likely be using an FHA loan, putting down a small downpayment, and hoping to stay there for decades. They can also be couples or individuals interested in a nice primary residence to call home. You’ll want to tailor your marketing strategy a certain way if this is your ideal end buyer.

Local Investor

Local investors usually buy properties to rent or flip. Many of these companies that invest in California real estate look for properties that need work. They prefer a place that they can put money into as a renovation and create a margin through sweat equity.


iBuyers are very common in California due to the high real estate values. These are large real estate companies that connect with home sellers online and make instant offers. They offer convenience and speed to homeowners looking for an easy sale. However, they might not offer the highest price. This option is great if you prioritize a quick sale.

Define Your Selling Priorities

Knowing what you want from the sale helps you make better decisions. Ask yourself, what’s the most important thing to you and anyone else involved at this point? Here are a few things to consider.

Do You Care More About Profit?

If maximizing profit is your goal, you might need to invest time and money. You can start by listing your property for a sky-high price. While it may take months to get, eventually, the right California buyer could come along and make you an offer.

Another lens to look at profitability is reinvesting in your property before selling it. This includes strategies like making repairs and staging the home. Certain renovations typically yield a higher return once you sell – like the kitchen or bathrooms. For homeowners who have all the time in the world and care mostly about price, it could be worth knocking out a few repairs before listing your home.

Is Time Your Top Priority?

Sometimes selling quickly is more important to homeowners. People may have future plans that have come up fast, like a job relocation. Others may simply be tired of all the headaches surrounding homeownership, leading them to want a quicker sale.

Define your top priority, whether it be time or money. If time is more important to you, consider listing your home for a lesser amount than others on the market that are similar to yours. This is an easy way to get a ton of offers in a short amount of time.

How About Both?

Can you have your cake and eat it, too, when selling a house in California? Balancing profit and speed is tricky but possible. Once you know who your end buyer is, set a competitive but realistic price for that person (or company). Make minor repairs without overdoing it. Invest a little, but also make it easy on yourself so you can sell in a timely manner.

Figure Out Your Effort and Budget Capacities

Decide how much effort and money you can invest in the selling process. That way, you can clearly know how you will sell your California house and feel good about it. Clarity is powerful, especially when it comes to such a large decision like this.

How Much Money Do You Want to Invest?

Costs can add up quickly when selling a home. Expenses like cleaning, staging, and repairs add up quickly. Holding open houses also incurs costs. Plus, there are holding costs that you still pay for the time that you own the property, such as HOA fees and mortgage payments. Plan a budget and stick to it.

How Much Time Do You Want to Invest?

Time is a finite resource in this life and in selling real estate. Deep cleaning, decluttering, and minor repairs all eat away at your precious time. Staging your home for buyers also requires effort. Decide how much time you can realistically commit to your California home sale.

Negotiate Based on Demand in Your Market

Understanding the local market is key to successful negotiation. Not all California cities are made equal. For example, San Diego is currently a seller’s market. There is a low inventory of homes on the market, which means the ball is in your court when selling a property. On the flip side, a place like Bakersfield might have less demand from buyers.

In a seller’s market, when demand exceeds supply, you have more negotiating power. Leverage that! Wait for better offers because they are more likely to come if you are patient. In a buyer’s market, supply exceeds demand. You might need to be more flexible with pricing and terms. Look at your market with an honest eye. That will help you decide on the best home-selling strategy for you and your California home.


>>The Best (and Worst) Time to Sell Your Home

>>12 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home

>>Ask a Licensed Real Estate Agent for Advice

Alex Capozzolo Craig Sanger Realty

Alex is a realtor, landlord, and investor in San Diego, CA. He owns 17 rental units and toggles between being a landlord and a realtor. Alex has been blogging for the real estate industry for +5 years. During his downtime, he enjoys surfing, hiking, and journaling.

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