The Essential Dos (and Don’ts) of Selling a House


|10 min read

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If you want to sell your house but aren’t quite sure what to do — and what not to do — our guide on the dos and don’ts when selling a home can help. 

selling a house

What To Do To Sell Your House

Almost every homeowner looking to sell their property has asked: “What do I do to sell my house?” Below, we have rounded up six great tips to help you speed up the selling process and make it as smooth and successful as possible.

1. DO Work With a Trusted Agent

Teaming up with a reputable real estate agent brings many benefits when selling a house. Firstly, a listing agent with solid local knowledge can advise you on a wide range of matters — from pricing your home to deciding which repairs and improvements to carry out.

Secondly, a great agent will also support you throughout the entire process, making it as smooth and stress-free as possible. Your chosen agent will also act as an expert intermediary between you and your potential buyers regarding the legal parts of the selling process, which can be challenging to navigate alone.

2. DO Consider Timing

When selling your house, another crucial factor to consider mind is timing. Different times of the year have different success rates for closing sales quickly, efficiently, and profitably.

In fact, spring has long been recognized as the best season for home sales. This is due to many factors, including milder weather, better lighting conditions (an essential aspect when viewing a house), and people’s eagerness to buy a house and settle down before schools start again in the fall.

And trying to sell a house in winter — particularly around the Christmas holidays — is generally not advisable. But, again, this is because people are in festive mode; many leave town to visit family and friends, and finances tend to be tighter after all the seasonal shopping.

3. DO Get To Know the Market 

Even if you have lived in the house you are about to sell for a long time, you might need to learn how your area’s real estate market is performing. This is a crucial aspect to consider before deciding when and how to sell your property.

While you can certainly run some research by yourself, being familiar with your local market in a much more in-depth way requires the expert support of a knowledgeable real estate agent. Markets change very quickly and sometimes unpredictably, which can affect how your sale will perform once your house is listed. 

A trusted real estate agent will be fully in-the-know and able to help you better understand market conditions to maximize your sale potential.

4. DO Work With Lighting

Who doesn’t love a bright, airy home? Good, natural light is a fundamental factor when selling a house; it instantly gives the property a fresher, more vibrant appeal. 

To achieve this, try to work with natural light first. Make sure that your viewings are held during the daytime, keep all curtains and blinds open, and ensure all the windows are spotlessly clean.

5. DO Make Your Kitchen the Heart of the Home

What sells a home more than a cozy, spacious, welcoming kitchen? Yes, the kitchen truly is the heart of the home and one of the main rooms buyers are interested in when viewing a property. This is one of the few home renovations you might want to consider carrying out, and one that almost always pays off.

You don’t need to go overboard: A few new countertops or tiles, a brand-new refrigerator, and the right lighting can transform a mediocre kitchen into a marvelous one. Instead, you may want to speak with your real estate agent or consult an interior designer to ensure you’re making the most of the space and items you already have.

6. DO Take the Time To Clean, Declutter, and Tidy Up

How perfect does your house have to be to sell? Well, perfection may not be attainable, but interested buyers are all looking for one thing: a clean, tidy, and decluttered property. Therefore, another thing to add to your to-do list is giving your entire house a deep clean, removing trash or clutter, and re-organizing each room.

You can either choose to do it yourself, which will be more affordable though potentially more time-consuming, or you could work with a professional company that can provide you with those services for a fee.

dos and donts of selling a house

What NOT To Do When Selling Your Home

As well as knowing what to do when you are ready to sell a house, you should also be aware of what not to do and what makes a house hard to sell. Read below for six great tips.

1. DON’T Underestimate the Importance of Curb Appeal

Thinking that your potential buyers might only be interested in the interiors of your house is a big mistake — and one that often leads sellers to neglect a crucial element of their property: the exterior curb.

A house with excellent curb appeal is a house that sells better, faster, and more profitably than one with a poorly maintained entry. Therefore, before you put your property on the market, make sure your home’s exteriors are just as neat, polished, and attractive as the inside of your house.

The best bit? Boosting your property’s curb appeal is generally not difficult or expensive. You can even try the DIY approach, as a few minor esthetic touches might be enough to enhance the look and feel of your curb.

2. DON’T Make Huge Improvements Right Away

Massive, unnecessary improvements are one of the main things not to do when selling your home. Aside from being very costly and time-consuming, they can also put even more pressure on you during an already stressful time.

When working out what not to fix when selling a house, consider the expected return on investment (ROI). For example, will that $3,000 bathroom renovation pay off, or is it an unnecessary improvement for your home to sell? Extensive home renovations bring a lot of delays and disruption to the entire selling process, so you want to be careful and wise with choosing whether or not to go ahead with them.

3. DON’T Neglect Cupboards and Closets

Whether or not you are hosting an open house, most of your potential buyers will want to take a look inside your closets and cupboards. This helps them better understand factors like closet size, capacity, materials, and more.

For this reason, remember to consider these areas. Before you welcome potential buyers, make sure you’ve cleared up and decluttered everything from your pantry to your refrigerator, from your bedroom closets to any other storage spaces around your home.

This is even more important if you have any valuables that could potentially be at risk during an open house. In this case, find a safe and secure place to store them while interested buyers are touring the property.

4. DON’T Jump on Any Trend Going

When selling a house, it can be tempting to look at the latest home decoration and interior design trends and try incorporating as many of them as possible into your property. Unfortunately, while jumping on one or two of these trends may help, going overboard can be what stops a house from selling.

Most trends are fleeting and highly personal. For example, if you have read that bold colors are all the rage now in interior design and want to add bright accents throughout your home, be prepared that only some potential buyers might find this trend tasteful.

The result of too many trends in one home? Your house may end up sitting on the market for much longer — and you may spend too much money on a short-lived trend that won’t pay off.

Try to stick to a more neutral and timeless décor, as this will help buyers see the real potential of your house as a canvas upon which they can add anything they like once it’s theirs.

5. DON’T Skimp on Professional Photos

Selling a house comes with many costs, so it can be easy to fall into the trap of the DIY approach. Of course, some aspects of the house-selling process can be done affordably and independently, but others are truly best left to the professionals.

One such aspect is photography. When you list your property on and offline, you’ll want it to look its best from all angles. The best way to achieve this is to work with an expert photographer who can come to your house and set up each room in the most sell-worthy way.

From choosing the perfect lighting to advising you on minor improvements and decor updates, a professional photographer is an investment that pays off when selling a house. Plus, real estate photographers are relatively affordable: Fees range between $100 and $300, depending on the number of shots taken and the size of your property.

6. DON’T Overprice Your Home

After you have taken care of any improvements, decluttering, and cleaning, you’ll want to set a price for your property. Of course, every homeowner wants to sell their house for a lot of money, but the reality is often very different.

Many elements go into this decision, including the market type, time of the year, property size, market history, and more. Working with a real estate agent will help you to assess all these factors and use the findings to decide on a final price.

Remember, though, that even in a seller’s market, you still shouldn’t overprice your home. This may mean that your house will sit on the market longer than you’d like, discouraging buyers and pushing them to look elsewhere.

couple meeting with real estate agent

Some Other Things To Know Before Selling Your House

The tips in the previous two sections are the bare minimum that you should do when you are in the process of selling your home. There are, in fact, many other things to consider when selling a house, so let’s take a look at a couple below.

Documents and Paperwork

The number of documents and paperwork to fill in, print out, sign off, and store safely when selling a house can be intimidating. So it can help to create a list of everything — or at least the bare minimum — you’ll need.

Such documents include your original sale contract, mortgage loan, house deed, mandatory disclosures, property tax, homeowners insurance, and purchase and sale agreement.

Home Staging (Professional or DIY)

More and more homeowners are jumping on the home staging bandwagon when it’s time to sell their property. While staging a house professionally can add a significant cost to your overall expenses — the average cost is almost $1,800 — it can also help you sell your home faster.

Don’t have the cash for professional home staging? In some cases, the DIY approach might suffice. Simply declutter your house, give it a deep clean, and remove all personal items and décor so that potential buyers can picture themselves living there more easily and effortlessly.

So What Really Sells a Home?

From boosting curb appeal to decluttering every nook and cranny, from pricing the property right to working with a trusted real estate agent, many things can help sell your house.

Are you about to sell your home? We have plenty of great tips, information, and resources on how to do so quickly and effectively.

Steph Matarazzo FastExpert Inc

Steph is the Marketing Director at FastExpert and has been working in the real estate data and research world for over three years. She is passionate about educating people on the real estate market and Excel spreadsheets. She lives on the East Coast with her family and recently purchased her own home.

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