Seller’s Guide: How to Sell Your Home

Selling at the right time is crucial to getting the most for your property. According to recent statistics, most of the U.S. is a seller’s market, with demand outstripping supply. So working out how to sell your house in 2023 is still a wise move for sellers looking to get the highest price possible.

If you decide to sell your home, you know the decision can come with many questions and potential projects. So we’ve put together a list of the top 7 home selling tips necessary to get the most out of the process. So if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t worry, we do. And we’re here to help.

The 7 Steps to Selling a Home

Existing home sales have cooled down since interest rates began rising as of lately. Recession fears are also contributing to a decrease in sales. In August 2022, existing home sales fell by 0.4%, based on a seasonally adjusted annual rate.

Potential headwinds make it crucial for sellers to be prepared for a tough market in the years ahead. Prepping your home for sale before you list your house will enable a faster sale, less stress, and a higher selling price.

Here are seven steps that will take you from  getting your home ready to sell all the way to packing the final box.  

1. Pre-Sale Planning

Prepping your home for sale, otherwise known as “staging,” is an opportunity to set up a hassle-free sale.

Going through these steps ensures you won’t run into any snags when buyers begin inspecting your home.

Research Your Home Value

Home prices have surged across the country in the last two years. In the first quarter of 2022, the median home sales price was $428,700, a 30% increase from 2020’s figure of $329,000. However, the growth in the housing market remains uneven, with some areas increasing and others remaining relatively static.

If you want to sell your house fast, the first step is to price your property accordingly. Begin by examining the selling prices of comparable homes in your area. What happens in a different neighborhood is irrelevant. Engaging a trusted real estate agent with an in-depth knowledge of your locality will ensure you don’t overprice or underprice your property.

Assess Your Home Equity

Your home’s equity is crucial to selling your home. Equity is how much of your home you have paid off. For example, if you put down a 20% payment on a home, you already have 20% home equity.

While there’s no requirement to hold equity in your home, more equity allows you to lower your home’s listing price and upsize to a larger home. U.S. homeowners today benefit from record home equity, averaging $300,000.

Leveraging your equity as part of your sale can enable you to put more money in your pocket.

Generally, most experts recommend holding at least 10% equity in your home before selling. However, if you’re upsizing, consider a minimum of 15% equity to finance your move.

Estimate Costs and Profit

Is it even worth selling your home right now?

The last thing you want is to sell your home for less than you paid. Factoring in the closing costs, fees, and taxes involved in selling your home will tell you whether it’s a good idea to embark on the home selling process.Rates vary for every transaction, but as a seller, you can expect to pay 2% to 4% of the sale price in total costs, including your agent’s commission.

2. Find a Trusted Real Estate Agent

Having the right help matters. Find an agent who has sales in your neighborhood or zip code and one who understands your needs. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sellers who used a real estate agent sold their homes for an average of 22% more than those selling on their own.

Refer to a Real Estate Agent Platform

Finding a real estate agent is challenging because there are many options, especially in major metropolitan areas.

Make your search simpler using a real estate agent platform like FastExpert to connect with an award-winning real estate agent. Our platform lets you see all the details, including customer reviews, at a glance.

Review and Select an Agent

Never choose the first agent you come across. The key to how to sell your house is to create a shortlist of agents and engage with them.

Ask every agent on your shortlist how they maximize value for their clients. First, question them on their fees and then consider whether their selling processes make them an asset to your real estate selling journey.

Never choose an agent purely because of their fees. If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.

Determine Your List Price

Listing prices must balance attracting potential buyers while ensuring you don’t leave money on the table. Working with a trusted real estate agent provides access to local real estate statistics, empowering you to make an intelligent decision.

Navigating today’s market is even more challenging for sellers because 42.42% of homes sold above the listing price in February 2022. While the market has cooled since then, these high prices indicate many sellers aren’t listing their homes at high enough prices.

Remember, listing too high allows you to lower the price later, but you’ll never recoup those lost dollars if you list too low.

How to Sell Your Home Without a Realtor

Many sellers consider how to sell a home by owner because they don’t want to pay any real estate commissions. But, unfortunately, while saving a few percent may sound smart, you’re opening yourself up to more work, stress, and potentially lower profits.

Anyone can sell a home without a realtor by listing their homes on any popular real estate portal or even classified ad platforms like Craigslist.

On the other hand, there are few tangible benefits to not using a realtor. However, with experience in selling, you can avoid the whole process becoming a nightmare. Check out FastExpert to see what realtors in your area can do for you.

3. Prepare Your Home For Listing

After reviewing the numbers and consulting realtors, it’s time to prepare your house for the market. This process is critical to how to sell your house quickly and with minimum fuss.

When small areas of a house are in disrepair, it tells potential buyers that the home may not have been taken care of. Spending time fixing the small things and ensuring everything is in working order can show buyers that your home has been cared for and is ready for new occupants.

Consult Your Agent For Necessary Repairs

Launching a wholesale renovation project isn’t necessary to sell a home. However, some repairs are necessary. For example, buyers will expect a significant discount if your home has structural or mechanical issues.

Your goal is to make your home as marketable as possible. First, work with your agent to order a home inspection. Home inspectors aren’t legally required, but they can flag any issues that could be a barrier to marketing your home for its maximum value.

Consider Effective Home Renovations

What is an effective home renovation?

Renovations should increase your home’s value while recouping most of its costs. Some renovations are more in-demand than others, with the most valuable home improvement projects being:

  • Adding a wooden deck
  • Replacing your home’s siding
  • Minor kitchen remodel
  • Bathroom remodel
  • Window replacement

Anything that can increase your home’s appeal would be considered an effective home renovation. Talk to your agent about cost-effective home improvement projects. Your agent can make recommendations based on how much capital you have and how quickly you want to move.

Declutter and Depersonalize

Homes that are clean, decluttered, and without personal items everywhere tend to sell much better than the opposite. Cleaning removes distractions and gives the house a chance to shine. Depersonalizing your space allows buyers to envision themselves living there easily. Making your home look nice can pay off when you start offering offers.

Clean Your Home

Keeping your home clean enhances the look and feel of your home. It allows you to highlight the most-coveted features of your home intelligently. There’s a real connection between home values and cleanliness, with clean homes selling for more than those presented “as is.”

Consider a full deep clean before taking photos and staging your home. Enlisting a professional cleaning company should only cost a few hundred dollars, but it’s an investment well worth making before your first open house.

Invest in Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the impression your home gives off when seeing it for the first time. Unfortunately, the average time to form a first impression is 27 seconds, meaning if you don’t nail it immediately, you have an uphill battle to sell your home.

Most agents agree that dolling up the front of your home should be a priority. However, mowing your lawn, painting your home, and investing in professional landscaping can give you an edge over the competition.

Stage Your Home

A big mistake that homeowners make is using bad pictures to market their homes. According to the NAR, in 2021, 95% of buyers used online tools to search for a home. Unfortunately, when buyers see bad-quality pictures that don’t show off the home well, they get easily turned off.

Your agent should be able to recommend a professional photographer to take pictures of your home. While it may seem like a superfluous expense, it can impact how much interest you garner from the market.

4. Marketing Your Home

Marketing your home will determine how fast you can sell and the price you get for your home. With more than two million real estate agents across the country, this is where your realtor earns their commissions.

Depending on the current market, you may get a lot of interest or just a few showings requests. Either way, making your home available to all buyers who want to see it will increase your chances of a sale. Keeping it in tip-top shape will also work in your favor with impressing potential buyers.

Promote Your Home Online and Offline

Curb appeal is what most people talk about in terms of selling a home. However, successful agents now talk about online appeal because how your home appears online is just as important. Spreading your reach across multiple platforms and brokerages is key to maximizing your reach.

You also need to think about offline sales. Your offline appeal applies to curb appeal when people visit and how your home looks in the window or catalog of a realtor.

Engaging an agent that knows how to utilize both increases your pool of potential buyers.

Prepare for House Showings

To prepare for house showings, keep your home as clean and free of clutter as possible. Also, make sure you’re flexible. Narrowing down house viewing times will only lead buyers to look elsewhere.

One top tip for how to sell your house is to make yourself scarce. Meeting the buyer is distracting and potentially intimidating for buyers. In addition, it’s not uncommon for buyers to feel unable to express their opinions honestly when the current owner is lurking in the background.

You can always ask your agent to be present at the time. Remember, the goal of a house showing is to allow potential buyers to imagine themselves living in that space.

Review Offers and Accept

Assuming all went well, you should begin receiving offers within weeks of listing your home. Of course, all offers must be reviewed in line with your priorities.

Whether you are looking for a quick sale, a high profit, a long rent-back, or someone to love your home as much as you did, it’s important to remember your priorities when considering offers. The best offer for your house is one that fits what is most important to you.

5. Due Diligence

Before buying a property, buyers can kick the tires on the property before closing the sale. It’s a chance for buyers to investigate the home for potential problems that could cost significant funding to fix.

While most of the legwork happens on the buyer’s side, sellers still must be prepared for due diligence.

Home Inspection and Negotiating Repairs

Intelligent buyers will order a home inspection before closing. If anything is discovered, such as problems with the roof, foundations, electric, or plumbing systems, the buyer can negotiate a lower price to cover any repairs.

Problems don’t always have to derail a sale, but they can cut how much you get for your home. So make sure you engage fully with the process, be reasonable, and be flexible.

Get Ready For a Home Appraisal

Getting ready for an appraisal is relatively simple. First, make any repairs on items that will be left behind. Next, ensure inspectors can access all areas of the house, including attic spaces and basements.

If you’ve recently completed repairs or renovations, gather the paperwork to prove the work was carried out. Invoices and receipts are examples of proof of recent work.

Clear Your House Title

A clean house title is critical to closing a sale. Clearing your title confirms you own the home, and there are no potential liens or other claims on the home. Examples of aspects that could lead to a dirty title include:

  • Claims from heirs
  • Fraud
  • Separation/divorce
  • Trusts

The buyer is responsible for ensuring a home has a clear title. You can facilitate the process by providing the deeds and records of previous sales.

6. Close the Sale

The next step is to close the sale. Then, assuming the buyer is happy with the property’s price and condition, it’s time to address the nuts and bolts of the deal.

Your realtor will work with the buyer’s agent to complete this process.

Go Through Your Settlement Statement

Before closing, you’ll need to look over the settlement statement. A settlement statement details the fees and credits making up the real estate transaction. It details where money has changed hands at every stage of the process.

Some examples of items appearing on a settlement statement include:

  • Real estate commissions
  • Taxes owed to local municipalities
  • Lender charges

It also details who is responsible for each fee. Go through every charge and dispute anything that doesn’t appear correct.

Collect Proceeds from the Sale

If both sides are happy with the settlement agreement, you can collect the sale proceeds from the designated escrow company.

Most of the time, you can collect your check on the day of the sale. Remember, if you complete the sale after 2 pm Pacific time on a Friday, you’ll have to wait until Monday. All wires operate on Eastern time, meaning the cut-off is 5 pm Eastern.

Assess Taxes on the Sale

You may be eligible to pay capital gains taxes on your home. Capital gains tax applies if you have owned and lived in the home for less than two of the five years leading up to the date of the sale. If you qualify for avoiding capital gains, you can exclude up to $500,000 of your profits if married and filing jointly. Any other tax status means you can exclude $250,000 of potential profit.

As part of this home sellers guide, we recommend working with a tax advisor to reduce your capital gains taxes, such as by accounting for home improvements and selling expenses.

7. Moving Out

It’s time to move out of your old home and into your new one. The moving process is usually as simple as getting your stuff and leaving. But there are certain things you need to do before you leave.

Transfer Utilities

Make sure your utilities stay on for the business day after closing. Delays in closing the sale could mean you’re left without utilities over the weekend if the sale fails to record because of a non-business day.

Remember, once you turn off your utilities, some companies can take 24-48 hours to turn them back on at your new place, especially if a technician needs to visit your home. So ideally, your utilities should always be kept on for a short time.

Change Your Address in Your Accounts

Make sure your essential mail is routed to your new abode. Update your address on the official USPS Change of Address website. Change your address at least two weeks before the day the sale closes so that the changes have a chance to take effect.

Go out of your way to notify any creditors, family, and friends you have of your change of address. Alter your subscriptions to ensure nothing gets delivered to your old home.

Find Your Perfect Real Estate Agent Today

Working out how to sell your house is challenging. Let a professional guide you through the process from start to finish.

Enter your city or zip code on FastExpert to get a shortlist of the most successful realtors in your area, complete with customer reviews.

Start your search for a licensed agent who knows how to sell your house fast and for the highest price on FastExpert today.

Don’t Fret! 

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