The process of selling your home can be daunting. There are a lot of moving parts - from basic repairs to understanding market prices. If you’re stuck in the “where do I even start?” phase of the selling journey, you’ve come to the right resource! These tips from leading real estate agents will walk you through the timelines and basic steps for a successful home sale.  

Check out our handy infographic and keep reading below to better understand what to expect before, during, and after you list your home!

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What to do Right Now 

Step 1: Decide if it’s a good time to sell 

Selling your house can be stressful process that begins with determining the best time to put it on the market. Timing can have potential impacts on resale value of your home and how quickly it’s sold. The typical homebuying season begins in late spring and runs through the summer. Though there may be more competition among other sellers during this season, there are likely more potential buyers looking to snag the right home in their price range. As you consider price, you may also want to evaluate the number of homes for sale in the market compared to buyers. 

It’s also important to take a step back and evaluate the condition of your home. If there are any updates or repairs that need to be made before selling your home, make sure you weigh the pros and cons before spending a lot of money on home renovations. It could be good to talk to a real estate agent about any value-added updates you may want to consider based on their knowledge of the market.  

2 Months Before Listing Your Home 

Step 2: Research the local market 

Prior to even considering listing your home, it’s important to conduct some general research. Grab your laptop and start with looking at the homes recently sold or currently on the market in your general area. Beyond the price of the homes listed or sold, also look at square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, upgrades to home, lot size, outdoor area, etc. This will help you better understand how much your home could potentially sell for in your area.  

Step 3: Get all your paperwork in order 

Staying organized is one key to a successful home sale. When prepping for a home sale, there’s a lot of paperwork that will be required. Instead of scrambling at the last minute looking for all necessary documents, start gathering and organizing paperwork in this beginning stage of the selling process. Some example documents you will likely need are:  

  • Title 

  • Mortgage  

  • Homeowner’s Insurance 

  • HOA Information (if applicable) 

  • Property Tax Information 

If you’re not sure what you will need, talk to your real estate agent about the documents needed for the state and area in which you will be selling your home. Keep in mind that you must have the original documents or official copy from the bank or insurance company for sale.   

Step 4: Hire a pre-sale home inspector 

While this step isn’t a requirement, a lot of sellers will hire a pre-sale home inspector to avoid any surprises or unknown issues that could be lurking under the surface. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, 25 percent of sellers get a home inspection before contacting an agent.  

However, don’t forgot to factor in cost. According to Zillow, a pre-listing home inspection costs between $250 and $700, depending on where you live and the size of your home. This inspection will check major systems, mechanicals, windows, and doors and looks for signs of water damage, mold and cracks.  An advantage of this inspection is being able to get ahead of any major or minor repairs you might need in order to price and sell your home at adequate value.   

Step 5: Determine if repairs/upgrades are needed 

A pre-listing home inspection is great way to identify if repairs needed before putting your home on the market.  However, don’t fret that you’ll have to get every crack or bump fixed. Instead, work with your inspector to determine which repairs or upgrades are the most crucial. Plus, if you do make any major updates to your home, this can potentially improve the value of your home and can be great selling points for buyers.  

If you choose to opt-out of a pre-listing inspection, it’s still good to evaluate the state of your home to see if any cosmetic or system updates are needed. This doesn’t mean you need to buy all new kitchen appliances or completely remodel your bathroom. Instead, focus on the things you can easily fix or spruce up yourself.  

6 Weeks Before Listing Your Home 

Step 6: Look into an ibuyer, an agent, or selling yourself 

Now is a good time to decide whether you want to list your home as For Sale By Owner (FSBO) versus with a real estate agent. FSBO is when you list your home without the help of an agent. You are responsible for the entire process from start to finish, including pricing, staging, listing, negotiating, drawing up paperwork, and closing. Typically, people choose this option to avoid paying an agent commission for the sale of the home.  

You could also consider working with ibuyers, or instants buyers. Most ibuyer companies will purchase your home and there is no need for showings, home repairs, etc. This option is great for people who want a more hands-off approach to selling their home.

The third option is working with a real estate agent, meaning they handle your listing for you. The benefit of working with an agent is that they will have expert knowledge and experience selling homes in your local area. They can help set competitive pricing for your home, get your home exposed to the right buyers, negotiate offers, and handle paperwork.  

If you do choose to go with an agent, make sure you evaluate and interview multiple candidates. The agent should be aligned with your goals and timeline for selling your home. Remember, you will be paying your agent a commission, so it’s important their level of service matches what you need.   

1 Month Before Listing Your Home 

Step 7: Deep clean and declutter your current home 

It’s never too early to start getting your home in tip-top shape! A good place to start is by getting rid of anything in your home you don’t use or won’t be bringing with you to your new home. Next, consider getting a head start on slowly moving out of your current home by getting a storage unit for some of your personal items.  

Once your home is decluttered, start the deep cleaning process. It’s important to not rush through this process. Instead, go room by room making sure to dust, wipe, bleach, or scrub every area of your home. Having a cleaning checklist is a great tool to help you stay organized and feel less stressed during this process. Check out our printable cleaning checklist to help you stay on track!  

Step 8: Get an estimate of how much your home is worth  

With only 1 month left before listing your home, it’s time to dive deeper into the financial side of selling. If you’re working with an ibuyer, they will do the research on market values for you.  

On the other hand, if you’re selling yourself or with an agent, it will be a good idea to reference the research you collected in Step 2 and take a quick peek at the market again to see if there have been any updates or shifts. Now would also be the time to consider bringing in an appraiser to help you estimate how much your home could be worth. A pre-listing home appraisal is when a professional, licensed local appraiser analyzes your home’s condition in person to determine its value. The appraiser will take into consideration different features of your home such as:  

  • Square footage 

  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms 

  • Age of house 

  • Age of mechanical systems 

  • Condition, layout and finishes 

  • Location and nearby amenities 

  • Comparable recent sales (usually three) 

2-3 Weeks Before Listing Your Home 

Step 9: Start staging your home  

Time to get picture perfect! When staging your home for buyers try to keep the décor as minimal as possible. Let your home’s layout do the talking. The objective is to showcase your home’s best assets in a beautiful and clean manner. Potential buyers want to be able to imagine themselves living in this home day-to-day. To help create an emotional walk-through experience, add in small touches like cozy throw pillows, wall art, or large area rugs to create warmth in the home.  

Home staging is critical for helping sell the home. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report, 82 percent of urban sellers, 71 percent of suburban sellers, and 61 percent of rural sellers say that staging their home is one of the top pre-listing activities they complete. Of course, time and money play a factor in staging the home. When possible, try to focus on cleaning or refreshing things such as:  

  • Wall paint colors 

  • Removing all family or personal photos 

  • Furniture - make sure rooms don’t feel overcrowded. 

  • Lighting – open all curtain and blinds to let in natural light  

1 Week Before Listing Your Home 

Step 10: Take professional photos and video 

Once your home is all staged, it’s time to take some professional photos for the listing. If you decide to take the photos yourself, it’s important that they look similar to professional quality. Buyers can easily spot the difference between amateur and professional photography. Additionally, how your home appears online in photos can potentially impact how buyers perceived the value of your home. We suggest hiring a professional who has invested in quality camera lenses and has expertise on the right angles, lighting, and details to make sure your home pops out to buyers.  

Having video content for buyers is extremely advantageous, especially with buyers shopping online. Using video will help buyers be able to better envision what life would look like in your home, as the video shows many angles and can be more comprehensive than photos alone. Having a virtual tour also can create trust with your buyer. Showcasing every aspect of your home shows you having nothing that you may be leaving out of your listing.  

If possible, it is also advantageous to create interactive, virtual tours for your home listing. An interactive virtual tour (like this one of our Acclaim at Alamar Plan 3501) is created by transforming spaces into 3D models that allows a potential buyer to click through different spaces of the home. This helps to better understand the floorplan/home plan. A virtual tour has many benefits, like helping your listing to stand out from the crowd. Virtual tours can also potentially saving you time, as potential buyers have a better idea if they want to see your house in person. Seeing a virtual tour, they could rule your house out, potentially saving your time for potential buyers who are really interested.  

Listing Day & After 

Step 11: Market the house 

It’s listing day! Seeing your home on the market is a phenomenal feeling. But the work doesn’t stop here. Now you have to market your home. If you hired an agent, make sure to work closely together when developing the home description and details. A good tip is to highlight the best features that are likely to catch a buyer’s eye.  

Agents will likely have a large network of people they will be reaching out about the home. However, it doesn’t hurt to share your listing on social media, send out emails, or even look into purchasing some local online ads. The more you market your home, the more attention it will receive!  

Step 12: Review the offers and negotiate with buyers 

There’s no better feeling than watching offers roll in! Now comes negotiation time. Our best advice is to work closely with your agent to find a balance between your needs and the buyers.  

However, if you’re working with an ibuyer there will be no negotiating with buyers and agents. The only person you’ll be working with is the ibuyer.  

Closing Day 

Step 13: Have all your documents prepared  

To finalize the sale of your home, the seller and buyer must complete a closing process where documents and funds are exchanged to close out the deal. This step typically takes four to six weeks after finalizing the purchase and sales agreement. 

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