Getting ready to sell your home is a big deal. It usually signals a major life change and for most people, it’s something you only do a few times in your life. Big changes can be overwhelming, but listing your home doesn’t have to be.
The key to a clean sale is to make sure you’re organized and prepared before you put your house for sale. If you're selling for sale by owner (FSBO), you'll have your work cut out for you. But even if you're using an agent, you need to do certain key things before listing your house.
According to research done by our friends at Clever Real Estate, FSBO sellers said that preparing their home for sale is the toughest part of selling the house. And, ultimately, only 11% of sellers who try to sell FSBO actually end up doing so — the rest go with an agent.
A better option than both selling FSBO and paying hefty agent fees is going with a discount agent. Our friends at Clever can connect you with a top-performing, local agent who can sell your house for just 1% and get top dollar for your sale.
Read on to find the most important things you need to do before listing your house.
Clean and Depersonalize
Clean and d-personalize comes up frequently on home seller advice lists because it’s so important. Your goal should be to make your home as generic and crowd-pleasing as possible.
This means not only making sure your space is clean, but also taking the time to remove the family photos and personal artifacts that make your house a home. It’ll feel strange, but it will make a tremendous difference. It affords your buyers an ability to visualize their future in the space.
Prepare Your Listing Description and Property Details
Listing your home requires that you know your property. When you go to list, you’re going to need the following information.
- Square footage
- Lot size (if you live in a detached property)
- Number of beds and bathrooms
- Year your property was built
- Details on things like what type of heating and cooling you have, etc.
You’ll also want to prepare a compelling listing description.
If you're selling your house for sale by owner (FSBO,) you'll have to do this yourself. But if you're using an agent, they'll tour your home, talk with you, and whip one up themselves.
Stage Your Home
When you stage your home, there are two main things you should strive to achieve.
- You want each space in your home to have an obvious function.
- You want your home to feel spacious.
To achieve this effect, store anything and everything that doesn’t have a critical function in the room, including extra furniture. Then arrange the room so it looks like a showroom at a furniture store. For an added wow factor, you can add in small decorative accents to create visually attractive spaces.
It’s important to note that you can’t just throw everything in the garage. Potential buyers are going to want to see that space. A portable storage pod or nearby self-storage units are affordable and will simplify the process.
Not all homes need to be staged, but it helps.
Write Your Listing and Take Photos
The goal of writing a listing description is to provide potential buyers with information on your home’s unique features, location and the type of lifestyle living in your neighborhood provides. Many listing services require you keep your description at or under 400 characters. So short, but info-packed is a great way to go.
Photos are one of the most critical elements of a successful real estate listing. We strongly recommend hiring a professional real estate photographer to take your pictures for best results. It’s a small investment that can mean big returns. If you decide to take your photos yourself, use these guidelines for best results.
So what photos do you need? You should have a great photos of:
- living room
- any unique features
Research the Local Market
Once you’ve got all your basics together, you need to start looking into the market to get an idea of timeline. Real estate market information can be obtained from a variety of local and national real estate sites.
Once you understand how the market is positioned (buyer's or seller's market, average time to sell a home ) at both a local and national level, it’ll be easier to develop an anticipated time frame.
Decide How You Want to List Your House
There are typically two ways you can choose to sell. You can either work with an agent or by yourself. Most people understand the process of working with an agent, but what many don’t realize is that there are easy and affordable for sale by owner options available to homeowners that are inexpensive, like a flat fee MLS listing service.
» More: The Best FSBO Websites of 2022
Set Your Listing Price
The most important thing you should do before listing your house is figuring out a price.
It’s important to understand the current market and to research other similar homes for sale in your area to get a realistic idea of where you should price your home to attract the most qualified buyers.
You also have the option to request a comparative market analysis (CMA) from a real estate appraiser or agent. A qualified agent will provide a free CMA as part of their sales package. They will also have some good ideas about how you should market your home for your neighborhood and market.
It's also important to note that FSBO sales sell for about 26% less than agent-assisted sales. That's quite a big drop, but even if your home sells for 5% less than what you could get with an agent, you're wiping out what you saved in commission fees.
If you want to sell your house for top dollar, we recommend Clever. Clever can match you with top local agents who can help sell your house for a 1% listing fee. Clever can connect you with up to three qualified agents and you can hand-pick which one you want to work with.
Clever is free to use and there's no obligation to continue if you can't find an agent you love.
Determine Your Timeline and Bottom Line Price
Figure out the lowest possible sale price you’d be willing to accept. Doing so will help you dramatically when you reach the negotiation part of the transaction. Rather than being reactive, you can simply refer to your previously decided price point and continue the conversation from there.
You’ll also want to establish a realistic home selling timeline. You can accomplish this by determining the average length of time homes similar to yours are taking to sell. Then combine that knowledge with your own motivation to sell to come up with your goal time frame. If you need to sell quickly in order to move for a new job, you’re going to have better luck pricing a little lower or having a lower bottom line price.
If you’re willing to wait as long as it takes to get the price you want for your home, you can incorporate a long-game listing strategy.
Create a Marketing Plan
Listing your home on the MLS should always be step one of your marketing plan. Doing so will not only gain you exposure on your area’s local home search portal, it will also automatically get you listed on giant real estate sites like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin. and Realtor.com.
Create a game plan that outlines what additional marketing options you want to pursue, how much money your willing to spend and what type of targeting is going to be the most effective in reaching your ideal buyer. The type of property you have, its location and the market will all affect what kind of buyers are out there.
If you're looking to sell your house for maximum value and want to save a whole bunch of money in commission fees, we recommend Clever. Clever pre-negotiates low listing fees with top local agents from brokerages like Berkshire Hathaway and Coldwell Banker, then passes those savings on to you.
Clever charges a flat 1% listing fee for home sales over $350,000. That's a fraction of the price of a traditional real estate agent, which means more money in your pocket.
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