Thu. May 26th, 2022

The home selling process can be daunting: from listing your property and lining up showings to making repairs and reviewing offers, there are many moving parts. Fortunately, there are steps to follow in this process to give you a road map for success. This article will walk through seven steps to get you from dreaming to closing without losing time, capital, or your right mind in the process.

Marketing your home “for sale by owner” (known as FSBO) or selling to an iBuyer (instant buyer) like Opendoor or Offerpad are options that may seem to prioritize profit and speed, respectively. But the most conventionally respected process for selling your home involves a licensed Realtor®, and there are proven reasons why. Chiefly, selling with an agent’s help will earn you top dollar.

Realtors® are experts on the current market in your area, and they know how to market your home at its full earning potential. For these reasons, according to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of sellers were assisted by a real estate agent last year when selling their home.

Here’s what you can expect if you sell your house with a Realtor®.

Step 1: Research the best time to sell in your area

Once you have decided to sell your property, know there is such a thing as the best time of the year to sell a house. While today’s market may guarantee offers no matter the time of year, digging into the data may swing your profit margin by up to 10%. Depending on the time of year and sales in your area, the season may impact your profit potential even more.

What factors come into play here? For starters, the academic calendar plays in. Is your school district scheduled to start or release classes for the year sometime soon? Are you located in the same neighborhood as an elementary school or in the same city as a college or university? Chances are, the market won’t be as optimal for sellers during winter break or finals week.

Curb appeal can also play a role. Does your home look particularly charming just after a fresh snowfall? Does the pecan tree or swimming pool in the backyard offer a particular ambiance on summer afternoons? Knowing your property’s strengths through the seasons can help you time a sale when your profit potential is highest.

Other factors that can impact the timing off your home sale might include:

  • Mortgage rate trends
  • Changes in the local economy
  • Prep time you need
  • Hiring cycles of major businesses

Typically, the inventory of available homes will fluctuate throughout the year, impacting market temperature and the competition you may be up against. Therefore, being mindful of when you are selling — and how to play the season to your advantage — can be a solid first step in starting the home-selling process.

What’s the best time to sell in your area? Check out HomeLight’s Best Time to Sell Calculator, which uses real estate data to give you a baseline for the best (and worst) months of the year to consider listing your home.

Step 2: Partner with a top Realtor® you trust

Hiring an expert to steer the selling process is likely to maximize your time and earning potential.

Some sellers collect agent recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers. Others will take advantage of data-backed online agent matching services.

After some research, we recommend interviewing a few agents to find the best fit for you. Consider asking questions that assess the agent’s skills and business practices. These might include:

  • How many clients do you represent at a time?
  • What are your areas of expertise?
  • What is your marketing plan for a property like mine?
  • Can you tell me what you see happening in the local housing market?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How well do you know the area?

Before settling on an agent, be aware of the legal implications of your commitment. You will likely sign a listing agreement giving your agent the right to sell your home; you will also want to be clear on the expected commission your agent will collect from the sale. In exchange, your Realtor® will serve as a buffer from the many liabilities that can pose risks to you as a seller.

Want a ballpark of agent commissions in your area, based on your home’s value? Visit our commissions calculator for a start.

An agent with support staff is a major advantage. “Things are moving so fast,” explains top Las Vegas agent Alex Adabashi, who sells homes 59% faster than the average Las Vegas agent. “If somebody has to wait a few hours for anything, you’re gonna lose [the sale].” Having support staff available to answer your phone calls can make the difference between an accepted offer and a missed opportunity.

Select someone with a deep network in the local area, who can connect you to trusted professionals who can help you in the direction of closing: photographers, staging companies, repair services and contractors, perhaps even marketing firms.

Stuck on finding the right person? Try HomeLight’s Agent Match tool for a jump start on professionals with proven results in your market. We analyze which agents will be a best fit for your situation based on over 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews.

Work With a Top Real Estate Agent for a Great Home Sale

With our Agent Matching platform, we analyze over 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews to determine which agent is best for you based on your needs.

A top agent found through HomeLight will help you set a competitive price, prep and stage your home, market and advertise your home, spread the word to brokers, conduct open houses, and more.

Step 3: Work with your agent to price your home properly

A “sweet spot” does exist when it comes to pricing your home competitively. You’ll want to net top dollar, of course, but work with your agent to choose a price that ensures you can sell in a timely fashion. The right price will open doors for a straightforward sale, and, market conditions permitting, give you multiple competing offers to choose from.

Overpricing your property may lead to a long wait while it languishes on the market. Underpricing, of course, means you may miss out on the opportunity to sell for top dollar. Your Realtor® will be able to use the latest market data to ensure you strike a balance between knowing the value but not over-estimating it.

Read up on how to price your home right for a successful sale here.

A living room in a house sold with a Realtor.
Source: (Jonathan Borba / Unsplash)

Step 4: Clean, stage, and fix your home for optimal profit

Cleaning and staging your home are two straightforward ways to ensure your place is looking its best when it hits the market. Decluttering your space and cleaning it top to bottom can even boost the value of your property.

Staging your home with furniture and decor to fit the space can also compliment your property and help it to shine. “The way we live is not the way you want to sell,” advises Adabashi, who ensures that staging furniture is consistent with the latest trends as well as the style of the home. When buyers have room to see themselves in the space, they will be more motivated to make an offer.

You may be inclined to address every nagging repair that comes to mind in an effort to sell quickly. Be sure to review a list of potential repairs with your Realtor® to optimize how your money is spent. There are certain investments that prove not to be worth your money when selling a home (think: upgraded appliances, though they may look impressive).

One of the many benefits of working with a Realtor® is that you can tap their expertise on what efforts, repairs, or improvements will earn you the highest return on your time and money. You may be surprised by what you can address in the purchase agreement — a flooring allowance, for instance, to address the lackluster carpet on your second floor.

Similarly, while renting a power washer for the afternoon may seem like a big undertaking, doing so may help you to restore neglected parts of your property in a flash, netting a higher price in exchange for a bit of elbow grease.

Buyers generally expect the following areas to be clean, tidy, and in their best shape for showing:

  • Kitchen
  • Living area(s)
  • Bathroom(s)
  • Front entryway, indoors and out
  • Home office or bonus room
  • Outdoor areas you’d like to feature — basic landscaping and maintenance in flower beds, backyard

While every room doesn’t need to be pristine, you should make your best effort to clear spaces of clutter and day-to-day grime. Dust your baseboards, clean your carpets, and give your bathrooms, laundry, and kitchen a thorough cleaning. Your home won’t need to look uninhabited, but with some strategic fixes, it can feel more inviting and absolutely look its best.

Step 5: Market your home

Marketing your house and its potential is key to connecting with the best-fit buyer. A few mindful choices here will help you to pull ahead of the competition:

  • Photography: Your Realtor® can connect you with a professional real estate photographer. Professional photography is “100 percent a must,” according to Adabashi. “Everybody starts their home search online so those photos have to be perfect.” The cost should be factored into your overall contract.
  • Virtual Tour: A virtual tour can help buyers to experience the flow of your home from room to room. Sometimes it’s hard to assess this from photographs alone; setting up a 3-D walkthrough or virtual tour on the listing website can help prospective buyers who may not be able to make it to a showing or open house.
  • Verbal description: This narrative description is your opportunity to showcase the home and point out unique characteristics of the property. From custom features inside to notable facets of your property outdoors, you have the chance to illuminate things here that may not be evident in photographs.
  • Location, location, location: Be sure to brag about any upsides to the location of your home. Are you within walking distance to a school? Minutes from a shopping area or gym? A stone’s throw from a local park? All of these things can play in your favor as a seller.
  • Social Media: Discuss with your Realtor® how they plan to incorporate social media when marketing your home. Driving traffic to your listing can only help the cause!

Step 6: Remove obstacles to clear a path for closing

Your buyer, no matter how amicable, is bound to uncover some imperfection about the property during their own assessments or on a walkthrough with their inspector.

Talk to your agent about how to cope with any curve balls that may come between you and your closing date. These might include:

An experienced Realtor® will understand the likelihood of these risks and be equipped to help you navigate them. Knowing how you’ll deal with anticipated hiccups can help to ensure you stay on track with both your timeline and your budget to sell.

Step 7: Negotiate (if necessary) and close the deal

If your buyer has secured a loan to close, the type of loan will likely have an impact on how long you can expect the closing process to take. In addition to the buyer’s funding, other hinge points may include the appraisal and the inspection.

As noted above, having a game plan for negotiating contingencies and other potential roadblocks can help you to stay on track for closing. Lean on your Realtor’s® expertise to make it to closing on time and on budget.

While selling a home is navigable without a Realtor®, getting matched with a top agent is likely to ensure an expedient sale for top dollar. Enlisting the help of someone whose full-time commitment is selling your home will help you to navigate the process with an expert by your side.

From prepping the property for showings to maneuvering the legal aspects of the sales process and garnering the highest possible sales price, know that your partnership with a licensed Realtor® will establish a baseline for success.

Get a Free Home Value Estimate

Enter a few details about your home and we’ll provide you with a preliminary estimate of home value in less than two minutes. This won’t be a guarantee of what your home will sell for, but it is a helpful starting point.

Header Image Source: (AlexLinck / Shutterstock)

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