Here are some great tips for selling your home, courtesy of numerous real estate agents, realtors and home sellers who were kind enough to send us a comment. Here’s the simple query we put out:
What’s your #1 tip for people trying to sell their home that can help them avoid a potential pitfall or get a better price? All comments welcome.
I strongly recommend reading through these tips! Especially if you’re selling a home for the first time, there’s a good chance there’s at least one, or probably several, things people have brought up below that you haven’t yet considered and will allow you to get a better price for your home or avoid trouble.
I’ve summarized the main points below, along with the link to the full comment for each point:
- Put some effort into pricing your home correctly (link), and think about strategic price points (link). If you’re working with a realtor, you can request a competitive market analysis to help you price appropriately (link)
- Take your time to understand the market (link)
- Be honest (link) and disclose everything that should be disclosed (link)
- Research your agent (link)
- Hire a home stager (link)
- Check your attic/crawl space for mold (link)
- Get a pre-sale home inspection (link), and fix as many of the issues that come up as you can (link)
- Invest in curb appeal (link)
- Create a plan (link)
- Get as much feedback as you can from agents and potential buyers, allowing you to adjust (link)
- Hire a professional photographer (link)
- Think about aesthetic sentiment (link)
- Depersonalize your home (link), and get it clutter-free (link)
- Remove damaged blinds, curtains and window screens (link)
- View some of the homes selling in your area via an open house, and have all your major systems serviced (link)
- Improve the lighting in your home (link)
- Inspect the exterior of your home for rotted wood (link)
One of the first questions I ask sellers when they attempt to overprice their home is: Do you want to chase the market? Or do you want the market to chase you?
Pricing the home correctly is the number one tip I can give to any seller because if you overprice the home you will have to chase the market on the price will come down as the days on market creeps up.
Whereas if you price the home competitively the market will chase your home and the price will go up by creating a bidding war and a quick sale.
At the end of the day I know I can sell the exact same house for more if listed with the correct price than I ever could overpricing it and hoping someone overpays for it!
--Ryan Fitzgerald, RaleighRealtyHomes.com
As a real estate professional, my number one tip for people trying to sell their homes on their own (other than hiring a professional, of course - we tend to net sellers more money at closing than they would get otherwise) is to take the time to truly understand the market. That means knowing what the local real estate market looks like, what your home is likely to appraise for, and knowing what price will get you a reasonable amount of offers and eyeballs, but also knowing who is likely to fall in love with your home and where you can best reach them. Real estate professionals add value by understanding what your home has to offer and knowing what kind of consumer it will best serve, so if you're skipping out on hiring one, you will need to figure this out yourself.
--Michael Noker, michaelnoker.com
Transparency and honesty are everything in this business. Being up front from the beginning about any potential issues or concerns with the property helps avoid unforeseen disasters prior to closing. If you are selling your property to someone that has any experience (and many times even if they don’t) the issues and concerns of the property will be uncovered. From my experience, pitfalls and price reductions commonly happen when problems are discovered after initial agreements and could have been avoided had they been addressed at the beginning of the selling process.
--James Watson, Omaha Homes For Cash
The best thing to do is think about the sale of your home as a financial transaction, and remove the emotion from it. If you were buying the home, what would you want to see? What might make you think twice? Be sure to stage the home (including landscaping), painting touch ups, and getting professional photos. A little bit of effort and cost here can pay dividends in increasing the value of your property.
The second (and arguably most important piece) is to make sure you're thoroughly researching your agent. Ask for their qualifications to make sure they have a track record of success. Read online reviews, and find someone with a strong reputation for representing sellers in your market. Remember: The importance of the right agent is pricing accurately, and pricing is the key to maximizing the sales price.
Selling a home is usually one of the biggest financial transactions you'll undertake - so you want to make sure you’re treating the process with the attention it deserves.
--Chris Heller, Agent Advice
My number one tip is to hire a home stager. Even if it’s just for a walk-through consultation. You will learn about the things that you no longer notice that will definitely get noticed by a prospective buyer. You will usually get a report or notes on the general appearance plus specific suggestions for each room to make sure that the pictures look great and that the walk-through experience for prospective buyers is the best it can be.
--Jill Valeri, parkerinteriorsdc.com
Check your attic/crawl space for mold.
We didn’t look closely enough to realize we had white mold. White mold is easily removed with a bleach solution but because it was caught by an inspector and not us, we got slapped with a $5000 price tag to have it removed and lost that money in the sale.
I think a lot of sellers and listing agents neglect to think about strategic price points. It's like how someone is more willing to buy a soda for $2.99 versus $3.00.
The same rules apply when determining the sale price of your home. You'll get the same amount of buyer inquiries if you price at $299,900 as you would if you price at $292,900 regardless of what the home is worth.
This is a great way to squeeze every last dime out of the sale and leave some room for negotiation as well.
--Christian Saunders, christiansaunders.com
Disclosure is a critical factor in selling a home that can't be overlooked. Typically most states require that homeowners disclose things like water damage, infestations, types of repairs, home owners association details (i.e. special assessments), as well as hazards, nuisances, or even if there was a death in the home.
Disclosure is both a blessing and a curse. Problems with the home can, of course, reduce the value of the property. But not disclosing something can come back to haunt you in court (not to mention it is unethical). Should a buyer discover an issue that should have been disclosed and can determine that the seller knew about it, the seller can be held accountable after the fact.
Perhaps most importantly though, knowledge is power. Knowing what the issues are, disclosing how you have addressed them, or why you haven't, can keep the transaction all above board, leave the buyer and seller both happy in the end, and can even lead to a higher sale price because it is clear that trust and an understanding of the issues is a part of the transaction.
--Jacob W. Sadler, Woodstone Financial
My #1 tip to people selling their homes is to get a pre-sale home inspection. This allows the seller to fix issues before a buyer has made their offer and has there own home inspection and wants a reduced price or seller concessions. The pre-sale inspection puts the seller in the driver's seat, instead of allowing the buyer to control negotiations.
Granted, in the current market things are a bit topsy turvy, the real estate market, in most areas, will return to a semblance of normalcy.
With the pre-sale inspection, the seller is not under time constrictions to get issues fixed or having to rebate the buyer. The seller can more appropriately price the house without worrying what the buyers home inspection might find. Many times when a seller has had a pre-sale home inspection, they buyer forgoes their own inspection, which facilitates quicker closing process.
--Rob Hayhurst, endgamehis.com
The best tip for selling your home for top dollar is invest in curb appeal and decluttering! Curb appeal is the one item you can invest in and get 100% of your investment back. Think items like adding or repainting shutters, repainting a front door, front porch bench or rocking chairs, potted or hanging plants and an American flag never hurts too!
--Tiffany Johnson-Wilson, Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company
#1 Tip for sellers who are looking to sell their house is to create a plan upfront and be realistic with the house market at the time they are selling. With a plan in place sellers can have a vision of how things may happen during showings and negotiation with potential buyers. Many sellers become emotionally attached to their home( and rightly so) By researching the market sellers can have a general idea on how much they can get for their home. Many times sellers will have an unrealistic sale price of their home, which may inhibit them from selling their house quickly and or for the best price. With this system in place sellers will be able to get a better price and avoid any potential pitfalls during the sale of their home.
--Katherine Marino, Cash House Buyers Tampa
Preparing a home for sale ahead of time is one of the best tactics for selling a home fastest and at the best cost. An unkept or unmaintained home will bring lowball offers or worse, none at all. Building momentum is a great marketing approach. Using a coming soon in advertising using a targeted date for showings, builds excitement. Last, pricing properly is probably the best way to get a home sold quickly and for the right price. Over-pricing can end up backfiring leaving a home sit on the market for too long, bringing an assumption that something is wrong with the property. Underpricing is a tactic used sometimes to fetch a bidding war. Be forewarned that this can backfire leaving you with less than you anticipated. Get several pricing opinions from several Realtors to get a good target price.
--Denise Supplee, SparkRental.com
Sellers should gather as much information as possible from agents and prospective buyers during the early weeks of their listing so that they can make informed decisions quickly. Information is power and it certainly helps sellers get the most money for their homes in shorter periods of time. The more feedback sellers and agents gather the better sellers can adapt, adjust, and make decisions confidently.
--Marc Anthony, marcanthonyestates.com
One of the first things a potential home buyer will do is see photos of the house online before they even see the house. First impressions are crucial in garnering interest from the largest number of potential buyers and therefore, creating competition that drives up the sale price of the home. With this in mind, ensuring that homeowners hire (or have their agent hire) a professional photographer to take high-quality photos is very important to creating a great first impression. Taking your own photos (or having your agent take photos) might save you $100-200 but in the end it might cost you thousands of dollars on the back end when you end up selling your home for less.
--Ryan Substad, Northwest Property Solutions
#1 Tip To Help Sellers Get A Better Price
It's all about aesthetic sentiment. Everyone knows what this is, but no one seems to know how to talk about it. Have you ever seen something that just makes you say, I want it! Maybe it was a jar of peanut butter with beautiful packaging. Or, maybe you saw the right pair of shoes advertised just the right way. The same thing is true about your home. The imagery your house presents and the colors, decor, and overall feeling of your home in those images is your home's aesthetic sentiment. Outstanding aesthetic sentiment will nearly guarantee you major interest in your home and some seriously high offers.
--Chuck Vander Stelt, Quadwalls.com
I help people get their homes ready for showing and sale. Number #1 tip is to depersonalize throughout the home. Put away collections and personal photos. You want potential buyers to imagine their belongings there and not feel like they are visiting you.
--Donna Roses, Donna Declutter
One of the most cost-effective tips for home sales is getting your home clutter free! You want the expected space in the house to be maximised. The more noise, the more stuff would sound awkward. Go over it, and remove all the non-essentials. Even if you don't feel like going through all of your stuff and sorting it out, you should at least put things away in places where buyers won't look – so no cramming stuff in wardrobes or in the garage. If need be rent a storage space.
A bogged down house will render your house look far smaller than it is. It isn't ideal while you're looking to make the best out of your deal. Buyers of today want large open spaces unfettered by an excess of personal property from others. Keep in mind that a significant percentage of the population lacks vision. Make things easier for the buyer by giving them a visualizable thing. Get a peek at some of the best ideas before selling your house to clean up the clutter.
--Lesley Reynolds, Harley Street Skin Clinic
I have two tips for home sellers, and both of them are free, remove broken or damaged blinds, curtains or window screens. Better to be missing than broken. The second tip is to reuse the leftover paint you have lying around for touchups if you want a free staging tip to take out a few of those expensive coffee table books from the library and place them on your coffee table.
--Kelsey Findlay, teamtotl.ca
If working with a realtor, request a comparative market analysis. This is where the realtor collects prices and other data on recently sold homes so that you can establish an estimated price range. By establishing the high and low ends of the market, and critically comparing our home to the median price of comparable homes, we can more easily determine the perfect asking price “sweet spot.”
--Jeff McLean, McLean Company
When I first meet with sellers one of my favorite tips is to encourage them to view some of the homes selling in the area via an open house. It really provides them with a visual understanding of how to present their own home. Some of the things I point out are wall colors, amount of furniture per room, and the tidy, decluttered spaces. Thinning out and neutralizing are some of the least expensive things someone can do to truly prepare their home for sale and get the best price.
Another tip is to have all of your major systems serviced such as HVAC, furnace/boiler, and water heaters. If there is any question on if these are near end of life, or need service it is best to repair or replace where necessary, and/or disclose this up-front to the buyer with a quote for the work that is needed. These are big-ticket items and any smart buyer will want to know the last service date and age of systems to factor it into their offer. By doing this upfront, you avoid having any surprises and potential deal-breakers when the buyer does their home inspection.
--Danielle O'Brien, Parkway Real Estate
My advice to someone who is considering putting their house on the market would be to fix as many issues that they are aware of before a potential buyer or their home inspector sees them. Probably 80 to 90% of the issues that I call out on a home inspection are fairly minor and relatively simple to fix. Sometimes, it is the number of problems identified during a home inspection as much as the seriousness of any items that can concern/scare a potential buyer. Often, homeowners are not aware of what a home inspection consists of, so they may not know what needs to be repaired. It may be beneficial to have a home inspector perform a pre-listing inspection for you. This way, you will know what a potential buyer’s home inspector will find and can address these issues rather than have them become concerns to a potential buyer.
--Mike Morgan, morganinspectionservices.com
My #1 tip for selling a home is to improve the lighting in your home as much as possible. Now sure, installing higher wattage light bulbs will certainly help, but it goes a lot further than that if you want to have a real effect. Remove your drapes, and then actually clean the windows, both inside and out. No need for expensive chemicals - dish soap and water works fine. Change out dusty or outdated lampshades, and trim any exterior landscaping that might be preventing the sunlight from coming in. Take a look at your exterior lighting as well. A well-lit home is one of the top things buyers are looking for, so taking these steps will make your home sell both quicker and for more money.
--David Bakke, National Air Warehouse
Probably my biggest tip for homeowners to sell their home at the best price is to thoroughly inspect the exterior for rotted wood. Home inspectors (at least good ones) are trained to use an awl --- a pointed metal tool --- to probe exterior wood trim for rotted wood. And even though fixing rotted wood isn't expensive, it can seriously scare first time home buyers. The most common places I find rotted wood are at the corners and bottoms of wood trim such as the garage door, exterior doors, and window sills.
--Arie Van Tuijl, Home Inspector Secrets
As a realtor, I could share a thousand tips for selling your home but, instead, I’ll share a few valuable ones I give most often to my clients.
#1 – Be patient. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and it only takes one person (or family) to come along to sell your home and get the amount you’re asking for. Just take a deep breath, stay positive, and hold your ground. Don’t accept the first offer and walk away with less money than you desired. You’ll regret it down the road and you could set yourself up negatively for the future.
#2 – Make sure it looks as good as it possibly can. Getting someone to decorate your home for viewings and photos can make a big difference in how it is viewed. If it is too full of your stuff, it might appear smaller than it is or people might not be able to picture themself moving in.
Talk to your realtor or an expert about what you can do to make your home look as good as it possibly can before it is listed. A coat of paint on one wall might make a huge difference – or maybe you can take some of your personal stuff to a storage locker while it is listed.
--John Kirshenboim, John Buys Bay Area Houses
EDITORS NOTE: Similar to this piece is our first time home buyer tips, which also has some great information. Reading through that will also let you greater understand what first home buyers are looking out for, and thus possibly help you to sell your own home more effectively. You can read all real estate related articles we’ve published in our real estate category.