How to Sell a House: A Handbook for First-Timers

The time has come for you to sell your house and you have no idea where to get started. You know you need to find a real estate agent, but how, and then what? Don’t worry about the details because we have you covered with this handbook for first time home sellers to help get you through it. 

Find the right agent

Yes, you need to find an agent, but not just any agent will do. This person should be a professional licensed real estate agent, and it’s even better if they have experience selling homes in your neighborhood. When trying to find the right fit, you might need to talk to a few people before you find the perfect agent for you and your home. Don’t be shy and get ready to ask them about their history selling homes, how much they have sold for, their average timeline, and even for references from past sellers. In this new era of online everything, must ask questions are: how they will handle marketing your home online and orchestrate virtual showings, and whether or not online marketing and professional photography is included in their rate. 

Talk to your friends 

Like finding a job, or a perfect date, or the hottest new restaurants, your friends can be an asset to help you find that agent fast. If you have friends who recently sold a home, or you noticed your neighbors have a for sale sign up, ask them who’s helping them with the sale. This can save a lot of time lost on cold calling agents, and is one of the best options for a quick home sale, especially if the referral is from someone who you trust in a similar market to yours. Getting an unbiased referral is essential though, so be sure the referral is based on the agent’s track record, not only personal connections.

Do your homework

To get a sense of where your home stands in the market, and to better equip you to interview potential agents, you can use a net proceeds calculator. Knowing what your home is worth can help you talk to agents about similar homes that they have sold, and get a snapshot of what the timeline and financial benefit might look when selling your home. 

Get ready for the stage

The most unglamorous part of selling a home is getting it ready to sell, but it has to be done and there are some clear steps to follow. Get ready, because you can get started even before you find that agent of your dreams. First you need to tackle decluttering to streamline your home — especially if you will be living in it while going through the selling process. After decluttering, a deep clean is a must, preferably by a professional to do a thorough job reaching every corner like ceilings, windows, and fans. Then you have to get your home ready for the stage, to show off its best features. You (or someone who you hire, such as a stager or even an interior designer) will be reorganizing and redecorating your home so it will appeal to a wide range of potential buyers. You can follow some DIY tips, by moving furniture from one room to another and adding light by taking down heavy drapes, painting ceilings and walls in neutral tones, or bringing in greenery, fresh flowers, or even a bowl of fruit into living areas. Depending on your budget, however, hiring a professional can save time to get your home in shape.

Set a goal and stay calm

The number one tip for first time sellers is to set a general timeline and then stay calm, knowing that shifts are normal. While it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a big project like selling a home, remember that it will get done and the best strategy is to make progress step-by-step. By knowing what to expect and working with a professional, you’ll get your home sold before you know it. 

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