You’ve seen “For Sale” signs around your neighborhood, but what does it take to actually put your home on the market? First-time home sellers often enter the selling process unaware of what’s to come, their heads full of questions. Understanding the selling process will inform your conversations with your real estate agent and will help you stay organized and on schedule as you sell your home for the first time.
8 Tips for First-Time Home Sellers
1. Know the Costs of Selling a Home
Though you’ll eventually walk away from the sale of your home with a lump sum in your pocket, the selling process isn’t without its costs. Real estate agent commission costs typically account for five to six percent of the sale price, but they’re not the only expense you’ll encounter on your selling journey. Between repairs, home upgrades, staging, escrow fees, Capital Gains Tax and more, it’s important to budget for these costs before listing your home.
2. Find the Right Agent
A successful selling experience starts by working with a professional real estate agent. Real estate agents specialize in keeping up with local market conditions, they have the tools to competitively price your home, and they understand what is driving buyer interest in your area. But beyond these qualities, it’s important that first-time home sellers choose an agent who understands their goals and cares about their happiness. Selling a home can be an emotional roller coaster and having a trusted expert beside you will help you navigate its ups and downs.
3. The Importance of Home Staging
Whether you hire a professional or decide to stage your home yourself, what’s important is that you make the commitment. Staging your home creates universal appeal, capturing the attention of the widest possible buyer pool. If your interior is too personalized, it makes it harder for buyers to see themselves in your home. Staging makes financial sense as well, as it often equates to higher sales prices. According to a 2020 survey performed by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA®), of the 13,000 homes surveyed, 85% of staged homes sold for 5-23% over list price.1
4. High ROI Remodeling Projects
Remodeling projects cost a significant amount of money; there’s no way around it. This is where your agent’s expertise can help you spend wisely: they can inform you of which home features and upgrades are driving buyer interest in your area. Target the high ROI remodeling projects that increase home value to get the most bang for your buck and know which remodeling projects to avoid when selling your home.
5. Pre-Listing Inspection
Anything that could potentially give your home a competitive advantage over other listings is worth discussing with your agent. One such strategy is conducting a pre-listing inspection before putting your home on the market. Not only do pre-listing inspections give sellers a better understanding of what repairs may be in order, but they also streamline the selling process by transparently disclosing the details of a property’s condition to the buyer. These reports are especially helpful in competitive markets, since buyers are more likely to waive inspections.
6. How to Price Your Home
Of all the information coming at you during the selling process, you’ll likely have your mind set on getting the best price for your home. Determining home value is one area where real estate agents excel; their Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) will help them set an accurate and competitive figure. It’s important to separate your emotional attachment to your home from your agent’s calculations. In your mind, your home possesses a certain value, but that may not match what it can realistically fetch on the market. Sometimes it may be even more than you thought!
7. Safety Tips for Open Houses
The more buyer interest you’re able to drum up, the better. Open houses play an important role in the selling process in that they allow buyers to experience the property firsthand. Making this connection requires opening your doors to strangers, which is cause for taking the appropriate safety measures. Remove all prescriptions from your medicine cabinets, lock up precious belongings and personal information, make sure all doors and windows are locked at the end of each day, and discuss your buyer screening process with your agent so you’re on the same page.
8. Moving Timeline
The planning doesn’t stop once you’ve sold your home. Before the ink is dry on your real estate contract, your gears will be turning about how to efficiently move into your new home. We’ve created an interactive Moving Checklist with a step-by-step guide to the moving process, from twelve weeks before moving day all the way up until you make your move. The list is also available as an interactive web page and downloadable PDF here:
For more information on the selling process from list to closing, visit our comprehensive selling guide here:
Written by Sandy Dodge
1: Real Estate Staging Association (RESA®). “The Consumer’s Guide to Real Estate Staging.” Realestatestagingassociation.com. 2020.