Home-selling Process: 6 Steps to Buying a House

1. Hire an agent who knows the market

An experienced agent earns the fee, however, by exposing your house to the broadest audience to garner the best offers possible, and negotiating on your behalf. If you go it alone, you’ll have to personally manage prepping your home, marketing it, reviewing buyers’ offers and handling all of the negotiations and closing details. For sale by owner homes statistically get way less money than an agent who exposes the home to a much broader market.

2. Set a timeline for selling your home

Selling a house is a major undertaking that can take two to four months from start to finish — or much longer depending on local market conditions.

As soon as you decide to sell your house, jump right into researching real estate agents to find someone with the right experience for your situation. At least two or three months before you plan to list, consider getting a pre-sale home inspection (more on that below) and identifying any problem areas, especially structural or mechanical issues that might need addressing to facilitate a sale. Leave enough time to schedule necessary repairs.

About a month before listing your house, start working on staging and deep cleaning in preparation for taking photos.

Here’s a checklist of things to do before listing your home:

• Declutter, perhaps moving excess furniture to a storage unit.
• Get an optional home inspection to identify any issues.
• Schedule repairs if needed.
• Deep clean.
• Stage the house.

3. Get a pre-sale home inspection when in doubt

A pre-sale home inspection can be a wise upfront investment, but it’s optional. A detailed inspection report can identify any structural or mechanical problems before you list your home for sale. It may cost a few hundred dollars, but an inspection will alert you in advance of issues that buyers will likely flag when they do their own inspection later in the process. By being a few steps ahead of the buyer, sellers might be able to speed up the selling process by doing repairs in tandem with other home prep work. This means by the time the house hits the market, it should be ready to sell, drama-free and quickly.

4. Don’t waste money on needless upgrades

If you’re going to invest money into costly upgrades, make sure that the additions or updates you make have a high return on investment. It doesn’t make sense to install new granite countertops if you stand to break even or even lose money on the sale.

Here’s where a good real estate agent can help guide you. They often know what people expect in your neighborhood and can help you plan upgrades accordingly. If local shoppers aren’t looking for super skylights or a steam shower, then it doesn’t make sense to add them. A fresh coat of neutral paint, new carpet and a spruced-up landscape are typically low-cost ways to make a great first impression.

In general, updates to the kitchen and bathrooms provide the highest return on investment. If you have old cabinetry, you might be able to simply replace the doors and hardware for an updated look. For example, you can swap out those standard-issue kitchen cabinet doors for modern, Shaker-style doors in a weekend without breaking the bank.

5. Get professional photos

Work with your real estate agent to schedule a photo shoot to capture marketing photos of your home. High-quality photos are critical, since maximizing your home’s online appeal can make all the difference between a quick sale or a listing that languishes. People shop online now so photos are more important than ever.

6. Put your house on the market

The more showings you allow the better chance you have at getting the most money out of your home. You want as many people exposed to your home as possible.

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