Home Selling 2024

Preparing to Sell Your Home: a Comprehensive Guide

By Kelli Blystone on May, 29 2024
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Kelli Blystone

It’s been a rough few years for the housing market, but despite ongoing challenges for both buyers and sellers, experts are forecasting an increase in home sales compared to last year.

 

As we head into peak home-buying season, this is encouraging news for sellers, but it’s still crucial to plan ahead and have a solid selling strategy in place to ensure a smooth process and to maximize your home’s appeal.

 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps you can take to prepare your home to sell and attract the perfect buyer.

Research real estate comps

Getting the pricing right from the beginning is a critical part of home selling prep. Setting the price too high can deter potential buyers, but you don’t want to leave money on the table by choosing a price that’s too low, either.

 

If you’re not sure where to start, consult real estate comps一comparable properties that are in your area一to discover what other homes in your local market have sold for. These recently sold properties will give you an idea of what’s reasonable to ask, helping to set yourself up for selling success.

 

Additionally, if you end up reducing the price several times while your home is on the market, potential buyers may see those reductions as a sign that something is wrong with the property, so it’s important to not set the price too high from the onset.

Work with a local real estate agent who knows the market

Chances are, you’re not an expert on the real estate market—and that’s okay! The good news is that you can easily research local real estate agents or teams that have a strong marketing presence and success rate. Working with professionals will give you access to real estate portals and expertise that can help you land the best deal.

 

When researching agents, look for:

  • How long they’ve been in the industry and your local market

  • How many sales they’ve closed

  • Designations they’ve earned and currently hold

  • How and where they market their listings

  • Types of homes they typically list—if you have a newer home and the agent generally sells historical homes, they may not be the right fit

  • How professional their listings’ photos look—we’ll explore this more in the “staging your home” section, but you might consider hiring a professional photographer to take the listing photos for your home. The agent you choose may already have a preferred photographer or will have connections to save you the hassle of researching and finding one yourself.

 

Understand the costs of selling a home

That’s right—selling ain’t free! There’s a laundry list of costs associated with selling a home, and becoming familiar with them ahead of time will help you avoid “sticker shock” moments at closing.

 

If you choose to work with a real estate agent or team, there will be a commission fee for their services. Some sellers are tempted to “sell by owner” without the help of an agent to avoid this, but in those cases you’ll still be responsible for the buyer’s agent’s commission. Keep in mind that these commissions are typically negotiable, so it may be worth the costs to avoid having to handle all of the closing details on your own.

 

Closing costs, capital gains and property taxes, home inspections, mortgage payoffs, and any costs associated with repairs or updates you make to the home are all costs you’ll need to consider when selling. To get a better idea of what your total costs will be.download our “Cost to Sell” worksheet.
 

Make necessary repairs and updates

You know those repairs and updates you’ve been meaning to take care of? The time to finally check those items off of your to-do list is here. Take a critical look around your home and address any necessary repairs or updates. Typical fixes include replacing broken fixtures, patching holes in the walls, fixing leaky faucets, addressing mold issues, and touching up paint where needed. Investing in minor repairs and updates can make your home more attractive to buyers and increase its value in the eyes of potential buyers.

 

You might ask your realtor to do a walk-through of your home to help identify repairs or updates that will be most important to prospective buyers. You may even consider a pre-inspection as a more formal process.

 

In addition to repairs, you might consider making small updates where it might make a difference on your home’s value. Be sure to evaluate the return on investment on any update you’re considering tackling before listing your home—some might make more sense to put off and let the new owners decide their own approach.

Boost curb appeal

First impressions matter, and the exterior of your home is the first thing potential buyers will see. An easy way to enhance your home's curb appeal is by making sure your landscaping is neat and tidy. Mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, planting flowers, power washing sidewalks and porches, and giving the front door a fresh coat of paint all go a long way in improving your home’s curb appeal. A well-maintained exterior sets the tone for what's to come and can significantly impact a buyer's perception of your property.

 

In fact, the 2024 Cost vs. Value Report by Remodeling found that exterior improvement projects continue to provide home sellers with their greatest return on investment (ROI). Other DIY updates that can drastically improve your curb appeal include adding exterior lighting, applying a stone facade, or installing window box planters.

Declutter and depersonalize

Before putting your home on the market, it's crucial to declutter and depersonalize your space. Remove excess furniture, knick-knacks, and personal items to create a clean, neutral canvas that allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in the space. Clearing out clutter not only makes your home appear more spacious but also helps buyers focus on its unique features. This includes organizing and purging storage spaces like closets or cabinets—you want potential buyers to feel confident that the home will easily house all of their possessions.

 

If you have pets, it’s recommended that you remove any signs of them before buyers tour your home. Even if they haven’t caused damage to the home, you don’t want to invite those kinds of questions from potential buyers. You may also consider hiring a professional cleaner to remove any lingering pet odors.

Stage your home

As an extension of the decluttering and depersonalizing step, one of the final steps in preparing to sell your home is staging. Staging is a powerful tool that can help showcase your home's best features and create an inviting atmosphere for buyers. Once you’ve purged and removed personal effects, arrange furniture to highlight the flow of each room, add strategic decor accents, and ensure proper lighting throughout the space. Professional staging can make a significant difference in how buyers perceive your home and can ultimately lead to a quicker sale at a higher price point.

 

During staging, you’ll also want to focus on creating a mostly neutral palette throughout your home. Neutral tones like cream, gray, and white will help to create a “blank slate” for potential buyers, making it easier for them to envision themselves in the home and showcase its potential.

Consider hiring a professional photographer

High-quality photos are essential for capturing the attention of potential buyers online. Professional photos can help your listing stand out from the competition and attract more interested buyers, so you may consider hiring a professional photographer as part of the staging process so that you can showcase your home in its best light. This is where it may be beneficial to work with a real estate agent who has worked with professional photographers in the past and can help make a recommendation.

Key takeaways

Let’s review. What can you do to maximize the value of your home before you sell?

 

  • Research comparable, recently sold properties to help guide the pricing process
  • Work with an experienced real estate agent or team to handle the complicated aspects of selling a home
  • Prepare for the selling and closing costs
  • Make necessary repairs and updates that will give you the best ROI
  • Boost curb appeal by making exterior updates
  • Declutter and depersonalize your home to help buyers envision their families in your home
  • Stage your home to present it in its best possible light

 

Only cut the blog reference because I'm trying to push those lower in the archives right now :) I would say probably only use one older one as a reference per article.