There is a heap of information online for first-time home buyers, but once you’re ready to sell your first house, it can be tough to find the answers you need. Here you’ll find the top tips for first-time home sellers, from finding a Realtor to handing over the keys, and everything in between.
Finding a Real Estate Agent
If you’re considering selling your home, the first item on your agenda should be to find a reputable real estate agent who knows your area well. Ask for recommendations from friends and family, check local listings and reviews, and interview several agents. You’ll want to find an agent who makes you feel comfortable and will get you the best price in the shortest amount of time.
Don’t hesitate to interview multiple Realtors before committing to one. A trustworthy agent should present you with an analysis of comparable homes in your area to determine your home’s value. They’ll also outline their marketing strategy and be transparent about their fees. Feel free to ask questions about their experience and the average time it takes for them to sell a home in your area.
If you used a Realtor when you purchased your home, you might not recall paying your agent a commission. That’s because the seller typically pays the commission for both the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent. Now that you’re on the selling side, you’ll have to factor those costs into your asking price.
Should You Consider For Sale By Owner?
Now that we have you thinking about broker fees, it might be tempting to list and sell your home on your own. Maybe you’ve For Sale By Owner (FSBO) properties scattered throughout your neighborhood. How hard can it be, right? After all, you’ll be saving thousands on agent fees.
Not so fast. You should know that most FSBO homes fail to sell. In fact, in 2016, less than 8% of all home sales were FSBOs. While some owners have the experience and the time to effectively list and market their home and represent themselves at the closing table, the vast majority of homeowners do not have the skills necessary to be successful.
While that 1.5-3% commission might seem like a lot, hiring a real estate agent may actually save you money in the long run. They’ll have the connections, tools, and time to get your home sold quickly.
Make Necessary Repairs and Give Your Home a Facelift
Your real estate agent will likely suggest repairs, updates, and cosmetic changes you should make before your home hits the market. Some repairs – like leaky faucets, roof damage, or faulty appliances – are absolutely crucial if you want to sell your home for the asking price. Other cosmetic fixes aren’t as vital, but could make it more attractive to potential buyers.
Updating or renovating kitchens, bathroom, siding, and adding curb appeal typically have the best return on investment.
Find our list of low-cost fixes that will increase your home’s value here.
Price It Right
Many first-time home sellers think they know what their home is worth, but the actual value comes down to several factors. Your real estate agent will run “comps,” or comparisons between your home and other similar homes that are currently for sale or have recently sold in the area. Your agent will consider the size of the house and the lot, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, upgrades and recent improvements, and the overall condition of your home compared to others on the market. Based on these factors, your agent will suggest a listing price that is consistent with the local market.
Of course, as the homeowner, you have the choice to either accept or reject your agent’s suggestion, but real estate comps are generally a reliable way to determine a fair value of your home.
Staging and Open House Tips for First-Time Home Sellers
Once you’ve agreed on a price and fixed any outstanding issues, it’s time for your home to hit the market. Before the Realtor takes photos for the online listing, you’ll need to declutter and stage your home so it looks perfect. After all, over 90% of today’s buyers start their home search online, so you want your photos to be immaculate.
Your real estate agent should have tips on how to make your home look its very best for photos, showing, and open houses. Your agent might also suggest hiring a professional staging company, particularly if you’ll be removing furniture from the home before selling.
Hopefully, all your hard work pays off quickly, and you’ll be accepting an offer in no time. Once you’ve received the offer, it’s time to put your Realtor to work negotiating on your behalf. Remember, real estate negotiation isn’t about winning; it’s about making concessions that both parties can live with. If you lose a buyer, you’ll have to start the entire process over again. Find a solution that makes both parties feel like they’re getting a good deal.
Your real estate agent should be comfortable negotiating a deal, and he or she should work hard to make sure you’re getting the best possible price for your home.
Once you’ve accepted the offer, there are just a few hurdles left to clear: inspection, appraisal, financing, and finally, closing. If all goes according to plan (you’ll likely have a few bumps along the way; that’s completely normal), you’ll be signing over your property and giving the new owners the keys in no time. Then, it’s off to your next adventure.