How to sell your house in 5 steps

Life Lessons

How to sell your house in 5 steps

Selling your house is a stressful experience. Not only is it likely your largest asset, but it may also be filled with years of memories. That stress can be intensified if you’re selling in either a super-fast market or one that moves considerably slower.

You want to maximize the profit on the sale of your house, but it does take a lot of work. If you’ve never sold a house before, it can be easy to overlook certain steps that can impact your sale price. Here are five steps you must take to sell your house quickly at maximum profit.

1. Start as soon as possible.
Selling a house doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to prepare your house for sale. Start as early as possible to get your home looking just right for prospective buyers.

This can take weeks to accomplish. If you don’t know where to start, have an objective friend walk through your house and give you ideas. You live there, so it’s difficult to have a critical eye about clutter and anything that might be an eyesore to potential buyers.

Does the sale of your house involve buying another one? You may want to consider when to get preapproved for another mortgage, so that doesn’t get lost in preparing for the sale of your current house.

You must also determine the market in your area. Are houses selling fast, or is it a slower-moving market? Each market is different, and it’s important to know your market to assist in preparation. For example, the peak time to sell your house for the year may be over. Knowing that can help you select the best time to list your house.

2. Get rid of the junk.
Often the first step in preparing to sell your house is getting rid of clutter. The average American home has over 300,000 items, from couches to cutlery. If you have a lot of items in your home the day your house goes on the market, it may feel cramped to prospective buyers, making them walk away without an offer.

“You need to declutter and brighten your house as much as possible,” says Morgan Franklin, MBA, founder of Atlas Trust Real Estate. Decluttering will help the house feel and look bigger, making it more attractive to potential buyers.

Going through your house and identifying items to sell, throw away or donate will help alleviate that problem. If you need to, consider getting a temporary storage space to increase your decluttering efforts.

“Aside from cleaning and removing excess furniture, an easy improvement is to ensure all of your light bulbs work. Replacing those bulbs can make a dramatic difference,” says Franklin.
The simple work is worth the effort, because by making your house feel more open and full of light, buyers may be more inclined to make an offer.

3. Depersonalize your house.
Potential buyers want to be able to see themselves living in your house. If they can’t, it’ll decrease the likelihood of an offer. While you’re decluttering your house, turn a keen eye on what personal effects to remove from it.

“You should depersonalize the home,” says Mark Cianciulli, Esq., CPA, co-founder and principal at The Crem Group. “This means removing the photos of you and your family or friends that are likely all over your house. This helps buyers imagine the property as their own, not as someone else’s.”

Removing personal items may make your house feel less like a home, but it can go a long way toward helping buyers truly see themselves making it into a home for themselves.

4. Know what to improve.
No house is perfect. You may feel you need to improve everything to ensure your house sells fast. But it’s important to realize not all improvements will result in a good return on investment. As Franklin reminds home sellers, “Don’t go too far, as most often improvements don’t return a dollar-per-dollar return. Most often it is 50% or less.”

If you don’t know where to start on improvements, ask your realtor. He or she will know the market, what buyers are looking for, and what will have the greatest return. Walk through the house with the realtor, using buyer’s eyes and determine where to begin.

Franklin recommends starting with simple things, such as lighting, paint and landscaping. These generally aren’t too expensive yet can provide significant improvements that will help your house sell quicker.

5. DIY or hire a realtor?
A common question sellers ask is whether they should hire a realtor or go the DIY approach. You can sell on your own and that may work, especially if you have experience. However, keep in mind that selling on your own may not save as much as you anticipate, as you still must pay the buyer’s agent brokerage fee.

If you decide to hire a realtor to sell your house, do it with a critical eye. You’re hiring the realtor to work for you, so interview several to find the right fit.

“I always recommend you interview at least three realtors,” says Cianciulli. He recommends asking some of these questions to find the best realtor for your needs:

  • How many houses have you sold in the past year? (Less than 10 suggests a weak agent.)
  • What is your process for marketing a typical home?
  • What is your knowledge of the neighborhood?

You may also want to ask to see personal references to gauge others’ experience with the realtor. If possible, ask for referrals from friends and neighbors to find a realtor that might be a good fit to help sell your house.

Selling your house is a stressful time. It can also be an exciting time as you begin your next adventure. By following these steps, you can lower your stress level and possibly sell your house faster.

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