Whether you’re a first time home seller or someone just looking for home selling advice, I’m going to discuss the best tips for selling your home that will increase your chances of getting the best offer in the shortest amount of time.
And hopefully reduce the stress, anxiety, and frustration that many sellers encounter.
But before we go into how this directly impacts your net proceeds and the time it takes to sell (I will go into that later), let’s first discuss something that might be more important.
If your goal is to make the most money and sell faster, then you have to think of this as a business transaction. Keep the emotional attachment out of the selling process.
When it comes time to make decisions on certain things, you’re going to be tempted to make these decisions based on your preferences. Don’t do it.
Homebuyers (and humans in general) buy off of emotion. Your specific taste in something might not apply to the largest audience. The bigger the audience you can appeal to, the better chance you have of selling your home faster and for more money.
Great, let’s dive in…
Tips for getting your house ready to sell
When it comes to the best tips for selling your home, knowing the specifics about your property is key. Because I don’t know what the inside or the outside of your home looks like, I’m going to give you general home selling tips that work extremely well and can be applied to almost everyone.
If you want something more specific to your home, you can find a top realtor in your area (and get a cash credit toward services that add value) who can provide you with a customized plan.
Decluttering your home to sell
This is the part that most home sellers don’t look forward to. Let me guess, you’ve occupied your residence for a number of years and have collected more stuff than you know what to do with?
Don’t worry, most of our clients tell us the same thing but feel the monkey come off their back when we partner them with a top agent.
I’m assuming you already know that decluttering is important, but if you’re like most sellers, you want specifics.
Well, here they are…
First, you need to look at your home from the buyer’s point of view.
Walk out the front door, close your eyes for 30 seconds, and pretend that you have never seen your home before.
Now walk back in.
Does anything stick out to you?
Photos on the wall?
Outdated chair in the family room?
Pile of junk on the kitchen countertops?
One of the contributing factors to getting a great offer from a buyer in the shortest amount of time is appealing to a neutral audience.
And in order to do that, you’re going to want to remove all of your personal items. If you see something that you’re not sure of, remove it.
Doing this will help in making your living area appear larger than it really is.
Do I need to declutter my closets?
Buyers love storage space so decluttering your closets is highly recommended. It doesn’t mean you need to remove everything, but you’ll want to remove the unnecessary items so you can show off space.
This doesn’t just apply to your master bedroom closet. It applies to all of them. Bedrooms closets, hall closets, and if you have one, a closet by your front door.
Take everything out that looks like it’s just taking up space. Remember, the goal is to show off space so anything that seems clunky or looks like it’s taking up too much room, take it out.
Now that you know what to remove, where do you put it? The garage or an unfinished basement. Buyers will peak in the garage but showcasing the space in here isn’t a priority.
You can stack as many boxes as you can fit and it shouldn’t be an issue. If you run out of space or don’t have a garage, then renting a storage unit can be another option.
Decluttering your home to sell will probably be the biggest hassle, but the impact that it has with homebuyers can be the difference of a buyer being interested or having them walk out the front door and not come back.
These will apply to both your front and backyards (if you have them) and can be some of the best improvements you make.
Remember what we discussed at the beginning?
Buying a home is an emotional decision.
And first impressions are everything.
When a buyer pulls up to your home, the first thing they’re going to see is the front of your house. This means you want your curb appeal to pop without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars.
Here’s how you do that…
- Colorful plants and flowers
- Spray paint your grass
You don’t need to go extravagant. Keep this simple. Going with a combination of something like annuals, ground covered plants, and flower bulbs can work wonders.
For the average home, you can spend several hundred dollars at Home Depot or any other home improvement retailer and get everything you need.
The colorful plants and flowers will make your landscaping “pop”.
The mulch covers up the “wasted” areas with an updated look.
Can you really spray paint your grass?
Yep. This is one of the best tips for selling your home that many home sellers aren’t aware of.
Update your cabinet hardware
This is another very cost-effective improvement that can enhance your home’s interior and this can be applied to both your kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
There are many choices when it comes to the different types of cabinet hardware, but don’t get too fancy.
Keep it simple.
Remember, the goal is to appeal to a mass audience.
All you need is the standard handles or knobs.
Upgrade to modern light fixtures
Are you noticing a theme to these improvements?
They’re all inexpensive, relatively easy to do, and can dramatically enhance your home’s visual appearance. Upgrading your light fixtures is no different. This is something that many sellers overlook, so doing this can help you stand out from the competition.
You’ve probably lived in your home for years and might not really care about this, but homebuyers do.
If your light fixtures are outdated, they’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
Get a deep cleaning
When a buyer is walking through your home, they’ll notice things that you haven’t noticed in years.
Dust on the nightstand?
Dirt in the windowsill?
If you’re up to it, you can do this yourself and save a few hundred dollars.
If you hire cleaners, they’ll usually give you several pricing options with a combination of the following:
- Entire interior
- Windows (in and out)
Whether you do it yourself or hire someone, a deep cleaning can be the final touch that makes your home sparkle.
Staging your home to sell
Does staging really help?
How much does it help?
Most buyers don’t have the vision to imagine themselves living in your home so they need someone to do this for them.
This is the sole reason why hiring a good stager can pay off. They do this for a living and know exactly how to appeal to your target demographic.
Should you stage your home yourself?
If you decide to try and stage your home yourself, here’s what you should be thinking about:
- Who’s my target audience?
- What type of staging will appeal to them?
- How can I best implement that plan?
How do you do this?
Well, it depends on the type of property you’re selling and which area you live in.
For example, let’s say you’re an older couple living in a single-family residence and you’re located in a suburban area. You have a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home and your kids are moved out of the house.
The buyer for your home is most likely a younger family in their late twenty’s too early forties. In this case, you might want to stage the other three bedrooms as two kids’ bedrooms and either a home office or a guest bedroom.
The next step would be to decide what type of furniture gets used and where.
If you have all of the furniture to match the audience for each room and if it’s somewhat up-to-date, then great, you can probably get away with staging yourself. If you don’t, then hiring a professional to do this for you probably makes more sense.
A good stager will not only know how to appeal to your target audience, but they’ll also know how to maximize your space and make it feel bigger than it really is.
There are two scenarios where I don’t think staging is needed.
First, if the property your selling is a fixer-upper, then staging is not going to benefit you. When I say fixer-upper, I’m talking everything about the home is older and it hasn’t had any updates in 30+ years.
The second scenario is in a very hot real estate market.
If the market you’re in is red hot (most homes selling in a week and over asking), then the effect that staging has in helping you sell faster and at a higher price, is lower compared to any other market. It will definitely help, but the impact it has is not as effective.
If your house is not a fixer-upper and you’re not in a red hot market where the majority of homes are selling within a week with multiple offers, then staging a home to sell will almost always pay off.
Do you remember when you bought your last car?
Would you have offered what you did without knowing if there were any issues under the hood? Well, homebuyers have the same thought process, times ten.
The most common inspections include property, termite, and roof. Having these completed before your home goes on the market can save you time, money, and headaches.
Let’s play out two scenarios…
You put your home on the market for $699,000 without doing any inspections.
You accepted an offer after eighteen days at $700,000, but the offer included a 14-day inspection contingency.
The buyer had a property inspection completed a week after the contract was ratified and the inspector found a handful of items that had to be fixed or checked:
- A leak in the master bath sink
- The heater wouldn’t turn on
- A horizontal crack in the foundation
The buyers get the report back and are concerned. This is their first time buying a home and the items listed on the report are daunting, especially the foundation crack.
It looked something like this:
They speak to their agent to discuss their options:
- Go back to you and ask that you fix all of these items
- Negotiate on the agreed-upon price
- Walk away and find another home
After thinking it over, they decide to walk away. The crack in the foundation scared them off.
Your agent takes your home out of “contingent” status and puts it back to “active”. No biggie, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Now you’re back on the market anxiously waiting and hoping for the same offer, while your “Days on Market” keeps ticking away. “Days on market” is the time from when you put your home on the market to the time you accept an offer.
In a scenario like this where the buyer backs out, the days do not start from the beginning. This means that any new buyers looking at your home will see how long your home has been for sale. If the number of days exceeds the average in your area, they start to wonder why. Yes, buyers will see that you had previously accepted an offer and the previous buyer backed out, but this will just add to their potential concerns and might give them the idea that they have leverage.
You have inspections done before putting your home on the market.
That plumbing leak in the master bathroom? A simple fix and $200.
The heater issue? A blown fuse in the main electrical panel.
The horizontal crack? A $2,200 fix.
Your home goes on the market for the same price of $699,000 and your agent lets potential buyers know that you’ve done inspections.
After a couple of weeks, you get an offer for $700,000 but this time the buyer doesn’t include a property contingency and the sale closes as expected.
Will a buyer always submit an offer without a property contingency if you include the inspections upfront? No, but the chances are much higher compared to not having them done. Plus, even if the buyer does include a contingency, in order for them to try and negotiate with you, there would have to be a decent-sized discrepancy between the two inspection reports. This can happen but the chances are low.
In scenario one, you skipped the cost for inspections but had a buyer back out with your home sitting on the market.
In scenario two, you paid for the inspections and the cost for the items to be fixed but received a solid offer and had a smooth closing.
There are many different scenarios that can play out and depending on the area you live in, having inspections done upfront are sometimes out of the ordinary. If you live in an area where this is the case, then maybe having them done before your home goes on the market can help separate you from other nearby homes for sale.
Set the right asking price
This might be one of the best tips for selling your home.
Many sellers make the mistake of thinking their home is worth more than it is, or maybe even worse, less than it’s worth. This is where a top agent can be invaluable.
Here’s what you can be sure of: the buyer for your home has been looking in your neighborhood for some time and when it comes to home prices, they’re extremely savvy.
Price your home higher than similar properties and you can literally lose thousands. Set the price lower and you can end up leaving thousands on the table.
When it comes to your estimated value and setting the right asking price, there are two things you want to be aware of.
First, don’t assume that your home is worth whatever some real estate website says it is. Many sellers fall into this trap and they are adamant about setting the price at whatever the website says.
There are many factors that play into how much a buyer might pay for your home and these websites don’t know the details. The only thing they show you is a number; they don’t show you why your home is worth what it is.
Your home is worth how much someone is willing to pay for it and in order to maximize that number, getting expert advice from a top agent can be invaluable.
Second, be very leery of an agent suggesting a price that seems too good to be true. Unfortunately, this happens all the time.
Here’s how these scenarios usually play out…
The agent has nothing of value, so they overpromise on price and assure you that they can sell it quickly. Then, after being on the market for an extended period of time, they’ll suggest that you drop the price because “state any reason/excuse here”.
But why would an agent even do this?
When you sign a listing contract, you’re signing an exclusive agreement. The agent knows there’s a high probability of them getting paid.
Yes, you can potentially cancel your agreement with them, but they know that this would be a difficult decision for you (you would have to start the process over, a difficult conversation, etc). They might have to wait a little longer to collect a commission check, but they’re still getting paid. This is far too common and one of the many problems in our industry.
So, how do you set the right listing price?
Well, hopefully, you’re working with an experienced listing agent you can trust and one who relies on their reputation. If you are, then take their advice.
The good ones will back up their opinion with the right data using an accurate approach. And it should look something like this:
- Find the best recently sold properties (3-6 and only sold, not pending or active). The ones closest in interior square footage, most recently sold, and closest in proximity will carry the most weight.
- Compare your home’s features to each (sq. ft., lot size, beds, baths, condition, schools, location, etc.)
- Put a dollar value on the differences for each.
This is a very similar approach to what an appraiser does, but the best agents will also factor in buyer desirability. An appraiser will use more of a “cookie-cutter” approach.
You can probably get a vague idea on your own but a top agent will detail this for you on a comparative market analysis.
The right asking price is just one of many tips for selling your home that can dramatically impact how fast and how much your home sells for.
Implementing the best tips for selling your home can not only make you more money, but they can also make your home sale less stressful. Getting bad advice or cutting corners can dramatically impact your final results.
- This is a business transaction so try and keep the emotional attachment out of any decision making.
- Looking at some of the pre-listing decisions from the buyer’s point of view can be beneficial.
- Your home is unique and getting feedback from an experienced listing agent (who has your back) is invaluable.
If your goal is to make the most money and sell faster, without having the stress and frustration, then getting and implementing the best home selling advice will give you the best chance of making this happen.