How to Sell Your House With a Realtor [9 Key Steps]

Joseph Alongi
By Joseph Alongi
Updated December 19th, 2023
How to Sell Your House with a Realtor

Selling your home with a realtor can yield tremendous results and be a lot easier than you think.

Or it can be the complete opposite. 

The difference between the two is knowing how to execute the right steps. 

Think of it like this…

Say you’re going to bake a cake.

The end result is probably not going to be what you hoped for if you just guess which ingredients you should use.

But when you know how to implement the right ingredients?

Your cake has a much higher chance of turning out how you hoped it would.

It’s the same when selling your house with a realtor. 

Knowing the important parts of the process and when they should be executed will guide you toward your desired outcome. 

For most homeowners, that means selling for the highest price –– in the shortest amount of time –– and with the least amount of stress.

I’m going to share everything I know about selling with an agent so you can utilize my experience in the real estate industry (and as a home seller) to your advantage. 

Here are the steps to selling a house with a realtor. 

1. Know the key criteria for selecting the right realtor

Understanding the various details of a listing agent (their responsibilities, how they’re compensated, etc.) is important.

But knowing which criteria separate the right listing agent from the wrong one is more important. 

Because your choice of realtor will have a direct impact on how much you sell for.

And how fast.

Only basing your decision on an agent’s experience and personality is like picking a book based on its cover. 

It might seem great at first, but you can find out later the contents don’t match the promises on the exterior. 

That’s why knowing how to select the right realtor when selling is critical. 

Keep these additional criteria in mind when it’s time to decide which realtor to sell with:

  • Relevant selling experience: Partnering with a local realtor who has a history of selling homes similar to yours, in your area, and in your price range increases the chances of them implementing the right pricing and marketing strategies.
  • Low dual agency rate: Agents who have a history of primarily representing sellers only in a real estate transaction (and not acting as a dual agent where they represent the seller and buyer in the same sale) are much more likely to be trusted because their track record shows they prioritize their clients’ best interests over earning two commissions from one sale.
  • Stellar reputation: How a real estate agent handled previous selling clients’ transactions speaks volumes about how they’ll handle yours.  
  • Option to cancel your agreement: An agent who’s willing to let you cancel the agent agreement at any time (not standard) is more likely to stay motivated because their commission isn’t guaranteed.

2. Reach out to prospective real estate agents

Many homeowners assume that they should connect with a prospective agent shortly before they’re ready to put their house on the market. 

This might be your best option. 

But maybe it’s not. 

It depends how much guidance you want before your house is listed. 

Here’s what I can tell you…

Reaching out to a prospective realtor later than you should can be the reason why you miss out on strategic advice. 

I’ve seen this happen numerous times. 

A seller doesn’t want to “bother” a realtor, or they assume they don’t need guidance from a professional. 

So they inquire with us to connect them with one or more realtors at the last minute, which — in some cases –– costs them important information that could have saved them money, time, and/or stress. 

Your realtor can be a valuable asset before your for sale sign goes up. 

So, take advantage of their expertise by making sure you know when you should contact a realtor.

For example, let’s say you plan on making improvements before selling.

And you want advice about which upgrades will pay off and which ones won’t.

Then you should probably reach out at least 60-90 days before you plan to put your home on the market. 

That same time frame could be used if you have a unique selling situation (e.g. selling an inherited property). 

But if you don’t plan on making improvements and don’t need additional guidance…

Then 30-60 days before listing is probably a good time frame. 

3. Hire the right realtor

Is the amount of money you make from selling your home important to you?

Okay, that’s a rhetorical question.

But there’s a reason why I asked. 

Because your net proceeds will be impacted by the agent you hire.

That’s why determining who you’re going to partner with is the most important decision you’ll make when selling your house with a realtor.

So don’t take it lightly. 

You already know what criteria you should consider. 

Now it’s time to capitalize on that knowledge to make sure you hire the right agent.

Here are a few things you should do as you’re going through the process…

Meet at your property: Conducting an initial consultation at the property you’re selling allows you to get tailored advice. And meeting with two to three prospective realtors will increase your chances of hiring the right person.

Ask the right questions: Interviewing real estate agents is critical because it’s your opportunity to ensure the realtor you sell with meets the right criteria. So don’t make a decision without asking a real estate agent the right questions when selling.

Compare agent fees and services: The typical realtor fees are 5-6% (negotiable) of the home’s final sale price (depends on your price point) and usually split between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. Comparing agent fees and services is key because not all real estate agents provide the same service.  

Understand the agent agreement: Make sure you understand the listing agreement before you commit to a real estate agent. The agent you plan on selling with should walk you through it so you understand the duration, commissions, and terms. 

4. Implement a home selling plan

Composing a plan is an important step in the process of selling a house with a realtor. 


Because it ensures you and your agent are on the same page from the get-go. 

And it can make the process less stressful because you know what to expect and when. 

Most listing agents will discuss a strategy shortly after they’re hired –– but some won’t –– so you may need to initiate this step.

Here are some things your plan should include:

Inspections: Having a home inspection (and/or others) can be beneficial before listing your property for sale. Ask your agent if they think you need one, and if yes, when an inspection should occur and what you need to do beforehand. 

Improvements: Rely on your agent’s expertise to determine if any home improvements are worth making. If you don’t want to spend time and money upgrading, then consider making minor repairs to make your home more appealing to potential buyers.

Showing schedule: Clarify when your agent plans to hold open houses and when buyer agents will have access for private showings. This will help set expectations and clear up any questions you have about how this will work. 

Move out timeline: Whether you move out before or after your home is listed can impact how certain tasks are handled throughout the process. Discuss this with your real estate agent so you have clarity about what lies ahead.

And make sure you and your realtor discuss anything specific to your selling situation so that it’s included in your plan.  

Then, have them give you a timeline of the steps that will occur before and after your house is listed for sale.

5. Prepare to sell with your realtor

Now it’s time to start putting your plan into action. 

Follow the guidance from your realtor as you get ready to put your home on the market. 

Here are a few additional things to keep in mind as you do. 

Declutter: Getting rid of stuff will depersonalize your home and create more space — both of which can make your home more attractive.

Deep clean: Buyers will notice the small things that you don’t. So having your home deep cleaned before listing will help avoid potential turnoffs. 

Stage: Your home should appeal to as many prospective buyers as possible. Staging your property will help you do this. 

Take professional photos: The online photos of your listing can have a major impact on how many buyers view your home in person. Verify with your agent that their photographer will turn on all lights, open all curtains/window coverings, and hide any negative selling features.  

Confirm the list price: Your realtor should guide you on setting the right list price by providing you with a comparative market analysis (also known as a CMA). This analysis will help determine the ideal asking price by factoring in comparable properties that have recently sold, along with local market trends.

6. Let your agent show your home to prospective buyers

Buyers will start viewing your home after your agent ignites their marketing plan.

That marketing plan can include things such as:

  • Listing your home on the multiple listing service (MLS)
  • Social media ads
  • Marketing to their network of real estate professionals 
  • Advertising your listing to other homeowners in your area.

Showing your home is the step in the process where you and your realtor will start to see how much demand there is for your home.

Coordinating showings and open houses is one of the things you should expect from a real estate agent when selling

But you can help by being flexible.

Making it easier for buyers to view your property will increase your odds of getting an offer in the shortest time frame. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to showing your property. 

Open houses

Open houses are typically scheduled for two to four hours on Saturday and Sunday.

On any showing day, aim to keep your house looking like it does in the photos.

Spotless. Well-lit. Basking in natural light.

Importantly, remove all clutter from the house.

Buyers will see your house from a different point of view — and the smallest nuance can make a big difference.

Private showings

Private showings can be arranged for buyers and their agents who can’t attend an open house or want to view your home before others.

Your real estate agent can work around your schedule if you’re living in the property while it’s on the market. 

And keep in mind that it’s never a good idea to be at your home while potential buyers are viewing it.

Many buyers will feel uncomfortable asking their agent questions if you’re present. 

7. Accept, decline, or counter the buyer’s offer

You have options when receiving an offer from a potential homebuyer. 

You can accept, decline, or counteroffer. 

Remember how I said in step one that your realtor will have a direct impact on how much you sell for? 

Well, this is one example. 

Because getting the best offer takes a combination of your realtor having a history of prioritizing the seller’s best interests and skillful negotiating. 

Your agent will receive the buyer’s offer on a “real estate purchase agreement.” 

And they should vet the offer (and the buyer) before discussing the details with you.

Your agent can’t tell you how you should respond to an offer.

But they can provide you with their feedback and advice. 

And you should rely on it. 

Here are a few things you’ll want to consider when discussing an offer with your realtor:

Price: Ask your realtor if the price is the buyer’s highest and best. Their response should tell you whether there’s an opportunity to negotiate. 

Contingencies: A buyer can include certain conditions in their offer that must be met before the sale closes (financing, inspection, appraisal, etc). Confirm whether the buyer’s offer is contingent (many are), and if so, which contingencies are included and for how many days before the buyer needs to release them.

Down payment: The higher the down payment, the less risk the buyer is to their lender. Verify the percentage the buyer is putting down and that your realtor has received their pre-approval letter and statements showing enough funds for the down payment and closing costs.

Days to close: The offer contract will state a specific closing date or how many days until closing. Confirm this with your real estate agent so you have an idea of how long the closing process might take.  

8. Begin closing tasks with your agent

Accepting an offer on your home will feel like a huge relief.

But there are several important steps you and your realtor will need to make sure are completed before your sale is final. 

Lender’s appraisal

The appraisal is needed because your property will be used as collateral for the buyer’s loan.

So their lender will want to make sure that your home is worth the price the buyer is paying.

Scheduling the appraisal is usually one of the first things the buyer’s loan officer will do after you accept an offer.

Your agent will receive confirmation and should let you know what day and time the appraiser will visit the property (the buyer pays for it). 

There’s no need to stress about cleaning your home before the appraiser arrives. 

Your home’s cleanliness has zero impact on the appraised value.  

It’s rare for the appraised value to come in less than the sale price.

But if that happens, then the buyer needs to come up with a higher down payment –– or renegotiate the price with you. 

Buyer inspections

The buyer can opt to have their own inspections, whether they included a contingency in their offer or not.

But they will only have a certain number of days to do so. 

That time frame will be stated in the purchase agreement. 

You should be aware of this because there’s a greater chance of the buyer doing one or more of these three things if they have an inspection contingency:

  • Renegotiating the price
  • Asking you to make repairs
  • Backing out of the sale.

You should strategize with your realtor before any buyer inspection.

Because there might be something you can do beforehand that will swing the inspection report in your favor. 

Buyer’s loan

A buyer’s pre-approval letter (or pre-qualification) doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to obtain a mortgage.

There’s a process they need to go through after you accept their offer. 

Here’s what that generally looks like:

  • The loan officer submits the initial documents to the underwriter (the decision-maker for the buyer’s loan).
  • The underwriter looks at the initial documents and determines whether the buyer is initially approved for the loan.
  • The underwriter approves the loan with certain conditions that need to be met before the loan is finalized.
  • The loan officer and buyer work together to satisfy the loan conditions.
  • The underwriter signs off on final approval. 

Why does this matter?

Because you’ll need to put your house back on the market if the buyer doesn’t get their loan. 

This is why it’s important for your real estate agent to vet the buyer.

And it’s why they should periodically check in with the loan officer and the buyer’s agent after the offer is accepted. 

9. Close the sale

The final step to selling a house with a realtor includes several important tasks.

This phase often begins about a week before the sale is final. 

Here are a few things to consider as you and your realtor get ready to close your transaction.

Get guidance before the buyer’s final walkthrough

The buyer will revisit your home for a final visual inspection a few days before closing. 

Game plan with your real estate agent to ensure your home is presented in the same condition as the buyer agreed to purchase it in.

Confirm what’s needed to close

Your realtor should coordinate your signing of the final documents with the escrow company.

But depending on your state’s regulations, a real estate attorney might be required before you sign to ensure all documents are in order.

Your agent will guide you through this process.

You’ll want to verify with them what you should bring to the signing.

Generally, it’s going to be these two things:

  • A government-issued photo ID for verification
  • Your bank details for processing the sale proceeds.

The sale typically takes another two to five days to become official after you sign the closing documents.

Get a list of pre-closing duties

Ask your realtor for a list of items that should be completed before you hand over the keys to the buyer.

For most home sales, that list is going to include the following:

  • Remove all personal items from the property.
  • Transfer utility services out of your name.
  • Cancel your current homeowner’s insurance policy.
  • Update your mailing address.

Verify the sale is official

Your transaction will reach its conclusion once the deed is recorded with your county.

This process is what officially transfers ownership to the buyer.

Get confirmation from your realtor when this happens. 

Because you should see your proceeds from the sale within one business day of the transfer of ownership. 

And that’s it. 

You’ve officially sold your house with your realtor. 

The bottom line

Implementing the right steps is crucial when selling your home with a realtor.

But it’s not just about knowing which steps to implement. 

It’s about knowing how to properly execute them. 

Because if done right, you and your realtor will put you in the best position to sell:

  • For more money
  • In less time
  • With less stress

What has the biggest impact on the results you get?

Deciding which realtor you’re going to sell with.

You can leverage our no-cost service to ensure you sell with the right agent. 

We analyze key real estate agent sales data and online reviews to match sellers with the best local realtor. 

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Joseph Alongi
Joseph Alongi

Joseph is the CEO of SoldNest. He holds a real estate broker's license and has over eighteen years of experience in the real estate industry. He's married to his beautiful wife, Erin, and comes from a big Italian family. His biggest weakness is his mom's homemade pasta.