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The Step-by-Step Guide to Selling a House

By: Kyle Spearin


Selling your home can be an emotional endeavor. You’ve lived there for so long that you have memories throughout the house. For one reason or another, though, it’s time to sell.


Many people before you have gone through the home selling process. Some have had positive experiences while others have had bad luck. When it comes to selling your home, you want to take luck out of the equation.


One way to maximize your chances of selling your home without the hassle is to have a game plan going in. By understanding the steps to selling a house ahead of time, you’ll be able to anticipate each juncture of the journey successfully.


  1. Hire a Great Realtor

When the time comes to list your house, you have a growing number of options. You can use Redfin, list it yourself, or go through an established realtor.


Although some people decide to go with one of the first two options mentioned, you should strongly consider hiring a realtor. That’s what the majority of people do. According to the National Association of Realtors, 89 percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker.


This is with good reason. A great realtor can use their expertise to sell your home with company backed marketing, the MLS to showcase your house, and negotiation skills. These among other qualities make hiring a realtor the better decision.


  1. Make the Appropriate Updates

As you go through the process of deciding to list your house, your realtor may recommend that you make some updates. This could be painting or something else cosmetic or it could be a more expensive update. 


If you happen to need cosmetic updates, it’s best to take care of them ahead of time. This will help your pictures stand out on the MLS, potentially help with home inspection down the line, and even influence the appraisal (maybe). 


It gets trickier if you need to do major changes. In this case, you may choose to list your home as is or go through with the updates. Weigh the costs versus the potential rewards as you do this. You should also consider your timetable for selling– if you ask a realtor, they’ll tell you that the best time to sell is always now.


  1. Add Staging and Professional Photography

Another set of things to consider are staging and photography. Both can impact your listing price and much more.


Something to consider is staging. Staging is when furniture, paintings, and other items are brought into your house. The intention is to make your home look bigger and more neutral in most instances. Depending on your realtor’s recommendation, it might make sense to do this. In fact, staging is proven to increase the sale price.


The other factor you need to consider at this point is photography. Homes with better pictures tend to stand out on the MLS. Hiring a professional photographer is well worth the investment, they’ll be able to make the most of lighting and angles. 


Ask your realtor if they have anyone in mind and also do your own independent research–this will pay huge dividends.


  1. Choose the Right Price and List Your Home

The final step before officially listing your house is to determine a pricing strategy. When interviewing agents, they’ll show you different pricing options based on a comparative market analysis. You get to decide which strategy to employ. Whatever you choose, be sure to use numbers to back up your decision.


  1. Open Houses

Once your house is listed, your realtor will begin to schedule open houses. This is one of the best marketing tools at your realtor’s disposal because they can showcase your house to those who visit. In many instances, foot traffic to the open house can be tied to pricing as well as aesthetics such as pictures and staging.


The ultimate goal of an open house is to produce offers that match the market analysis and (hopefully) drive up the price by causing competition among buyers. In the current market, there is a lower inventory of houses, making it more favorable for you the seller.


  1. Decide on the Best Offer

If the open house doesn’t work, it’s back to the drawing board. But if the open house is successful, you’ll be fielding offers from potential buyers.

When all of your offers are in, you should go over them one by one with your realtor. Sometimes the highest price isn’t the best offer– it might come down to loan options, down payment, or something else. It’s best to consult with your agent before making a decision because they might have insight that you may otherwise overlook.


  1. Home Inspection

At this point, you’ve accepted an offer. Congratulations!


The next hurdle to overcome is the home inspection. A home inspector will go through every nook and cranny of your house, creating a report. After reviewing the inspector’s findings, the buyers will most likely try to renegotiate.


  1. Sign the Purchase and Sales Agreement

Signing the purchase and sales agreement is a pivotal juncture that gets you one step closer to selling your home. After this is signed, most of the down payment is guaranteed (depending on the terms, of course) so there’s a high likelihood that the buyers will proceed with the process. 


  1. Appraisal

An appraiser will come to your house to determine how much it’s worth. They work with banks, who are risk averse so they will only lend what they believe the house is worth. The appraisal is really the final challenge before finalizing everything.


Realtors can tell you horror stories about appraisals went wild. That’s why choosing the best offer, not necessarily the best price is so important. 


  1. Say Goodbye to the Old, Hello to the New

Now that you’re through the gauntlet, you can look back on the process and be thankful that you knew what to do every step of the way. At this point, you’ll be moving onto something else new and exciting.


Final Thoughts

Navigating the home selling process on your own can be quite intimidating. There’s so much to remember at each juncture. This guide can help you go step-by-step without the stress because you’ll know what to expect the entire way through.


Brian Burds

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