Sold! A First Timer’s Checklist For Selling Your Home
As a homeowner, the selling process can be an overwhelming experience - especially for first timers. Since they've never been through the experience of selling a home, many homeowners feel a bit lost as to what they need to do before they can pass their keys over to the next owners. But not to worry! Here's a checklist that covers all the essentials for homeowners getting ready to sell their first property:
Sprucing Things Up
Before homeowners list their home, they will want to handle any minor fixes that might keep them from getting top dollar for their property and spruce things up to make the home more attractive to potential buyers. While every home is different, some areas that homeowners will want to revamp before listing their home include:
Painting is a relatively easy and inexpensive fix, but it can really make a difference in how a home presents. Before listing, homeowners should plan to refresh both the exterior and interior paint. It also helps to use neutral colors when repainting a house that's about to go on the market. Bold colors can be off-putting or distracting to potential buyers. Using neutral colors like white, beige, or gray, will help potential buyers see the property, not the paint.
The first thing potential buyers will notice when viewing a home is the landscaping. If the yard is in shambles or there are human-sized weeds sprouting from every corner, it can be a deal breaker. Investing in landscaping upgrades will add to a property's curb appeal and can help land a higher selling price. If the outdoor area hasn't been landscaped, adding flowers, small trees and greenery can go a long way. If the property already has a garden, cleaning the area up (including raking, pruning and adding additional plants to fill in any visible gaps) will suffice.
If there are minor and/or inexpensive repairs that need to be done to the property, it can be helpful for the homeowners to take care of them prior to listing. Small repairs, like steam cleaning the carpets or fixing a leaky shower, are quick, easy and inexpensive fixes, but can make a big difference when showing the home. While homeowners will want to leave more major repairs and remodels for the potential buyers, cleaning up small problems will yield big results when they put their home on the market.
It's important for homeowners to stage their home in a way that's appealing to potential buyers. Staging can either be done with the help of a professional organizer and decorator or independently, but proper staging should include:
- Decluttering the home
- Removing any personal items
- Reorganizing, rearranging and/or removing furniture to make the home feel more open and spacious
- Thoroughly cleaning the home
- Arranging the home to highlight the property's best features (for example, pulling back curtains to showcase a gorgeous view or moving any furniture that blocks interesting architectural details)
- Adding decorative items to enhance the space
Staging a home in a way that appeals to buyers can have a huge impact on the selling process. Professional stagers typically cost a few thousand dollars, but if homeowners want to save the extra cash, HGTV has some great tips on how to best stage a home for maximum impact.
Choosing An Agent
Once the property is ready to be shown to potential buyers, it's time to find an agent. Choosing the right real estate agent is HUGELY important, particularly for first time sellers. Having the right real estate agent representing the property can mean the difference between a quick, painless and positive selling process and a long, drawn out nightmare. When choosing a real estate homeowners should consider:
Does this agent specialize in this type of property and in this area?
Whenever possible, homeowners should work with an agent who possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience selling the type of property they're looking to sell within their market. Different types of properties and different markets have different nuances, and working with an agent who understands those nuances can help homeowners sell their home quicker and for a higher price than working with an agent who isn't as knowledgeable.
What's the agent's track record?
One of the best predictors of future success is past success. When choosing a real estate agent, homeowners should ask what their track record of success is. How many homes have they sold in the past year? What's the average time their properties stay on their market? What percentage of their deals come in at the asking price or above? Understanding a real estate agent's past performance can help homeowners understand what they might expect during the selling process and helps to set up proper expectations for both the homeowners and the agent.
What's the agent's plan for selling the property?
Homeowners should also ask what their agent's plan is for selling the property. What marketing channels will they leverage to make sure the property gets in front of the right people? How aggressively do they plan to market the property? What's their backup plan should they not be successful with their typical marketing strategies? It's an agent's job to sell a property, but there are many ways to do that. Homeowners will want to find out upfront what their agent's plan is to make sure it's in line with what they're looking for. Selling a property can be overwhelming for first time sellers. But by following the steps in this checklist, homeowners can take the necessary steps to selling their home quickly, easily and with as little stress as possible.