Advice for a First Time Seller

Selling your first home can be exciting, exhausting and daunting. You have already navigated your home buying experience, but now you are on the other side. Your primary goal is to maximize your profit and there is much to consider before sticking a sign in your front yard.

Be prepared to put aside the feelings you have for your home. You have to think of it as a property in a business transaction, not as the place where you have memories and emotional ties. Once you have decided to sell, you must be as detached as possible, especially during negotiations. Then and throughout all the rest of the selling process, you need to hire a professional real estate agent. Don’t think you will be saving money by avoiding fees if you sell by owner. A home sale is loaded with landmines. For the best results and the biggest profit, let an agent market your home, explain the best ways to prepare it for sale and get you the best plan for closing the deal quickly. Find a top producing listing agent who can give you a comprehensive marketing plan.

You have work to do to get your home ready to show. First impressions are extremely important so you need to declutter everything: closets, tabletops, walls, garage, basement, lawn, everything. You need to depersonalize your house so that potential buyers can easily picture themselves living there. Plan to stage your home to show it at its best, both in person and in the marketing photos. The cost of a professional stager is a smart expense to maximize your selling power.

Freshen up your home with a few low cost improvements. New paint is the single best change, especially if you need to neutralize some vivid colors. Professionally cleaned floors and carpets will provide a bright look and a clean smell. You might want to replace outdated light fixtures and cabinet hardware. Cover dings in any woodwork and polish cabinets. Enhance curb appeal with trimmed bushes, repaired fencing and a manicured lawn. First impressions are key.

When your house is ready, price it to sell. Your agent will help you evaluate comparative home sales in your area, discuss the current market and set a realistic price. You don’t want to “test the market” with an inflated price and then have your house sit without offers. Buyers worry about houses that have been on the market for a long time, so a quick sale is better. Of course, you don’t want to underprice it either, so count on the counsel of your agent to price it right. Also, discuss closing costs and other selling expenses with your agent so you aren’t taken by surprise later.

Once your house is listed, keep it neat and be ready to leave when prospective buyers come for a showing. Buyers will feel more relaxed and will spend more time looking at your home if you aren’t hovering nearby. Be as flexible as you can with showing times and be prepared for several appointments within the first week. If a low-ball bid comes in, don’t take it personally or react emotionally. This is the start of the negotiation process and you have your agent in your corner to get you the best price.

Finally, have your movers lined up early. You can start packing as you declutter the house and be ready to go as soon as the closing is complete. Get excited – and be prepared for the next chapter as you leave your first home behind.