Times are tough, and many people are thinking about selling their homes. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median existing-home price for all housing types was $226,800 in August 2016, up 6.3 percent from August 2015.
However, prices are just one aspect of selling a home – there are plenty of other things to consider (like improving your home’s value) if you consider taking this big step. Here are some tips to help you make the best decision for yourself and your family.
1. Evaluate your financial situation
Before you even begin thinking about selling your home, take a close look at your finances and figure out if it’s the right move for you. Here are some aspects to consider:
Can you afford the costs of selling?
If you’re just thinking about selling your home and haven’t put it on the market yet, there are a few costs you should be aware of. These include:
- Home inspection: You’ll need to pay for a professional home inspector to come and check out your property. This is typically done before putting your home on the market, so potential buyers are aware of any issues that need to be addressed.
- Home repairs: Once the home inspection is complete, you may be required to make repairs to get your home up to par. These can range from small cosmetic changes to bigger ticket items like fixing a leaky roof.
- Closing costs: These are the fees associated with finalizing the sale of your home and usually amount to 2-5% of the sale price.
- Real estate commissions: If you’re working with a real estate agent, they will typically charge a commission which is a percentage of the final sale price (usually around 5-6%).
- Mortgage payoff: If you still have a mortgage on your home, you’ll need to factor in the payoff amount.
2. Know the value of your home.
It’s important to have a realistic idea of how much your home is worth before you put it on the market. There are a few ways to do this:
Get a comparative market analysis (CMA):
This is an estimate of your home’s value that real estate agents provide. It takes into account recent sales of similar homes in your area, as well as the current condition of your property.
Look at online home value estimators:
Several websites will give you an estimated value of your home, such as Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com. These estimates are based on public data and recent sales, but they can be a good starting point.
3. Consider your timeline.
Are you thinking about selling your home soon, or are you just exploring your options? If you’re thinking about selling soon, it’s important to factor in the current state of the housing market as well as your timeline.
For example, if you need to sell quickly to relocate for a new job, it may not be the best time to put your home on the market. However, if you’re selling due to a life change like getting married or having a baby, you may have more flexibility.
4. Decide whether to sell on your own or with the help of a real estate agent.
Selling your home on your own, known as For Sale by Owner (FSBO), is a viable option if you’re comfortable with the process and are willing to put in the time and effort. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential challenges that come with FSBO, such as:
You’ll need to do your marketing:
This includes taking pictures, writing descriptions, and listing your home on sites like Zillow and Redfin. Doing all of this yourself can be time-consuming.
You’ll need to qualify buyers:
When you receive an offer on your home, you’ll need to check their financial qualifications to make sure they’re able to purchase your property.
You’ll be responsible for negotiating:
When it comes to negotiating with buyers, you’re on your own. This can be tricky if you’re not familiar with the process. After all, real estate agents are trained in negotiation and can help you get the best price for your home.
5. Get your home ready to sell.
Once you’ve decided to sell, it’s time to get your home ready for showings. This includes:
Cleaning and decluttering:
This means getting rid of personal items, such as family photos, and doing a deep clean of your entire home. Get rid of anything that makes your home look cluttered or messy.
Fix any minor issues around your home, such as leaky faucets, cracks in the walls, and scratched floors. These small changes can make a big difference to potential buyers.
Naturally, you want your home to look its best for showings. A fresh coat of paint is an easy and inexpensive way to do this. Just be sure to choose neutral colors that appeal to a wide range of buyers.
6. Set the right price.
Pricing your home too high can scare away potential buyers while pricing it too low could cause you to lose money. The best way to determine the right price for your home is to:
Get a CMA from a real estate agent:
As we mentioned, a CMA will give you an estimate of your home’s value based on recent sales of similar homes in your area. Go with the middle number that your agent provides to be safe.
Look at online home value estimators:
Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com are all good places to start. Again, take the middle number to be safe.
For example, if Zillow says your home is worth $200,000 and Redfin says it’s worth $250,000, you can list it for $225,000. Check out home buying tips and red flags for more information.
7. Think about your home’s curb appeal.
The curb appeal is the first thing potential buyers will see when they drive to your home, so it’s important to make a good impression. This can be make-or-break, so it’s important to make sure your home has good curb appeal. This means:
- Mowing the lawn: Make sure your lawn is mowed and free of any debris.
- Trimming the hedges: Hedges should be trimmed and neat.
- Planting flowers: Flowers can add a pop of color and make your home look more inviting. Just be sure to choose low-maintenance options that will survive in your climate.
8. Stage your home.
If you’ve ever watched HGTV, you know that home staging is important. This is the process of making your home look its best for showings, and it can be the difference between a sale and no sale. Here are some tips for staging your home:
Furnish each room:
If a room is empty, it will look small and uninviting. Furnish each room with appropriate furniture to make it look its best. Choose furniture that is stylish but not too personal so that potential buyers can see themselves living in the home.
As we mentioned before, decluttering is important. Get rid of anything that makes your home look cluttered or messy. This includes personal items, such as family photos, as well as any furniture that’s taking up too much space.
Q: Can I sell my home without a real estate agent?
A: You can, but it’s not recommended. Real estate agents are trained in negotiation and have access to resources that you don’t. They can also help you with the other steps involved in selling a home, such as pricing, marketing, and staging.
Q: How long does it take to sell a home?
A: The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including the housing market, the condition of your home, and your asking price. In general, it takes anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to sell a home.
Q: How do I find a good real estate agent?
A: Ask your friends and family for recommendations, or look for agents who have experience selling homes in your area. You can also check online reviews to get an idea of what other people’s experiences have been like.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to selling your home successfully. Just remember to take your time, do your research, and work with a qualified real estate agent (or not). Good luck!