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Ready to Sell?

Are you ready to sell your starter home so you can buy a place for your growing family? Downsizing after the kids have moved out? Moving to a place out in the country? Across the country? There’s many reasons you may need to sell your home, but whatever the reason, here’s some tips to help you get started.


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Choosing the Right Agent

To attract the right buyer, you have to effectively communicate the value your home offers.  To attract the highest price, you have to start with a solid marketing plan and to seal your best deal, you have to negotiate effectively. Choosing the right agent with the right plan who knows the art of the deal is step number 1.

In a market flooded with agents, it can be hard to find one the best fit for you. Depending on the market we’re in, you could likely end up working with this real estate agent for awhile so make sure that broker’s personality and communication style fits you well. The agent you hire will be your voice to the world about how magnificent your property is but also your trusted advisor to help you navigate the deal in this sue-happy world. A good broker will not only show your home in the best light but do so in a way that lets you sleep soundly.  

From the beginning, its important to establish great communication and set appropriate expectations. Below is a list of questions you should consider asking your candidates:

  • What is your experience level? Remember, experience is not just about years in the business. Its about how many families they’ve helped.
  • Can you show me examples of your work? Ask them to see how they have marketed past properties. A good marketer can show you this pretty easily whereas a poor marketer may not have examples readily available.
  • Who do you see as my best target audience and how do you intend to reach them?
  • Where will you advertise my home? Believe it or not, many agents will simply put the home on the MLS with some cell phone quality photos. Ask for a comprehensive list of all the places the home will be marketed.
  • Ask to see their marketing plan. Market value is great to know, but what is their plan to yield you the most money in the shortest amount of time?
  • How often and by what method will I hear from you throughout the process? Its important to establish an expectation that works for both of you. 
  • Will I be working with you or your team? A frequent complaint we hear is that the listing broker signed the listing paperwork and they never heard from them again.

“In a market flooded with agents, it can be hard to find one the best fit for you.”

Determine your Asking Price

Remember those economics classes you took back in high school? Your teacher probably said “If you only take one thing away from this class, remember the law of supply and demand”. Your home follows those same laws. Your home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and that amount is largely determined by the competition on the market and what the other homes have sold for.  This is why your agent should run a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) on your home. A CMA involves as much art as it does science.  The CMA uses information about your home to compare with similar homes that have recently sold or are currently active. While no two homes are exactly alike, the CMA compares age, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, size, neighborhood to come up with a valuation. 
Since the CMA requires objectivity, it is less than perfect, however, it makes a great starting point for you and your agent to determine how much you want to ask for your home. Determining this price is a really common problem for sellers because it is hard to put a dollar amount on the place you called home and have so many sentimental attachment to. Your agent should help you take an objective approach to it.

Do you Need a Pre-Sale Inspection?

If you’ve bought a home, your agent most likely recommended getting a home inspection done as part of your offer. It is really important to know what you’re buying, but it is just as important to know what you’re selling. A licensed home inspector should identify issues with the house that you may or may not be aware of. The inspector will check the home for structural issues, it’s general condition, plumbing, electrical and heating/cooling systems.

You never want to find out that there’s something wrong with the house you’re selling, but it is much better to find out before your house even goes on the market. You can have any issues fixed, adjust your asking price if there’s something you aren’t prepared to fix and you’ll be informed of issues before they show up on the buyer’s inspection report, which will help you during negotiations. It will cost a few hundred dollars, but it could pay for itself during negotiations and peace of mind.

You want to decorate your home in a way that highlights its features and makes it inviting while allowing a potential buyer to imagine themselves living there.

Staging Your Home

A lot of people will be looking at your home soon. Open houses, private showings, fliers, photos and videos on the web…, there’s a ton of ways to get your home out there. When people see your place, you want them to see somewhere they can call home. Staging a home is more than a deep clean (though that’s definitely an important part). You want to decorate your home in a way that highlights its features and makes it inviting while allowing a potential buyer to imagine themselves living there.
The first step in staging a home for sale is a thorough cleaning. Clutter and dust are your worst enemies. You may want to consider hiring a professional to help with carpets or adding a fresh coat of paint. Remember that you’ll need to have your home ready to show throughout the whole selling process, so find ways to keep the clutter down so you don’t have to stress about rushed clean-up jobs on short notice.
Try to keep your home looking neutral. Box up all but a couple of those photos and artwork from the fridge. Switch out some of your family portraits hanging on the wall for some landscape artwork if you have it. You want to keep your house feeling like a home, while not making it feel like it is “your home”.
An experienced agent has walked through hundreds of homes with hundreds of different buyers and should have a good idea of what a buyer will like and what may be a distraction. You and your agent may also talk about hiring a professional staging expert.

Listing your Home

Listing your home is the easiest part of the process for you. Your agent will take care of most the work. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) has a database of all active listings in the nation, and getting your house on it will be one of their first tasks.


If listing your home is the easy part of selling your home, showing it is probably the hardest. Your agent will probably help you schedule an open house, and coordinate with other buyer’s agents to set up some private showings. One of these showings is probably the first time the person who eventually buys your house will see it. A bad first impression can be hard for a potential buyer to get over, so you’ll want to do your best to keep your home look as good as it can.

You may not have a lot of notice when your agent calls to let you know there’s an interested buyer. Try to find ways to keep your home clean and come up with a list of places for you, your family and your pets to escape to while the house is being shown.

Negotiation and Closing

When a buyer decides that your home is the one they want, they’ll make an offer on it to start the negotiations. You can choose to accept the offer as it is, decline the offer, or you may counter their offer. An offer contains more than the dollar amount the buyer is willing to pay; it is a proposed contract that should specify the dates for closing, contingencies for the sale, prerequisite repair work, and of course the sale price.

When you and the buyer come to an agreement on the offer, both parties will sign it. The buyer will most likely schedule a home inspection and their lender will schedule an appraisal of the house. If either of these come back with issues, you may have to re-enter negotiations on the offer to address them. Getting a pre-sale home inspection can prevent unwanted surprises during this time-critical stage of the selling process.

Your agent should keep you up-to-date with any news and changes, so expect to hear from them. There’s a lot of interdependent steps going on, so delays are not unusual. Try to be patient and flexible. Start asking your friends and neighbors for empty boxes, because you should be packing up. It’s almost over!

When all the pieces finally come together, your home closes. The buyer’s lender will cut you a check and you give them the keys. You’re Done!

There’s a lot of interdependent steps going on, so delays are not unusual.