1. Hire an experienced real estate agent
Selling your home may appear deceptively easy, but it’s filled with complexities. Even if your home is absolutely gorgeous, it will not sell by itself. Selling such a high-ticket item as a house (and selling it well!) takes a great deal of knowledge and a significant investment of time, as well as the ability to market effectively. A skilled agent can make the process much easier and can help you get the most money for your home, so you can move on to other things in your life.
2. Let go of emotional attachment to your home and be ready to sell
Your home may emanate thousands of memories you’re fond of, especially if you’ve lived in it for a while. So, saying goodbye won't be easy. But remember, those memories are only yours and your family’s. If you want your house to sell for a good price, and quickly, look at the house through the eyes of a potential buyer. Yes, this means taking down your children’s adorable drawings covering the walls of their bedrooms or hiding away that comfortable green couch that you love so much. You want your buyers to be able to picture the home as theirs, not yours. Walk through every room and make a note of the things you’d change to appeal to buyers.
3. Set a realistic price
According to an HUD report, for most buyers the sale price is the most important factor. Yes, other things matter too, like the location, school zone, size, layout, upkeep, etc., but if you set the price unrealistically high, you will end up wasting a lot of time and effort for naught. Also keep in mind that if you happen to set a price that's lower than what the market can offer, with good marketing you can expect to receive multiple offers, which can drive the price back up to the market value (as long as you don't rush to accept the very first offer).
In today’s digital age, buyers are well-informed and have a pretty good idea of the housing market trends. This means that your house will simply not sell much higher than its current market value, adjusted of course for your house's award-winning layout, stunning real-wood floors throughout, and a breathtaking view from the master bedroom. With shrewd marketing and eye-pleasing staging, you can expect some premium but the final price will still be roughly in the ballpark of it's baseline market value. Have your agent prepare a detailed CMA (comparative market analysis) for your house. Don't rely on Zillow’s Zestimate, as it's centralized averaging algorithm is no substitute for the highly localized knowledge of a reliable real estate agent.
4. Tidy up and stage
If you like going to the Gardens Mall, it’s because the retailers there are marketing virtuosos. Notice how pleasant it is to walk through the aisles of cashmere sweaters stacked with engineering precision at Bloomingdale’s. I can still picture in my mind the window décor of the high-end boutiques on the second floor, even though it's been months since I've last visited the mall. Retailers use insights from the latest behavioral science to appeal to every one of our senses, from alluring scents to inviting music, all designed to gently nudge us to walk out with a purchase in hands. Now, you’re selling something that’s worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, so don’t underrate the presentation. Emotions play an important role in house purchasing, and you’ll have only one chance to make a first impression, which is formed in the first few seconds when a buyer enters your house.
Pretend you’re the owner of a Worth Avenue boutique and stage your house with that mindset. Make your house spotless and be ruthless in decluttering. Consider renting a storage unit to hide your older furniture and replacing it with rented staging furniture. And don’t forget about the kitchen and bathrooms. According to a Trulia blog, “The rooms buyers most closely inspect (and judge) in a house are the kitchen and master bath... so they need to look their best.”
5. Repair, repaint, and (maybe even) refloor
For some houses mere decluttering may not be enough. Ensure that everything is in good repair, as these things will come up in a home inspection and may end up costing you more money. Make sure that all major appliances are in good working condition, patch holes and cracks in walls and ceilings, replace broken window screens, repair leaky faucets, tighten loose door handles, and replace old dark drapes. Some of these things may seem too trifling to even bother fixing but something like a dirty patch around a light switch can catch a scrupulous buyer’s eye and leave an imperceptibly subtle but hugely consequential emotional blemish in their mind.
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways for a seller to get the most money for their home is to give the house, or at least some rooms in the house, a fresh coat of paint. Use this Consumer Reports article as a guide in choosing the most value-boosting colors. Reflooring may also pay off if the floors are visibly old and worn.
Don’t forget to give your home curb appeal by keeping your yard mowed and tidy, washing away mold buildup on the walls, and sprucing up your home’s exterior with inexpensive shrubs and flowers.
6. Insist on professional photography
Over 90 percent of buyers (according to realtor.org) get their first information about your home on the internet from a real estate listing site, where the quantity and quality of pictures determines if they skip over your listing or ask their agent to schedule a showing appointment. The first impression about your home is essential, so don’t let your agent use photos taken with a smartphone, even if it’s the latest model. A top-notch professional photographer will enhance the visual appeal of your home with masterful staging, correct angles, ideal lighting, perfect composition, rich color and depth, and even advise you on the sequence of presentation (flow of pictures from room to room).
7. Make the house available for showings
Your home will sell faster and for more money if you get more traffic coming to see your house. This means making your home available for showing on a short notice. Don't hang around during a showing; it’s best to let buyers tour your home with their agent in peace and quiet. Plus most buyer’s agents prefer to show without any interference.