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A MoneyTips Guide to Selling Your Home

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It’s time to sell your home. Wait, are you getting misty-eyed or feeling anxious? It’ll be OK, promise.

You’ve got more choices at your fingertips than a BuzzFeed personality quiz.

Getting smart about a home sale means doing your due diligence. With some planning and basic research, you can find answers to key questions about selling your home.

Here’s a sampling of questions you’re bound to ask: When is the best time to sell my house? How do I manage the expectations of potential home buyers? How much does selling a home cost? And what are some pitfalls I need to avoid when selling my home?

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What are you looking to do?

And you thought buying a home was complicated. Hah, you sweet summer child. Just like setting up your DVR, some things are not as simple as they seem.

Chances are that you will need a guide to help you figure out the steps you should take before listing your home.

About 89% of home sellers looked to the expertise of real estate agents, according to 2020 data from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).[1] Find someone you can trust. Ideally, that’ll be an agent who’s brokered a sale for someone you know. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions.

Steps to Selling Your Home: Once You Are Ready

Here are the preliminary steps to figuring out when to sell your home:

  • Feel your feelings, but let it go:

Are you ready to let go? Don’t call an agent if you’re still emotionally attached to the ol’ homestead. Say goodbye to your kid’s height chart in the pantry.

  • Get the house squeaky clean:

Are you ready to clean up the yard and tidy the garage? Stage your personal spaces so they shine at a moment’s notice. Make a to-do list, including time and cost estimates for each task.

  • Work out if you can afford to sell your home:

Can you afford to sell your home? The agents’ commission is typically 5% to 6% of the sale. Inspections can be hundreds of dollars. Painters and professional cleaners are also a consideration.

  • Dot your I’s and cross your T’s:

Make sure you have all your paperwork in order.

And if you’re selling, chances are you need a new place to live. Before you go house-hunting, do as much legwork as you can, especially talking to your lender. Or try our vetted recommendation:

The Best Time To Sell Your Home: It May Surprise You

For many, the very first step to take when selling your home is planning for a summer or springtime sale.

In 2020, the median age of home buyers was 34, which is also a likely age for people to have kids.[2]

People with kids are going to buy in spring and summer to avoid disrupting holidays and the school year for their families.

Whether or not you have kids, if you want to hit the sweet spot in terms of speed and price, you should plan your sale a few months in advance of the spring or summer market.

Selling Your House: Make a (Great) First Impression

You’ve got yourself in the right frame of mind. The extra sets of china have been distributed or sold on eBay. Mentally, you’re prepared to leave your current happy place and create a new one.

But if your house turns buyers off with some unique personal styles, your home could end up hanging out on the market longer than you hoped for.

What you should do instead

  • Stage your house to look its best inside:

Make your home look the best it can on a reasonable budget. Get rid of clutter. Put the things you can’t do without in storage. Go heavy on the air freshener, vacuum the carpets and, for goodness’ sake, keep things as neutral-looking as possible. Your expensive beer can art? That’s why you’ve got storage.

  • Stage your house to look great from the outside, too:

Curb appeal is real. Much like Tinder, people will generally present highly curated images in hopes of a swipe right, or in your case, a request to see your place. It’s the same for anyone scanning real estate websites or driving by a property with a “for sale” sign on it. Mow the lawn and keep any garbage out of sight. Make sure the front of your house looks as nice as possible.

That first impression is everything. Do whatever needs to be done to have buyers wanting to find out more about your home.

Avoid These Key Mistakes When Selling Your House

OK, you’ve got your “honey-do” list together. You corralled your friend with the most Instagram followers (Clarendon filter for the win!) to take some pics of your place.

Now let’s talk about some common mistakes people make when selling a house.

These game changers can mean the difference between a house selling quickly or lingering in the marketplace.

  • Overpricing:
    The #1 mistake to avoid is overpricing. The price you set should reflect the appraisal value and the market rates for similar homes in your area.

    Homes that are overpriced spend a longer time on the market. The back and forth of sales negotiations will eat away at your valuable time.
  • Reducing the price too often:
    Mistakes posted online stay online and can come back to haunt you. That initial price and the subsequent drop will be there for buyers to see and wonder about. Reduce your price only after you’ve consulted with a professional.
  • Skimping out on using an agent:
    Find one whose sales tactics suit you. Agents are great regional resources, and many will more than earn their commission by helping you avoid lots of missteps. If you’re attached to your space, an agent can make it that much easier to let go by doing all the negotiating for you.

    If it’s your first home sale, an agent’s knowledge can curb potentially unpleasant surprises.

Take Control: Sell Your Home

You can’t control everything. Life goes sideways sometimes, and that can certainly happen when selling a home, especially if you haven’t done your research.

With a little know-how and common sense, you can avoid many of the pitfalls that can come with selling a home. You got this!

Ready to make a change?

Whether you want to buy a house, refinance or take cash out, you’re not alone. The experts are just a click away.

The Short Version

  • Find resources, such as a local agent
  • Timing is everything (for your heart and your wallet)
  • Get practical about home preparation
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  1. National Association of REALTORS®. “Highlights From the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.” Retrieved December 2021 from https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers

  2. National Association of REALTORS®. “2020 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report.” Retrieved December 2021 from https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2020-generational-trends-report-03-05-2020.pdf

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