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Your Start-To-Finish Checklist For Selling A Home

ForSaleByOwner November 14, 2023

If you’ve already bought your first home, you might think you have the real estate business all figured out. Home buying is such a complicated – and often frustrating – learning process, that just successfully navigating it is something to be proud of.

But as anyone on their second or third home can tell you, selling is a different beast.

Woman cleaning window with packing boxes behind her

Selling your home comes with a different set of challenges, and significantly less freedom than you had as a buyer. As a seller, you can’t just walk away and move on to the next home on your list – you’re stuck trying to sell the property you have, with all its quirks and flaws.

Thankfully for you, we’ve put together a foolproof guide to walk you through each step of selling. Here’s what you need to know.

Deciding To Sell Your Home

Before you hang the “for sale” sign, consider why you want to sell your house in the first place. Are you selling because the neighborhood doesn’t fit your lifestyle anymore? Are you ready to downsize to a smaller home or upgrade to something more spacious?

Knowing the exact reasons for selling will aid you when searching for your next house. Take a few days to visit open houses for other homes to see what you like and what you don’t like. Look at listings online and talk to a lender about your mortgage options.

You should also run some numbers to see how much of a down payment you can afford, with and without selling your home first. Most people need equity from their current home to finance the next one.

Crunch the numbers and examine your budget to see what kind of mortgage payment you can realistically afford.

Price Your Home

Once you decide to sell your house, it’s time to figure out the right price. Use this calculator for an estimate of your home’s selling price.

You should also look around your immediate neighborhood to see what similar homes are selling for right now. Walk around and jot down which homes are for sale and at what asking price. Follow up a week later to see if they’ve sold and what the final price was. Depending on your area, the home may sell below or above the asking price.

The seasons can also affect housing pricing. Selling a house in the spring or summer is usually easier than selling in the fall, when kids are back in school, or in the winter as the holidays are approaching. That’s why it’s helpful to look at home prices right around when you’re trying to sell. If you’re planning to wait a few months, you’ll need to examine the prices at that time.

Prepare And Repair Your Home

You have to prepare your house before listing it. Do a rundown on what needs to be fixed, particularly taking into account anything that an inspector might notice. This can include functional repairs like loose tiles in the bathroom or plumbing problems, as well as aesthetic issues like a bedroom with a clown mural or an unkempt backyard. Invite friends over to give an honest critique of your home and what they’d change if they were buying.

Replace any burned-out light bulbs, hire cleaners for a deep clean and declutter your home. The latter step will also make things easier when it comes time to move.

Next, it’s time to stage your home. This can involve moving around furniture and decor for a broader appeal, opening curtains to emphasize natural sunlight and minimizing personal items so buyers can envision themselves in the home. Look at pictures of other homes on the market – especially similar homes in your neighborhood – for ideas on how to stage your interior.

How To Market Your Home

Marketing your home as a solo seller is key. You should spread the word first on social media, posting on your own page and in any neighborhood groups. Make the post public so your friends and family can share it with others.

If you’re not a good photographer, hire one with real estate experience to take professional pictures. Some people also hire a videographer to create a video tour of their home, but this is optional.

Show Your Home

Showing your home without a real estate agent can be tricky, because you have to be available whenever a potential buyer wants to swing by. If you decide to go this route, pick some weekend dates to host an open house and advertise it with local agents, neighborhood groups and social media.

Add an addendum to your “for sale” sign so the time and date of the open house is visible when people drive by. You should also practice for the open house by showing your home to friends and family members. Encourage them to ask questions about the house to help you prepare.

You should also have a way for potential buyers to leave anonymous feedback on the house. While some people might point out things you can’t easily change, others may offer more practical advice.

Negotiate An Offer

Before listing your home, decide how much you need to sell the house for. Having a minimum acceptable price is key in order to not lose money on the deal. Selling a house also comes with its own fees, usually 1– 3% of the final sale price. Make sure to factor those in.

Once you receive an offer, it’s time to negotiate. You should be reasonable and willing to lower the price, but start in $5,000 increments.

When a buyer presents an offer, you should ask to see their prequalification documents from their mortgage lender. This proves that they qualify for the amount offered.

Closing Process

Anyone selling a home by themselves will need to hire a real estate attorney and title agency for the closing. This should be done well before the closing date so the contracts and correct forms can be obtained and filled out. You should also coordinate with the buyers and their real estate agent to find a mutually acceptable date and determine the final closing costs.