You’ve decided to sell your house! That's no small task. It takes careful thought and planning. Whether you choose to do a For Sale By Owner ("FSBO") or hire a real estate agent, there is a list of tasks to complete to get your house ready to sell.
Take some time to set yourself up for success with some of these suggestions before posting the sign in the yard.
Know When to Put Your Home on the Market
It’s frustrating to list your home at the wrong time and watch it sit for months. A long-standing listing can result in low offers and fewer potential buyers for you to choose from. Real estate markets, more specifically, military real estate markets, have a steady cycle that you should be mindful of.
Generally speaking, during the beginning of the year, real estate activity slows down. Activity slowly increases until mid-March, with the onset of spring break season. As the flowers bloom, so do the signs! Real estate makes a steep climb and the market stays busy until late June when it slowly tapers with the arrival of the fall season. There’s a second spike in the real estate market as those leaves begin to turn, but it’s not long. Halloween initiates the end of real estate season and doesn’t revive until the new year begins again.
If you want to list your home during the busy season in spring, you need to give yourself months to prepare and start prepping around the end of summer or early fall.
Decide if You Want to do a FSBO ("For Sale By Owner") or Use an Agent
This is an important decision that takes careful consideration.
Hiring an Agent
Real estate agents are licensed to help you price, advertise, and close on your home. They are trained experts who can protect you from making marketing and financial mistakes. Most importantly, agents know the legal in and outs of negotiating, contracting, and the documents needed to close on your home. One way to protect your liability is to contract an agent.
For Sale By Owner
However, if you choose to FSBO (For Sale By Owner), you can save money on commissions. This is especially true if you already have a buyer, or if you are motivated and have a good handle on the market and the process.
If you decide to sell your own home, be sure to use a real estate attorney or a good title agent to assist you with the legal details of closing. Educate yourself beforehand about the process, be willing to work with buyers that come with an agent, and check the financial qualifications of any potential buyers before you start dreaming about the big closing.
Check for Curb Appeal
Stand on the curb and look through the buyer’s eye. Does the house have curb appeal? If you have an agent, they will help create a list of things to do. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your home has curb appeal and makes a good first impression.
- Replace or remove dead plants from flower beds.
- Mow and trim the lawn.
- Touch up the exterior paint. Putting a fresh coat of neutral paint on the house provides a lot of bang for your buck. If the whole house doesn’t need retouched, consider painting the shutters, porches, and trim.
Taking the time to show you care about the exterior of your home will give potential buyers the confidence that the interior is just as well cared for.
Prime the Inside
The exterior of the home is what home buyers see first, but the interior leaves the lasting impression. Here are a handful of things to do around the house before listing your home.
- De-clutter. Remove everything from sight that you can live without on a daily basis.
- Rent a storage unit. Fill it with everything extra you have laying around your home--even the stuff filling your garage.
- Stage your home. Staging your home is so important. Studies show that a correctly staged home sells faster and for more money than those that aren’t. You might think that home buyers don’t want to see your stuff in their potential home, but they actually appreciate the ability to see how the space can be used.
- Make small updates as needed. If your home needs updated, consider changing the counter tops, fixtures, or adding a fresh coat of paint.
While these small updates are beneficial to help sell your home, major renovations are not. Updates like renovating the kitchen or finishing the basement are usually not a great idea just before listing because you run the risk of losing money on the home.
Know the fair market value of your home and avoid going overboard with renovating the property--you may not see the ROI on high-end renovations.
Price Your Home
Your agent will help you know the fair market value for you home and guide you to price your home accordingly.
However, should you choose to FSBO, you need to be objective. Your memories don’t add value to the home. Try to put your emotions and feelings aside so that you can appropriately value your home. Research the market in your area and understand objectively where your home fits in.
Market Your Home
You’re no longer dependent on only a sign in the yard and an ad in the Sunday newspaper. Most of advertising is done online today. If you choose to use an agent, they will likely cover this step, but for those who to choose to FSBO, here are just a few ways to create a successful online advertisement.
Get quality photos. You can always hire a professional photographer to capture good quality photos, but here are a few tips to keep in mind if you choose to take them yourself.
- Try out different angles to give depth and dimension to your space. Try standing on a ladder or laying on the floor to make your space look bigger.
- Take photos when your house gets the most natural light. Lots of light helps brighten and open up your space and will make it more appealing in photos.
- Take photos after your home is staged--empty rooms tend to look smaller in photos.
- Take lots of photos. You can always pick out your favorites later, but it’s challenging to get things just so if you need to go back and take more.
Create a virtual tour. Create a virtual tour of your home using the photos you took and one of the many programs available.
Create an advertisement. List your home on MilitaryByOwner, once you’ve prepared your photos and virtual tour. If you have an agent, your house will be listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for agents. However, if you are selling FSBO, consider paying a discount broker fee that will allow you to list your home on that same service.
Use social media. Use social media to further advertise your home. Post your online listing on your Facebook, then ask your friends to share it on their own newsfeeds.
In the addition to your online advertisement, put up a yard sign, print flyers, and host open houses.
Getting your home ready to sell is a lot of work, even if you have a real estate agent helping you. Plan ahead and use these six tips to get ready to sell your home!
By Michele Allen, updated 2018 by Danielle Keech.