How to Sell Your House - The Complete Guide to Selling Your Home

Deciding to sell your home isn't an easy decision to make. Though it might be an exciting time, the process of selling a house might seem a little daunting - and rightfully so! There's a lot that goes into preparing a home to go on the market. But here's the good news - we are here to help! Here is your complete guide on selling your house. From first steps to final details, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to get a grasp on what all goes into selling your house. Let's go!

Selling your home

Part 1: Where to Get Started

Is Now the Right Time To Sell Your Home?

  • The Season Matters. Whether it's a certain time of year or you're about to get that job promotion you've been waiting for, timing can be everything when it comes to making the process of selling your home as smooth as possible. According to Business Insider, May and June are the absolute best months out of the year to sell your home. Why? A few reasons. It's easier for families to move during the summer because kids aren't in school - especially if they will be transferring to a new school. Buyers also typically try to stay away from buying a home and moving around holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. However, some of the most motivated home buyers will look for a home no matter the season. Lastly, houses just typically tend to look better in the Spring, when grass is green and flowers are blooming. It's pretty unanimous that Spring is the best time to sell - but that doesn't mean the rest of the year doesn't work.
  • Know Your Finances. Whether you're looking to upsize or downsize, making sure you have an understanding of the financial aspect of selling your house is a big deal. Not just the costs that go into hiring a Realtor and closing, but also thinking of making some updates and fixes around the house before listing as well. The finances can sneak up on you - so think through all the possibilities before you pull the trigger!

Find the Right Realtor for You

Hiring the right Realtor to help you through the process of selling your house is one of the biggest decisions you'll make. It's worth putting in some thought on your end. Do you want someone who will do anything to get the best price? Is a personal relationship important to you? Regardless, here are a few good questions to ask when it comes to finding the right Realtor.

  1. What's your experience in the area? This is a great starting question to ask because you will get a feel for their knowledge, expertise, and personality! You want to work with someone who knows what it takes to sell a home in your specific area. Maybe years of experience isn't that important to you - and that's okay. What's more important is that they have a good grasp on what has been selling in your area and how your home compares to others that have closed.
  2. What's your marketing strategy? This is a biggie. Ask about social media. Ask about Facebook ads. Ask about digital flyers. In the 21st Century, most home shopping happens from the couch or the kitchen table, thanks to the existence of online platforms. In fact, the Coronavirus has only increased how many people are house shopping online. So, when it comes to selling your home - it needs to look really good online. It's where interest sparks and it's where potential buyers develop a positive or negative first impression.
  3. What would you suggest? This is one of our favorite questions because at the end of the day, your Realtor is there to help! Most likely, they have gone through the process of selling homes dozens, or even, hundreds of times. They know the tricks. They know what works. So, don't be afraid to ask them things like, "What improvements should we make before listing?" or "Is a kitchen renovation worth the money we'd put in?" Personal relationships go a long way when it comes to working together - so keep your Realtor involved in the process and ask for their opinions!

Part II: Prepping to Sell

Clean, Declutter, and Stage.

This is where you get to have some fun. It's no surprise that homes that look good sell fast. In a market where inventory is increasing and buyers have options to choose from, you want the "first look" of your house to outshine the competition. First things first, declutter. And when you think you're done, declutter some more. We are going for simple, not busy, and it gets easy to overlook a lot of, well, junk, when you have lived in the same house for awhile. Second, you can really increase your curb appeal by making some small changes such as adding new greenery outside or a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Another easy change is to add some smart home electronics to your house - such as a Ring Doorbell or a Nest Thermostat - these are an easy win with potential buyers! Finally, when it comes to actually listing your home, you want it to look its best. That means having your agent hire a high-quality, professional real estate photographer to take the best listing photos possible. Get the lighting right and highlight the parts of your home that you want to showcase/showoff.

Make Some Updates!

These are all completely optional, but can tend to go a long way if you're wanting to sell your home fast for the most money possible. Small projects can make a dent, but if you're wanting bigger projects to increase the overall value, here are some of the top upgrades to increase home values:

  1. Minor Bathroom Remodel. Bathrooms, especially for families, can be a space of peace and comfort for most people. It's a small room to start making improvements and the investment can go a long way when it comes to adding value to your home. Average return: 102%.
  2. Landscaping. It's no joke that most buyers have already made a decision about a house when they see outside (whether it's in person or online) for the first time. Whether you want to DIY-it or hire someone to spruce up the front (or backyard) of your home, it's one of the best investments you can make before selling. Average return: 100%.
  3. Minor Kitchen Remodel. This one should be high on your list for obvious reasons. The kitchen serves as a focal point of your home - it can either make or break a sale depending on the buyer! A lot goes into how much a remodel costs based on your timeline and budget, but the average price of a minor kitchen remodel sits somewhere around $25,000. Average return: 98.5%.

Schedule an Inspection.

Sure, it might seem like you're going "above and beyond" to schedule an inspection when you're thinking about selling your home, but there are actually some really good reasons to go ahead and pull the trigger. Here are some of my best reasons:

  1. An Open Book. Getting an inspection sends the message to potential buyers that you (and the house) are an "open book." No secrets, no gimmicks - they are getting exactly what they pay for and both parties know it. Plus, there's no need to be nervous when the buyers ask for an inspection because you already know exactly what's going to show up.
  2. Show Off the Best Parts. When you decide to get a pre-inspection done on your home, you're also giving yourself reasons to brag. If you have replaced the roof, water system, etc., these improvements will show up on an inspection as "sparkly" clean. Trust me, that's going to be HUGE for potential buyers.
  3. Potential Long-Term Savings. If there are major problems with the house you're selling, the buyers are going to learn about them one way or another. By getting a pre-inspection done on your home you can get a full look at what you might need to fix and make repairs without the pressure of a closing timeline and buyers asking about different projects every other day. Without that pressure, you have the chance to save some extra cash.

Part III: Let's Get Your Home Sold!

On the Market

When repairs are made, landscaping has been spruced, and your home is in tip-top shape - it's ready to list! This is where having a trustworthy, experienced Realtor on your side can really help. When it comes to marketing and getting your home in front of the right eyes, we know exactly what to do. One of the main things you want to get right here is the listing price. Depending on your timeline, you can work with your Realtor to figure out what the sweet spot of your home should be (based on current market situations, comparable properties, etc.)

Total Cost Calculations

It's no secret that the financial aspect of buying or selling a home can be one of the hardest parts about actually getting a transaction to go through. Costs tend to add up fast throughout the process and can surprise people when they actually get the numbers down - especially in the California Real Estate Market). So, here are some ways that you can calculate a rough estimate on total costs when it comes down to it (this will help you to understand how much you'll walk away with after your house has sold).

  • Start with the estimated sales price of your home (let's say, $600,000)
  • Subtract approximately 6% for the real estate agent commission (depending on brokerage, agent, and location)
  • Subtract the remaining mortgage that you still owe on the property (For kicks, let's go with $100,000)
  • Subtract any other fees that you owe such as taxes, utility costs, or HOA fees. (Finally, let's say $5,000)

Here's a rundown:

$600,000 - $36,000 (6%) - $100,000 - $5,000 = $459,000.

Now, of course, this is just an example. But running some quick numbers such as these can really help to take the surprise out of the final costs / profits from selling your home down the road.

Closing the Deal

If you've bought or sold a home before, you probably know how this all goes. A few things happen when an offer is accepted on a home for sale. First, the buyer's agent will set up an official inspection of the property and report the findings to the buyers. Depending on what is reported in the inspection, some negotiations might go back and forth to settle on what will be the responsibility of the current owners v. the new owners. After the inspection is done and potential repairs are agreed upon, the appraisal process starts. This could take up to a few weeks, but it's the appraiser's job to find out what the home is actually worth for the lender to give you a proper loan (obviously, not the case for cash buyers). Finally, when those steps are complete, a closing date is set and it's smooth sailing from there!

Making the decision to sell your house is a big deal. Whether you've lived there for two years or twenty years, parting ways with a home that has been faithful to you is very bittersweet. It's where you make memories, start a family, get to know friends, and live your life. With that said, going through the process of selling your home can be a really exciting time as well. I hope that the steps above help to make the process go a little smoother and that you can understand more of what to expect when it comes to selling your house. Though the process can seem daunting to start, taking small steps toward preparing it for sale and actually getting on the market can go a long way. Whether it's a remodeled kitchen or a few new flower pots on the front porch, adding character to your home will only help the appeal for potential buyers.

Reading a guide to sell your home is helpful, but getting to talk to someone in-person is going to answer any other questions you might have. If you're thinking of selling your home and have questions or would like a selling consultation, reach out and we will put you in touch with one of our local real estate agents.

Happy home selling!