In the best circumstances, selling your home isn’t something you do in a rush. It calls for planning and preparation. But if you’re like most homeowners, you probably aren’t sure exactly where to start. Try following these steps:
1: Pick a date
Assuming you don’t have to get across country for a new job next month, you should first decide when you want to sell. The world is full of advice about the best and worst times to sell. All too often it’s contradictory. Do you listen to the sage advice that says “Don’t list in December – no one buys houses in December!” Or do you trust the counterargument, “But no one lists houses in December – you’ll have the market to yourself!” How about neither? Call me to help you determine which month is the best to list a house, based on analysis of thousands of home sales in your area. So you can, aim to list at your optimum month.
Two months before listing
2: Research your local market
I can help by giving you some basic comparable properties to look at. Start getting a ballpark price in mind. You can even explore prices to get a feel for your market and target price. Visit some open houses and get ideas for staging and what’s for sale near you.
Six weeks before listing
3: Hire an agent
If you are hiring me as your real estate agent to handle your listing, start the process now. Let's schedule a meeting to get you comfortable and confident with the sale. Then we can sign a listing agreement and start working out a marketing plan. We will discuss any additional fixes or remodeling work I believe will pay off.
4: Get your house ready
Start sprucing your home. Paint (or at least wash) interior and exterior walls or surfaces. Fix any cosmetic or functional items that will turn off potential buyers. Be brutally honest with yourself. This probably isn’t the time to do an extensive kitchen remodel, but if you have cabinets that don’t close or an avocado green dishwasher in an otherwise modern kitchen, fix it. We want to keep the initial interest of buyers that pour when you first come on the market!
One month before listing
5: Start moving out – really, start packing
Less clutter can make your rooms appear larger and more appealing. If you can, get a storage pod or unit and start packing up, a little at a time. Not only will this help you with the eventual move, but a home that isn’t overloaded with furniture and personal items really shows better. If you’ve been using rooms for storage, time to move the storage offsite. Donate everything you can that you aren't using. Pack up as many personal items as you can. Those wedding pictures on the wall may look great but potential buyers will want to envision their own wedding pictures up there, not yours.
Talk with your neighbors about your plans. Not only is it nice to give them a heads up that you’re leaving, but they can help market the property. They may have friends looking for a house who already love your neighborhood.
2 to 3 weeks before listing
6: Check your financial picture
Get the loan payout information for your mortgage and review it. You’re going to need to know how much you owe so you can figure out what your sales proceeds will be – or if you are going to be doing a short sale in which the sales price won’t satisfy the mortgage. Clear up any liens on the property and review your findings with your mortgage representative.
7: Keep cleaning and de-cluttering
I will probably have advice on staging. If not, remember you want it to look as much like a model home as possible. Remove personal items. Make sure furniture makes sense for the space. You don’t want potential buyers looking at a room and trying to figure out a function for it.
8: Hire A Stager! (Free!! Heck Yeah)
I offer all my clients a FREE ONE HOUR STAGING CONSULTATION with a licensed Real Estate stager! I encourage my clients to take advantage of this amazing service. The stager will help you identify areas that need decluttering, help create a flow with your home and tips to make your home sell quick. If you decide, the stager will also rent you furniture (at your cost) to stage your whole house or just a few areas.
At least ONE week before listing
9: Lights, camera… marketing
Once you’ve got the house looking its best, time for pictures. As your agent, I will hire a professional real estate photographer to do it. We will also do a drone photography of the exterior of your house including lot if possible. Be picky. No clutter should be visible. Toilet seats down. Shades should be open to let in as much flattering and bright natural light as possible. These are your home’s glamour shots. You want them to look good enough to give you second thoughts about moving. But don’t Photoshop away any cosmetic issues. Buyers will be annoyed by the bait and switch.
I will work with you to help create an engaging, accurate and upbeat description of your home. Think about what made you fall in love with it when you bought it or after making it your home.
On Listing Day and Beyond!
10: Go live
I make sure we get your home listed on the MLS, major online sites and social media. I will also put up a sign outside, marketing smart board, full color flyers with photos and description that reflect the MLS info.
11: Live each day in a perpetual state of clean
No matter how many ways you say you need a few hours’ notice before a buyer’s agent brings potential buyers, someone will call on the way to your home, or even from your driveway. Be ready to clear out fast, leaving a sparkling home. Every bed must be made every morning. Even if you don’t have a showing scheduled, you have to assume a buyer will come by every time you leave the house. (Of course the surest way to get a buyer to come by is to leave a dirty sock on the floor.)
12: Watch the offers roll in. Or not
My job is to give you feedback after every showing and open house. If you aren’t getting a lot of showings and it’s a hot market, a price adjustment may be in order. Remember, in any market, the sooner you sell, the higher the price you’re likely to get. So in your early marketing days, you want to be responsive to what the market has to say.
Thinking of selling? Let's talk!
Heather Morgan | 206.235.0821 | HeatherM@TheCascadeTeam.com
1% Full Service Listing Fee (+buyers agent commissions)