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First Time Selling a House Checklist

By Bill Gassett | January 9, 2024

Selling your first home can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience. As a first-time home seller, you'll want to navigate the process smoothly, maximize your profit, and minimize stress. To help you achieve these goals, we have compiled a list of essential tips that will guide you through the process.

It is wise to have a home selling checklist, especially when going through the process for the first time. There are specific things all sellers should know.

From preparing your home for sale to negotiating offers, these tips will ensure a successful sale.

From nearly forty years experience being a Realtor, many home sellers make significant mistakes that cost them money. Sometimes it stops their sale dead in its tracks until the errors are corrected.

The effort you put into selling a house should never be understated. Let's examine what it takes to be a successful seller.

First Time Selling a House Checklist

Research the Local Market

Before listing your home, it's crucial to research the local real estate market. Understand the current market conditions, including recent sales, average time on the market, and pricing trends.

This information will help you set a competitive listing price and make informed decisions throughout the selling process.

I have learned over the years that many homeowners see the national headlines but don't realize they're irrelevant to them.

For example, the market has recently shifted in some areas of the country. It is no longer a robust seller's market. Things have evened out. Many sellers will assume that is true in my Massachusetts real estate market. It's not.

Inventory levels are still near record lows. Homes are selling fast and often for over the asking price. It is vital to know your area's market conditions.

Prepare and Stage your Home

First impressions matter when selling a home. Enhance your home's appeal by effectively decluttering, deep cleaning, and staging.

I mention some of these home-selling tips for a quick house sale.

Depersonalize the space to allow potential buyers to envision themselves living there. Consider adding fresh coats of paint, repairing any visible damages, and improving curb appeal to attract more buyers.

Some sellers use common sense, and others don't. One of the best attributes of any excellent Realtor is providing sound staging advice to their clients.

From experience, many potential sellers need the guidance of skilled agents. Never underestimate the importance of how your home stacks up to the competition. It matters.

Selling a home in poor condition will lead to underwhelming offers.

Hire a Professional Realtor

It goes without saying that whenever you hire someone, it pays to work with the best in their field. It could not be more accurate in real estate sales.

Working with an experienced real estate agent can significantly ease the selling process. A professional realtor will provide valuable insights, market your home effectively, negotiate with potential buyers, and handle the paperwork.

They will also help you set a competitive listing price and market your property through various channels, ensuring maximum exposure.

The difference between having a good and lousy real estate agent is monumental. I see this firsthand every day.

Perhaps it is one of the best tips you'll get as a first-time home seller.

Pricing your Home

Nothing will kill a home sale quicker than an inaccurate asking price. Over the years, I have watched countless sellers make this grave mistake.

Determining the right listing price is crucial to attracting potential buyers. Your real estate agent will help you assess your home's market value by considering location, size, condition, and recent sales of similar properties.

They will put this into written form as a comparative market analysis.

Setting a realistic and competitive price will increase the chances of a quick sale. Carefully look at the comparative market analysis you receive and look at it through the eyes of a buyer.

Take the emotions out of pricing and make a sound business decision based on facts. If there is a wide spread on the value of your home from real estate agents, get a professional appraisal.

From experience, many agents will tell sellers what they want to hear to get the listing.

Market your Home

Utilize various marketing strategies to create maximum exposure for your property. Apart from listing your home on popular real estate websites, use social media platforms, professional photography, and virtual tours to showcase your home's best features.

There are so many things that go into properly marketing a home. Here are ten quick tips that have helped many clients over the years.

  • Use high-quality photographs: Capture the home's best features through professional photography.
  • Utilize online listings: List the home on popular real estate websites to reach a wider audience.
  • Highlight unique selling points: Emphasize any features or upgrades that make the home stand out.
  • Leverage social media: Share the listing on your personal and professional social media platforms to reach friends, family, and colleagues. Use Facebook, Linkedin, X, and Pinterest to spread the word about your home for sale.
  • Print marketing materials: Create eye-catching flyers or brochures to distribute in the neighborhood and local businesses.
  • Utilize word of mouth: Spread the word about the home sale to friends, family, and acquaintances who may know interested buyers.
  • Price competitively: As mentioned, research the local market and set a competitive price to attract potential buyers.

Be Prepared for Showings

Make your home accessible for showings by always keeping it clean and organized. Be flexible with showing times and ensure your home is well-lit and inviting.

Consider leaving during showings to make potential buyers feel more comfortable exploring the space and discussing their thoughts with their Realtor.

Make it easy to show your home. Some sellers put up barriers and restrictions. Your rules can cost you a sale. When you miss showings, those buyers can easily find other homes instead.

They may never make it back to your property. Consider this before turning anyone away.

Review Offers Carefully

When considering an offer for a home, it is crucial to pay close attention to the essential contract terms, especially those related to contingencies.

Contingencies are conditions that must be met for the sale to proceed, and they protect the buyer's interests. Some common contingencies to consider include financing contingency, appraisal contingency, inspection contingency, and title contingency.

These contingencies allow the buyer to back out of the contract if certain conditions are not met, ensuring a smoother and more secure home-buying process.

Once you're ready to sign, the next step will be collecting the buyer's earnest money deposit. The funds will be placed in a real estate escrow account until closing.

The buyer will now do everything necessary to get to the closing table, including providing the lender with everything they need to grant a mortgage. You can expect the process to take four to five weeks.

Prepare For Closing

Closing a house as a seller is one of the final steps in home selling. It is the culmination of all the hard work put into preparing and listing the property, negotiating with potential buyers, and ensuring all necessary documentation and inspections are in order.

The closing process involves a series of steps that need to be followed to ensure a smooth and successful transaction.

The first step in closing a house as a seller is to review and understand the purchase agreement terms. This legally binding contract outlines the agreed-upon price, closing date, and any contingencies or conditions that must be met before closing.

It is crucial to carefully review this document to ensure all the agreed-upon terms are accurately reflected.

Next, it is essential to coordinate with the buyer's lender to ensure all necessary documents and paperwork are submitted and processed promptly. This may include proof of repairs or improvements made to the property and any additional documentation the lender requires.

There Will Be a Search for the Title

Two critical components of the closing process are the title search and title insurance. A title search is conducted to ensure that the property is free of any liens, encumbrances, or legal issues that could affect the transfer of ownership.

The buyer typically purchases title insurance to protect against future claims or disputes regarding the property's ownership.

Additionally, it is essential to schedule a final walkthrough with the buyer to ensure the property is in the agreed-upon condition and all repairs or agreed-upon improvements have been completed. This lets the buyer verify that the property matches their expectations before closing.

On the closing day, the buyer and the seller, their respective real estate agents, and attorneys will gather to sign the necessary paperwork. This includes the transfer of the deed, the settlement statement, and any other legal documents required by the jurisdiction.

The seller will typically receive the proceeds from the sale at this time, minus any outstanding fees or expenses.

Conclusion

You will undoubtedly have more success if you follow a home-selling checklist. Use the tips and advice to increase the likelihood of a sold sign hitting your lawn quickly.

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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