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How to Sell Your House: Steps to Selling a Home

By Bill Gassett | April 16, 2020

The Best Tips For Selling a Home

Do you want to know how to sell your home? Is having the steps to selling your house something you've been looking for? Who doesn't want the magic blueprint to sell their house right? It can be easy to underestimate the complexity and problems which can occur when selling your home.

If you aren't familiar with how to sell your property it can be a stressful time. For first-time home sellers, it is easy to make mistakes that can crush your chances of the best outcome.

There are many steps you need to consider and choices you need to make in the process. We review the steps to selling a house to give you the knowledge which could lead to your home selling faster and for more money.

Steps For Selling a House

Your Selling Strategy

There are more options than ever for how to sell your house. You can take the traditional route with a real estate agent or take advantage of newer methods for selling a home thanks to the internet. There are advantages to each option, we'll review the main how to sell your home options.

The Real Estate Agent

One of the best tips for selling a home is using the right real estate agent! Using the services offered by a real estate agent will take the pressure off you, with them dealing with the marketing, potential buyers, and the dreaded paperwork. They will organize things and be able to give you advice throughout the process. Even with other strategies for selling a home popping up, this is still the most popular by far. With good reason - you will have the most success!

The help from an agent does come at a cost of typically somewhere around 5 to 6% of your home sales price. This is divided between your agent and the buyer's agent. Real Estate commission, however, is never set in stone.

It will behoove you to find out exactly what you're getting for your money. Make sure the agents you're interviewing have a solid game plan in place. They should be presenting you with a detailed marketing strategy. A seller's closing costs can add up so you'll want to make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck.

Going The For Sale by Owner Route

Because of the costs of using a real estate agent, some people choose to sell their homes themselves. The for sale by owner option, or FSBO, has the benefit of saving money on agent commissions but brings with it many downsides as well.

Taking the FSBO route means that you are doing all the work to market your home, deal with showings and filling out the paperwork. The biggest disadvantage of selling your home as a for sale by owner is being successful at it. A significant percentage of homeowners waste their time and energy trying to sell without any luck. Believe it or not, over 85% of all FSBO do not sell and end up listing with a real estate agent.

Using an iBuyer to Purchase Your Home

An easier way to sell home could seem to be through an iBuyer. An iBuyer offers to buy your home with the minimum of fuss, letting you move out at a time that is right for you. This allows you to miss out on some of the steps to selling a house, but there are some consequences.

They may claim to offer you a fair price for your house, but this may not be the case. You are likely to get less money when using an iBuyer and you will need to pay them a fee which could be 6 or 7 percent, or more, of the sale price. There are of course pros and cons of selling your home through an iBuyer.

Some of the advantages of working through an iBuyer include:

  • A quick home sale
  • The buyer is paying cash so there are no mortgage worries.
  • No wasting your time with showings or open houses.
  • You will not need to make any repairs or improvements to the property.

Some of the disadvantages of working through an iBuyer include:

  • You will sell your home for less money than the traditional method of working with a real estate agent.
  • iBuyer fees are higher than traditional real estate company commissions.
  • The automated valuations they use are often less than fair market value.
  • iBuyers are not in every market and they only will purchase certain homes.

Working Out Your Home's Value

Pricing your home correctly will make a big difference to your success in selling and how long it will remain on the market. There are online tools that can give you some idea of the value, but it will only ever be a very rough estimate. Many first time home sellers make the mistake of thinking online estimates like those from Zillow are accurate. Unfortunately, in most circumstances, they are far off the mark.

The more traditional way of finding a home's value is by comparing to similar sales in the local area. It could be very difficult to find a comparable property, and adjustments will have to be carefully considered to find an accurate assessment.

Once you have a figure which seems fairly accurate, you have to consider your circumstances. Do you need to sell quickly or can you wait for a better offer? If you don't want the house to stay on the market for long, you would go for a more aggressive price.

Getting the Home Ready

You are more likely to get offers you want if the house is in better condition. Other than pricing your home correctly there are few things that will make more of a difference that the interior and exterior appeal of your property.  There are some simple things you can do to make a sale more likely. One of them is getting rid of excess junk and clutter. A company like 1-800-got-junk can be a godsend for getting your property ready for the market.

Tidying Up Can Make a Significant Difference

You need to make your home appear inviting and spacious to people being shown around. Making sure everything is clean and decluttering the rooms will make them seem larger. You may find it better to get extra storage so that you can really declutter and make the home more inviting.

One of the best ways of getting your home ready for the market is to make a donation to a charity for things you no longer need or want. Not only will you be making your house look far more "show ready" but also helping out another family in need. Many charities will do a donation pickup by coming right to your home. These companies will take everything from furniture to household goods, to clothing.

If you know others would call you a "pack rat" and there are things you don't want to give away or trash, you might want to consider putting these excess things into storage. You can find a local storage unit by doing a Google search. Something like storage units near me should do the trick. Just make sure you vet them properly.

Make Necessary Repairs

Make sure to do any little repairs you have been putting off. You don't want buyers to get the impression the home hasn't been cared for. Even simple things, like mowing the lawn can give a better impression to would-be buyers. You should strive for your real estate agent to use the term "pride of ownership" in their marketing.

Buyers today love turn-key properties. They are turned off by homes that need a ton of repairs and updates.

Decor Should Be Neutral

People who are viewing your home want to imagine themselves living there. This is helped with the use of neutral colors and the avoidance of accessories of an acquired taste. You may love your orange foyer but lots of people won't.

Selling your home needs to be an unemotional decision. Don't be offended by the advice your real estate agent provides. They are on your team and want what's best for your success.

Marketing Your Home is Key

When using a real estate agent, they will take care of adding your property to the MLS, so that it can be seen by other agents. They will organize photos, add a sign in your front yard and deal with showings. The best real estate agents will put together an all-encompassing marketing plan that covers both online and offline marketing activities. The marketing plan should be covered in detail with you.

If you are trying to sell your home by yourself, you will need to take care of these things. The most crucial element of marketing your home is being in the MLS, you should be able to do this after paying a fee. There are real estate companies that will list your home and do nothing more. These companies are referred to as entry only or flat fee MLS. There are of course, advantages and disadvantages of marketing your home in this fashion.

Showings Are Vital to Your Success

To make it more likely that you sell your home in a short time frame, you need more people to view it. When selling a home you need to be ultra-flexible. Turning down showings because it is not at the most convenient time is a mistake.

The real estate agent will take care of this, organizing the showings and keeping you informed. You will need to make sure your home stays clean and tidy throughout this period.

For the FSBO homeowner, this can be a difficult step. With organizing showings and responding to inquiries, on top of a normal job, things can get complicated.

Dealing With Offers

When you get some interest in the home, you will have to deal with formal offers. This will come through your real estate agent or direct if you are selling for sale by owner.

All offers aren't the same, with many factors to consider. Is the buyer pre-approved? Do they have adequate down payment funds or the ability to get a mortgage? Perhaps, the buyer wants you to give them some incentive to purchase, like help with their closing costs.

They may want to include certain contingencies, like waiting for their home to be sold or they may have a set timeline for closing. All of this must be considered when looking at the offers you receive.

If you have a real estate agent in your corner these things shouldn't be a problem to decipher. A real estate professional will be your fiduciary every step of the way guiding you through the negotiations.

Accepting an Offer

If you are happy with an offer and take the home off the market, the buyer may want to have your home inspected. They will also need to have their finance confirmed by their lender, and if this all goes well, you can move onto signing the title and escrow papers.

The home inspection will be one of the more significant hurdles so hopefully, you have taken care of the bigger problems. More home sales fall apart at the home inspection than at any other point in a transaction.

When signing these documents your ID will need to be confirmed. After that, the sale will be recorded and the funds transferred to your account. Well done, you've sold your house.

Moving Day

With an offer accepted, you will know how much money you have to use for a new home. But hopefully, you will have started looking before then and found some suitable homes. Make an offer, go through the process we've outlined from the other side, and you will be ready to move into your new home.

Keep in mind that moving is one of the most stressful parts of buying or selling a home. Preparation is key to making sure there are minimal problems. If you avoid some of the most common moving mistakes, you'll be all smiles once you're able to have a drink and celebrate.

Now all you need to do is take care of the priorities when moving into a new home. Once these things are removed from your checklist it should be business as usual. You can now enjoy the fruits of your labor and relax.

Final Thoughts on How to Sell a House

Selling a home is not rocket science. With a sound game plan in place, you will be able to accomplish your goals. Remember to think of the process as a business decision. Try to keep your emotions out of the decision making process as much as possible. Follow these home selling steps and you'll be well on your way. Best of luck on your journey!

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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