When you’re ready to sell your home, time really is money. A faster sale means fewer mortgage payments to make, less time spent dealing with the hassles of frequent home showings, and probably a higher sale price, since homes that sit on the market get stale fast.
Whether you’re adding your listing to the ranks of homes for sale in Atlanta, GA, or New York, NY, to get that home sale going (and going smoothly), you’re going to want a lot of people on your side.
Real estate agent
Hoping to save a ton of money on commissions by selling your home for sale by owner (FSBO)? You might. But chances are, you’ll net more by using a real estate agent who spends his or her days immersed in your local market and knows how to sell a house professionally. Real estate agents are contractually bound to work in your best interest, managing the process from start to finish so you don’t have to deal with awkward negotiations, inspection issues, or complex legalese.
You can talk about square footage and upgrades all you want, but ultimately, many people buy a home based on emotion — how it makes them feel and if they can picture themselves living there. A professional home stager views your home from the buyer’s perspective and will flat-out tell you that your plaid couch, floral wallpaper, and life-sized wedding photo have to go.
“A home stager can look at your home with detachment and act as your most picky potential buyer,” says Jeremy Gilhousen, lead designer for OnStage Home Staging in Portland, OR. “Ambiguous spaces in a property need to be given a logical function rather than have it show as wasted space. Every square inch counts.”
Most buyers browse listing photos online before deciding which homes to see in person. Don’t cut corners by taking them yourself.
“Your home is entering a beauty pageant, and it needs to be presented as such,” says Beth Smith Shuey, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty South Park in Charlotte, NC.
Blurry, dimly lit photos make your home look dark, cramped, and cluttered. Your phone is fine for Instagram selfies, but for selling your home, enlist a professional real estate photographer who knows how to use lighting and flattering angles to highlight your home’s best qualities.
Of course, that hot pink color was perfect for your twin girls’ bedroom walls. But your prospective buyer might be too distracted by the color to picture her teenage son in that room.
Hiring a professional to paint the room a pleasantly neutral but on-trend gray will prevent buyers from focusing on your bold color choices rather than the space — and dreading that they will have to paint as soon as they move in. Besides, a fresh coat of paint makes everything look clean and new.
When my husband and I were house-hunting a couple of years ago, there was one house we were dying to see: It had gorgeous curb appeal and was just the right amount of space for the price.
Except the front door wouldn’t open. We spent 15 minutes of our jampacked day of showings wrangling with it, and by the time we finally muscled our way in, there was no way we would consider buying that house. It was a terrible first impression that could have easily been solved by a handyman.
“It’s very important to go through the house inside and out and make sure all of the big and little items are addressed, from paint touch-ups to caulking to tightening toilets,” says Shuey. “Those things you never notice anymore? The buyer will notice.”
Showing your house can feel like a full-time job — often with little notice to tidy up before someone drops in. Before putting your home on the market, hire a service to do a deep clean, including baseboards, blinds, and window cleaning. Especially if you have pets or kids contributing to the chaos, continue with weekly or biweekly cleanings to vacuum dog hair, scrub bathtubs, and wipe away fingerprints.
Overgrown shrubs, spindly grass, and sparse mulch make your yard look sloppy. A buyer may wonder, if you can’t keep up with the yardwork, what other home maintenance have you neglected? Bring in a landscaper to spread fresh mulch, trim shrubs or plant new ones, prune trees, blow leaves, and mow your yard regularly. Add a couple of flowering pots or hanging plants to your front porch and, boom — you have curb appeal.
During the due diligence period, your buyer will bring in a licensed home inspector to identify issues with your home, such as roof leaks, fire hazards, and defunct appliances. Rather than risk having a buyer walk away because of a major repair, hire a home inspector before you put your home on the market. Any major issues can be fixed in advance, and you can rest easy knowing there won’t be any surprises right before closing. “Just know that if you do have it inspected, you either have to fix the items that he finds or you have to disclose them to a buyer,” warns Shuey.
Utilizing these real estate allies will make your home-selling process a breeze, with less stress, a quicker closing, and hopefully more money in your pocket.