What do doctors, firefighters, accountants, computer engineers, and teachers all have in common? At one point or another during the course of their lives, they’ll all probably sell a home. But while some professions may give you great communication skills (which could come in handy with buyers) or make you a boss at crunching the numbers (all the better to compare mortgages), House Selling 101 probably isn’t a prerequisite for any of them. Of course, that’s why real estate agents are trained to list and sell your beloved San Francisco, CA, home for sale, but it doesn’t hurt to study up on some real estate basics.
Consider the following real estate sales strategy. Follow these five steps, and you’ll be well on your way to jump-starting your home sale.
1. Be vigilant with your belongings. Now is the time to tackle those organization and cleaning projects. The detritus of life tends to stack up in our living spaces, which may be fine for every day but isn’t great for selling. Make the adage “less is more” your mantra and divide your belongings into two piles: one to take to the new place, one to toss or give away. (Or try following a flow chat for decluttering tips.) And remember, packing items away doesn’t mean shoving them in the hallway closet. Buyers will very likely open every cabinet and drawer, so those spaces should be tidy too.
Pro tip: Get a head start on packing and moving to your new home by renting a portable storage unit. Take a few days to pack the unit with displaced and off-season items, then call up the storage company to get it hauled away to the storage yard while you show your house. Once you’re settled in your new place, give them another call and have your stuff brought to your new home. Easy!
2. Find a real estate agent. As you’re getting your house in order, start the hunt for a real estate agent. You’re not looking for just any agent; you need a real star to get you to the finish line. Put the word out to your network and don’t feel like you have to work with someone because they are family. Once you have some referrals, take the time for an interview and get to know their selling style. If said agent declines the interview request, they’re probably not for you — proceed to the next one on your list. If they seem almost right, keep looking until you find a great match. It’s worth the time investment to find the right agent.
3. Dig out all relevant paperwork. While you’re cleaning and scrubbing, keep an eye out for paperwork that’s been stashed in random places throughout the years. Warranties, installation invoices, mortgage records — pull together all the documents you need to sell a house. Buyers hope for an active, informed seller who is involved with the details of their home. The best practice is to have all the paperwork you need for the seller’s disclosure notice. If you can’t find the documents, you can always select “I don’t know” on the form (but keep in mind, your home sale may suffer from the lack of information).
4. Schedule a strategy session with your real estate agent. Purging and cleaning were the warm-up act. Now you’re ready for the main event. After you’ve signed on the dotted line with your real estate professional, schedule a walk-through before listing and take your agent’s feedback seriously. They know what color to paint that old maroon accent wall, how to stage the living room so it looks 20% bigger, and how to deal with outdated kitchen cabinets. They also know how to allocate your dollars to impress potential buyers.
5. Repair and remodel. Work your way through your agent’s list of recommended repair tasks. If they advise a couple of remodel projects, make these a priority so listing photos can be scheduled. Remember, your agent is plugged in to the local market and has insider knowledge that can help your home compete in a crowded market.
Pro tip: If it’s a buyer’s market, consider scheduling a prelisting inspection. Nothing gives buyers the warm fuzzies more than seeing a completed inspection with items already attended to and checked off.