Like buying a home, selling one is a significant project. Even if you plan to use an agent, it’s in your best interest to understand all the various elements that contribute to a successful sale. The more you know, the more cash you’ll pocket in the end. Think of your preparation as money in the bank.
Get prepared - Decide if you want to use a real estate agent or not. A selling agent generally receives 2.5 to 3 percent of the sale price. In return, he or she should work aggressively to sell your home and list it in the Multiple Listings Services (MLS) where it can be seen by other agents. On the other hand, you may be able to save several thousand by handling the marketing of your home on your own. Read How to Sell a House Without a Real Estate Agent and pay particular attention to the time involved.
Get recommendations from satisfied friends and acquaintances and interview several agents who specialize in your geographic area. Get a feel for their approach and how proactive they'll be in marketing your home. Have them outline their strategy for making your home as attractive as possible.
Review current listings in your area and set a strategic asking price. Your agent should get comparative prices on nearby homes and do a market analysis taking into account the size, location, condition and other elements to price it accurately. Ask to see the analysis so you understand how the agent established the asking price.
Confirm that the house will be listed in the MLS, that it will have an online presence, and that a professional-looking fact sheet will be prepared to help market the house. Alert your neighbors that your house is going on the market. Hold a pre-open house, give a tour and ask for their help in finding a suitable buyer. Many homes are sold by word-of-mouth through friends and neighbors, so make use of your contacts.
Get ready to show - Perform any needed repairs on the interior and exterior of your home and fix, paint or otherwise repair anything that may hinder a sale. Increase curb appeal. Try to ensure that your home makes the best first impression possible. Clean the windows, cut the grass and weed the flowerbeds.
Remove any extra furniture, wall hangings, tchotchkes and trinkets that can be distracting to potential buyers--many homes suffer from "too much good taste." Remember, less is more. Give any walls that need it a fresh coat of neutral paint. Think about having your home professionally staged (see sites such as StagedHomes.com). This will cost you, but you can both shorten the sales time and boost the bidding with a well-staged home.