What Every First Time Home Seller Needs to Know

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Okay, so you think you’re ready to be a first time home seller.

But are you really? And do you understand everything it entails?

Close to half (44%) of all homeowners experience buyer’s remorse, and a good number of sellers find themselves suffering a case of seller’s remorse, especially first time home sellers. As a first time seller, you have a very big chunk of money on the line and no direct selling experience. And a lot of things can go wrong.

Read on then for the tips every first time home seller needs for a successful outcome.

General Home-Selling Tips

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A quick online search will reveal that there’s no shortage of tips for selling a home. They pretty much all follow the same formula, but they’re sound tips nevertheless. We’ve distilled these tips down to the best and most important . . .

Price It Right

“One of the most effective ways to sell your home fast is to price it competitively. If you price it too high, then your home will spend more time on the market. Also, if your home is overpriced, then you may end up selling it for less eventually – it will just take a lot longer.”

The best tool for arriving at a competitive price – that is, fair market value – is a comparative market analysis (CMA). It will tell you what buyers are willing to pay for a home like yours by examining the prices of very similar homes that have recently sold in the neighborhood and immediate area. (To discover more about this, contact an experienced local agent.)

Declutter, Deep Clean, and Depersonalize

Your home has to look its absolute best to sell quickly and at the best price possible. And that means, first of all, getting rid of all the clutter and accumulated junk and then thoroughly cleaning from top to bottom. If you need to, rent a storage unit put your stuff in.

But it goes beyond that. You also have to depersonalize, removing everything that marks the house as your home. The idea is to create a blank-palette effect so that potential buyers can envision your house as their home and imagine themselves living there with all their belongings in place.

Enhance Curb Appeal

First impressions matter immensely, and you get only one chance to create a great first impression. So make what buyers first see when they pull up to your home looks good.

“If you want to sell quickly, then it’s essential to make a good first impression. And the first thing a buyer sees is a home’s exterior and how it fits into the surrounding neighborhood. . . . Keep in mind that a tidy exterior not only looks nice but also signals to potential buyers that you’ve taken good care of the place.”

Make Necessary Repairs

Certainly, you don’t want to go all-in and perform, say, a major kitchen remodel, but you need to make all the smaller, necessary repairs, especially those that promise a good ROI. “Depending on how much time and money you want to spend getting the home ready, you might also want to update fixtures, buy new appliances, install new hardware on the cabinets, and give the interior a fresh coat of (neutral) paint.”

Sweeten the Deal

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And then, when you have a buyer on the line, it pays to sweeten the deal. “Another way to make the home and deal more attractive is to offer something to sweeten the pot. You could offer, for example, to pay some or all of the closing costs [or offer a transferable home warranty]. Buyers are looking for a deal, particularly in a down market, so do your best to make them feel that they get one.”

Tips for First Time Home Sellers

Those are the home selling tips that apply across the board in almost every situation. Now we come the important tips for first time home sellers . . .

Make Sure You’re Ready

The first step here is to make sure you’re really ready to sell, that you’re actually ready to let go. Selling a home is a much bigger step than selling your car. You’ve probably lived in the home several years and maybe raised your family there. It is, well, home.

“Before you put your house on the market, do the emotional work. Walk through your home and talk about old memories. Reflect on how the house has served its purpose for however long you lived there. Reminisce about how you loved living here with your spouse, children, and family members. Think about what life beyond this sale will be and whether you’re happy with that picture.

Deal with whatever anxiety or apprehension you have about letting go of it . . . If the thought of getting negative buyer feedback makes you cringe, or you aren’t prepared to negotiate this like a business deal, then you could be in for a rough experience.:

And keep in mind that once you’ve accepted an offer, you’re then under contract to through with the deal. So make sure this is the right decision beforehand.

Examine the Financials

Once you’re certain that selling is right for you, your next step as a first time home seller should be to carefully examine your financial position. Will the proceeds from the sale cover all the selling-associated fees? If not, will you be able to make up the difference out of your pocket?

Here’s a good way to proceed with your calculations. “[S]tart with an estimation of your home’s value, minus your remaining mortgage balance . . . From there, subtract closing costs, which include agent commissions, fees, and taxes, and may amount to anywhere from 6% to 10% of your home’s sale price.”

Start Your Prep Work Early

Be sure to allow plenty of time for all the prep work and start early. One survey found that 30% of sellers wished they’d allowed more time to get their house ready to sell. First time sellers often underestimate the amount of work needed and how long it will take. Don’t be one of them.

If your home isn’t really ready and you’ve already listed it, it may sit on the market unsold while you finish the work. And if your home languishes on the market for any length of time, buyers will automatically assume something is wrong with it. Ultimately, besides taking much longer to sell, you’ll likely wind up selling for less when this happens.

Focus on Curb Appeal

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First time sellers often make the understandable mistake of concentrating mostly or entirely on the interior of their home and neglect the outside. (Remember what we said earlier about first impressions?) But the outside, the curb appeal, should be your first focus.

“If you literally do nothing else to prepare your home for sale, at least make the outside look great. . . . Curb. Appeal. Is. Everything. Seventy-six percent of top real estate agents say improving curb appeal is the No. 1 thing a homeowner can do to boost the marketability of their home, [and] 94% of agents say curb appeal adds dollar value to the sale as well.”

Use Top-Quality Listing Photos

In our digital age, most buyers do the bulk of their home shopping online, sometimes never viewing a home in person till near the end of the process. That means most buyers will be judge your home by the listing photos, so they absolutely must be top quality.

Your best bet here is to hire a professional photographer. There’s more to taking these photos than just having a decent camera. You have to, for example, get the shots from the right angles and at the right time of day in order to display your home in its best light.

While hiring a professional will cost you, it can pay off handsomely in the long run. One study found that “high-end photography can make your house sell 32% faster than a house with low-quality or average photos.”

The Most Important Tip for First Time Home Sellers

As a first time home seller with no experience in selling, you may not realize it, but a good local agent can make all the difference. Using a good – no, a great – agent can help you sell faster and at a better price.

But the difficulty lies in finding that great agent, for there are, after all, over 2,000,000 active agents in the US. And not all of them have the same level of experience, expertise, and willingness to go the extra mile to see that you get the best deal possible.

So why not make it easy? All you have to do work with a premier agency with agents known for their expertise in the local market, top negotiating skills, and excellent sales track records.

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