How to Sell Your House: A Comprehensive Guide

by Real estate financingMission+
16 minutes read

So, you’ve evaluated your finances, thought about your lifestyle, and made the big decision to sell your home. Maybe you’ve decided to downsize, or you’re moving to a new city for a new job, or perhaps you just want to relocate somewhere warmer like Austin, TX, or Miami, FL. Whatever the reason, you’re ready to sell. With so many things to consider, from home inspections to staging, selling a house can be an overwhelming process. Luckily for you, we put together a comprehensive guide on how to sell your house.

1) Hire a home inspector

You’re probably thinking, ‘wait, isn’t that the buyer’s responsibility?’ You’re not wrong. When you’ve accepted an offer, the buyer will most likely request a home inspection of their own. So, why would you need one? First, if a home inspector finds something that needs repair, wouldn’t you prefer to resolve it before entering into negotiations?

In fact, if you discover repairs that may take weeks to fix, you may lose that buyer altogether. Performing a home inspection is a proactive approach to getting your home ready to sell. Known as a pre-listing home inspection, you can find out the exact condition of your property, what issues and repairs need to be addressed beforehand and fix them, and then focus on the next step in selling your home.

Also, being aware of the condition of your property will further assist you during the negotiation phase with potential buyers. As you may already know, buyers often use their home inspection as a way to get concessions from sellers, such as asking you to drop your list price. If you’ve already addressed these repairs, it is less likely that anything new will arise and impact your negotiation.

A farm house style kitchen

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2) Make repairs and small upgrades to your house

After receiving a comprehensive list of recommended repairs, it’s time to start making the repairs yourself or contracting out the right person. This may also be a great time to make small upgrades that can increase home value.

Understand what today’s homebuyers are looking for

With a shift to hybrid work, home features such as a home office have become essential for homeowners. Even if your home doesn’t have a designated office space, a smaller bedroom or extra area beneath the stairway can easily be staged as a simple office. Staging the space with tasteful decorations like plants and a bookshelf can be the perfect backdrop for potential buyers to envision themselves in the space. 

In addition, stainless steel appliances and granite counters have become two of the top 3 most valuable home trends among buyers. This is no surprise, as many people desire a space in their new home to support pastimes like cooking and baking. With this in mind, quick upgrades such as new appliances and upgraded countertops can go a long way to making your home more appealing to buyers.

Enhance your outdoor space

When you are selling your house, you want to find ways to make it stand out, and what better way than having the most beautiful entrance and lawn on the block? You don’t necessarily have to paint the exterior of your house to impress homebuyers. Simple landscaping renovations like trimming your hedges and a freshly mowed lawn will go a long way. Even newly laid beauty bark and colorful planted flowers can make your yard and house pop. If these improvements seem too much to handle while preparing your home to sell, look into hiring a landscaper to assist.

Brighten your home

When it comes to first impressions, a poorly lit home makes for a bad first impression. Darkness can make a home feel uninviting, dirty, and cramped even when it isn’t. So, before putting your home on the market, you’ll want to find simple ways to brighten your home. These can include painting your ceilings white and choosing a wall color that is brighter and more neutral, adding mirrors, replacing light bulbs, and adding additional light sources like recessed lighting.

A modern bathroom

3) Declutter and prep your house to sell

When determining how to sell your house, be sure to make decluttering and prepping your home a priority. Renting storage units is becoming an increasingly popular method of decluttering one’s house before selling it. The idea is to limit the amount of stuff in your space so that potential future owners can envision themselves (and their stuff) in it. Even removing personal photos is a great way to allow potential buyers to think about what they would hang on those walls. If you’re looking for a quick turnaround, bring in a professional organizer, or schedule a virtual consultation. They can help get your house in order, while also preparing you for a stress-free move. 

4) Find a real estate agent

Finding a real estate agent is easy. Finding a great real estate agent can be more of a challenge. Getting referrals and reading online reviews is a great way to start narrowing down your options. You’ll want to understand what you’re looking for when hiring a real estate agent to represent your best interests. Here are some questions to consider asking any potential candidate:

  • How many clients have you served this year?
  • Has a client ever filed a complaint against you?
  • What is your fee? 
  • What services do you offer beyond negotiations and escrow?
  • What tools and resources are available to you?

After you decide on a real estate agent, you and your agent should devise a plan of action for how to sell your house. It should include a timeline, from the pricing of your house and getting it listed on MLS to personal showings. You and your agent should be on the same page at all times, and a plan of action will help ensure that.

A simple home office

5) How to price your house to sell

Now is the time to determine what price you should list your home for. You can start by using online tools to help you get an idea of what your home is worth. However, you should never set your sights on a single number and expect it to happen. Market conditions change all the time, and so does buyer behavior. 

Another option is to conduct an appraisal. Home appraisers are licensed professionals that will assess the value of your house based on the state of your property and overall housing market conditions. They will look at the size of your property, your house’s interior and exterior conditions, and any upgrades, additions, or home improvements you’ve done, and then calculate your home’s worth based on the local market conditions.

Looking at comparables, often called comps, of recently sold homes in your area will also help you settle on a price. These homes should be similar in size, location, and sold within the last few months. Furthermore, you want to be strategic about your pricing. Instead of lumping the price of your house in with other comps in the area, strategize your pricing based on your home’s selling features. In other words, if there are three houses for sale in your area and they are priced at $350,000, you might be able to justify $360,000 or more because you have a larger lot size or maybe you’re located in a popular neighborhood. Work with your real estate agent to ensure your home is priced accordingly. 

A dark bedroom

6) Stage your home to sell 

If you don’t deem yourself a design-minded individual, consider hiring a professional home stager to help. Many stagers offer different alternatives that can suit your needs, from in-person consultations to virtual consultations. Regardless of whether you work with a professional or handle the staging on your own, here is a list of things to consider that will really help you make your house shine:

  • Clear the clutter: You may have already transferred most of your belongings to a storage unit by this point. Now is the time to focus on cleaning up the clutter on countertops and tables. Put away newspapers, mail, or magazines, or if you have children, help them pick up their toys.
  • Deep clean your house: Nothing turns off buyers more than an unclean bathroom. That is also true for the rest of your house. Now more than ever is the time to wash your windows, dust your window sills, and scrub your grimy glass shower doors.
  • Add simple accent pieces: Accents such as flowers or white towels in the bathroom create a sense of welcome cleanliness. A small plant and a healthy bowl of fruit in the kitchen will help bring the space together, without adding clutter.
  • Arrange furniture: You don’t have to rent furniture to stage your home necessarily. You can most likely use what you have – just make sure the furniture is in presentable condition. The key is to limit the number of furniture pieces in any one room. Then arrange them in a way that’s inviting to people as they enter the room.
  • Bring in light: Consider removing or keeping your curtains drawn back to allow as much natural light into your house as possible. If you have rather large elaborate curtains, consider storing them away until you get to your next home. Open your blinds to let the light in during showings. 
  • Highlight your floors: Floors are a key feature homebuyers are looking at, especially if you have wood floors. Show them off by removing any rugs or unneeded furniture so more of your flooring can be seen. If you have wood floors, think about polishing them to really make them pop.
  • Organize all closets and drawers: Homebuyers touring your home will most likely look in your closets to determine space and, frankly, to see if their stuff will fit in there. They will also likely open kitchen drawers and cabinets as well, so if you are not able to remove your items, make sure everything is nice and tidy.
  • Dust: Concentrate on all the areas that you’ve most likely have turned a blind eye to for some time, like ceiling fans, baseboards, on top of doorways, appliances, etc.

A beautiful living room

 7) Get professional photos taken of your home

Nothing sells a house faster than professional photos. This is especially true now, as many prospective buyers start their home buying journey online. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. They are searching online, looking at every home that comes up for sale within their filtered interests the moment it’s listed. If your house is represented online by poorly shot photography, your listing will likely see very little traffic. Not to mention, it’s widely observed that houses with professionally shot photos, on average, sell for more money than other listings.

When planning how to sell your house, you should also strongly consider having your home digitally scanned for an online 3D tour. Some companies, like Redfin, already include these services for their clients. These 3D walkthroughs, where you point and click through a home from your computer, are more than 5 times as popular even to this day. And with more buyers buying from out-of-town, a 3D walkthrough can help out-of-town buyers decide whether to make an offer on your home before they have a chance to see it in person. 

Lastly, aerial photography, which shows a bird’s eye view of one’s home and its surrounding area, has become increasingly popular with buyers looking online. Many agencies include some or all of these services as a component of their overall services to you as a seller. Remember, the better you represent your house online, the better chance you have of selling it quickly.

8) List your home to sell

Your real estate agent will list your home online on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), in order for it to start showing up on real estate websites for potential buyers. Also, don’t limit the marketing of your house to your real estate agent and online search. Market your house yourself. Spread the word through your family and friends. Share your listing on social media and send out emails asking people to share your listing with others. Also, ensure you know when it’s the best time to sell a house to give yourself the best advantage. Though this may be different for every market as things do change from month to month. Consult with your agent to target the best time to get your home listed. 

A green small house

9) Have a plan in case your home doesn’t sell quick enough

You and your real estate agent should have already reviewed this beforehand, but not every house sells quickly. Many factors are at play, and depending on the condition of the housing market for your area, your real estate agent may have to use other strategies in their arsenal to sell your house. If it’s lowering the price of your home or holding more tours and open houses, you’ll want to discuss this with your agent and agree on the next steps in case your house isn’t seeing any offers.

10) Negotiate the sale price of your home

One thing to consider is that the buyer is trying to get the absolute best price they can, while you’re doing the exact same. There will be multiple factors to consider, as each home sold and purchased differs. For example, if it’s a buyer’s market, that means the buyer has the upper hand because there are multiple listings with fewer offers being made. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make huge concessions in order to sell your house.

This is where your agent really steps up. They will help you navigate the negotiation process, and will offer their advice on how to proceed when offers are being made. Luckily, you interviewed and hired the right agent, so you know they have your best interests in mind.

11) Sign and close

You and your agent have been working towards this moment. You’ve agreed on a price with the buyers, all inspections and appraisals of your home have been completed, and you are now ready to sign the papers and close. Some states also allow completely electronic closings, called eClosings. eClosings can be hugely beneficial as they take less time, are environmentally friendly, and can be done from anywhere you have access to the internet. Once you’ve signed all of the paperwork – congratulations, you’ve sold your house!

Work with a local expert in your neighborhood

Redfin agents have the experience to help you win in
today’s market.

Contact a Redfin agent

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