Selling a home can seem like a monumental task when you consider all there is to do. Where do you begin? What should you be aware of? What mistakes should you avoid when you sell your home? These are questions better left to real estate experts. That’s why we asked 30+ of our top partner real estate agents to share their best advice for home sellers.
These agents are on top of their game and with designations like Top 5% Agent in the U.S., Wall Street Journal Top 100 Realtors in the U.S., NAR “30 under 30,” Top Producer, etc., we think it will benefit you greatly to heed their advice. We’re proud to feature them and thank them all for participating in this roundup. We hope you find their advice helpful. If you’re in the market to list your home, let us match you with a top real estate professional in our partner network for free. Got a question you would like to ask a real estate professional? Ask us in the comments or on twitter.
Marketing rules. When the National Association of Realtors surveyed home buyers to pick what was most important in their home search process, home buyers said online pictures were more important than price, description, or location. Work with an agent that knows how to properly market your home. Professional pictures, staging (or strategically organizing your current possessions), and a strong online marketing strategy are essential. Telling the home’s story in the description is essential. Price is negotiable. Again, marketing rules.
Jim Holt | Keller Williams Silicon Valley | Wall Street Journal Top 100 Realtors in the US
There are two keys to ensure getting top dollar for your house:
Joyti Goundar | Todd Real Estate | Wall Street Journal Top 100 Realtors in U.S.
Hire an experienced agent who knows your home, its value, the area, and comparable sales in the area. S/he will have a strategy for selling your home as quickly and for as much money as possible. Trust your agent and trust the process.
The process works best when everyone communicates frequently, trusts each other and works together as a team. We can line up all of the homes we have sold and it is clear that the sellers who gave us larger budgets, more freedom to do what we thought would help sell their homes, and helped us with the work, made the greatest profit, the quickest.
In our current market, where supply is not keeping up with demand, correctly pricing a house is one of the biggest hurdles most Realtors® will face. Sellers often want to price their home higher than advised, and many agents will go along with this to keep their clients happy. However, the very best agents know that telling the homeowner the truth is more important than getting the seller to like them. As Realtors®, we have a fiduciary responsibility to protect your best interest and keep our clients ultimate goal of selling their home in mind at all times.
Create an atmosphere conducive to selling a home – get it cleaned out and freshly painted where needed. Be sure to price it right. This, along with the right Realtor®, will get you top dollar for your home.
Sincerely focus on the highest return for your investment (ROI). Focus not only on how your home will be ‘marketed,’ but on how an agent will make your home more ‘marketable.’ Home preparation is a key suite of services (such as painting, decluttering, floor refinishing, staging, window washing, countertop and appliance replacement, and related resurfacing) that will help make your home far more marketable to the highest paying buyer demographic (HPBD) targeted as the groups we want to attract to purchase the subject property. That’s the acid test.
Make your place look “Move In Ready.” Today’s society is a visual learning society. This means that your house has to show the way they imagine the place to look like. Put the property in its best natural light. Paint it, stage it, get new appliances, etc. If you go the extra mile, the property will sell quicker and for more money.
Joe Liu | Keller Williams | The Liu Group
Price the home right! A common mistake that many sellers don’t take into consideration are things like schools, location, crime, and other location factors. The other big piece of advice that I can give is to prepare your home to show! Remove personal memorabilia, de-clutter, take out extra pieces of furniture, etc. You want the buyers to be able to imagine themselves living in your home. A good tip is to get rid of 1/3 of your stuff – put it in storage/garage. Also, consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home.
Take your time to discover what makes your home stand out from those selling in your community; it may be the schools associated with your home, a bedroom on the ground floor, or the views. Each home is different and possesses special characteristics and features that will maximize your home’s sales price when advertised effectively. Combined with an aggressive marketing strategy that includes home staging, professional marketing materials and an internet advertising campaign that exposes your home to the widest possible audience will ensure your home sells at peak market price.
Create a strong first impression by adding a fresh coat of paint to the front door, fresh potted flowers, and having a clean entrance. Remove personal belongings and avoid colors or furniture that are too style specific. Neutral colors and minimal furniture are best. Spend time and money on smaller updates that will bring the home up to market value such as updating lighting fixtures, cabinet or door handles, and minor kitchen and bathroom updates. Also, decluttering is one of the most important things a homeowner should do before selling, as a clean house feels more spacious and helps buyers easily envision themselves in the home.
Trevor Laramee | Realty Source, Inc.
The best advice that I can give a seller is to price your home correctly from day one. In today’s market, if the home is priced correctly, you should receive multiple offers within the first week or two of going on to the market. Sellers have a great chance of receiving more than their asking price if the home is priced right with multiple buyers to negotiate with. We call this a “bidding war,” which is always in the seller’s favor.
Hire your agent before making any improvements – even if it is just choosing a paint color and let him or her help guide you in making sure the changes are what today’s buyers are seeking. We often have resources we can recommend that will save you money, so don’t hesitate to hire an agent and put them to work before your house is ready to go on the market.
It’s not a good idea to make your decision on who to list with based on the lowest commission rate. Finding a great Realtor® who can negotiate can often net you more money. Interview a few agents to make the right decision about who will represent your home. Ask:
Put in your mind that your house is the best. With this thinking, you can always make the best out of it no matter how big or small it is. An overpriced home, bad photos, and/or a low appraised value can make the home selling experience a difficult and stressful process, so remember these three important things:
Keep the home clutter free and smelling nice (no dirty cat boxes, piles of clothing, dirty dishes in the sink, etc.). Keep the home accessible to potential home buyers (homes that are only available certain days or times can lose out on potential buyers). Remember, fresh paint can go a long way – a freshly painted home shows much better than a home that has not been painted in several years.
Frank Wong | Optimum Real Estate Co.
If there is one thing a home seller should do, it’s to stage their home for sale. Furnishing a house makes the home stand out and allows buyers to emotionally connect with the home and imagine themselves living there.
When hiring a Realtor® to assist with the marketing and sale of your home, there are three things that you need to keep in mind:
Make sure your home looks its absolute best to get top dollar by having it staged. Staging your home is like washing your car before you sell it. You wouldn’t sell your car unwashed, would you?
Christine Ko | Keller Williams – Bridgepointe
Find an agent with a proven sales record AND excellent client reviews. Use Zillow and Yelp as tools in your search for an agent. The right agent will have a larger marketing budget and will likely also include professional staging services and professional photography. All of this will create more demand for your home, which will result in a higher sales price and faster sale.
Lars Nordstrom | Nordstrom Real Estate Group
Trust a Realtor® who knows your market before trusting online valuation software. There are tangibles and intangibles that only a full time Realtor® would know. Online valuations only touch on the tangibles.
It is important for sellers to prepare their home before listing it on the market. You get one chance to make a first impression, so do any minor repairs needed, de-clutter and de-personalize your home, and be sure your listing agent uses a professional photographer to capture the best images of your home. Work with an experienced agent to price your home appropriately, as statistics from the National Association of Realtors® confirms that you will ultimately net more if you price your home correctly to start with.
The home should have curb appeal, so tidy up the lawn, garden, pet area, and plant some flowers. Having an experienced real estate agent is also significant. Home sellers should keep their home uncluttered and put away any toys, clothes or food.
The best advice I can provide to prospective sellers is that they be open to what advice we provide, be realistic with values and expectations, and be as accommodating to prospective buyers as they can for access. Three things get a home sold:
Selling your home can be a stressful experience, so the most important thing is to find a Realtor® that has a proven track record and knows your area well. They will guide you through the process and take the stress out of selling. I hear horror stories all the time from sellers that had an agent that either didn’t have the knowledge required or didn’t give them the attention needed to take the stress out of selling. When you are looking for a place to eat you go online and look at reviews. I suggest home sellers do the same when it comes to selling.
Erin Williamson | First Team Real Estate
Interview more than one agent and understand that experience counts when it comes to hiring an agent. I often encourage sellers to call 2-3 more Realtors®. When they hire me, I want them to understand the differences. Your home is usually your biggest asset, so don’t take a chance leaving it in the hands of an inexperienced agent. I have learned that every single escrow has great challenges and being able to navigate through them and overcome obstacles makes all the difference between a horrible selling experience and a great selling experience.
Laura Coffey | Coffey & Associates | Life Time Achievement award – RE/Max Int’l
When selling a home, I feel it’s best to declutter and open the window treatments. Start packing items you can live without for the time being to create a more open feel. Buyers love a home that shows warm, light, and inviting.
Price the home correctly from the start. Overpricing a home is one of the hardest things to recover from. Buyers tend to know the worth of properties and if your home is overpriced, you won’t get them through the door. First impressions are critical. If you can’t afford to stage your property then consider painting, as it is relatively inexpensive. This can dramatically change a home’s appearance and feel. First impressions online are also crucial, as this is your new curb appeal. The majority of buyers will find your property online before they view in person, so make sure your photos deliver.
Price your home where it is going to sell. Be sure it is not the highest priced home in the neighborhood. If you overprice your home, you may have just helped your neighbor sell theirs. Also, consider raising the selling agent commission before doing a price reduction. The commission would go to the co-op buyer’s agent (not your listing agent), attracting more incentive to show your listing.Often, this is more cost-effective than a price reduction. Ex: If your home has had no offers, raise the buyer’s agent commission on a $400K home by a half a percent, rather than dropping the price by $10K. You’ll potentially save thousands!
I think it’s very important for sellers to understand the true market value of their home and set a realistic price. It’s natural for an owner to think their home is worth more because they have an emotional connection to it, but overpricing can be costly to their bottom line. If you can detach yourself and look at your home through the eyes of a potential buyer and base the price off of other sold homes in your area, it will help ensure a speedier sale with more favorable terms and most importantly, the price!
John Mayne | Previews® Property Specialist | Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Be realistic with your pricing expectations, price it right! If no written offers are received within the first 14-21 days on market, a price reduction is in order.
Make the home available. Many sellers refuse showings, as it is not convenient. Showings often take place on the weekends and during the evening throughout the week. Often Buyers will not reschedule once declined. The showing you are turning down, could be the one who was going to write an offer. Two other tips:
So, there you have it folks – a lot of terrific advice for home sellers delivered straight from top real estate agents who do this for a living! UpNest has successfully matched many home sellers with these real estate professionals and we can help you too if you’re ready to list your home for sale. Our advice? Hire a great real estate agent – like the ones above – and you simply can’t go wrong!
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