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Selling your home can be a daunting and overwhelming process, with numerous factors to consider and decisions to make along the way. That's why, whether you're a first-time seller or have experience in the real estate market, we want to walk you through every step of the selling process, from preparing your home for sale to negotiating with potential buyers. By following this comprehensive guide to selling your home, you will be equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to sell your home for the best price possible.

Step 1: Hire a REALTOR

Liz Schoeneberger

A good REALTOR will be able to guide you through the entire selling process, from pricing your home correctly to marketing it effectively and negotiating with potential buyers. They will also handle all the paperwork and legal aspects of the sale and help you navigate any potential hurdles that may come up during the selling process. Additionally, a REALTOR can provide valuable advice on how to stage your home to maximize its appeal to buyers. According to West & Woodall REALTOR Liz Schoeneberger, "Deciding to move can be very hard emotionally and physically. A good agent can help break down the steps into manageable action items."

When hiring a REALTOR, be sure to choose someone who is experienced, knowledgeable, and has a proven track record of successfully selling homes in your area. REALTORS in the Triangle of North Carolina should understand the entire market and be able to provide an expert perspective on how your home will measure up against the competition. Their knowledge of the area and market trends will certainly come into play as part of the process of setting your listing price.

You should also feel comfortable working with them and be confident in their ability to represent your best interests. Pro tip: When deciding whether to work with a specific REALTOR, picture yourself in a stressful situation and then imagine the agent in that situation. If you can't see the two of you working together well in that scenario, keep looking until you find a REALTOR who would be compatible. While the goal is for your sale to go through as seamlessly as possible, it's realistic to assume that issues may come up, and you'll need to be able to work well together.

Step 2: Determine When to Sell Your Home

In the first meeting with your agent, there are several factors that they will want you to consider.

  1. What your goals and constraints are in selling your house: These could include any time constraints you may have, such as needing to move for a job or school, or wanting to sell before a certain deadline. Additionally, based on the condition of your home, your agent will discuss how much you are willing and able to do if improvements are needed to meet your financial goals for selling.
  2. Local market conditions: In a seller's market (more buyers than available homes), you're likely to sell your home faster and at a higher price due to high demand and competition among buyers. Conversely, in a buyer's market (more homes available than buyers), homes may stay on the market longer, and prices may be lower due to an abundance of options for buyers. Your agent will let you know what the current conditions are and how they may impact the sale of your home.
  3. Timing: The timing of your home sale can also significantly impact your home's marketability. While homes can be sold at any time of the year, certain seasons may be more favorable.

For instance, spring and summer are often considered the best times to sell a home. The warmer weather and longer days make it easier for buyers to attend showings and open houses. Families with children also tend to move during these seasons to avoid disrupting the school year.

While these are things to consider, the best time to sell your house is when you're ready. Your agent will help you navigate any other factors.

Step 3: Pre-Listing Preparations

There are a number of pre-listing preparations that need to be completed before you put your home on the market. One of the first things your real estate agent will want to do is to visit your house so they can assess it and make suggestions on what needs to be done. Liz says they will begin by looking at the state of the interior of your home as well as its curb appeal.

Janet Marks Breedlove

West & Woodall REALTOR Janet Marks Breedlove offers this advice to home sellers on the importance of making lists during this time. "There's a lot to do and many things to keep up with. You'll get a lot more accomplished if you make and follow a list. I advise making a list of everything you need to do each day. Check off what you've done and move the things that you didn't do to the top of the next day's list."

Here are the most common preparations that need to be made.

Decluttering and deep cleaning

First impressions matter when selling your home. Potential buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in your home, and clutter or dirt can detract from its appeal.

Start by decluttering each room, removing personal items, and organizing closets and storage spaces. Next, deep clean your home, paying particular attention to high-traffic areas such as the kitchen and bathrooms.

Home repairs and improvements

It's essential to address any necessary repairs before listing your home. This could include fixing leaky faucets, caulking around bathtubs or showers, or addressing any other maintenance issues.

While major renovations aren't usually necessary, some minor upgrades can significantly improve your home's appeal. Some common ones are repainting walls a neutral color, updating light fixtures, or refreshing your landscaping to add curb appeal.

Staging your home

Home staging involves arranging furniture and decor to highlight your home's best features and help buyers visualize living in the space. Your agent may suggest simply moving some of your own things around or they may recommend that you hire a professional. Some tips for staging your home include maximizing natural light and adding small touches like fresh flowers or scented candles.

Professional home stagers have a keen eye for design and can transform a space to appeal to a wider range of buyers. They may bring in stylish furniture, artwork, and accessories to create a welcoming atmosphere that showcases the home's potential. While hiring a professional stager can be an added expense, it could lead to a quicker sale and potentially higher offers.

Ultimately, the decision to stage your home and the extent to which you do so will depend on your budget, time frame, and the advice of your real estate agent. Regardless of whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, staging can make a significant difference in helping your home to sell faster at a higher price.

Have professional photos and/or video taken

High-quality photos and/or videos are essential for attracting potential buyers and showcasing your home in the best light. A professional photographer or videographer will be able to capture your home's features, layout, and overall aesthetic in a way that will appeal to interested buyers. These images and videos can be used in online listings, social media posts, and promotional materials to help generate interest in your property and ultimately lead to a successful sale. Additionally, professional photos and videos can help your home stand out from the competition and make a positive first impression on potential buyers. This isn't something that you need to handle yourself. Your agent will arrange for photos and/or video to be taken.

Decide on a list price

Pricing your home correctly is one of the most critical aspects of the home selling process. It's crucial to find the sweet spot where your listing price is competitive enough to attract buyers, but also high enough to maximize your profit.

To help with determining the ideal asking price for your home, your agent will conduct a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA involves analyzing recently sold properties in your area that are similar to your home in terms of size, features, and condition.

Another crucial factor to consider when pricing the house is online price filters. Many buyers use these filters when searching for homes online. If your home is priced slightly below a common filter limit (e.g., $200,000 instead of $205,000), it can appear in more search results, potentially attracting more buyers.

While it's good to be informed about how to determine the listing price for your home, your agent will recommend the price they believe is appropriate and walk you through the process of how they arrived at that number.

Step 4: Marketing Your Home

Your REALTOR will take several key steps to market your home. According to Liz, here are the three most common strategies included in the marketing plan for selling a house.

Listing your home

"Listing your home" refers to including it on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), an online database used by real estate professionals to list and search for properties. It will also be included on all other internet websites such as Zillow, Realtor.com, etc. As part of the listing, your agent will create a compelling description for your home, highlighting its best features and providing all the relevant details potential buyers need to know. The listing will also include the professionally-taken photographs because those are among the main things that buyers want to see first.

Showings and open houses

Once your home is listed, your agent will start scheduling showings for interested buyers. These are private viewings where potential buyers and their agents can tour your home. It's best to make your home as presentable as possible for these showings and to be flexible with your schedule to accommodate potential home buyers.

Additionally, your agent may also recommend hosting an open house. This is a set period where any interested buyers can drop by and view your home. Open houses can create a sense of urgency among buyers and potentially lead to multiple offers.

Social media

Your agent and/or their firm may also promote your home through their social media channels. These posts can include posting photos, videos, and descriptions of your property. This exposes your property to potential buyers who already trust your agent and their firm and who may be keeping an eye out for a home to buy.

In addition to all of these steps, Liz says some agents, like herself, will go even further. "I will notify all your neighbors in case they have friends interested in the area."

Networking with other agents

In the Triangle and the surrounding area, West & Woodall REALTORs are, without a doubt, among the most connected people in your community. They will use these connections to find potential buyers for your home, often by working with other real estate professionals to promote your property.

Step 5: Negotiating Offers

There are two primary phases associated with negotiating offers on your home.

Reviewing offers

Once you start receiving offers, your real estate agent will help you review them and understand their terms. The highest offer may not always be the best one, depending on the buyer's contingencies, financing, and proposed closing date.

Negotiating with buyers

After reviewing offers, you can choose to accept the offer, reject it, or make a counteroffer. Your agent can guide you through the negotiation process, helping you navigate any requests for repairs or adjustments to the sale price.

Step 6: Navigating the Closing Process

After you accept an offer, the buyer will typically arrange for a home inspection and appraisal. The inspection report identifies any potential issues with the property, while the appraisal ensures the home is worth the sale price. Your agent will help negotiate any repair requests to make sure they align with the goals and constraints that you identified at the beginning of the process as much as possible.

Once any contingencies have been met, you'll move forward to closing the sale.

Liz offers this reminder about three important tasks that need to be completed during this time.

  1. Prepare the home to be cleaned out of all personal property and adhere to any terms agreed to in the contract such as certain items conveying.
  2. Make sure the home is broom cleaned.
  3. Leave any manuals, keys, and garage door openers in the home.

Once you get to closing itself, it's important to note that unless it's been agreed upon otherwise, all of your things must be out of the house, and you need to hand over all keys to your agent. Closing is closing. The house will not belong to you after that point.

Liz notes, "Closing involves signing all the necessary documents through an attorney to transfer the clean title or ownership of the property to the buyer."

This process can take several weeks to get to after an offer has been accepted, so it's another point where Janet's list comes in handy. She says, "It's crucial to stay organized and maintain close communication with your agent."

Closing the Chapter on Your Home

Selling your home is a significant milestone, marking the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. By following this guide and partnering with one of our knowledgeable REALTORs, you can navigate the home selling process with confidence and achieve a successful home sale.

Remember, selling a home doesn't have to be stressful. With the right preparation, a well-thought-out strategy, and a professional REALTOR by your side, you can sell your home efficiently and for the best possible price.

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