Selling Your Home – Step By Step Process

They say that right now is a seller’s market, but in my little neighborhood it was definitely a buyer’s market. This made our home sale a little more difficult than what others may be experiencing in the United States but luckily we were still able to get a contract on our home 3.5 months after…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 1, 2018

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They say that right now is a seller’s market, but in my little neighborhood it was definitely a buyer’s market.

This made our home sale a little more difficult than what others may be experiencing in the United States but luckily we were still able to get a contract on our home 3.5 months after our home was put on the market. In fact, we actually received three contracts on our home that very week after not receiving any bites for 3.5 months (and over 30 home showings in that time period).

While I’m no expert at selling a home, I did recently go through the whole home selling process.

Selling a home can be a long and stressful process but hopefully with this guide I can help someone’s home sale go a little more smoothly than mine did.

Preparing your home to be put on the market and knowing the necessary steps and tips to selling a home can make a home sale go much more smoothly.

Plus, I don’t think anyone wants to experience any sort of surprise when selling their home since it is such a big expense.

Below are my steps and tips for selling your homeEnjoy and good luck with your home sale!

 

Find a real estate agent.

If you decide to sell your home by using a real estate agent, then you should look for one sooner rather than later. This way your real estate agent can give you an idea of what your home may sell for, what changes you may want to make, what the timeline for selling your house may be, and so on.

We used the same real estate agent from when we originally bought our home. If you need one in the St. Louis area, let me know and I can send you her contact information! She made the process a breeze.

 

Get a city home inspection.

I highly recommend looking into whether your city requires a city home inspection in order for your house to be put on the market.

We had to call our city office and schedule an appointment. I thought it would be easy and that they would just come over, but the wait time was actually quite long in order to fit my appointment in. Plus, we were calling during the slow season so I wouldn’t want to imagine what the wait would have been if we would have called during the spring or summer months when everyone else is trying to put their home on the market as well. The wait may have been months!

Also, keep in mind that these are only good for so many months. Ours was set to expire in the summer but thankfully we received a contract on our home and it sold in time. The city home inspection wasn’t expensive, but it did take a lot of time and there were some small changes that we were required to make before the house could be closed on.

 

Declutter.

We decluttered our home like crazy before we even showed it to our realtor. Home buyers do not want to see clutter as it can make a house look smaller, dirtier, and not as nice.

Decluttering is probably one of the easiest things you can do during a home sale, so why not do it?

Some of the things you may want to do include:

  • Clear out your basement and/or attic. Most have their basements and attics filled with things they do not need.
  • Put away any personal items. Sadly, you may have to tuck away your favorite photos during a home sale. Buyers like to imagine themselves in a home and if there are pictures of you everywhere then that may make it more difficult.
  • Sort through closets, cabinets, extra rooms, and so on.
  • Remove anything that may make a room seem smaller.

 

Clean.

Cleaning is something that everyone who is planning on selling a home should do. Sadly, this is a step that some skip!

Some of the cleaning tasks you may want to add to your to-do list include:

  • Clean and wax floors.
  • Power wash the driveway.
  • Dust everything.
  • Wash windows and mirrors.
  • Paint furniture, walls, trim, and so on if you are able to. It’s a relatively cheap change that can completely change a home. This is actually one of my TOP tips for selling your home. Paint can go a long way.
  • Clean your fridge. Yes, sometimes home buyers will peer in there.

 

Improve your curb appeal.

The first thing that a potential home buyer looks at is pictures of your home from the outside. The first thing they see in person is the outside of your home as well.

They say that everyone judges a home within the first 5 minutes. If that’s not enough to tell you that curb appeal is important, then I don’t know what will!

Potential home buyers don’t like to see a house that needs a lot of maintenance. Even though every house needs it, no one actually wants to think about it.

For curb appeal you will want to:

  • Keep your lawn cut and tidy.
  • Remove any trash from the front, back and side of your home.
  • Pick up any leaves and keep your gutters clean.
  • Plant flowers.

 

Decide if you will stage your home or not.

Homes that are staged usually sell quicker and for a higher amount of money than homes that are not.

If you are able to then look into staging your home or leaving some of your furniture in the home (if you are moving before the home sells).

 

Show your home.

When you’re house is on the market, you will have to allow for home showings. Potential home buyers may show up at the very last moment so your home should always be clean.

I’ve been asked by many if the home seller should be home during a home showing. I pretty much think that’s just a bad idea overall. You should clean your home and leave (take your pets with you) so that the potential home buyer can look at your home and be stress-free.

Since we didn’t live in our home while it was on the market, it made for selling our home much easier. Many times potential home buyers would come just 5 minutes to an hour before they wanted to see it, which would have been quite difficult if we would have been living there.

The house also would have been a disaster!

 

Accept an offer.

Eventually, you will hopefully receive an offer or two. You may do some negotiating on price and again after the homebuyer completes their own home inspection and appraisal as well.

Once you accept an offer though, you may be able to breathe a little easier. However, it’s not done just yet! You still need to actually close on the house and give the keys to the homebuyer.

 

Close on your home and move out!

The last of my tips for selling your home is finalizing everything on closing day. You will be told how much you owe or how much you will receive, what you need to do in order to close on the loan, and so on. Then, you will sign tons of papers and hand over the keys.

The last part may be the best or worst – you have to move out! Depending on when the home buyer’s closing date is, you generally want to have everything out of the home by then unless some sort of agreement has been made.

Hope you enjoyed my guide to selling your home. While my home sale didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked, there were no surprises and the only thing that held us back was tanking neighborhood prices. Hopefully the tips for selling your home I gave above will make the process for you much easier!

Did anything go wrong with a past home sale of yours? What tips for selling a home would you give to someone?

 


Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. If you don’t have a real estate agent you completely trust, you should consider forking over for an appraisal to help you set the price. It’s called a pre-listing appraisal or pre-appraisal by appraisers. Under-pricing is obviously expensive and if the house sells quickly you may wonder if the real estate intentionally advised you to underprice it to get a quick, easy sale. An appraisal helps alleviate those doubts. Far more common and expensive than under-pricing is over-pricing. Some agents may pitch you a high estimated sales price because it’s very effective sales strategy to get home sellers to agree to list the house with an agent. A pre-listing appraisal can help you figure out if that’s the game being played.

  2. Absolutely agree with this post, all tips and suggestion are great..see your realtor did a good work first time you met her, so you call her back now and you’re going to offer good reference….realtor must to be honest, friendly , good knowledge of market and organized, I am sure your realtor did everything well.thanks for sharing every realtor will thank you for sharing it

  3. LOL, we just bought last year so I don’t plan on selling any time soon. It’s such a frustrating long process (rant alert – most likely enabled by real estate agents so they’re still necessary).

    We couldn’t stand our realtor, which we didn’t realize until we got into the paperwork and constantly found errors. That’s your damn job! We had to stick with her and would not recommend her to others even though she was a nice lady. Super frustrating.

    1. That stinks. Buying was super easy for us. I’m not looking forward to the next time though since we are both self-employed and I’ve heard that it’s a nightmare.

      1. I’ve heard the same. “What do you mean you aren’t chained to a desk all the time?” “You make money on this thing called ‘the internet’”?

        SOFI might be a good option for you. They’re an internet based company that was originally for student loan consolidation but has moved into mortgages. Seems like a no BS kind of company!

  4. Ali @ Anything You Want

    This is such a comprehensive list! I’ve never sold a home, but I have looked at many and purchased one. From a buyer’s perspective, making sure that the home is tidy and well staged is key. So many people can’t see past an ugly couch or too-dark wall color. Making a few simple and cheap changes can make a huge difference.

    1. Definitely. Great tips Ali!

  5. Kirsten

    The staging deal appears to be a mixed bag. There’s a fairly recent study (I think 2012) that showed that the staging thing is a myth. Staged homes don’t sell quicker and they don’t sell for more. I would recommend that people definitely look up the basics of good home staging and follow the advice. If your home is terribly staged – it could be a drawback.

    1. Interesting! So, a staged home wouldn’t sell better than a home that is badly decorated or dirty? I know that played a big thing in our mind – it was hard to get past dirty homes that were scary on the inside.

  6. Amy @ DebtGal

    I have never sold a home, and the thought of it gives me a bit of a headache. I can’t imagine having to keep my home tidy and squeaky clean all the time!

    I never heard of a city home inspection before listing a house – good to know!

    I’m so glad your sale worked out for you!

    1. Yeah I’ve tried looking up the city home inspection thing and I can’t find anything on it. Maybe only some towns do that? Not sure.

  7. Great tips! I totally agree that its important to have the house look perfect as possible with regards to painting etc. While I have only sold one house I have bought 7. I have found over the years that I have gotten houses that need new paint and flooring for much larger discounts than the work because buyers are turned off.

  8. It’s a long time since I last sold a house. I still have nightmares about it! Newly single, small child, working full-time… I was so stressed I couldn’t eat. After that experience, I decided they’ll have to cart me out of this house in a box. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You make excellent points Michelle and I reckon having the interior and exterior looking wonderful make a HUGE difference to how long a house takes to sell and therefore the price you achieve. A dodgy looking house attracts the sharks who expect to negotiate.

    1. Haha with our next house, I definitely plan on staying in it FOREVER ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Dane Hinson

    We haven’t had to sell a home but if it’s anything like buying (and I’m guessing it may be worse) then it must be a stressful endeavor. Hopefully, we’ll convert our current home into a rental but eventually we’ll need to heed the advice in this post.

    1. I think selling was MUCH more stressful. I didn’t find buying stressful at all, but then was back when I had a “normal” day job so it wasn’t bad. Now that I’m self-employed, I’m sure it’ll be a disaster.

  10. I’ve never sold a home (and plan to soon) and I’ve only bought a house once (the one I’m in now). It was a nightmare! It makes me not what to move ever again.

    1. Selling is much worse! ๐Ÿ™

  11. It must be such a nice weight now the house is sold. (Un)fortunately I don’t own any properties, yet so this isn’t something I’d have to worry about for a while, but it’s nice to have the whole process outlined ๐Ÿ™‚ Hoping to invest in property sometime this year, so that’s exciting, just trying to figure out whether to buy existing or to buy land and build new. Do you have any experience with this?!

    1. No experience. That is something we are debating as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Ash Solitaire

    Great tips! Selling a home can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. Given the competition in the real estate market right now, it’s imperative that we have an edge among other sellers. There’s a lot to keep in mind in this post, and certainly, I can’t agree with you more.

  13. Ramona

    In my country a lot of real estate agents just take the commission and that’s it. Some homeowners would rather do the selling themselves than just pay money to someone who’s not doing too much either. There are real estate agents who are worth their commission and it’s great to work with them. You can get a better price and a lot of insights.

    1. Our real estate agent was definitely helpful. Glad she was there.

  14. Hannah

    Oh man, selling is a bear, especially if you’ve got high association dues or some other draw back. Good looking appliances are a huge selling point (shockingly big). If nothing else, clean up your old appliances, but if you can upgrade one thing (other than paint), go for appliances.

    We hired a professional cleaner when we sold our old place. I think it helped.

    1. Yes, appliances are important!

  15. So glad your guys’ place finally sold! That much be such a relief! I had no idea about city inspections…something I’ll definitely have to look into. We’ll be on the buying end hopefully soon here, so it’s a bit of a different concern, but if they are required in our area I wonder if it would still be worth bringing in our own.

  16. I’m new to your blog, but love it already. Very inspiring.

    Congratulations on selling your home. These are great tips. We are under contract with the sale of our home pending certain things. It’s been a crazy process and I’m learning a lot, but look forward to it being over. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Unrelated question: I’ve been thinking about starting a newsletter (getting back into blogging after some serious burnout), and I’m curious about something I’ve not seen addressed. When you start a newsletter, is that the only option you give your readers for following your blog? Right now, I have the normal subscribe by email or blog reader. Do I remove that option when I start a newsletter?

    Probably a silly question, but I have yet to read anywhere what people do exactly in this regard. Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I’m just so glad that you were able to sell your house!

  18. The first thing I took care when I was selling our house was to improve the curb appeal. Nothing is greater that the first impression.

  19. Augustus

    Great tips for selling an old house. Thanks for sharing!

  20. cena

    Hi, I absolutely agree with this post. These process are very useful to all. I think all peoples should be read this artical and better explain to real estate step by step.

    Thank you