How to Sell a House: A Handbook for First Timers

How to Sell a House: A Handbook for First Timers

Have you been toying with the idea of selling your house or maybe you need to move as soon as possible and need to find some options for a quick home sale. Whatever the case may be, if this is your first time selling a home, you’re probably wondering where to start. We can help!

We’ve created this handbook with first time home sellers in mind. It’ll give you a brief rundown of what to expect along the way. 

1. Deciding to sell your home

In 2020, 5.64 million people made the decision to sell their home and that number is predicted to increase significantly in 2021. If you’re thinking about being one of those who want to sell, you need to consider if you’re really ready to sell. 

A few signs that you’re absolutely ready include: 

  • It just feels right and emotional attachments don’t make you second guess the decision.
  • You used a net proceeds calculator and you’d make money on the sale (positive equity).
  • You have the financial means to buy a new home.

2. Choosing the best way to sell

There are a few different ways you can sell your home and you need to choose the best option for your particular situation. These are the three most common options seller’s go with: 

Hiring a real estate agent

By hiring a real estate agent, you’re reducing the amount of stress you’ll have to deal with. The agent will help you determine a fair price for your home by comparing it to similar houses in the area. They’ll give you advice on how to get your house ready to sell. They’ll market your house to reach as many potential buyers as possible. And most importantly, they’ll negotiate on your behalf to get the best deal. 

Sell to cash buyers/investors

If you need to sell your home quickly, selling to a cash buyer or investor may be the best way to go. They have the funds on hand so you don’t have to worry about waiting for a buyer to get approved for a mortgage. You rarely have to do any repairs or staging to get it “showing ready.” 

Keep in mind that if you’re going this route, you’re probably going to get a low-ball offer and you’re probably not going to make as much as you would if you used an agent. 

Go the “For-Sale-By-Owner” route

FSBO typically isn’t the best option for first time home sellers because there’s a lot to deal with. But if you do choose to go this route, you’ll cut out the middle man (the real estate agent and make more money and you can move at your own pace. You’ll be able to list the house for what you think it’s worth instead of what a real estate agent says is the best asking price. 

The tricky part of FSBO is that the time has to be perfect. This option works best if the housing inventory is extremely low and you know your house will sell, or you already have a buyer interested to buy. 

3. Preparing to sell

The next step is getting your house ready to sell. During this phase, you’ll want to make necessary repairs, finish any renovation projects you may have started, and deep clean your house. You may even want to start packing your belongings so that there’s less clutter, thus allowing potential buyers to see the features of your home without anything in the way. 

Also, you may want to hire a professional staging company to come in and make your home feel more inviting. This will cost money, but when done right, your home could sell much quicker and for more money than if you didn’t stage it.

4. Negotiate offers

When the offers start rolling in, you’ll need to be ready to put your negotiator hat on and prepare to haggle. Or, have your agent negotiate on your behalf. During this time, you may encounter buyers who will want you to reduce the price, make repairs, have a list of contingencies, or ask you to help pay their closing costs (if not all of it). 

It’s a good idea to have an idea of what you are and are not willing to budge on, which will be a huge help when deciding what offers or requests you’re willing to accept or negotiate on.

5. Final steps of selling 

So you’ve accepted an offer! Congrats! You’re now at the final stage of this long process. In the final stages, you’ll need to review and sign closing documents. You’ll need to have any warranties and owner’s manuals for appliances and components of the home. You’ll need to have any keys, security codes and garage openers ready to hand over to the buyer. And, most importantly, you need to have your things packed up and ready to go by the specified date on the contract. Selling your house for the first time can be exciting, especially if you have enough equity in the home to make a decent profit. But, it can be pretty dang overwhelming if you’re going it alone. That’s why if you are a first timer, you should definitely look into hiring a real estate agent. You’ll find that with an agent on your side, the whole experience will be much easier!