11 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Sell Your Home
Forget feng shui. Asking yourself these questions will put you in the right spot to sell—and reap the greatest rewards.
Should you hire an agent, or sell independently?
Selling your house on your own means pocketing the entire profit from the sale. Tempting, right? But hiring a real estate agent can add value in surprising ways—and you could even get more bang for your buck. “There is a tremendous value that a broker can bring as far as pricing, strategy, marketing, and negotiating,” says Rory Bolger, a licensed real estate associate broker (NYRS) in New York City. Plus, “when you’re selling your own property, you’re emotionally involved.” When it’s your home, it’s easy to take negative feedback personally, or hype up aspects that might not actually matter. A professional team, on the other hand, can guarantee that your sale will move along quickly and efficiently with smooth communication. This is what your real estate agent is really thinking.
Is it the right time to sell?
Will you be selling your house in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market? That one question can make all the difference, according to Bolger. “It comes down to supply and demand,” he says. A seller’s market is optimal for getting the best price for your house, but “if the state of the market is a touch more on the buyer’s side, you’ve got to think and be strategic. A good game plan will maximize what you walk away with,” he says, and help you pay off your old house’s loan (while also putting some extra cash in your pocket!). Check out the best tips for selling your home.
What type of home do you want to buy next?
It’s a no-brainer: How and when you sell your house all depends on where you’re going next. Are you looking to upsize or downsize? How much money do you need for the next down payment? “It might be the right time to sell, but it might not be the right time for you to buy,” Bolger says. Balancing these two prerogatives is challenging, but knowing what you’ve set your sights on in the future can help you determine when to sell your house, as well as how much to sell it for.
How should you market your home?
Repairs? Check. New paint job? Check. While marking these off on your to-do list matters, the way in which you market your home could still make the difference between getting multiple offers and none at all. For Tara-Nicolle Nelson, consumer educator for Trulia.com, a little boost on social media can go a long way. Try sharing your home’s listing on Facebook, or shooting a homemade video that shows prospective buyers the coolest features of your home and neighborhood. According to Nelson, “if you have 200 friends and they each have 200 friends, imagine the power of that network in getting the word out about your house!”
Are you willing to declutter and depersonalize?
When it comes to selling a home, it’s all about presentation, presentation, presentation. A cluttered house can be a “distraction to the buyer,” according to Bolger. “When people walk in, they have to feel like it could be their home.” A professional stager can help you rearrange your furniture for a simple fix, and will help you determine whether to take down personal pictures of your kids or put some of your items in storage.
Why are you selling your house?
Whether you’re looking for an upgrade or downgrade, the emotional and personal aspects of selling a home are just as important as the technical ones. Bolger recommends taking the time to sit down and seriously consider the reasons you are selling your house to make sure you are making the right move. You could be looking to put some extra money in your pocket for your kids’ college payments, or you could be moving in with a new significant other. Whatever the case, listen to outside guidance and mentoring about whether this is the right move for your life before you take the big leap.
How much should you list the price of your home for?
Renovations aside, many factors go into calculating the cost of your home, including the square footage, location, and what you want to buy next. But ultimately, pricing your home comes down to how well you can market it, according to Bolger. “There’s a mind game to selling real estate,” he says. “Energy creates movement, which creates a good sale.” Nelson also recommends doing your research on the prices of other homes in the area and developing a range for the list price with your agent.
Who is your competition?
Take a look at other homes for sale in the area and evaluate their price and marketing strategy. What do they offer that you don’t? How can you max out the competition? Listing your price at 10 to 15 percent below that of similar homes in the area could do the trick, according to Nelson. And even though low-priced foreclosures and short sales are enticing to buyers, as an individual homeowner, you can use the condition and great design of your home as a major selling point.
What is your timeline?
Do you need to sell the house ASAP, or can you stay put until the time is right? Having a bit of leeway in your moving timeline could reap huge monetary rewards. If the market isn’t to your advantage right away, don’t panic! Check back a few weeks later. “In one month, the market might tell you a whole other story,” Bolger says.
What is the condition of your home?
Is your home move in-ready, or is it more of a fixer upper? Depending on how recently you have updated your space, it could be worth sprucing it up before you put it on the market. Doing so could lead to two things, according to Bolger—getting an offer more quickly, and adding value to your property. Either way, modernizing your home will make it more appealing to new buyers—and could land some extra money in your pocket.
Should you leave anything behind?
According to Nelson, one of the best ways to set your home apart from the others is to leave behind personal items—property that is above and beyond what the average homebuyer could afford. Think stainless steel kitchen appliances, a plasma screen TV, or even a piano if you’re planning on downsizing. It’s a win-win situation: They get more bang for their buck, and you sell your home in a jiffy. Check out these details your house reveals about you.