How to sell your house:
Simple steps from start to finish
Wondering how to sell your house? The home selling process is filled with many steps and may appear complicated, especially to first-time sellers. From the preparation to the closing table, there are many ways to break down the process and set yourself up for a successful sale.
Here are some insights you can use as you prepare to sell your house, navigate the listing process and walk away with a sale price and terms you’re happy with.
Steps in selling a house
- Decide if you’re ready to sell
- Hire the right realtor
- Make necessary renovations and stage the home
- Price the home fairly and strategically
- Have a game plan for showings
- List the house
- Accept an offer that’s right for you
- Coordinate the mortgage, title and moving processes
- Approve and close the sale
- Celebrate your success
First steps to selling a house
1. Make the decision to move, and move!
One of the top home seller tips is to trust your gut. Selling your house is a major commitment, so it’s important not to waffle once you’ve decided to list your home for sale.
With that being said, you’ll want to make sure you’re seriously ready to sell before starting the process. To avoid seller’s remorse, remember that a home sale is a forever decision and focus on the reasons that you do, or don’t, want to sell.
2. Hire a realtor
As your Realtors, we will make recommendations about everything from staging and pricing to negotiating the sale of your home.
We’ll provide a robust marketing plan for your property, and we’ll include neighborhood details, local information, professional property photographs and so much more.
When you partner with us, you’ll get honest and expert advice throughout the process of selling your home.
3. Decide your order
Do you want to sell first, then buy? Or would you rather buy and sell simultaneously? Both options have unique perks and potential challenges. Make sure you discuss these options in advance so that you’re prepared to wait patiently until the time is right or sign confidently on a house that’s available today.
4. Get a Truth-in-Sale of Housing evaluation
Depending on where your home is located, your city may require to get a Truth-in-Sale of Housing (TISH) evaluation. A TISH evaluation is different from the inspection that most buyers will order after they have put in an offer on your home.
In a TISH evaluation, the evaluator is looking for life or health risks that must be resolved or repaired before the home can be sold. Your Realtor will advise you if you live in a city that requires you to get a TISH evaluation.
5. Disclose, disclose, disclose
If anything is found in a pre-sale inspection, or you already know about specific home defects, you must include that information in a disclosure.
By disclosing information, such as water leakage in the basement or roof defects, you could put yourself in a good position with buyers. Homebuyers who want to move quickly will understand that you’ve been straightforward about the house’s strengths and flaws, and may have even more incentive to purchase your home.
Keep in mind, though, it’s not just about being in the good graces of your buyers. You are also legally obligated to disclose any important information and issues to the potential buyer.
6. Get to work on renovations and fast fixes
In some cases, all your house may need is a fresh coat of paint, a little decluttering or a new garage door in order to be listing-ready. Make sure to discuss potential renovations or fast fixes with your Realtor. They’ll help you determine if any upgrades make sense for your sale and how to delegate those responsibilities.
Preparing the home for sale
7. Staging and decluttering your home
Now it’s time to put the finishing touches on the house preparation and begin to stage the home for sale, which is when you get your rooms/spaces “HGTV-ready.”
When staging, you might consider hiring outside help from a professional stager, who will have extra tips and décor options you can rent while your home is on the market. Whether you stage it yourself or hire a pro, be sure to stage rooms to match how a buyer would use them.
Now is also the time to put bulky or unnecessary items into short-term storage. If you already have items in storage, consider donating or tossing items that you haven’t used in years or that won’t fit your next abode.
Minimizing your belongings can be a challenge, especially if you’ve lived in your home a long time. Here are some downsizing tips to help you along the way.
8. Price your home to sell fairly and quickly
Consult with your Realtor about comparable sold home prices in the area so you price your home competitively, but not too low.
Your agent will be a critical component in this step. As a professional Realtor, they understand local market conditions and can provide other insights you can use as you agree upon a list price.
9. Make a plan to manage showings
You’ll need to be out of the house for all showings and open houses, so you should brainstorm how you will handle kids, pets, dinner time, homework and other factors as you sell your home.
Selling your home is a big deal, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your support system. This is when you can start calling in favors from grandparents, friends and other local family members.
You can also make the most of this time out of the home by scheduling some fun activities out of the house. Take your kiddos on a day trip to the water park, zoo, science museum or other places with full-day admission, to keep everyone occupied — and in good spirits — for long days away from home.
10. Determine a showing schedule
This is important to discuss with your agent up front. Your home may begin to get showing requests immediately after listing, so be sure to talk with your agent in advance about any days or specific times that the house will be unavailable. You might even want to determine a cut-off point for showings at night, so you don’t get worn out with too many late nights out of your regular routine.
However, evening open houses on weekdays are growing more popular, and weekend open houses are as popular as ever. Ask your agent if they can hold an open house within the first few days after the home is posted. This will help group showings together and minimize the number of times you need to leave your home for looky-loos who have no intention of making an offer.
11. List the house!
Now’s the time that things really start to get serious. Your agent will put the home for sale on the MLS and hang the yard sign, so your home’s availability is prominent online and in-person to homebuyers near and far. Your Realtor will also market your home to buyers and local agents who represent buyers from all over.
Finalizing the home sale
12. Wait for the right offer
If you prefer to take offers as they come in naturally, continue hosting open houses where anyone can stop by, and individual showings for specific buyers. As each offer comes in, you’ll want to carefully consider them with your agent. Your Realtor will help you examine everything from price, to specific terms, like move-out date and closing costs.
If you aren’t completely happy with the offers you’ve received, you can negotiate the offer by writing a counter-offer. A counter-offer to one or multiple interested buyers can put you in a negotiating position to hopefully land the price and sale terms you desire.
13. Accept an offer
Once you’ve received an offer that meets your goals, or you’ve negotiated a fair deal, you’ll accept the offer and purchase agreement from the buyer.
14. Sort out mortgage and title details
Your agent will help coordinate and explain the closing details, including:
- Monitoring the buyer’s mortgage application and the title process.
- Selecting a closing date based on when the buyer's loan will be approved and funded.
- The home inspection and appraisal process.
- Asking for a receipt for the buyer's earnest money deposit.
15. Start moving
Of course, you aren’t just sitting around as your agent manages the closing details — you are in the process of moving!
Most contracts will stipulate that a buyer must be able to move in to the home directly after the closing. So, be sure to collect all your belongings and don't leave anything behind that wasn’t previously agreed to.
16. Attend your closing
Once the important closing process items have been completed — loan approval, title check, inspection and appraisal — it’s time to move toward the closing table.
During this process, you’ll sign over the title of the home to the new buyer — and you’ll hand over the keys and garage door opener to them, too.
You’ll also have to pay your agent commission on the final home sale price, which is included in your closing costs. Depending on the deal you negotiated with the buyer, you may also have agreed to pay a percentage of their closing costs or another incentive, like a home warranty policy.
And of course, after the deal has closed, the profits from the home sale will be transferred to you.
17. Celebrate what comes next!