So you’re ready to sell your house but don’t know where to start? Check out the article below to learn more.

1.  Find the Right Agent

It is essential that you find the right agent, one who understands the current market at your price point, has a good reputation within the neighborhood, and has sold the property type you are looking for. Make sure to ask your agent the difficult questions. This often reflects your agent’s communication and negotiation skills which can mean the difference between $10,000, $20,000, or even $100,000 in savings for you.

2. Set the Optimal Price

Use recent and comparable properties to understand the price range and determine a listing strategy. Your agent should provide a CMA to explain how other similar active listings are performing. As part of that discussion, make sure you understand the way your target buyer shops and how they are likely to negotiate. Be careful not to list at “aspirational price”. While you definitely don’t want to price too low, you also do not want to price too high. A sound pricing strategy will help maximize your proceeds and minimize days on market. Keep in mind that buyer traffic will be higher if you price just below fair market value. Real estate is a function of supply and demand so it’s changing all the time. Keep up with the trends and know your market before you list!

3. Prepare your Home and Consider Staging

When preparing your home, clean it thoroughly and repair or replace fixtures, appliances, and obvious defects. Your agent should provide a handyman or contractor to help with repairs. It is highly recommended that you hire a professional cleaning service. They will get the not so obvious spots such as window sills/sashes and inside light fixtures which will help to make the listing photos “pop” and will please the more detail oriented buyers.

Keep in mind that staged homes sell for 1-5% higher and can reduce days on market by up to 50%. Staging consultations are often offered as a free courtesy. Remember that there are virtual staging and virtual renovation options so you aren’t limited to physical staging as your only option. Importantly, you may want to hire landscapers to clean up your curb appeal which can make a big difference when it comes to first impressions.

4. Launch the Marketing Plan

Before beginning any marketing for a listing, your real estate agent should lay out a detailed plan for showcasing your home. Make sure to share the key features with the agent that made you fall in love with the property in the first place such as renovations, area amenities, or proximity to parks, public transportation, and shops/restaurants.

You will then work with your agent to finalize the listing remarks. This is a short summary of the selling features of the property that appears on the MLS and all publicly available syndication portals. Remember that MLS limits remarks to 1,000 characters so they should be eloquent but succinct.

Professional photographs and video of your listing are crucial and should be provided by your agent. A video walkthrough can increase online views of the property (by up to 70%). You should show some but not all of the photos in your media, leaving buyers interested but wanting more. Drone media is another option to showcase the location and any outdoor features of a property.

Digital, print, and social media marketing should commence before the property hits the market. Your property should appear on social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube along with the most popular syndication sites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and Redfin. Luxury properties (commonly considered homes of $1M+) should also be featured on luxury syndication portals which can include sites like Barron’s, Mansion Global, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. These luxury marketing tools attract high net worth buyers from all over the world. When it comes to print media, direct mail (postcards and open house invitations) along with magazine and newspaper ads are still very effective and a must.

5. Showcasing Your Property at Open Houses and Private Showings

This is your opportunity to gather all interested buyers. Keep in mind that the majority of your buyer activity takes place in the first two weeks on-market. There is a direct correlation between listing price and buyer interest. A well priced property with effective marketing increases buyer traffic, creating a sense of urgency for buyers, sometimes leading to a competitive offer situation and/or fewer contingencies. Keep in mind that high-end luxury and ultra luxury listings use a different price strategy.

6. Offer Negotiation and Acceptance

Remember that every date, dollar amount, and contingency is negotiable. Although it sounds counterintuitive, sometimes the highest priced offer is not the best offer. Your agent will often make a list of pros and cons for every offer, providing you with a side-by-side comparison of all offers received. Once you have accepted an offer, your agent will provide a summary of important dates and deliverables for you to successfully close the deal on time and with as little headache as possible. Don’t forget that an offer is not binding until the buyer’s offer deposit is in the listing agent’s escrow account which can take up to 24 hours.

7. Home Inspection

Buyers will most likely bring a licensed home inspector to the property before signing the Purchase and Sale Agreement. The home inspection is not designed as a negotiation tool but is meant to address any unforeseen safety or structural issues not disclosed to the buyer. The inspection takes place 7-10 days after accepted offer. The inspector will check the condition of HVAC, electrical, plumbing, structural elements, and look for signs of pests/rodents, mold, dangerous gas, water damage or other potentially hazardous concerns. Don’t be worried if there are notable items on the inspection report. Flagged items are very common, even for new construction. To prepare your home for the inspection, make sure utility areas, the electrical panel, heating, cooling, and plumbing systems are all accessible and working properly. Radon tests can sometimes be done as well, and take around 48 hours to be completed, so the inspector may need to leave a small set of canisters in the basement for a few days.

8. Purchase and Sale Agreement (P&S) – Negotiation and Signing

This happens around 1-5 days after you have an accepted offer and the home inspection is complete. When signing the P&S, a deposit of roughly 5% of the purchase price is to be paid by the buyer. When the deposit is received and transferred to escrow, both parties sign and the fully executed copy is returned to all parties. Your attorney will be assisting throughout this process by drafting the P&S on your behalf, negotiating with the buyer’s attorney for mutual agreement on document and home inspection language, and resolving any issues with title, plot plan, permitting, or condominium documents.

9. Appraisal 

Typically, the buyer’s lender will require a property appraisal if the property will be financed with a mortgage. This is a system put in place by the bank to make sure the property was sold for a fair market value. If a home sells way over list price and the bank appraises the property for less than sale price there are three options for you as a seller:

1. Have your agent provide comps and analysis to formally challenge the appraisal

2. Buyer comes up with more money out of pocket to cover the shortfall

3. Seller and buyer come to agreement on a lower sale price

10. Buyer Provides Documentation to Lender

Unless the buyers are purchasing with cash, there is a financing contingency in most offers that expires about 10-14 days before closing. If the buyer does not receive their mortgage commitment on or before this date, they are not obligated to purchase your home.

11. Prepare for Closing 

Before the final walkthrough, the property must be in “broom swept” condition. At least a week before your scheduled closing date, you must have a Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Certificate, Final Water/ Sewer Reading, and Notarized 6D Certificate.

12. Closing

Congrats, you’ve made it to the final step in selling your property! Make sure to transfer utilities, patch any holes in walls, leave all keys, manuals, and garage food openers. At closing, with a notary present, the buyers will sign the Deed, Loan Payoff, Bill of Sale and Closing Disclosure with their attorney. You, as the seller, do not need to be at the closing. On closing day, your attorney will record your sale at the local registry of deeds and facilitate the secure transfer of proceeds. After this, the property is officially sold!