Tips for First-Time Home Sellers

Hank Bailey
Hank Bailey
Published on May 10, 2019

Even though we’re in that midst of a seller’s market, make no mistake about it, today’s real estate market is very competitive. As a first-time home seller chances are, you’ll find the whole process riddled with a lot of questions. It’s important that you prepare yourself to avoid any and all potential pitfalls. If you are not up to date with the local real estate market, now might be a good time to seek the expert advice of a Realtor. By collaborating with an experienced agent, this will equip you with knowledge regarding the do’s and don’ts of selling a home for the first time.

Here are a few important tips to help you get through process the successfully.

Prepare your Home for the Market

Today’s buyers know what they want and have the ability to get the house they’re looking for because they have plenty of options to choose from so make sure your home stands out among the competition! For this reason, you may be forced spend a little more time and money getting your home ready to put on the market. If you can afford it, make some low-cost improvements that can really increase your homes aesthetic appeal. Do this before listing it for sale and you should see positive results.

First however, seek out an experienced “eye” towards what needs to be done before you spend the first dollar on any improvements to get your home ready to sell! That’s one thing that I do at the first listing appointment.  As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative, I show a lot of houses to home buyers. I see and hear their likes and dislikes. Things that turn them off and things that excite them about a home!  On the selling side however, I like to walk through the house and provide my potential client with a list of everything from small repair needs they should consider doing prior to listing their home to my “wish list” if the budget is friendly to take the house over the top and max out top dollar!

One piece of advice I always give to a potential first time seller is to look at their home with the eye of a buyer. Anything you see that stands out and would distract from you, change it!

Some common things that pop up frequently that could spruce up a home and make it feel more like new include replacing outdated hardware on kitchen cabinets, painting those baseboards with a fresh coat of paint, and replacing those torn blinds! If you’ve got leaky faucets, call a plumber to fix them! Repair any wood rot as well as make any necessary masonry repairs. Nothing says “move in ready” like a fresh coat of paint on both the interior and exterior of your home and make sure you clean the floors thoroughly including the grout (on tile floors)! When it doubt, it’s always best to replace older carpeting, and also replace outdated light fixtures.

To give your home a great curb appeal, don’t forget to trim the hedges, mow the lawn (and keep it mowed all season), weed the beds and natural areas, and make necessary repairs to that fence and decking!

Remember that the first impression matters most to home buyers! A home that is obviously well maintained will sell over a newer home many times that has been lived in “hard.”

Enlist the Help of an Experienced Real-Estate Agent

As a first-time home seller, I’d encourage you to gain some understanding of the importance of having a professional real estate agent to represent you during the sale of your home. There are likely hundreds of agents out there in your market and therefore it’s crucial that you make sure you choose one with considerable experience in the home-selling process.

While you can easily find an agent based on referrals from your friends and family, it’s important to widen your search scope to ensure that you end up with an expert in the field. Consider looking at online reviews of agents. I’d start with Zillow and then look to Google. On Zillow, do they have the Best of Zillow badge on their profile? If they do, that’s a dead giveaway that this is someone who believes in strong customer service.

After finding the right agent for you and your needs, you will be required to sign an agreement with the agent and pay a commission. And because the contract binds you to the agent for a period of three to six months, it’s important that you have only the best agent working for you!

Finally, do a Google search of your neighborhood.  See which agents are on top of the search rankings.  It’s a pretty safe bet that if you find individual agents, who beat out Zillow and other national brokerage websites, to be at the top of the search results for homes for sale in your neighborhood, then they probably know their stuff!

The Real-estate Agent you choose and the Brokerage they represent.

While conventional wisdom usually says that a good agent will work with you to deliver great results no matter what brokerage they are involved with, I must disagree with conventional wisdom with downplaying the benefits of a large national brokerage company for the following reasons.

RE/MAX agents have more years in the business on the average and according to statistics, RE/MAX agents outsell more than any other agent with any other brokerage company in the real estate industry today. So to help you with your due diligence, as a shortcut to your agent search, all this means that if you find a RE/MAX agent you as the first time seller are going to be taken care of throughout the process of selling your home!

That’s right, the average RE/MAX agent sold an average of 16.3 homes last year as compared to the average agent at Coldwell Banker (8.0), Berkshire Hathaway (7.9), and Keller Williams (6.5) just to name a few.  So while yes, any good agent can be a trusted resource and do you a good job in selling your house, a RE/MAX agent inherently will be someone who you can count on who’s not just experienced, but knows how to sell. All data taken from the report entitled, RE/MAX vs The Industry 2019.

Understand the Real-estate Market in your Area

Before listing your home for sale, take the time to gain some understanding regarding current trends in your local real-estate market. Typically, real-estate markets boom with sales during specific months or peak seasons. For example, in Georgia, we see a very active spring season annually from March-May and then summer peak season from June-July. Your agent should be able to provide this information ensuring that you sell your home timely and at an optimal price.

Correct Pricing is Important

Price is an important consideration for potential buyers. If you have made some major improvements but your home still isn’t selling, then you need to consider lowering the price. To help you come up with the correct price for your home, perform a comparative market analysis by viewing the prices of homes similar to yours that are on sale and also check the past home sales. This way, you will be able to determine the most accurate price for your home.

Act Fast when you Get an Offer

Do not wait until you get the ultimate offer in order to close. As soon as you get an acceptable deal, go ahead and sign on the dotted line without wasting time. In other words, don’t lose a good selling opportunity in the hope that something grander will come along. I had a listing recently where the buyer had made my seller an offer and the buyer’s agent conveyed to me that as they were waiting on us, they were also out there making offers on other homes! Time really was of the essence as they say in real estate on this one because if we had delayed, they may have gotten a contract on another house!

Considering the physical and emotional stress that comes with home selling, it’s crucial to be prepared to ensure a successful sale and smooth transition to the next phase of your life!

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