When you've decided to move out of the house you own, you likely want to unload the home as quickly as possible. Whether you're eager to get to a job in another state, have found a new dream home, or are simply tired of the mortgage payments, you don't want to spend months struggling to sell a home you no longer want to hang onto.
The good news is that the median home spends around 65 days on the market from the time it's listed until the closing date, according to Realtor.com. The bad news is that this is a median -- so while some homes have an offer within days, others take months or years to sell. You'll want to make sure your home is one of the ones that sells quickly so you aren't encumbered by continued ownership when you're ready to move on. These four tips help you make that happen.
1. Get a good real estate agent
A knowledgeable real estate agent knows the market where you live. The agent understands how to reach potential buyers through open houses, strategic ads, and networking with other agents. Good real estate agents also work with great photographers to take pictures and will be able to offer you key advice on how to make your home sell faster.
While you can list your house on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) used by real estate agents on your own using a flat-fee service instead of paying a seller's agent, you could end up making the sales process take longer. You could also potentially wind up with a lower selling price than you'd obtain by having a professional assisting with the sale.
To find a good real estate agent, check listings in your area. Find out which realtor seems to have a lot of listings in your home's price range, and check to see if those listings seem to take a long time to sell. Consider going to open houses hosted by realtors you may work with. Determine if the realtors know a lot about the house, whether or not they interact with buyers in a professional way, and see if the house look like it's been staged to appeal. You'll also need to interview the realtor about how they plan to market your house so you can find out if you like their ideas and if they'd be a good fit.
2. Price your home right
No matter how nice your house is or how good your realtor is, a home that is priced too high is not going to sell quickly. Buyers generally know how to do their research into home sales, and, if they don't, their agent should help them check comparable sales in the area to find out what prices are reasonable. Buyers also have to obtain mortgages in most cases. This means that if a purchaser falls in love with your home and is willing to pay above market for it, the bank may not allow the transaction to go through if the house doesn't appraise for enough.
While you may believe you can always drop your price later if you start with a high number, you'll miss the new listing buzz if the home isn't priced properly to begin with. Plus, if your home sits on the market for a long time because it's priced too high, this could make buyers wary because they'll wonder what's wrong with the home and why no one has snapped it up yet.
A good realtor will help you determine an appropriate price. You could also hire an appraiser to give you an idea of what your home should sell for, or can check out other listings and sales in your area to get an idea of what the market is like and how your house compares.
3. Invest in curb appeal
You have just one chance to make a good impression on a potential buyer who sees your house for the first time. If a buyer pulls up to your home and sees an unmowed lawn, messy gardens, peeling paint, or other problems, they're likely to either walk away or to see the house as a fixer-upper for which they should make a low-ball offer.
If your house isn't inviting from the outside, some buyers may opt not to even step indoors to see all it has to offer. An unkept or unattractive front yard also makes for bad listing pictures, so buyers may not click through or ask their realtor to take them to see the home.
You can make quick fixes with strategically placed plants, attractive outdoor lighting, and touch-ups to paint to dramatically improve the first impression your house makes. If buyers have a good feeling before they walk into your home, they're more likely to look at your house as having potential since they'd be proud to have friends pull up to it.
4. Make the simple fixes that make a big difference
If your home is dated, investing a lot in remodeling may not make a lot of sense as buyers may prefer to make upgrades suited to their own taste. However, it can be hard for buyers to visualize themselves in a home if it's got wild decorating or if it's designed too much to your personal aesthetic.
There are often simple, affordable fixes to help buyers see the potential and picture themselves living in your home. Things like changing the paint color could make a huge difference in how fast you get an offer and how much you receive for your home. Decluttering and removing personal family items also makes it easier for buyers to see your home's features and to imagine the lives their family would live in the house. Making minor repairs -- like fixing that leaky faucet -- ensures buyers don't get the impression your home has a lot of deferred maintenance they'll need to handle.
Your realtor can advise you on what fixes will help you sell your home more quickly. Listen to their expertise if you don't want to lose out on a sale just because your home isn't painted properly or because your kids' toys are preventing a potential buyer from seeing that beautiful fireplace that could be the feature that convinces them to make an offer.