The Top 7 Most Important Things for Homeowners to do Before Selling Their Home

Dated: 05/30/2019

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If you are thinking of selling your home without a real estate agent, you are in the right place.   The things you will have to do may be daunting, but it can be done, especially if you have the free time to manage it all.


Before you decide to sell your home without an agent, however, keep in mind that the process is far from easy. You'll have to invest a lot of time in doing the work a Realtor would ordinarily handle, which includes everything from showing and marketing your home to negotiating the final price.

Also understand that you'll need to take care of all the legal and financial paperwork, which can be daunting. (You might want to hire a lawyer to help with that.)  

Step 1: Preparation

Remember, you will be letting strangers into your house to decide if they want to  live there. Remove 90% of the personal items and pictures you have. They want to see themselves living there. Declutter and remove tall, large items that make the home seem small.

Move or hide jewelery, medicine and small valuable objects.

Remember that a dark or poorly lit home feels depressing. Use natural and artificial light, and even perhaps a fresh coat of paint, to brighten up the interior of your home.

Don't forget the outside of your home - the first thing most buyers will see. Trim and shape hedges, edge the lawn, refresh mulch beds. If your siding is older, consider pressure-washing it, along with your walkways and driveway. You could even paint a fresh coat on your trim and shutters. Everything matters to buyers, even something like the brass on the front door. And know that flowers, particularly near the entrance, add color and make a home appear inviting.

Step 2: Photography

Once you have done the preparation, you want to hire a photographer to make the house amazing through photos, lighting and editing.

If you want top dollar for your home, you need to showcase it and professional photography these days are the norm.

Step 3: Competitive Pricing

If you're selling your home without an agent, don't make the mistake of thinking your home is worth more than it really is.

You can also check to see what comparable homes in your neighborhood sold for. Websites such as Trulia can help you get this information, and you can also search through local property tax records. (Checking with your state’s assessor’s office or the county clerk can help you find that information.)

Another option for deciding on an asking price is to go to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s website. It offers tools that draw from home sale data pulled from mortgages that are backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

One of those tools is the FHFA's House Price Calculator. It doesn't project the actual value of your particular house. Instead, you plug in the amount you paid for it and the year you purchased it, and the calculator projects your home’s worth assuming that it appreciated at the average rate of all homes in the area.  These are all rough estimates and better than guessing.

Step 4: Market Your Property

Besides just listing your home on the MLS, you should advertise using "for sale" signs, brochures, advertising online, and building a web site to market the property. The 'For Sale By Owner' website offers home-selling packages for homeowners. The packages include items like brochures and yard signs. There are costs involved in advertising the sale of your home, just be prepared to pay things out of pocket.  

Also, have someone look over it for mistakes. It’s hard to edit your own work so find a friend to look it over. Once again, it’s the little things that matter to get the best price for your home.


Step 5: Hold an Open House

Advertise your open house like any real estate agent would, by posting it online, knocking on doors in your neighborhood to let them know and placing signs in your neighborhood.

Have people sign in when they look at your home. You have no idea who these people are and homes sold by owners are sometimes more of a target for people with bad intentions as they know the owner isn’t as savvy.  Hide all jewelry, medicine and small items.

Step 6: Know the Best Parts of your home

When writing your advertisements for websites or brochures, make sure to include basic information about the house: the price, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, lot size, location, and any specific details that make the house special to potential buyers - its age, style, building materials, yard, garden or trees are just a few such items.

Look at other listings on real estate websites, Craigslist, or other sites to get an idea of the details sellers and agents are including. For example, they might mention things you didn't think about, like oversized windows, stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops.

Step 7: Be Sure to Comply With All Laws in Your Area

Some laws apply to the sale of a home no matter where you live, such as the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act stipulates that sellers cannot discriminate against buyers for reasons including race, religion, and sex. While you can find contracts and other agreements online, they aren't specific to your unique situation, so it would be a good idea to have a real estate attorney review all documents and contracts related to your home's sale. There are laws about disclosures and situations where a buyer can just walk away from a deal anytime before closing without repercussions.

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