Getting your home ready to sell is about making smart decisions, like hiring a knowledgeable real estate agent, makinging the right repairs, and properly preparing it to be shown to buyers.
Making the best choices during these three phases of preparation can save you money up front and help you sell for a better price. We’ve got tips to help get your home ready to sell.
Get help through the selling process with our friends at Clever!
Key Takeaways 🔑
- The right real estate agent will make the process of selling your home easier and potentially make you more money.
- Spending strategically — and spending less — on repairs and cosmetic changes usually results in a better return on your investment.
- Getting your home camera ready and showing it off well makes a strong first impression and gets potential buyers excited about your home.
Phase one of getting your home ready to sell: Agents and pricing
Find a knowledgeable, local real estate agent
Real estate agents can make every step of the home selling process more smooth and, ultimately, maximize your selling price.
A knowledgeable, local agent knows the area and market trends, and may already know potential buyers.
Since you’ll be working closely with your real estate agent, it’s important to research and interview candidates to find the best fit for your property and you personally.
When searching for a realtor, you should consider:
- Talking with family and friends. Anyone close to you who has recently sold a home can be a great resource. Hopefully they loved their real estate agent and can recommend them to you. If they didn’t love their agent, listen to their advice on what to avoid.
- Checking listings in your area. Since real estate sales are often driven by local conditions, you want an agent who knows your area well. Driving around or searching virtually to see who’s already selling homes nearby can reveal potential agents.
- Using an agent matching service. Our friends at Clever can connect you with top-rated agents in your area who can sell your home fast, and offer low listing fees of just 1% or $3,000.
Interview any potential agents before you hire them. Doing this allows you to judge how well they know the area. It also gives you a chance to see how well you get along. What to ask a potential real estate agent.
Questions you might ask include:
- How many houses have you sold in this area? According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), residential realtors complete a median of 10 transactions annually. You want a realtor who completes at least a few sales every year, and who also has some recent sales, to give you confidence in their local knowledge.
- How would you market my property? Most agents will have professional photos of your home taken, list your home with a Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and provide a for sale sign for your yard. Great agents will be proficient with relevant social media like Facebook and Instagram, create 3D tours of your home, and even build a webpage for the listing.
- What’s your sale-to-list price ratio? This metric shows what percentage of the list price a given home actually sold for. You want your seller’s agent’s number to be above 100%. This means they, on average, are able to get higher than list price for their clients.
How much does a real estate agent cost?
Sellers usually pay 5–6% commission, which comes out of the proceeds of the sale and is split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent.
Agents found through a matching service can reduce the commission for the listing agent. Our friends at Clever Real Estate, for instance, can list your house for 1% or $3,000.
Some sellers don’t want to pay that commission and attempt to sell for sale by owner (FSBO). Usually, sellers don’t save money selling FSBO. Studies show that homes sold by their owners sell for less than those sold by a realtor.
Determine the list price for your home
The right listing price for your home is the one that will attract a lot of interested buyers and get you top dollar.
If the price is too high, buyers may not be interested in your home because it’s not a good value. If the price is too low, buyers may suspect something is wrong or you’re trying to provoke an over-the-top bidding war.
A just-right price gets a lot of interest from buyers and their agents because they know it’s fair, hopefully earning you a number of competitive offers.
If you’re listing with a realtor, they will determine the list price for you. They will arrive at that price by performing a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA is an analysis which considers a wide range of factors — including comparable recent sales and market conditions — to determine an unbiased estimate of your property’s market value. CMAs tend to be comprehensive and accurate.
If you’re listing your home for sale by owner (FSBO), you’ll have to do a lot of research yourself to find the right price.
Ways to research the listing price for your home include:
- Estimates from Zillow, Redfin, and similar sites. These websites use proprietary algorithms that take into account your home’s characteristics, your area, and market factors to estimate a market value. These estimates are often very different, but it can be unclear why because the information is not public.
- Checking currently for sale and recently sold listings in your area. Keeping track of sales and list prices in your area is a great way to get a sense of the market. To sharpen your estimates, attend open houses to accurately compare the other properties to your home.
- Pricing assistance through a flat fee MLS company. FSBO sellers often hire a flat fee MLS company to list their property on the Multiple Listing Service. These companies often offer pricing assistance in exchange for a higher fee.
Phase two of getting your home ready to sell: Making changes
Identify and make cost-effective repairs
Any repairs you make before you sell should add more to the value of your home than they cost you to make. Usually, these will be minor repairs.
Many people think they need to remodel a bathroom or kitchen to maximize their home’s value, but this isn’t the case. On average, bathroom remodels recoup only 57.9% of their costs. Kitchen remodels recoup only 57.4%, according to Remodeling’s 2021 Cost vs. Value report.
Every home is different, though, and a real estate agent can advise you on your situation.
Some items you should consider fixing when getting your home ready to sell:
- Torn screens. Screens are a perfect combination of easy for potential buyers to see and easy for you to fix. A torn screen repair kit costs $10–20. The price for replacing screens varies depending on the window’s size.
- Loose hinges. Everything in your home should be solid. Hinges can usually be repaired with some screws, common tools, and carpenter’s glue.
- Floors. Refinishing hardwood floors that show a lot of wear and having carpets professionally cleaned can make a big impact on buyers. It will cost $3–8 per square foot to refinish your hardwood floors and $.25 per square foot to clean the carpet.
- Leaky faucets and running toilets. Buyers don’t want to hear a sink dripping or a toilet running. A leaky faucet will cost $65–150 to repair. Repairing a running toilet will cost $130–310.
- Pet damaged walls and door frames. Pets can make a house a home, but they can also damage one. Drywall joint compound can be purchased for around $10 and can patch small teeth or claw marks.
- HVAC issues. Problematic HVAC systems can be red flags to buyers. An average HVAC repair costs $150–450.
Make cost-effective cosmetic changes
Small, inexpensive changes can go a long way to improving your home’s aesthetic appeal.
Some changes that might be worth doing:
- Painting walls in neutral colors. Distinct colors can be great design elements. But buyers want to imagine themselves in the home, and neutral colors will help them do that. One gallon of white paint from Benjamin Moore costs $49. Professional painters will cost $2–6 per square foot.
- Painting kitchen cabinets. Kitchens get a lot of attention from interested buyers. Repainting outdated cabinets can make the kitchen feel updated without breaking the bank. Professional painters will cost $3–10 per square foot.
- Changing kitchen hardware. Replacing kitchen faucets and cabinet hardware can be a relatively low cost way to give your home a big aesthetic upgrade. Prices vary widely depending on what hardware you want and how much you need. New handles range from $1–20 a piece. A new faucet ranges from $250–2,000, and installation can cost $400–950.
Phase three of getting your home ready to sell: Proper presentation
You’ll want to turn your house into a home that anyone can see themselves in. It can be a difficult process, but the impact will be worth it.
Declutter your home
Decluttering makes your home appear more spacious.
Remove clothes from stuffed closets and furniture from cramped rooms. You may have to rent a storage space to do this.
How much a storage unit costs depends where you are, how much space you need, and whether you need climate control. In general, the prices range from $60–225 a month.
If you don’t want to do this process yourself, you can hire an organizer who can take care of it for $35–85 an hour, according to HomeAdvisor.
Depersonalize your home
Depersonalizing includes removing family photos and political or religious items. These make the house less “yours,” which means it can be theirs!
If you’re not happy with how your home looks once these items are removed, consider hiring a staging service.
Staging services aren’t cheap. You’ll have to pay a consultation fee, labor fees for rearranging, service fees, staging fees per room, and rentals fees for any furniture. An initial consultation can cost $300–600, and it will cost $500–600 per month per staged room.
Some real estate agents include staging services or have existing relationships with staging professionals. That may lessen the cost.
Still, staging your home can be worth the price. According to NAR, every $100 you spend on staging adds $400 of value to your home.
Deep clean your home
You want your house to look its best. Having your home professionally cleaned inside and out will help buyers imagine an ideal life there.
Hiring someone to power wash the outside of your home should cost around $.40 per square foot. If you want to do it yourself, renting a power washer for a day costs $40–100. Hiring a service to deep clean the inside of your home will cost $200–400.
Have professional photos taken
Great photos of your house are key. Most buyers will see your home online first. In fact, NARfound about 1 in 20 home buyers in 2020 made their purchase without seeing the home in person.
Once you have identified and done your repairs, made your house spotless, and staged it, your home will be ready to be documented. Professional photos can cost $100–300. Your real estate agent will likely arrange this for you and pay for it.
You can look into developing a 3D virtual tour. This gives online buyers another more detailed view of your home. It’ll cost around $300, plus $10 per square foot.
For help with photos and all other parts of the sales process, our partners at Clever Real Estate can connect you with top local agents who will sell your home for just 1% or $3,000, saving you thousands.
Should you make repairs to your home before selling?
Selling a house as is has pros and cons. Making small, cost-effective fixes like mending screens is a great way to improve your home in the eyes of buyers without breaking the bank. Expensive renovations like bathroom or kitchen remodels, however, rarely make sense.
How can a realtor help me prepare my home to sell?
A knowledgeable realtor in your area can help you set the right price, decide which changes to make to your home, and market it to the right buyers. Learn more about how to choose a realtor with this guide.
The 8 Most Important Repairs to Make Before Selling Your Home: Find out more about the best fixes to make to improve your home’s value.
How to Choose a Realtor: The Complete Guide: Check out this comprehensive guide to finding the best realtor for you and your home.
Selling a Home As Is: Pros, Cons, and Options for Selling: If you can’t or don’t want to make any changes to your home to get it market-ready, we have the info you need to get the best price.