Most home sellers fantasize about a stress-free sale in which they simply list their home, find a qualified buyer quickly, collect the cash, and hand over the keys. If only it were that easy! In reality, selling a home involves many moving parts, some of which you can control and others which are beyond your control.

For example, geography may influence how long your home is on the market or how much you can charge. Where there is a lot of competition and little inventory, you’ll probably sell faster and for a higher price. In areas where home sales have slowed, homeowners will likely have to work harder to find the right buyer.

Given the housing market’s unprecedented growth since the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in pricing and bidding wars, as well as extremely low levels of inventory, over the last two years. However, due to rising interest rates (including for mortgages) and recession fears, the market is expected to settle down a bit — and is already cooling significantly in some areas.

As a seller, you’ll want to be prepared and control the factors that could have a significant impact on your bottom line. Hiring a great real estate agent and optimizing your home’s online appeal can result in a smoother closing — and more money in your bank.

  • Here are 12 steps to selling your home.
  • Hire an agent who is well-versed in the market.
  • Establish a timetable for selling your home.
  • Purchase a pre-sale home inspection.
  • Spend no money on unnecessary upgrades.
  • Take professional photographs.
  • Put your house up for sale.
  • Set a reasonable price.
  • Examine and negotiate offers.
  • Estimate the seller’s closing costs.
  • Consider the tax implications.
  • Gather all necessary paperwork for the closing.
  • Consider retaining the services of a real estate attorney.
  • Employ a market-savvy agent.

The internet makes it simple to research real estate agents’ sales history and professional designations, allowing you to select the best person for the job. Investigate agents’ online profiles to learn how long they’ve been in the industry, how many sales they’ve made, and what designations they may have received. Examine how and where they market their listings, as well as whether or not they use professional photos.

“Any designation they’ve earned is a huge plus,” says Jorge Guerra, Global Liaison for the National Association of Realtors.

Some homeowners may be tempted to avoid paying a commission by selling their home without the assistance of a real estate agent. This is referred to as “for sale by owner,” or FSBO. Sellers can save thousands of dollars on those fees, which are typically 5% or 6% of the total sale price.

An experienced agent, on the other hand, works hard to earn their commission. For example, they can market your home to the widest possible audience and negotiate on your behalf to obtain the best possible offers. If you go it alone, you will be responsible for preparing your home for sale, marketing it, reviewing buyer offers, and handling all negotiations and closing details.

Keep this in mind when working with an agent and negotiating a commission: Real estate fees have reached an all-time low. As a result, you may be able to get a break at the closing table.

Establish a timetable for selling your home

Selling a home is a significant undertaking that can take two to four months from start to finish — or much longer, depending on local market conditions and available inventory.

As soon as you decide to sell your home, start looking for real estate agents with the appropriate experience for your situation.

Consider getting a pre-sale home inspection (more on that below!) at least two or three months before you plan to list to identify any problem areas, particularly structural or mechanical issues that may need to be addressed to facilitate a sale. Allow enough time to schedule any required repairs.

Start working on staging and deep cleaning about a month before listing your home in preparation for taking photos.

Before listing your home, here’s a checklist of things to do:

  • Conduct research and interviews with real estate agents.
  • Declutter by storing excess items in a storage unit.
  • Get a home inspection to identify any problems.
  • Schedule any necessary repairs.
  • Deep cleaning
  • The house should be staged.
  • Take professional photographs.