The first time you sell a house, you may find yourself going from confident to overwhelmed in a surprisingly short amount of time.
The sheer number of things that have to be completed—photos, improvements and repairs, appraisals, utility transfers, etc.—means that first-time home sellers often wind up wondering whether they’ve done everything right, or if they’ve forgotten some critical detail.
But just like with everything else, preparation can make all the difference. Here are some tips we’ve gotten from top real estate agents to help you with that first home sale.
First, make sure you’re completely ready to sell your home
The first step, before you call an agent, is to make sure you’re truly ready to sell your home.
Often, potential first-time home sellers may “feel” it’s time to sell—maybe they think it’s time to move to something bigger, or they’ve heard it’s a good time to sell a home—but they’re not emotionally or financially equipped to go through with it.
According to Dave Ramsey, signs that you’re ready to sell include:
- You’re emotionally ready to leave the home and make objective decisions about its value and need for improvements, and negotiate with buyers
- You won’t owe more on your home than it’s worth—in other words, you’re equity-positive
- You have the financial resources to buy another home
If this sounds like you, you’re ready to start the process. Once you’ve found a great real estate agent, you’re off to the races!
Get a comparative market analysis, or CMA, from a trusted agent
One step you won’t want to skip is the comparative market analysis, or CMA. This is a comprehensive report that your agent will run to give you a solid price recommendation for your home.
While up to this point you may have used a home value estimator to get a general idea of how much your home is worth, a CMA can help you nail down the most accurate price with confidence.
Why does this matter? Well, pricing a home correctly from the start—”correctly” meaning at market value—will not only decrease your home’s days on market, but it can actually end up resulting in a higher final sale price than if you priced it high to begin with.
That’s because pricing your home fairly can attract multiple buyers, resulting in multiple offers. And if you have buyers competing, that’s going to drive the price up.
One thing to note: cash offers will be lower, but have the obvious advantage of giving you cash in hand. If you’re looking into selling a home for cash, be sure to discuss the pros and cons with your agent first.
Focus on the home improvements that will bring you a positive ROI
Not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some that would seem to drive real increases in value, like a chef’s kitchen or an in-ground swimming pool, can actually end up costing you far more than you’d recoup upon selling.
Instead of major remodels, which are expensive, time-consuming, and have an ROI of only around 50% in general, focus on smaller projects like these:
- Basic landscaping and lawn care
- A front porch refresh
- Updating light fixtures
- Refinishing hardwood flooring
- Minor kitchen remodels, like adding an island or painting cabinetry
And don’t overlook the power of decluttering and deep cleaning. Both can give your home an entirely new look and feel, making it more spacious, light, and airy—all of which buyers love.
If you’re selling a home for the first time, it’s important to get advice from a trusted real estate agent. With guidance and some preparation, you’ll have that “Sold” sign in your yard before you know it!