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Real Property: General Tips For Selling


There is no best time to sell a home. It's close to impossible to time a real estate market. A down market could get worse before it gets better. A rising market may be slow to rise. It is preferable to sell a home when you need to.

Make the house as attractive as you can before selling.

Set the price as an informed consumer rather than emotionally.

Decide whether it better for you to sell a house on your own or with professional help. The key is what works best for you - not what's good for your friends or neighbors.

There are tips to consider if you need to sell a home in a hurry.


Stage the interior of the house to make it look nice to as many potential buyers as possible.  It's easier to see yourself living in a home that is clean and organized. The key is to make the home a place where prospective buyers can imagine living with their own things.

For example:

  • Remove clutter and personal photographs (unless they show you with celebrities which may add a bit of cache).
  • Put on a fresh coat of paint, preferably in a neutral, pleasing shade.
  • If the carpet is worn, a new carpet will make the place look better. It doesn't have to be expensive.
  • Watch for smells. Get rid of pet odors. Don't just cover them with perfume. If you can't get rid of the smells, consider hiring a building restoration company.
  • Organize closets.
  • Get rid of any mold and/or mildew.
  • Add homey smells. For instance, the smell of boiling cloves brings the warmth of holidays to mind.

You can hire a professional home stager. Your broker can likely recommend one or you can contact International Association of Home Staging Professionals: offsite link, Tel.: 800.392.7161.

Consider hiring a professional photographer to shoot your residence once it is staged. A high quality photo will show well online - which is where most buyers start their search for a new home.


Think of "curb appeal" - what the home looks like to a buyer approaching it from a distance and close up. Consider the following:

  • Add flowers and a few shrubs to the empty spots in front of the house.
  • Make the front door look nice. Consider adding a coat of paint and an upgrade of the hardware.
  • Power wash the house and paved areas.
  • Add a fresh coat of paint to the entire exterior if necessary.
  • Fix broken windows etc.


If you create a website for your home, you can place the URL in front of your house. Passersby can look it up right away on their mobile phones.

You can also post the site on your social networking pages, for example, Facebook.


Consider having your home inspected by a home inspector. The report gives you an idea of necessary repairs and their cost. If you know these expenses up front, you can consider them in the price rather than be stuck negotiating them after a contract is signed when there is pressure to close with that particular buyer. Your broker can recommend an inspector or you can find one at offsite link or offsite link.


Decide whether to use a broker or whether you are willing to go through the work involved in selling your home yourself.  If you use a broker, he or she will do all the work of the actual sale - from helping to set the offering price, to marketing the property, to negotiating the sale price and doing the paperwork.

For more information, see: Selling A Home Yourself, Selling A Home Through A Broker


The offering price should be in line with what similar properties in your area have sold for recently.

When setting the offering price, keep in mind:

  • The price that houses sold at a few years ago or even six months ago in your neighborhood are not relevant.
  • Take into account any deficiency in your home compared to comparable homes that you aren't going to fix prior to sale.
  • Whether you are in a buyer's or a seller's market. (In a seller's market, there is heavy demand for homes like yours in your area - sometimes even including people bidding above asking prices. In a buyer's market, the demand is much less).
  • It helps when setting a price to think about the lowest price you are willing to accept.  Thinking about it now helps keep emotions out of the negotiating process.

As a general matter, if only a small percentage of the people looking for houses look at your house, the price is probably too high. If you get people to come to your house, but no offers, look at whether there is something about  the house that you can easily change to make it more attractive.

Also check traffic on any websites on which you list the house. If traffic drops drastically from the beginning, your price may be too high.

If you do a price reduction, make it large enough to attract the attention of real estate agents who normally primarily focus on new listings.

NOTE: Ask your broker to check with people who saw the house but did not bid. Ask: Why? The answers will help you decide whether there are changes you should make.

For more about prices, see: Selling In A Seller's Market,  Selling In A Buyer's Market


  • Make your home look its best. (See above).
  • Set a price well below the offering price of comparable homes in your neighborhood. You may have to set a price 10% or 15% below the price that comparable homes in your neighborhood sold for recently.
  • Be creative in your marketing. For instance:
    • Use key words that people online may search on, such as "pool" or "granite counters." The more you use these words, the more likely your listing is to pop up when people search on them.
    • In addition to traditional avenues of letting people know your house is for sale, mention that your home is for sale on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • Let buyers know that you can close quickly (unlike sales involving banks as the seller).
  • Be creative when it comes to finances. For example:
    • Offer to pay all or part of the fees that a buyer normally pays in your area.
    • Offer to pay association dues for a period of time, such as 6 months or a year.
    • Offer to buy a new appliance or appliances.

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