When it’s time to sell a house, it’s important the homeowner find someone who can explain the process and work with, comfortably, from start to finish. A Realtor who specializes in selling homes for first time sellers might be a good choice: as they will be able to proactively understand what you, the seller, might like to know even in advance of the questions being asked. Not to say a Realtor that also works with “experienced” sellers won’t be able to do the same.

If you are a first time home seller, let the Realtors you are interviewing know that you are, so that they can have the opportunity to be proactive and give you a heads up on some of the things you might want to know.

And, for some examples, keep reading below as it’s a good place to start:

Pricing

Too high a price and your house will likely sit on the market without selling – which makes your “listing” stale to potential buyers and Realtors representing other buyers in your neighborhood. Too low and it might sell quickly, but for less than it’s worth so establishing the right price requires knowledge and experience which is something that a Realtor can bring to the table.

So what is the right price? Is the price for which similar homes in the neighborhood have been sold? A good realtor can recommend a price based on recent sales in the area, as well as the condition and size of the house. Other factors such as supply and demand can also help dictate the right price. For example, if there is little supply but an increase in demand, your Realtor should know this based on the number of listings, in your price range, that end up with competitive offers etc. Your pricing strategy is something that is based on a number of different factors: don’t be afraid to ask your Realtor questions so that you understand why they are recommending the price that they are for the sale of your house.

Home Staging

Does your house need some simple repairs? Or some de-cluttering before it goes to market? Your Realtor should be able to advise you on the best course of action prior to the first showing of your house. Some Realtor’s may also be trained home stagers, or know of some that they can recommend in order to get the job done. It’s worth the investment and your Realtor, and/or home stager, can advise you of the repairs that will pay off.

Sometimes it’s simple to get your house ready for sale. The best way is to take an unbiased look at your house, inside and out and consider what you might look for, or what might be appealing to you, in a home search. Even the littlest things could make a difference. For example: trimming the bushes, mowing the lawn, planting a flower bed or simply hosing down the driveway. Learn how to clean indoor shutters, your windows and more as these are things that show that the house is well kept and the less distraction a potential home buyer has, the better. It allows them to look at the core of the house to determine if they think it is right for them or not.

Here are some other things you might want to consider doing yourself, or even hiring someone to do. Your Realtor should be able to give you some names in case you want to hire someone to help with some of these repairs:

  • Paint the trim
  • Paint the interior walls
  • New carpet or flooring in common rooms
  • De- clutter. Clear away as much clutter as possible and even rent a storage bin for a short period of time if you need to.

Having the house as close to move-in ready as possible for a potential buyer is important. The easier it is for a buyer to picture themselves and their family in the house, the more likely they will be to buy it.

Marketing

Now here’s and interesting topic! How will the Realtor you decide to work with promote the sale of the house? What does your house need in order for the right types of buyers to be attracted?

Depending on market conditions (supply, demand, local economy etc.) and the type of house you are trying to sell, different marketing strategies may be used. For example: it’s pretty standard nowadays to have an online presence, feature sheets and open houses. But marketing a house goes way beyond that too. It really is understanding your target buyer, what they might like and the best ways to communicate the sale of your home to them. For example: How about videos showing off the house; maybe additional photo galleries showing off that beautiful backyard and what it looks like in the spring and summer despite the fact that you are selling during the winter months? Or should your real estate agent be catering your open houses with hors d’oeuvres for those higher end clients that you might be looking to attract?

Another part of marketing is the pricing – and although we covered this topic a bit earlier, there are some different spins on pricing that are part of the overall marketing of your house. Here’s an example: maybe your real estate agent will suggest that you price low in order to start a bidding war on your house between potential buyers? If your market, Toronto, Canada being a good example, lends itself to this type of approach, you can likely achieve a well-over list potential price on the sale if you have a number of buyers that are interested at the same time. It all depends on your local market and what makes sense, which is something potential Realtor should be talking about during the listing appointment which also shows that they have a good pulse of your local real estate market.

Paying the Realtor

So what does it all cost? Good question.

Real estate fees and commissions have been standardized by the industry depending on their respective areas. And, beyond that, there are some brokerage firms (we’re not going to name names) that don’t allow their Realtors, or real estate professionals to advertise the fact that they can work for a reduced commission. That said, it is important to know that real estate commissions and fees are negotiable.

However, be weary that if you are asking for full service from your Realtor, you should respect the fact that they should be paid a full service fee. Here, you can learn more about real estate fees, if you are interested, as it’s important to understand how they work and who pays them.

Also, keep in mind that these fees are usually established up-front when signing an agreement to work with your selected Realtor.

Your First Offer

One of the main reasons you hired a Realtor is because they are trained professionals in real estate. Something important to remember is that they are also very good negotiators! So it’s important to let your Realtor play their role in the negotiation process.

In advance of even receiving a first offer on your house, it’s important for to you discuss what you might be comfortable with from an offer perspective: the amount you are willing to accept, what might be included and if there is any room for negotiation. This way, your Realtor, when discussing offers with other real estate professionals, will know what is acceptable and what types of offers you are willing to look at.

Your Realtor will present you offers from home buyers that are discussed with their representative real estate professionals. Your Realtor will be able to advise you on what is a good offer and what you might want to consider, versus offers you may want to pass on. Work with your Realtor to ensure that when you do accept an offer, it’s the right one for you.

Home Inspections and Other “Conditions”

As part of an offer on a house, the potential buyer may include a couple of conditions such as home inspections, financing and other items prior to the agreement being finalized. These items will be captured in a contract that would be presented back to you by your Realtor.

Some of these conditions are meant to allow the potential buyer to back-out of the deal, if they aren’t certain that the house is right for them. Other times, it’s just to give the buyers a little extra time to think through the purchase of your house before signing on the dotted line.

Make sure you discuss the “conditions” with your Realtor to ensure you have a good understanding of exactly what they mean and how they can affect you as the house seller. If you are not comfortable with the conditions, you can decline the offer and wait for another buyer to come along that may have fewer or no conditions, in their offer.

As a first time home seller, there are a lot of variables and factors to consider but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. One of the most important things to think about is hiring the Realtor right from the start which is why interviewing multiple real estate agents is the most important step in the process. Someone that you are comfortable with, can trust, and has experience with your type of house in your area, local knowledge and the marketing skills to be able to get you top dollar for your house is the right choice, even if it means working with someone outside of your personal network.

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