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How to Sell a Home for The First Time

Selling your home is a big deal and is not a process that most people go through too often. There are many things to consider as you move forward with your sale – things that must be dealt with if you want to sell quickly and for a good price.

From picking the right agent to pricing your home correctly, when you do things right you put yourself in the best position to get the results you want.

How to sell a home for the first time is not something you should take lightly. It is easy to make mistakes without the proper guidance.

No matter what the market happens to be doing right now, understand that you can sell your home if you want or need to. You can sell it, and you can sell it for a price comparable to other similar homes – as long as you work with the right agent and you listen to his or her advice.

Selling a home for the first time can sometimes be a daunting task because you don’t have any experience to fall back on. It is fairly easy to make mistakes as a first-time home seller if you don’t have the proper guidance.

Put the following tips for first time home sellers to work for you and start down the path to a successful sale!

7 Best Tips for First Time Home Sellers

1. Pick the Right Realtor

While it is possible to sell your home without the help of a professional, doing so is not recommended. There is too much at stake in a home sale, and too many things that can go wrong. A good agent will handle all the details and help you understand your options – specific to your area.

You can read all the information you want about real estate sales, but you will still not have the connections or experience to market your home effectively and to avoid making costly mistakes.

Look for a real estate agent that has a list of recent, satisfied customers. You want an agent who sells homes for close to the price that they are listed – which demonstrates an understanding of the market. Interview several Realtors before deciding on the best one.

The person you choose will be responsible for how your sale goes, so it is worth your time to look around and be demanding. There are plenty of real estate agents out there, but not all of them are necessarily great. Do your homework and choose someone that can help you accomplish your sales goals.

It is especially important to understand the difference between a listing agent and a selling agent. There are two distinct facets of the real estate business. Some agents do an exceptional job working with sellers and some agents with buyers. If you are selling your home for the first time, it is extremely important to work with someone who specializes in working with sellers.

Rarely does an agent do both well. Keep in mind if your listing agent is also out showing houses every day, they are not going to have the time necessary to invest in getting your home sold.

When selling your home, you should be working with an agent that possesses outstanding marketing skills. This is one of the vital traits to look for in a great listing agent. Over 90 percent of all buyers find their home online so you want an agent who has the skills and drive to make your home standout.

Outstanding photography, detailed listing descriptions and providing video tours are all part of a top producing agents marketing arsenal. There are lots of real estate agents who do none of these things! Check to make sure you know what you are getting with the agent you hire.

Here are some of the additional things you should expect from your real estate agent when selling including attending the home inspection and appraisal to represent your best interests. Real Estate agents are a dime a dozen – pick one that goes the extra mile in everything they do.

2. Price Your Home Appropriately

Picking the right real estate agent and the right price go hand in hand. Pricing a home properly is another skill the best agents have. Everyone wants to sell for the highest possible price, but be careful, because pricing a home too high will repel buyers.

A couple of general rules of pricing are:

1.        if you have not even having showings then, you are priced about 10% too high

2.       If you are having showings but no offers, then you are about 5% too high

The following graph helps to support that theory:

If your home stays on the market long enough, it could develop a stigma and be seen as undesirable by most buyers. It is not enough to look at your neighbor’s house to see what they are selling for.

There are numerous real estate pricing factors that need to be considered, factors which your agent should have a good grasp of. If you find an experienced agent, one with a history of selling at close to the original listing price, then you know you are working with someone that knows what he or she is doing.

Your neighbor’s home may or may not be priced correctly. Always look at similar closed sales as a basis for establishing the right asking price.

Correcting the price, a month or two later is not going to fix the problem, either. By that point you can expect to be low-balled whatever price you set.

Talk with your Realtor and try to price the home appropriately to the market you are in. If you have a real estate agent you trust, you want to price the home at the point recommended by the professional you are working with.

Do be careful when choosing an agent based upon the value they provide for your home. There are tons of agents who will pull on your heart strings by giving you an unrealistic market value.

This is the kind of agent you need to stay away from. Sometimes real estate agents will blatantly mis-represent the value of your home just to get you to sign a contract with them.

3. Spend Time Getting the Home Ready

One of the biggest mistakes numerous sellers make is not being completely ready to put their home on the market. Remember you are in competition with a lot of other sellers who are trying to accomplish the same thing.

It stands to reason you need to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to selling a home! What exactly does this mean? Start with these things:

Exterior Home Improvements:

·       Make sure your curb appeal is exceptional.

·       Make any necessary repairs to any blatant defects like rotted siding or trim.

·       Keep decks, patio’s and walk-ways clean and tidy.

·       Freshen up the landscaping by planting some flowers with color, pulling any weeds and adding some fresh mulch to beds.

·       Seal coat the driveway if necessary.

Interior Home Improvements:

·       Clean the home from top to bottom – this is one of the cheapest improvements you can do that make a real difference.

·       Remove any pet or smoking odors.

·       Paint any rooms that need a fresh or neutral coat of paint.

·       Add brighter light bulbs in darker areas of the home.

·       Correct any visible defect that a buyer will more than likely bring up at a home inspection. There are some great tips in this article on how to prepare for a home inspection.

·       Replace stained or worn carpeting.

·       Re-finish hardwood floors.

It is understood that there are times when an owner has no money to do some of things mentioned above like replacing carpeting or re-finishing hardwood floors. If you have the funds, however, you will get a greater return on your investment as these things can change the whole complexion of a home. Here are some additional ways to make your home more appealing to a buyer.

4. Home Staging Boosts Selling Power and Appeal

Ask your agent to advise you on preparing your home for sale. Most homes show better with about half of the furniture removed. If a buyer walks in the door and wonders if anybody lives in the house, you've done your job correctly. Consider home staging to boost your selling power and appeal. Painting is the single most effective improvement you can make. Don't let dings in the woodwork or scraps on the walls make your home reflect deferred maintenance.

Don’t get carried away while doing your home staging though. Also, real estate agents will offer the Free use a home stager as a marketing ploy to get you to list with them. Do not pick a realtor just because they offer this “feature”. You can hire a great stager for under $200 so it is not that expensive to get the best help getting your home ready for sale. 

5. Be Flexible with Home Showings

If home showings are too much of an imposition, consider going away the first weekend your home is on the market. Yes, it can feel a bit intrusive to allow strangers to trek through your home and check out your soft-closing drawers in the kitchen. The best way to sell your home is to let a buyer inside with their buyer's agent to tour in peace and quiet. Leave the house when buyer's agents show up. Anything you say can and will be used against you, plus, buyer's agents prefer to show without interference.

In today's world of technology please be aware that anything you do and say will most likely be recorded. The seller must disclose at the door before you enter if the home is under surveillance but still be prepared for this.

I recently had a seller who overheard the buyer agent say something derogatory about them and they tried to blow up the deal. Fortunately, I was able to talk them down of their ledge and get the deal closed, but the buyers had a struggle getting anything else from the sellers, so be aware of this during showings.

I suggest for you as the seller, to turn off any of your surveillance equipment before any of your showings start to avoid any of this behavior!

6. Be Ready to Move if You Get an Offer

When someone makes an offer on your home and you accept it, you will need to be ready to move quickly to finalize your relocation and get all your things out of your home.

Sometimes it can feel like you have a good deal of time, especially if you have not gotten any offers. But once the paperwork is signed, you will need to get into gear and take care of all of your business as quickly as you can.

Know where you are going to go before the sale closes. Moving is a time consuming and tiresome process all on its own. Be prepared for it.

Often, first time sellers don’t understand the concept of selling and buying a home at the same time. Some of the common mistakes are thinking another seller is going to allow you a home sale contingency or putting in a clause into your listing agreement that says something like “sale subject to successfully finding another home of choice.

These kinds of contingencies muddy up the home selling process and make it far more difficult to achieve the goal of selling your home. In most markets today, owners are not going to accept a home sale contingency and maybe not even a right of first refusal. You should absolutely consult with your agent about this before listing your home for sale.

7. Understand What the Costs Will Be for Closing The Sale

There can be a lot of extra costs associated with selling a home, costs that you may be expected to take care of as the seller. You are also going to need to pay the commission to your real estate agent once the house sells. First, understand that many of these costs, including the commission, can be negotiated.

The perfect example of this is when you are selling your home and turning around and buying another with the same agent. Real Estate agents love these kinds of transactions!

A business savvy agent is not going to turn down the opportunity to make two sales. An agent that is closed minded and says no to any kind of negotiation might not be the best bet to work with.

It is in your best interests to seek a fair deal, so don’t be afraid to seek a middle ground between the offer that is presented to you and what you “think” is fair to pay.

Second, make sure you understand every cost that will be coming your way. Have your real estate agent present you with a list of all costs and make sure you are prepared to pay them. Feel free to question anything you are uncertain about.

8. Know Your Local Market

Local real estate markets are unique, which means that what works in one market may not work in another market. Just because you see a home like yours the next town over that is selling for a certain price does not mean that your home will sell for a similar price.

There are so many factors that go into real estate markets that it takes quite a bit of training and experience working in each market to have a clear understanding of what to expect.

For example, in my neck of the woods, a home sold in Dublin, Ohio could be over $50,000 more than the exact same home in Marysville, Ohio and these two towns are right next to each other!

Your real estate agent should be an expert in your local market. He or she should be able to tell you if you want to sell in spring, summer, fall or winter. Your agent should know what houses similar to yours are selling for, and how to compare your home to those other homes to decide on the bestselling price. The more your agent knows about your area, the better job he or she can do when selling your house.

Final Thoughts

Selling a home is not rocket science but it is easy to make mistakes when you are not completely educated on the process. By following the above tips for selling a home for the first time, you will increase your odds for an enjoyable and profitable sale.

Make smart business decisions. A well-informed seller will always have the upper hand on those owners who do not educate themselves properly.

About the Author: The above Real Estate information on the tips for first time home sellers was provided by Jim West, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Jim can be reached via email at or by phone at (614) 507-5732. Jim has helped people move in and out of many central Ohio towns for the last 16+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Central Ohio communities: West and Northwest Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Lewis Center, Delaware, Marysville, Worthington, and Plain City, Ohio.