Selling a home can be more stressful than getting fired, planning a wedding, and even having children. But as with any complicated process, you can manage stress and stay motivated by being prepared.
Tips for finding a great real estate agent
1. Use a free agent matching service
Agent matching services will take your information — such as where, what, and when you’d like to sell — and match you with a few agents who have the right experience.
You'll get results back the same day. That’s lightyears better than rummaging the internet on your own time. And best of all, these services pre-negotiate a lower commission with your agent, helping you save thousands on closing costs.
» READY TO CONNECT? Clever Real Estate can match you with top local agents today! 100% free — no obligation.
2. Interview 3 or more agents
Since you’ll be working closely with this person, we recommend interviewing at least 2—3 agents. Choose someone who has industry experience, is willing to hustle to sell your home for top dollar, and that you'll get along with.
Some questions to ask during your interview:
- How much experience do you have selling homes in my area?
- How many homes do you sell per year?
- How often do you sell homes below the asking price?
- What’s your commission rate?
- Do you have references from past clients?
» MORE: Top Questions You Should Ask a Listing Agent
Tips for preparing your home for sale
3. Clean and organize FIRST
For example, if your lawn is weedy and cluttered, then mowing and tidying it up could improve your curb appeal more than, say, repainting the exterior.
» MORE: 18 Easy Ways to Get Your House Ready to Sell
4. Prioritize high-impact changes
Buyers don’t want a home that requires lots of repairs — no matter how small. While you don’t have to fix everything, completing numerous small projects could have a big impact on how your home appears.
Highest ROI projects include:
Lowest ROI projects include:
Don't overvalue renovations
Paying $23,000 for a new kitchen doesn’t mean you can tack $23,000 to the asking price. Be realistic about how much value projects add and avoid overpricing to make up for your own costs.
Tips for pricing your home
List your home too high, and it might sit on the market longer than you’re comfortable with. Too low, and you risk leaving money on the table. Avoid bad pricing with a good real estate agent. They'll dig beyond supply and demand to figure out a reasonable asking price in your local market.
5. Start with a home valuation calculator
Free home valuation calculators can give you a rough estimate of your home’s value. But they SHOULD NOT replace an expert’s guidance.
We recommend comparing home values from multiple estimators and averaging the values for a clearer picture of your home's value.
6. Run a comparative market analysis (CMA)
A CMA involves comparing your home to similar houses that have sold recently in your market. It typically involves three steps:
- Find homes that have sold recently — the more recent the sale, the more accurate the comparison.
- Adjust the price until your house is roughly comparable: UP for things like more square footage, and DOWN for features that your neighbors have but you don't.
- Calculate the average, which will be your estimated listing price.
Tips for marketing your home
A savvy local agent should start you off with essential market services:
- A listing on the MLS (multiple listing service)
- Listings on popular real estate websites
- Staging your home and getting professional HD photos
- Scheduling open houses
7. Pay attention to other sellers
Are they relying on digital advertising, such as Facebook and Google ads, or do they use print materials, like flyers and signs? Do they have virtual tours or drone photography?
You don’t want to go all-out on your marketing if a simple flyer will do the trick.
8. Make your listing pop
If you're in a hot market, consider fleshing out your listing with:
- A virtual walk-through if you think photos won't do your home justice
- Your home's special features, such as accessibility ramps or garage size
- Commute times and district information, especially if you're far from a metro
- What costs you're offering to cover for the buyer
Not only will these make your listing more attractive, but the extra keywords will help your home show up in Google searches and filters.
Tips for negotiating and closing
9. Prepare for contingencies
These allow buyers to back out of your agreement with their earnest money firmly in hand. Some contingencies come standard with purchase contracts, but they can be negotiated, waived, or overcome.
Buyers can back out if…
⭐️ What you can do
They don't like an inspection report
Offer a pest or hazard inspection or home warranty
Financing or mortgage
Their lender denies a mortgage
Prioritize buyers with mortgage preapprovals
If the home appraises for lower than the sale price
Offer an appraisal gap contingency
10. Choose an earnest money amount that gives you security
An earnest money deposit, typically 1–3% of the sale price, helps ensure that you’re adequately compensated for time and money if your buyer backs out.
If you have numerous buyers bidding at once — a higher deposit will filter out buyers who aren’t serious. Or if you're not in a hurry to sell, a lower amount could attract more buyers.
11. Set deadlines (but keep them reasonable)
Shorter time frames keep the home sale on track and protect you from buyers dragging their feet while satisfying contingencies. For instance, you might give your buyer 14 days to complete an inspection. If they decide to back out after 18 days, they've defaulted on the contingency.
12. Get a repair quote before listing
A quote from a home contractor or inspector can help you decide which repairs to prioritize, which ones you can afford to make yourself, and how much to lower your listing price to account for them.
Buyers typically order inspections themselves after making an offer. But a pre-listing inspection can help you spot problems and reduce the risk of a deal falling through or getting delayed — all for around $340.
13. Offer concessions to stand out
Concessions are costs sellers agree to cover for buyers. For example, you might agree to pay for a pest inspection, a home warranty, or the first year of HOA fees. Concessions are more common during buyers' markets, when sellers are trying to stand out from other sellers.