What helps sell a house the most?

By and large, the easiest way to save time, sell your home fast, and land the returns you want is to team up with an experienced real estate agent. Not only do they have the know-how to help you tackle tough tasks, such as price setting, marketing, and negotiations, agents often have a rolodex of connections to help you prepare your house for its sale. These are just a few reasons only 7% of home sales are for sale by owner (FSBO), according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

At the same time, leveraging an agent’s help can dramatically swing how much profit you pull in after you’ve sold your house. In fact, a NAR report found the median FSBO home brings in $58,000 less than agent-assisted sales. Even in the seller’s market of 2022, taking these steps can help make the most of your sale. Here are four critical things that will help you sell a house.

Connect with a Top Agent

Our data shows the top 5% of agents across the U.S. help clients sell their home for as much as 10% more than the average real estate agent. It takes just two minutes to match with the best real estate agents, who will contact you and guide you through the process. To connect with an agent, simply tell us a little bit about your property and how soon you’re looking to sell.

1. Bring out the best in your home’s interior

If you want to place your home’s value on full display, it’s important to start by sprucing up the house’s interior. These home interior improvements can make a major impact when you decide to sell your house:

Tackle repairs and upgrades

One of the fastest ways to set your house up for a faster sale is to dig into any deferred maintenance and knock out necessary repairs. However, it isn’t a smart idea to simply make upgrades on a whim. Each repair and update carries costs and takes time. That’s why it’s important to do your research, identify the upgrades that will grab you the highest ROI, and look for the features that are in high demand within your area.

One handy trick is to visit open houses around your area. This hands-on research can help you keep up with the preferences in the area. That way, you’ll have an idea of how to stage, paint, and design your home to fit local trends.

Another great way to identify repair needs is to snag a pre-listing inspection. These are inspections that the seller pays to have done prior to listing the home. Although having an official pre-listing inspection will cost you money, it also can point out those essential repairs that could hold up your house sale later on.

Deep clean your house’s interior

Cleaning your house’s interior helps you sell your home in several ways. First, it prevents potential buyer’s from getting distracted by dust or messes. Also, it can bring out qualities of your home that may otherwise be overlooked. What’s more, it reassures home buyers that there aren’t other neglected amenities lurking somewhere else within your house.

“A deep clean never fails to solicit buyer comments like ‘the house feels solid, well-maintained, or meticulously cared for’ — even if the house is really outdated,” says Jessica Riphenburg, one of the top agents in Madison, Wisconsin.

For older homes in particular, you may want to also consider hiring a professional cleaning service to sparkle every nook and cranny.

Depersonalize and stage your home

Staging your home is a critical step if you’re hoping for an easier time selling. In fact, a 2021 NAR survey found nearly 1 out of every 2 buyers’ agents say a house’s staging affects most home buyers’ decisions.

“You have to have a home staged and be a 10 out of 10 for showings to look better than the competition and get that emotional connection to your home from someone,” says Janice Overbeck, one of the most successful agents in the metro-Atlanta market. “I highly recommend getting a professional stager in.”

Since you’ll want to make it easy for a potential buyer to picture themselves living in your house, it’s important to neutralize spaces and prepare them carefully. Here are a few ways to depersonalize your home:

  • Paint rooms in simple, neutral tones
  • Tone down kitchen floors and backsplashes when possible
  • Pick up clutter and store toys in totes
  • Pack away knick knacks
A nice backyard that might help sell a house.
Source: (ÇAĞIN KARGI / Unsplash)

2. Enhance your home’s exterior

Another important focus that will help sell your house is improving your house’s exterior. The outside of your house can hit your potential buyer with a lasting first impression that can easily make or break a sale. Here are a few ways to beef up your home’s exterior and lift your house’s curb appeal:

Add outdoor amenities

Outdoor living spaces can be a major value-driver as buyers shop for a home. And they’re in especially high demand in the shadow of the pandemic. In fact, nearly 50% of agents say outdoor living areas are a top priority within their post-vaccine market. Here are a few outdoor amenities that can drive up your home’s value:

Up your home’s curb appeal

Upgrading curb appeal is an easy way to help your house stand out and stick in a potential buyer’s mind. One of the best ways to amp up curb appeal is to improve landscaping. Maryland real estate agent Bonnie Fleishman says there are a few big-impact landscaping tasks that can sharpen your home’s appeal:

  • Lay down fresh mulch
  • Mow the lawn
  • Pull weeds
  • Trim the shrubs and trees
  • Remove overgrown items
  • Edge the yard

Another way to enhance your house’s curb appeal is to upgrade your home’s exterior condition and beautify the house’s outer shell. Fleishman says the first place to start when you upgrade your home’s exterior is the front door. “If that front door looks bad, you only have one chance to make that first impression,” Fleishman warns.

Beyond painting and cleaning your critical front door, there are a few additional exterior upgrades to make if you want to boost your home’s curb appeal:

  • Clean and repair any chipping or peeling paint
  • Fix sagging gutters or downspouts
  • Remove leaves from the gutters
  • Pressure wash the house
  • Pressure wash the driveway
  • Clean the windows
  • Clean all outdoor light fixtures

If you want to supercharge your home’s curb appeal, you also have the option of hiring a professional landscaper, or you can save some money by putting in extra work on your own.

I think the problem [pricing a home] is people tend to listen to family, friends, and neighbors, instead of analyzing the data.

3. Set the right price for your home

Setting the right price for your house has always boosted your chances of selling, but it’s especially important in the current housing market. In 2021, home prices and sales surged, with 98% of real estate agents pegging Q2 of last year as a seller’s market. This year, many professionals expect low inventory to impact housing prices even more. In fact, 75% of agents expect a housing inventory shortage in 2022. Simply put, with so much hitting the market at once, it can be tough to land on the perfect sales price for your home–but setting the wrong price can cost you hefty profit.

Fleishman says one of the biggest mistakes home sellers make is not doing their homework before setting a price. “I think the problem [pricing a home] is people tend to listen to family, friends, and neighbors, instead of analyzing the data,” says Fleishman.

An easy way to pin down a starting price for your home is to use an online tool, such as HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator. By simply entering a few details, this tool will examine similar listings in your area, look at your home’s features, and calculate the value of your home.

Still, if you want to set a profitable, yet appealing, price on your home, it’s a good idea to team up with an experienced agent. The best agents will conduct Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) before pricing your home. In the CMA process, the agent will dig into your house’s local market, your home’s features, current trends, and other important factors in order to set the perfect price on your home. These in-depth reports use data to back your pricing decision–making it easier to settle on a price that’s high enough to hand you a profit but not so high your house sits on the market.

4. Create an eye-catching marketing plan

If you want to connect with potential buyers and snag the right price for your home, it takes a multi-level marketing plan. Not all sellers realize it, but real estate agents spend hours building buzz around the homes they sell. Simply put, the better you market your house, the easier it will be to sell your property at or above your asking price. Here are a few tips to help you spread the word about your home:

Sell at the right time of the year

Timing the market right is important if you want to land an ideal sale. Different areas will have hot seasons when you could increase the price of your house and lulls when you may risk watching your house sit on the market for longer than you want. Before you list your house, dig into the data and make sure you understand the best time of the year to sell your house within your local market.

This is another area where your local real estate agent’s expertise will come in handy. Because they spend hours eyeing local market data, it’s likely they’ll know exactly how to time your home sale and snag you the highest ROI possible.

Hire a professional photographer

Your home’s photos can draw in buyers or completely turn them away. That’s why it’s critical to use professional-level photographs when you sell your house.

“The most important thing, absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt, are great photographs,” says Los Angeles agent Todd Jones. “I’ve seen listing agents list a property and, for whatever reason, they don’t put one photo in. And that’s just a crime. That’s doing a horrible disservice to the seller.”

Professional photographers will see the best angles, know how to reduce glare, and will be able to bring out the best in your house. And a good realtor should have a photographer in their network and generally will offer the service for free.

Craft a captivating listing

A listing is a home’s first impression. It has to be accurate and also capture attention. Here are a few tips real estate professionals suggest to help you create an attention-grabbing listing:

Combine these tips and a top agent’s help to sell fast

Selling your house is a big decision, but the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. And taking a few minutes to prepare before you sell your house can end up making all the difference in the long run. As long as you follow a few proven tricks, and lean on an expert agent’s help, you’ll be set up for a smooth and painless home sale.

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