First Time Selling Your House? Here are the 4 Real Estate Books That Aren’t Complete Garbage

The internet, the depths of Amazon, and Google are full of terrible, empty real estate advice hardbound into books. You could spend days skimming through a “How to Sell Your House” title so useless it’s like you reached for a graham cracker and came back with cardboard.

Trouble is that real estate books–the really great ones at least–provide insight from interviews with executives at top real estate companies, comprehensive looks at the state of the real estate market, and dive deep into strategies for every step of the journey you’re about to take. The trick is finding the diamond in the rough.

Good news everyone!

We’ve gone through Google books, Amazon ratings, and combed the internet to do the hard work of finding the best real estate books for you. We spent hours reading dozens of real estate books and rated them all on the following factors:

Good Advice

  • We looked for books that went deeper into the sales process and had extra tips beyond the normal “clean and declutter your house”
  • We favored books with concrete, actionable advice that give you easy to follow next steps to get your home ready for sale


  • Chapters need to provide ideas and solutions with a fresh angle on how to sell your home

Reader Reviews

  • The reviews either had to be all five stars or mostly positive
  • We looked at reviews to get a sense if the books actually helped people in your shoes


  • If the author is a real estate agent, we looked up her stats on HomeLight to make sure she is at the top of her field
  • We looked for experts who wrote for real estate companies or worked for big names with access to interviews with knowledgeable names and executives at those companies to get you information from the best of the best


  • The market has changed over the years and trends in real estate practices have as well. A book published after 2014 scored major points for its accuracy and reflection of the current US market

After all was said and done, we narrowed the essential list down to 4 real estate books. These are the best real estate books out there today and they will absolutely add something extra to your home sale.

Ready for our top real estate titles? These are the four best real estate books we could find:

real estate books
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Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling By Brendon DeSimone

This book on buying and selling a home is one of the best resources out there whether you’re buying or selling a home. Here’s why:

1. Interviews and tips from prominent, knowledgeable executives from huge real estate companies like Apartment Therapy, Trulia, and Zillow give you perspective that your real estate agent might not have.

Online real estate hunting is a huge part of today’s market: National Association of Realtors reports that almost half of buyers found their new home online.

What better way to stay on top than with advice from the online real estate gurus themselves? Their advice is the missing link you need to become an expert on the modern buyer in this fast paced, informed modern market.

2. The author, Brendon DeSimone, is a real estate broker who manages two offices of real estate firm Houlihan Lawrence. He’s also a top writer for the Zillow blog.

DeSimone has experience in the modern online world of real estate and as an active real estate broker, which means he can teach you how to value current hot trends against the tried and true.

3. Real case studies with clients show you exactly what not to do when selling, and how you can make a better choice to avoid big problems later on.

The market has changed and adapted to new technology and practices over the years. You need to keep up with buyers and the way to do that largely exists online. You have to anticipate the needs of someone interested in your property and always think one step ahead, and this book teaches you how. DeSimone writes,

“Once you go live for sale, your home becomes a product for sale in a marketplace. The buyers are your customers. You have to know who they are, how they think, and what resources they have to make an informed decision about your home…A next generation seller knows that the reality is that the world is very transparent and buyers are somewhat in the driver’s seat.”

Desimone goes on to list how you can get ahead of the modern day buyer. He advises you to check the internet by scouring Google for your home, make sure crime is low, and even to take a glance at the police blotter. These online strategies are creative and unique and will help you understand what goes on inside a prospective buyer’s head before she even walks inside.

Must Read Chapters If You Read Nothing Else:

Chapter 11: The Price Is Right! Four Steps for Understanding & Maximizing Your Home’s Worth

We surveyed over 100 of the Nation’s best real estate agents in the HomeLight Top Agent Insights survey and found that the most common mistakes sellers make is in pricing the home. Chapter 11 dives into the entire process of pricing the home from understanding the market in your area to talking with your real estate agent so that you price your home right from the start.

Chapter 13: Prepping Your Listing: How to Stay One Step Ahead of the Next Generation Buyer

This is the meat of DeSimone’s argument: people looking to buy homes are different than they used to be–they do their research. DeSimone suggests online searches, getting the property inspected before it goes on the market, and not listing square footage so that you see exactly how the buyer perceives your home online.

The book splits into two sections: one for buyers and one for sellers, so you can skip the buying part if you’re only interested in selling resources. If you have the time after you polish off the seller half, we recommend reading the buyer side of the book to really understand the thought process of someone looking at your home.

real estate books
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Selling Your House: Nolo’s Essential Guide by Ilona Bray, J.D.

Nolo’s Essential Guide to Selling checked all the boxes for us. The book is a comprehensive overview of the selling process. After “Next Generation Real Estate” you might have clever strategies in line, but without Nolo’s basics you’ll be lost in the fray of closing costs and whether or not to leave the drapes.

We found the advice to be clear and concise, the chapters well organized, and the book includes a few topics that are different than most. The book also gives you solutions you can work on the second you put it down to get you started on easy fixes that are quick and impactful.

The best parts of Nolo’s guide are that it walks you through how to:

1. Declutter and clear excess stuff you don’t need.

You’ve heard this one a million times, but don’t discount how important this step is. Decluttering is a major part of prepping your home for sale and, if done right, could make buyers feel like they’re in the luxury vacation home they always dreamed of. Nolo’s chapter on decluttering is special because instead of a tirade on why you should declutter, Nolo tells you how with actionable steps for improvement.

2. Research what makes your home amazing.

Not only does this chapter supply creative, modern approaches to selling, it also teaches you how to get informed about the best features of your home. Always hated that antique spiral staircase? Maybe it’s a priceless antique and a major asset you can market to buyers–and you never even knew!

Knowing the best time to sell your home is a bit like throwing darts at 12 moving targets, but Nolo tries to demystify

Must Read Chapters If You Read Nothing Else:

“Websites, Open Houses, and Other Marketing Tools.”

The chapter outlines the stats of different types of buyers and helps you figure out the types of people who might specifically be interested in your property and how to market to them. Marketing a home is one of the most important ways to get the most bang for your buck, and knowing how to word your listing or even stage your house for a particular person is huge.

“What You Can Do Now to Get Ready to Sell”

This is the chapter that provides actionable steps to get you started on increasing your home’s desirability (and sale value) right away. It can be daunting to have a home with crayon marks on the walls, toys piled up on the dining room, and a pantry filled with stale pasta and not know where to begin. It can be equally daunting to have what you thought was a clean house and, after reading Nolo’s guide, make out the dog hair in the carpet or the pizza stain on the ceiling.

“What You Can Do Now” isolates those small issues so that you know what to look for and how to fix them.

Zillow Talk: Rewriting the Rules of Real Estate by Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries

Zillow’s “Zillow Talk” book uses hard data from real studies to help you maximize the sale price of your home.

Some of the most useful (and interesting) studies include:

1. Psychologically pricing your home so that the number seems lower (and therefore more attractive) to buyers.

This section takes a case study from two supermarkets where one sold more wine because its price tag ended in .99. Rascoff and Humphries apply this study to pricing your home, and suggest a list price that ends in 900. This quick fix could help you sell faster, and all you have to do is talk to your real estate agent.

2. The real cost of remodeling your home. The section outlines the money returned on major home remodels.

The authors argue that you don’t have to spend the time, cash, and headache on a major renovation to get your home sold. While these renovations might increase your property value, they don’t actually make back the money you spent demoing the upstairs bathroom to put in a clawfoot tub. That means you don’t have to hire a contractor or spend thousands. That time can be put towards re-painting and staging.

The main takeaway from the Zillow book can be summarized in this quote:

“The most important new rule of real estate among them all: Get your hands on as much information as you can. Recognize that you’re buying and selling in a local market, not a national one, and learn as much as you can about it…Numbers don’t lie. And they won’t lead you astray. Indeed, they’ll help you find your way home.” (p. 253)

Must Read Chapters If You Read Nothing Else:

“America’s Next Top Remodel”

outlines the cost and payout of major renovations. If your home is, in your mind, a “fixer upper,” this chapter lays out the cost of most home renovations and the money you could get back (or lose) if you decide to go through with them.

“Real Est8 4 Sale: Use Superstitions to Your Advantage”

goes deeper into pricing and plays to the superstitions prospective buyers might have. Ever thought the numbers you choose for your list price could convince or push away a buyer? This chapter helps you understand how the numbers you put in your list price could help you sell your house.

Zillow’s unique take on maximizing property value comes from studies and hard numbers, which is proof that those strategies work and you could benefit from putting them into practice when selling your home.  

real estate books
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Your Amazing Itty Bitty Sell Your Home Book: 15 Simple Steps on How to Stage and Sell Your Home – Fast! By Eduardo Mendoza

According to the National Association of Realtors, staging can add serious value to your home. That’s why we pulled this quick read that has over 65 five star reviews on

“Staging” a house does not have to mean paying a few thousand dollars for a company to come in with furniture and a vision for how to set it up. You can stage with your current pieces to make your home, as Mendoza says, “fresh, neutral, and welcoming.”
The main reasons we found this read useful:

1. Mendoza will teach you what to do to stage your home yourself.

You don’t have to rely (or spend the cash) on a professional staging company. That extra few thousand dollars could go into savings or into fixing a major issue in the roof that could have turned buyers away.

2. The steps in this read are simple, clear, and cut straight to the point.

You won’t feel overwhelmed with procedure, the science behind interior design, or the art of throw pillow organization.

Eduardo Mendoza writes in his guide to home staging,
“When you need to sell your home, you need a different perspective. You need to design and stage the home to appeal to other people. You are using your home to sell a certain lifestyle that is fresh, neutral, and welcoming so that it appeals to potential buyers with a variety of tastes and styles. They need to feel comfortable in the home and easily imagine making it their own if they buy it.”

Must Read Chapters If You Read Nothing Else:

The best part of this guide is that it’s a quick, on the go read. At only 23 pages you can read through the book fast with an eye towards creating a timeline to complete each step.

Okay, But Why Should You Really Read These Real Estate Books?

We know that reading an entire book sounds like a chore, but what if skimming through a few chapters every night after you put the kids to bed results in a house sold and a higher sale price than you expected?

Each of the four books comes at optimizing your sale from a different angle. “Next Generation” is all about anticipating the knowledge and research modern day buyers will do on your house before they even visit. Nolo’s guide to selling your house is a comprehensive overview of the entire selling process with good advice towards what you can do right now to get your home in top shape to sell for more and the types of buyers you should market to so that your place gets sold.

Zillow’s studies on the market provide data that you can use to understand what tricks you can use to put yourself at the top of the seller pool and uses numbers to show why they work. The “stage and sell fast” book is a quick, listicle read that outlines actual steps you can take to sell your house. The short length of the text lets you get right to the point so that you can spend more time staging and less time reading.

You and your real estate agent need to build out a comprehensive marketing strategy together, and the only way you can succeed is by becoming an expert on your home. These books not only give an overview of the selling process, they help you to understand how your home stands out of the crowd.

Hungry for additional resources?

Good news–we wrote a book, too! Check out our eBook “Your House Has a Secret Life on the Internet.”