How to Market Your House for Sale in 2024

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Gone are the days of historically low mortgage interest rates and buyers waiving all concessions that defined the pandemic market for two years.

These days, while the market is still in favor of sellers due to record-low inventory, high mortgage rates have placed affordability constraints on buyers, making them more concerned about their purchasing decisions.

So, if you’re selling a home in 2024, you’ll need a new strategy to get the most equity out of your most valuable asset.

Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate the market alone. We’ve surveyed HomeLight’s top-performing agents nationwide and harnessed their collective expertise to create a guide on how to market your house for sale.

When you hire the right Realtor®, that professional will collaborate with you to develop a data-driven marketing plan that appeals specifically to buyers in your area.

Whether you’re partnering with a top agent or selling a house by owner, these are the marketing priorities you’ll need to consider to market your house in 2024.

Step One to Marketing Your Home

Find out what it’s worth! Get a near-instant real estate house price estimate from HomeLight for free. Our tool analyzes the records of recently sold homes near you, your home’s last sale price, and other market trends to provide a preliminary range of value in under two minutes.

Understand the market

When it comes to market trends, mortgage interest rates are the elephant in the room. After two years of historically low rates, the Federal Reserve raised mortgage interest rates eleven times since March 2022 to combat inflation. But in mid December 2023, the Fed kept interest rates steady.

Today’s 6%-7%+ rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage pales in comparison to the 18.45% Americans paid in 1981. Still, high mortgage rates and inflation have prompted many buyers to make their purchasing decisions more cautiously.

According to HomeLight’s research, the market started showing signs of leveling off beginning in the summer of 2022.

At the end of 2023, 50% of top agents characterized their local housing market as a seller’s market from an inventory perspective, but this is by no means a resurgence of the strong seller’s market we saw in 2022.

“Interest rates, high prices, and soaring insurance costs are significantly reducing buyer demand,” top agent Julee Patterson of Roseville, California, shared during HomeLight’s latest survey. “Sellers that overprice to ‘leave room to negotiate’ are doing a huge disservice to themselves. Buyer demand is down, so we need to make every listing as attractive as possible both with price and preparation from day one.”

Optimize opportunities

Despite the changing market, Suzanne Macnab, a coastal Maryland agent with 39 years of experience, says now is a good time to sell a home.

“While houses are sitting on the market a little longer,” she says, “prices have stabilized and inventory is low.”

And inventory is projected to remain low because pandemic purchasers who financed at historically low rates will likely hold on to their properties. Those homebuyers may not be able to afford to purchase an equivalent or upper-echelon property because of increasing rates and home prices.

In addition, investors and sellers with the luxury of timing the market cashed out when rates were low and demand was high.

Since the field is less crowded, your home has space to shine and capture the attention of the right buyers.

Macnab says the market is optimal for sellers who are looking to downsize — especially those with enough equity to pay cash for their next home.

Because fewer homes are available, she says the market also favors sellers who have a well-maintained home with an open floor plan that is appropriately priced.

Set a competitive price

According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the typical home recently purchased was built in 1985, has 1,860 square feet and three bedrooms, and two bathrooms.

The NAR survey revealed only 13% of buyers purchased a new home. And, of the 87% of buyers who purchased an existing home, 38% chose a previously-owned property over new construction because they felt they received a better price.

You can have the glossiest listing in the market and still have a hard time selling if you don’t set the right asking price. Conversely, if you enter the market with an appropriately priced home, you may receive multiple — and higher — offers within a short time.

To quickly get an idea of your home’s value in the current market, you can fill out the short questionnaire on HomeLight’s free Home Value Estimator and receive a preliminary estimate in less than two minutes. Think of this tool as a starting point to get oriented with price trends in your area.

Follow up your estimate with a comparative market analysis (CMA) from your real estate agent.

A CMA takes into account the price of recently sold properties in your area with similar square footage, overall condition, and number of bedrooms and baths. The agent also factors in recent upgrades and unique selling points like water views or extra land.

Tip: If you haven’t hired a real estate agent yet, HomeLight would be happy to introduce you to some highly qualified candidates in the area. Our data shows that the top 5% of real estate agents sell homes for as much as 10% more. Get matched with a top agent today and ask about getting a free CMA.

Many agents consider pricing a house correctly to be the most important element of a marketing strategy. If your price is too high, your house could sit on the market too long and eventually sell for less. If your price is too low, you could undersell it and forfeit significant value.

Take professional photos

One study found homes with high-quality photographs sell 32% faster than those without visuals. In fact, imagery is so important that most agents have photographers on their list of preferred contractors.

And, those photos need to pop in all formats. According to NAR, buyers typically conducted 50% of their internet searches on a mobile device(s) and 50% on a desktop/laptop.

To get the maximum punch per pixel, listing photos need to be magazine quality.

“I insist upon taking exterior photographs of when the house is in its best condition, which is typically May through September,” says Andrew Robinson, a top real estate agent in Columbus, Ohio, who sells homes 50% quicker than the average area agent.

That tactic takes on special significance if you plan to enter the market in the winter of a region that’s snow covered for part of the year. “You want to take extra pictures when the pool is open, so people don’t have a question about what that looks like,” Robinson says.

The easiest way to get quality photos is to work with an agent who contracts with a professional photographer.

DIY tip: If you have patience, time, a great eye, and a DSLR camera and tripod — because no iPhone is up to the job — see this HomeLight post to help develop technique and rake a shot at producing passable photos.

Find a Top Listing Agent to Market Your Home

HomeLight makes it easy to connect with a top real estate agent who can develop a marketing strategy tailored to your home. Your agent will be equipped to provide complete service including: professional photography, listing on major online home search sites, open houses, and more.

Write an enticing listing description

After the photos draw buyers in, your description provides the imagery to amp up buyers’ excitement about seeing the house.

The listing description is usually about a paragraph long and appears alongside the images of your home.

Since buyers can see the number of beds and baths, room dimensions, and year the home was built appear in the data fields, this is your shot to tell your home’s story.

“If the house borders on a waterfront, golf course, or a nature preserve, and if it’s conveniently located close to freeways or top-ranked schools, that needs to be in the listing description,” says Mary Jo Santistevan, a top real estate agent in Phoenix who works with over 81% more single-family homes than the average agent in her market.

You want to paint a picture in the buyer’s mind about what makes your house special. Maybe, it’s a mid-century modern with the original terrazzo floors or a craftsman cottage within walking distance of campus.

Learn more: HomeLight’s experts have sharpened their pencils to give you the cliff notes on the best advertising words to sell your home and the steps to write a creative listing.

Stage your home

Staging has become a pivotal step in the selling process. By carefully arranging furniture, decluttering spaces, and incorporating tasteful decor, homeowners can create a welcoming ambiance that helps buyers envision themselves living within your walls. Staging makes it easier for buyers to picture themselves moving in, according to 81% of buyers agents in a recent NAR report.

The emotional connection buyers develop with a well-staged home can not only shorten the time it spends on the market but often results in higher offers. Professional staging can add an average of $8,300 to the resale value of your home, according to HomeLight research.

Highlight outdoor features

Since the pandemic, Americans have embraced the outdoors like never before as a place to relax, gather, and entertain — making outdoor living areas a homebuyer priority.

Take inviting photographs of your yard for your listing, and consider drone footage or an aerial listing to showcase amazing outdoor spaces – especially if your home has coveted features like a pool, firepit, deck or outdoor kitchen.

Mention energy-efficient features

As the cost of basic utilities such as power and gas increases, Americans are looking for long-term ways to save on housing costs. According to HomeLight’s research, 48% of real estate agents have noticed homebuyers prioritizing energy-efficient features in their home search.

In fact, for every dollar that solar panels save you on your electricity bills, your home value increases by $20, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Shining a light on your home’s energy efficiency could illuminate its potential for eco-conscious buyers.

Sell your location

While real estate listing sites often include a map to show where your property is located, your marketing should make it easy for buyers to learn what’s nearby and how convenient it would be to live there.

In the NAR 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, buyers identified the quality of the neighborhood, convenience to family and friends, and overall affordability as the most significant indicators of a location’s desirability.

Other significant factors include:

  • School district statistics
  • Proximity to restaurants and shopping
  • Parks and trails
  • Quiet streets
  • Convenient public transportation or freeway access
  • Neighborhood association pool
  • Golf course access or cart paths

Add a virtual tour or 3D walkthrough

According to the NAR November 2023 Confidence Index, the lack of housing inventory, the fast-paced market, and the use of technology prompted 6% of buyers to purchase a home without stepping foot on the property. They based their decision and made an offer exclusively on a virtual tour, showing, or open house.

“We do 3D tours on $2 million houses and $200,000 houses,” Robinson explains, “because we want buyers to experience what it feels like to walk through the house.”

But, 3D’s advantages don’t translate to all demographics. “If I were showing a listing to my mother,” he says, “it would be better for her to experience that house with the video.”

That’s why Robinson advocates a multimedia approach to marketing.

Post on the MLS and major real estate sites

To reach the largest audience, a home’s data, photos, and description are uploaded on the listing the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a local or regional database cooperating real estate brokers use to share data and information about properties for sale.

“When a home goes into the MLS, it’s syndicated to all of the other real estate websites,” says Santistevan. That means your agent’s public-facing MLS listing should populate on sites like Zillow, Realtor, Trulia, and Homesnap as well.

According to NAR data, 41% of recent buyers looked at properties online as the first step in their home-buying process, and all buyers used online tools at some point in the process.

Use social media to your advantage

Savvy real estate agents are well-versed in using social media channels for real estate to generate buzz and raise your home’s visibility in your area.

Macnab frequently places shareable images and videos on Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor, and even TikTok to amp up the number of people who see her listings.

You can also complement your agent’s social media strategy with your own. Even if your network is small, it can be mighty.

But don’t forget about the impact physical signage, brochures, postcards, and print ads can have in your digital pursuit to promote your home. These days, many print ad listings are part of packages that include a digital component such as Facebook or Instagram listings.

NAR statistics show 12% of buyers — and 14% of buyers over the age of 76 and 21% of those over age 67 — gathered information from newspaper print ads in their home search.

The same text and images you create for a digital campaign can easily be adapted for old-school marketing materials such as signs, brochures, postcards, and print ads.

A for-sale sign is a classic no-brainer to grab the attention of any passersby.

A well-timed postcard gives neighbors advanced notice that you’re ready to sell — and the opportunity to choose their new neighbors by sharing that listing with their friends and family.

Santistevan creates a professional brochure for every client’s home. “You don’t know how many homes buyers are seeing on the same day,” she says. “When they’re reviewing the homes later, that high-quality brochure triggers a positive emotional response.”

Host open houses and broker opens

After they fell out of favor with the pandemic lockdown and the rise of virtual tours, open houses may feel old-fashioned to some sellers.

However, besides giving the property more exposure, Macnab finds open houses offer the opportunity for casual exploration that turns into kismet.

“Sometimes, someone sees an advertisement and comes to an open house — maybe it isn’t exactly the kind of home they’re looking for or they’re not looking at all — because they’re curious,” she says. “Once they see the property, they end up purchasing the home.”

According to NAR, 28% of buyers used the information gained at an open house during their home search.

Brokers’ open houses are another good marketing strategy. Shortly after your listing goes live, your agent might host a gathering of select real estate brokers and agents at your home, so they can investigate whether your property is right for their clients.

NAR data shows 90% of recent buyers found their real estate agent to be a very or somewhat useful information source. So, it’s no surprise a broker’s open is sometimes more lucrative than a traditional open house because it can lead to more private showings and serious offers.

Engage an agent months in advance

Robinson says it’s ideal when clients contact him six months before they plan to sell.

It may seem early, but “now’s the time we can actually help clients put more money in their pocket,” he says, “because we can evaluate the home and give them a 90-day plan of action to economically get their house up to the standards for today’s buyers.”

Invest in low cost, high ROI improvements

“Since homes have become kind of a sanctuary,” says Robinson, “buyers want to make their homes a place where they can work, work out, and entertain.”

Just like there are classic features that never go out of style, there are other elements that are destined for the dustbin of design history.

Robinson reports decor that discourages buyers includes:

  • Carpet in a bathroom: “I don’t know why that was ever popular,” he says.
  • Dated wallpaper in a room: “It just sends a message that there’s going to be a high investment to get that off,” Robinson says.
  • Different types of hardwood flooring in adjacent rooms, such as having an oak floor in the dining room and cherry in the kitchen.
  • Jacuzzi tubs in bathrooms.

By contrast, agents nationwide report buyers are impressed by kitchen designs featuring:

  • Light or calming color palette
  • White color scheme
  • Mixed materials
  • Gray/greige palette
  • Earth tones
  • Light wood
  • Black or matte black and
  • Bold colors.

Buyers were also delighted to discover bathroom amenities that include a:

  • Double-sink vanity
  • Modern lighting design
  • Rain shower or dual shower head
  • Vanity with extra storage and
  • Soaking tub

With those preferences in mind, it might be tempting to pursue a remodel before your listing.

Nationally, HomeLight agents estimate a mid-range kitchen remodel costs about $26,218 and results in an additional $22,253 in resale value. On average, a mid-range bathroom remodel costs about $11,320 and is likely to garner approximately $11,063 at resale.

However, because many buyers prefer to save money on the purchase price and adapt the home to suit their own design aesthetic, Macnab advises homeowners to “avoid over-improving the home.”

Instead, she advocates repairs and improvements that offer a high return on investment such as punch-list items (see below) that typically cost $300 or less and add an additional $1,000 or more in value.

Declutter and take care of deferred maintenance

Never underestimate the appeal of a decluttered, well-maintained home.

“If a buyer sees deferred maintenance in one area,” he says, “it overshadows their decision to invest the highest amount and the offer price.”

That may be more important than ever since HomeLight agents say millennials are likely to comprise the largest group of purchasers. As a generation generally disinterested in family heirlooms, it’s no surprise they’re unwilling to inherit major problems from previous property owners.

Agents nationwide estimated decluttering could add $8,000 on average to the sale price of a home.

Avoid the biggest blindspots for overconfident sellers

You never get a second chance to make a first impression — particularly with brokers and buyers. So, before hosting open houses or broker opens, it’s important to make sure your house shines.

Eighty-six percent of agents surveyed thought that because of the recent hot seller’s market, some of their sellers are now overconfident with their listing and slack on basic home prep items. They report the biggest blindspots for overconfident sellers are:

  • Deferred maintenance
  • Excessive clutter
  • Low curb appeal
  • Stained carpet, scratched hardwood, or other flooring problems
  • Tired/worn/dirty interior paint
  • Lack of staging
  • Dirty/unsanitary interiors
  • Major problems with HVAC, foundation, or other home systems
  • Faded/dingy home exterior
  • Old/faulty appliances
  • Bad odors

Conversely, agents find moderate improvements that add value include:

  • Painting tired walls and dated cabinets
  • Replacing old carpet, dated countertops, and cabinet hardware
  • Installing new light fixtures, a kitchen backsplash, a smart thermometer
  • Adding shelving and storage inside the home, backyard elements (i.e., seating and firepit), a deck or patio

Learn more: See our guide for how to prepare your home for sale for more expert tips.

Consider requesting a pocket listing for privacy

This method of marketing a home for sale is different from all the others mentioned here so far, and it only works for sellers who value privacy ahead of maximizing the exposure of their listing.

Essentially, a pocket listing is an agreement between a real estate agent and seller to market a home through private connections rather than advertise it publicly.

The key distinction is: The pocket listing does not appear on MLS. Instead, the listing information is retained within a brokerage and shared on an individual basis with clients who may be interested.

When a seller wants to shield the sale from public knowledge for personal or legal reasons, that’s when a pocket listing may be an attractive option.

However, the benefits should be weighed against possible trade-offs, such as difficulty in finding a buyer and accepting an offer below market value.

Tip: If privacy and speed are crucial to your home-selling objective, HomeLight can connect you to the largest network of cash buyers in the U.S. through our Simple Sale platform. You can receive a no-obligation cash offer in as little as a week, and close in as little as 10 days.

Ready to market your listing?

When marketing your home for sale, be sure to cover essential home-selling steps such as competitive pricing and home preparations. Consider ways you can help your listing stand out with professional photos and staging.

That said, every home is different. The best marketing plan will be tailored to your unique selling points and market. Consult with a top local real estate agent for access to digital tools, a professional network, and expert opinion on what buyers are sure to love about your home.

FAQs for how to market your house

Header Image Source: (Point3D Commercial Imaging Ltd. / Unsplash)