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Selling a house is one of the biggest decisions you can make, and in today’s complex housing market with high interest rates and hesitant buyers, it can feel like a daunting task. In this post, we tapped into advice from some of the top real estate agents in America and selected their best tips. Whether you’re hoping to attract high offers, sell fast, or simply make things go smoothly, we’ve got you covered. This is what helps sell a house.
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, but agents often have a Rolodex of connections to help you prepare your house for its sale.
These are reasons why only 7% of home sales are sold as “for sale by owner” (FSBO), according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Of those FSBO sellers, the majority (57%) already knew the buyer of the home.
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 recent NAR report found the median FSBO home brings in an average of $105,000 less than agent-assisted sales.
As the market continues to rebalance following the pandemic era, sellers can no longer count on buyers bending over backward, making offers significantly above the listing price, waiving contingencies, or getting into bidding wars with other buyers. Instead, top agents are now emphasizing the importance of motivated sellers getting back to basics, according to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Surveys.
Below, we’ll review some recommended incentives and the tried-and-true strategies that help sell a house.
1. Offer home warranties and improvement allowances
In our latest survey of over 1,000 top real estate agents across the country, it’s clear that sellers need to provide additional incentives to attract the best buyers and the best offers.
As timid buyers face high mortgage interest rates and elevated home prices, 51% of agents recommend sellers sweeten the deal by offering home warranties to ease buyer concerns.
Another 40% of agents suggest providing home improvement allowances to tip the scales toward closing a sale.
2. 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 spruce 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 buyers 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.
Stage and depersonalize your home
Staging your home is a critical step if you’re hoping for an easier time selling. In fact, in Homelight’s 2023 End of Year survey, 67% of agents say staging is helping to sell homes across the country, with 31% labeling it as “essential for a sale.”
“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.”
In addition, HomeLight’s 2023 End of Year survey found that a professionally staged home can sell for up to 13% more than an unstaged home. On a $400,000 home, you could sell for as much as $52,000 more.
Since you’ll want to make it easy for potential buyers 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
3. 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, 58% of agents say outdoor living areas are a top priority in today’s 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.
- Bonnie Fleishman Real Estate AgentCloseBonnie Fleishman Real Estate Agent at Douglas Realty LLC Currently accepting new clients
- Years of Experience 34
- Transactions 1170
- Average Price Point $332k
- Single Family Homes 925
4. 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. As inventory remains low and buyers are scared away by high mortgage interest rates, prices set unreasonably high may lead to a house lingering on the market, which can perpetuate the perception among prospective buyers, rightly or wrongly, that something might be wrong with the house.
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 help 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 a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) before pricing your home.
“I am seeing too many price reductions, which is usually the effect of overpricing,” says Betty Bargoil, a Raleigh, North Carolina agent with nearly 25 years of experience. “You can never win ‘chasing the market down.’ Price it right, and it will sell.”
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.
5. 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 holistic 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.
6. 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:
- List your house on a multiple listing service (MLS)
- Include a virtual tour
- Update photographs whenever you can
- Upgrade your listing based on the remarks you hear at showings
- Point out home features that appeal to a potential buyer’s lifestyle and emotions
If you’re planning on selling in the future
We asked agents what changed in 2023 as far as the biggest selling points of a house in their markets. If you’re not selling yet but planning for the future, here is what our survey found that might influence your remodeling and upgrade decisions in 2024:
- 67% of agents say updated kitchens and appliances are lead selling points for buyers.
- 37% say home offices have stepped up to the second most sought-after feature for home shoppers.
Kaydee Wilson, part of the top-performing Riddle Group Team in Phoenix, Arizona, says missed opportunities are coming from sellers “not being willing to invest in remodeling kitchen and baths” to attract more buyers and for “the highest return on investment when selling.”
Combine these tips and a top agent’s help to sell fast
Selling your home is a big decision, but the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Taking sufficient time to prepare before you sell your house can make all the difference. If you follow these proven strategies, and lean on an expert agent’s help, you’ll be set up for a smooth and successful home sale.
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