By Winnie Sun
Learn more about Winnie on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor
Selling your home is a big decision that requires significant preparation, including listing your property and meeting with potential agents. Once you’ve done that, it can still take weeks or even months to find a buyer, depending on the market.
With all that in mind, it’s important to know the current best practices for selling your home. Following these five tips will lead to a better experience.
1. Spruce up your online listing
A recent National Association of Realtors study found that nearly 90% of homebuyers use the internet to house hunt. If your online listing is drab and uninviting, you’re already turning off potential buyers. Start by updating it with clear and colorful images of your property. You could even get creative and post a love letter video about your home on YouTube. If you really want to use technology to your advantage, consider renting a drone camera and filming a video that gives potential buyers a 360-degree view of your property.
Remember, you only have one chance to create a good first impression. Helping potential buyers envision themselves living in your home gets you that much closer to selling your property.
2. Shop around for a solid real estate agent
Finding a capable agent is just as important as marketing your home. Try out a few of your options by attending open houses and observing how the agents interact with guests. Do they actively engage the visitors? Are they organized, and do they have support from team members?
You can also ask successful sellers to recommend their listing agents, and let’s not forget the power of online review sites, which can be good tools for finding reputable agents.
3. Negotiate the commission
Once you’ve selected an agent, it’s important that you negotiate the commission. Most realtors charge around 6% of the sale price. But let’s say you’re trying to sell a property in Silicon Valley, where many homes are only on the market for a week or so. You could negotiate a lower commission based on the fact that houses tend to sell more easily in that area.
Research the underlying benefits of selling a property in your area and use this information to negotiate the commission. Six percent represents a big bite out of your proceeds. Don’t hesitate to try to cut a deal.
4. Keep your agent on track
From day one, it’s essential that you establish tasks and timelines for your agent, both verbally and in written agreement. Then make sure that he or she is on track at all stages of the selling process, whether that’s organizing open houses or advertising your property through social media. He or she is your employee, and the last thing that you want is miscommunication.
I have an acquaintance whose agent sneaked away on vacation without warning after setting up an open house. Prospective buyers quickly lost interest when the agent wasn’t around in the following days to answer questions, and the house took awhile to sell. Don’t let this happen to you.
5. Select your buyer wisely
As a seller, you get to choose who buys your house. Remember, this is a business decision — it’s not just a matter of liking the potential buyer personally. For that reason, it’s wise to choose buyers who are preapproved. These buyers have the backing of their lenders to complete a sale, meaning their credit reports and income tax returns have already been checked out, lessening the chance that a financial snafu will throw off the sale process. You shouldn’t dismiss an unapproved buyer immediately, but it’s best to lean toward those who are preapproved.
Selling your home is no simple feat. Always take the time to sort out your options. Happy selling!