Questions to Ask Yourself Before Selling Your House

To keep you on the right track when you sell your house, consider the following five questions.

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Selling your home is a big deal. Not only are you relocating family and belongings, but you also have to be looking for a new home, at the same time. With so many things to think about and consider, it’s easy to drop the ball somewhere. So, to keep you on the right track when you sell your house, consider the following five questions.

Do I need a real estate agent?

Unless you have experience with home sales, and are well-versed in real estate lingo, hiring a real estate agent and happily paying their commission will almost always prevent a ton of headaches. When you sell your house, an agent will advise you on how to prepare the property for sale. They will also handle things like advertising, finding potential buyers, pricing, showing, and all that paperwork. They act as a liaison between you and the potential buyer which often softens conflicts that may arise during contract negotiations. The right agent becomes your best friend during what can be an emotional transaction.

The Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018 says that 31% of homeowners find their agent through referral. So, ask friends and coworkers who they used and what their experience was like. And, before you sign on the dotted line, look for the warning signs that you’re about to hire the wrong agent. (If you have family members or close friends who are agents, think carefully before committing to work with them to sell you house. Be sure you’re confident your personal relationship won’t be jeopardized if the sale doesn’t go smoothly.)

What items should stay with the house?

Deciding what stays with the house and what goes, for some, can be difficult. Are the those kitchen appliances that you love attractive enough to potential buyers that they may increase the value of the home? If so, sell them with the house and buy the same models for your new home. Do the buyers adore your bedroom window treatments? Unless you’re absolutely sure you’ll be able to use them again, create goodwill and let them stay with the house.

If you’re in a hurry to sell, there are a few things you can do to speed the process along..

What should you get rid of?

Everything personal. No joke. When a potential customer visits your home they want to be able to picture themselves living there. That can’t happen with clutter, obviously. But it’s also hard when your family photos and souvenirs from around the world are in plain view. It is also smart to take down things that reveal your political views and religion, along with items that disclose your hobbies, such as a gun collection.

So, before listing your house, declutter, big time. Clean out closets and drawers and discard everything you don’t want to move. Organizational expert Marie Kondo says to ask yourself if something brings you joy. If you can’t say yes, pitch it.

Also, pack personal belongings that aren’t essential to daily living away. You may consider renting a storage unit to keep things off-site until the house sells. Don’t go overboard, though. Empty houses are hard to sell, too. Furniture in place gives the buyers an idea of room sizes. And a few creature comforts make your house feel more like a home.

What needs to be spruced up or repaired?

Take a walk through your house with a critical eye. Look for dirt around the light switches, burned out light bulbs or broken latches. Finish any projects you started but haven’t completed. Consider painting. Potential buyers may not appreciate your orange accent wall in the dining room. According to Zillow’s 2018 Paint Color Analysis, homes painted in some colors sell for a higher price than others.

Smells are important when you sell your home, too. Don’t rely on your own nose, though, because you’re accustomed to how your home smells. To find out what’s making a stink at your house, ask a friend or neighbor if they can smell your cat litter box, dogs or cigar smoke. If they say yes, clean the culprits—trash cans, litter box, toilets, garbage disposal, or dishwasher—and keep them clean.

What documents do I need to keep on hand?

When you sell your house, it helps to have some documentation at the ready. Papers that will answer the prospective buyers’ questions are what you want, like current utility bills, covenants from your homeowners’ association and a copy of your land survey. Buyers will also want to know about property taxes so keeping a tax document in your folder helps, too. Anything you can do to show the buyer you are eager to assist and cooperate will help your agent sell your house.

Now that you know the things to do before you sell, here are 35 things you should definitely not to do.

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Carol J. Alexander
Carol J. Alexander is a Virginia writer specializing in sustainable/green living, home remodeling, and lifestyle topics. Since 2007, her work has appeared in Grit, AcreageLife, Hobby Farms, and over 70 other national, regional, and local print publications, as well as online. Carol helps clients position themselves as an authority in the marketplace by providing easy-to-understand, educational content that attracts readers, answers their questions, and meets their needs.