The Art of Selling Your Home

Concept Illustration of hands shaking in real estate agreement
Concept Illustration of hands shaking in real estate agreement

How do you know when you’ve found “the one?”

And, more importantly, when you finally find it—your dream home—how do you break up with your old place?

The ins and outs of prepping a home for sale can overwhelm even the most motivated sellers. That’s where the support of the right team and these simple pointers come in handy.

If you’ve been burned before, don’t despair over past real estate dealings. “The market is amazing,” says Creig Northrop, of the Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster. “Inventory is steady, and there are qualified buyers out there, so if a home is priced correctly and marketed properly, it will sell quickly,” he says.

But a promising market doesn’t mean you should try to DIY your home sale, he advises. “The numbers don’t lie,” he says. “Homes without representation generally remain on the market longer and end up selling at a lower price than those with a real estate professional.”

So how do the professionals get homes in tip-top shape for the market? Northrop suggests consulting with staging professionals, who will assess the property’s photographic qualities and help present the home at its best well before the property is listed.

“Even if the sellers are not ready to go on the market immediately, it’s smart to consult with staging professionals and learn what they need to do to prepare their home for market,” says Northrop. “This gives the seller time and opportunity to get everything in order for when they are ready to list.”

It’s also wise to de-clutter, writes Berkshire Hathaway realtor Harriett Wasserman in a useful online Realtor blog. “The more ‘stuff’ you have in each room, the smaller it looks,” she notes. “Spacious rooms with storage capacity attract buyers.”

Some updates have better return-on-investment quality than others, especially in high-traffic areas of a home, says Karen Hubble Bisbee, a Long & Foster Realtor who specializes in high-end luxury real estate. She says updates to kitchens, bathrooms, wall colors and flooring can fast-track a home’s sale.

Northrop adds that maintaining appliances and addressing necessary repairs in a timely manner are price-savvy ways of staying on top of a home’s resale value.

“It’s less expensive in both time and money to repair and maintain items ahead of time,” he says.

Wasserman agrees: “Take the time now to take care of anything you know won’t pass a home inspection, like a leaky faucet or faulty garbage disposal. It usually costs less to fix things before a home inspection, so completing repairs now will save money down the line and ensure a quicker sale.”

And natural light can be a home-selling secret weapon, says Hubble Bisbee.

“I could say it in all caps: LIGHT SELLS HOUSES,” she says. “I often recommend taking down drapery. If the client has blinds, I’ll pull them all the way up. I always encourage my sellers to get their windows washed, inside and out, and, in fact, I have them remove the screens from their windows. A screen can block up to a third of natural light.”

But the most important investment you can make when selling your home, by far, is the trust you invest in your agent.

“Because a home has such an emotional attachment, it can sometimes affect judgment when setting a list price,” says Northrop. “Our goal is to always educate a seller on current market conditions so that they do not overvalue or undervalue their home.”

Great agents are market professionals who know their sellers and their buyers inside and out, adds Hubble Bisbee. She regularly attends conferences and retreats to learn about the trappings of high-end lifestyles—fine jewelry, art collections, designer handbags—all to better understand her luxury real estate market.

“I’m not selling sticks and bricks, I’m selling lifestyle,” she says. “But communication is king. It is absolutely the most important thing that we do, no matter the price of the home.”

Selling a home can be an extremely personal and sentimental transaction. Parting with a property can feel like parting with memories. But with your trusty agent, the breakup can feel less like an obstacle and more like an opportunity.

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