How to Sell Your House Fast – 9 Tips to Get The Most From Your Home Sale

Now that the house hunting season is in full swing, I thought it’s a good idea to revisit these house selling tips again. Although the economy improved quite a bit since last season, the housing market still favors buyers over sellers. You’d be hard pressed to find multiple buyers bidding up a house. The fact is, sellers are still finding themselves in a competitive market and have to differentiate themselves in order to make a sale. Fortunately, there are proven techniques that you can use to help you sell your home quicker and some of these will even help you get more money for your home.

Tips To Sell Your Home In A Buyer’s Market

To make sure your home sells in a buyer’s market, there are a few things that you could do. Here are 9 home improvement techniques to help you sell your home more quickly:

1. Make sure you are selling at the right price

I know it’s very difficult to sell your home for less than what you bought it for a few years ago. It’s even harder if you’re upside down on your home loan.  But you can’t insist on unrealistic price if you want to sell your home in a down market. To find the right price, you can check other homes for sale in your area, check web sites like Zillow, or get an appraisal.

Although you can’t compete with banks that are selling foreclosed homes, you’ll be in a much better position to compete against other sellers who aren’t as flexible on price.

2. Remove clutter from your home

decluttered interior
Photo by Annahape via Flickr

No one wants to buy a messy rat hole. So make sure your house is clean and organized. Remove as much clutter as you can, even if you have to store your stuff in storage. You can get an idea of how your home should look by browsing through magazines or even IKEA catalog. And here are some general tips to help guide you:

  • Tables, desks, and countertops should be mostly clear to show as much surface space as possible.
  • Remove family photos from walls, shelves, and fireplace mantle (if you have one). You want the potential buyers to picture themselves living in the house, not looking at your family history.
  • Remove any unnecessary furniture and put it into storage to give your house more living space.
  • Remove unnecessary electronics, extension cords, and power strips. Most buyers don’t care about your mega entertainment system. And you don’t want it to be obvious that your electrical system is old and lacking.
  • Remove clothing from your closets and put it into storage to make the closets feel bigger.
  • Remove all the extra clutter throughout the house to make it feel bigger and more spacious.

3. Improve your home curb appeal

curb appeal
Photo by MichiganMoves via Flickr

First impression means a lot, and for your home the name of the game is curb appeal. If you’re a fan of HGTV Curb Appeal, you’ll know exactly what I mean. The goal here is not to spend a lot of money to improve your home, rather you’re trying to do inexpensive things (that may require some sweat equity) to improve the appearance of your home. You want your home to look better than other houses in the area and in a “move in ready” condition.

Here are a few things you could do to improve your home curb appeal:

  • Trim hedges and mow your lawn.
  • Clean all windows and surfaces.
  • Repaint walls, doors, and trims in neutral colors.
  • Replace old window blinds or drapes, and update the window treatments.
  • Power wash or paint the exterior.

4. Fix problems around the house

Now go throughout the house room by room, and take notes of all the things that need fixing. Little things matter and they could turnoff your buyers.  If you noticed them, the buyer will too. Take the time to go around and fix those things one by one. Remember that fixing these small problems doesn’t have to be expensive, but it will take time and effort.

5. Learn the Art of Home Staging

Home staging
Photo by Wonderlane via Flickr

Home staging is not decluttering and cleaning. Home staging goes beyond that and happens after the steps above. It involves much less tangible things that include:

  • Making the home smells fresh and airy. Some will even go as far as baking cookies before a showing to give the house a pleasant aroma.
  • Making sure the temperature is right. You want the potential buyer to feel comfortable.
  • Making sure rooms are properly lit by adjusting the window treatments and turning on/off lights.
  • Arranging pieces of furniture in an appealing manner.
  • Putting vases of fresh flowers on tables, or a small fruit basket on the dinning table.
  • Showcasing various fabrics, decors, and knickknacks.
  • Arranging items on shelves, bookcases and fireplace mantels to draw attention to predetermined areas.

You can read more about home staging at: Home Staging & Staging a House – What is Home Staging.

6. Leverage the power of the web to market your house

This is the Internet age and you should not let your agent limits your reach. Leverage online venues to help sell your house.  For example, put home for sale ads on Craigslist and Zillow. Promote the house through your online social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also send out a copy of your listing to people on your email list to see if they know anyone that might be looking for a house in your neighborhood.

Use every channel that you have at your disposal!

7. Get a good agent to help you sell

In general, it’s better to work with an agent than trying to sell the house on your own. It’s their full time job to find buyers and show your home. This is harder than it looks and it’s generally better to leave this to the pro. However, you have to remember you’re the boss and that we are dealing with a lot of money here. So don’t just pick any agent that comes along. Call several real estate offices and ask to talk to their top sales agents. Make sure you are comfortable working with the person and ask questions. Here are some good questions you can ask your real estate agent.

Another important thing to remember is never go into an exclusive contract with your agent. You want to be able to fire your real estate agent if he or she sucks.

Here are some thoughts on how to find a realtor to sell your house.

8. Be creative

This is a buyer’s market, but even so, a house is still very expensive for most people. If you have a buyer that needs help to close the deal, consider offering some sort of incentives to make the deal happens. For example, you can offer to cover some parts of the closing costs. This works especially well with first time home buyers.

Be creative!

9. Don’t be there

When you are having an open house, leave the house. It’s uncomfortable for you to have strangers in your home, and likewise, it’s uncomfortable to be in other people’s home. So why create any more tension? Leave the house and let your real estate agent takes care of business. Let your buyers look around at their leisure without your scrutiny.

Selling your house in a down market isn’t easy, but you can do some work to make your chances better.  In the end your house will show better, and you’ll be able to sell your house that much quicker.

Do you have your own tips to help a home sell faster?  Were there things that you did when selling your house that made it more attractive to buyers?  Let us know about it in the comments section!

About the Author

By , on May 17, 2010
Pinyo
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

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Leave Your Comment (24 Comments)

  1. Montana Ruark says:

    If you are looking to sell your home quick you must add value to your home. Houses that are similar in attributes are competing for the same buyers. Competing is a time killer. Take advantage of the free information available online on real estate listing sites, and use that information to make smart improvements to get the best ROI and sell before the other homes. Montana Ruark

  2. Cathy says:

    This is great advice.

    An attractive landscape will attract house buyers to your property. Once they enter, a clean and clutter free home makes a great impression. And home buyers will assume that you have taken good care of the major systems if the property is clean. This is particularly important when you need to sell your house fast.

    Thanks for the good advice.

  3. Stephan says:

    I have a plan to sell my house because I have found my new home. Thankfully, I find the tips on how to sell the house fast. I’ll follow the tips written above. Hopefully, I can sell my house quickly.

  4. Tiffany says:

    I really like making sure that your pricing range is true to make and not what you WANT to sell it for. This is hard for many but you cant get 100k for your house if they are going for 85 unless you really stage and put the money into it in the first place. Curb appeal and staging really do help!!

  5. Z. says:

    I disagree with all the agents saying that owners should leave the house. I’ve had two houses listed with agents and the only people who put offers on the houses were those I showed the house to. Most of the agents (90%) who “showed” my house didn’t do a darn thing except stand around and state the obvious – that was because it was their first time in the house as well.

    From a buyer’s perspective, when I make such a huge financial investment such as buying a home, I couldn’t care less if the owners are there when I look in the closets.

  6. Seller says:

    Do not let your spouse, who knows it all, to talk to anyone about the house. The buyers should be able to view the home as they would like to live in it and not hear, “Oh, that can’t be done.” When it fact their ideas are great, things you were going to do yourself, but never did.

  7. elwisdram says:

    This will help to sale house fast and also they are not charging anything for that.

    Thanks for giving information.

  8. Charles says:

    The one thing that many owners don’t do that is in your list is leave when the agent is showing. Being an agent I can tell you that it is very important that the house hunters do not see you at the house. It makes them nervous and less likely to take a serious look at the home for purchase.

  9. Adam says:

    All of these are great tips, but in my experience as a real estate agent, #2 and #9 are the most important. When people go into a cluttered house, they assume it’s not well taken care, and when they go into a house and the sellers are around or are hovering by them, they don’t get to relax and envision themselves as the new owners of the property.

  10. Rose says:

    Great tips and comments.

    My husband and I are thinking about upgrading. I hope this helps encourage him into having the living room painted a more neutral color. It’s mustard.

  11. Jerry says:

    These are great tips and we used some of them when we were selling our house. None of them are insurance that your house will sell but it does increase your chances.

  12. Peter says:

    I think one of the biggest of these is that people don’t price their homes as they should, having an unrealistic view of what their home is worth. Then their house sits on the market for 6 or more months, with no sale. Price it as it should be priced, and you’ll get a lot more action!

    Also, make sure to put the best face on your home – staging it to give it the best appeal to potential buyers..

    Great tips!

    • Montana Ruark says:

      Staging is all about a perception. buyers do not actually buy what you are showing them. The are buying the shell. So attracting buyers through a life style is what makes staging so successful.

  13. James says:

    these are all great tips and i agree with all of them. my thought on this in my mind is some what ironic. how many times do people do all this work, clean up, fix the yard do all the things they know needed to be done but have been putting them off and then bam its time to sell. any you think to your self, man this place looks really nice i wish we weren’t moving?

  14. Mike says:

    Nice list of tips. I think one of the most important things that people forget is to not be there (as mentioned above)

    When people are looking at a home to buy, they want to discuss it freely. If you’re around, they won’t have the opportunity.

    Again, nice list of the basics on how to sell a home.

    Mike

  15. JLW says:

    Great post. I definitely agree with point #9. I remember one house we looked at while the owner was there – it felt very uncomfortable looking into their closets, etc. while they followed us around. We just wanted to get out of there.

  16. Greg says:

    We sold a house in the inland empire of California (ground zero for the housing collapse) just as the market was beginning to fall in late 06.

    My wife thought I was crazy but I went down to the local Costco and purchased a new 40″ plasma TV and put a big sign on it offering it to the buyer who presents a contract by midnight on Sunday of the weekend we had an open house.

    The couple that bought remembered it because of the TV they didn’t need. We gave them $2000 in closing instead and took the TV back to Costco!

  17. Jules says:

    Great article… my family would like to upgrade soon (with all the great deals out there), so this is will be a helpful reference for us as we prepare to sell in the future. Thanks!

    • Montana Ruark says:

      Before you renovate any home be sure to find out what your up against. You may not need to put a ton of money into selling your home the houses around you do not offer much value. Research your local market for similar houses and extract their value points.

  18. Rohaizad says:

    I had friends who owned a house and renovates it, then facing loss since buyer didn’t like the renovation.They don’t want to pay more for the renovations.

  19. Pinyo says:

    @FFB – Good luck. I guess you’re upgrading to a bigger place.

    @Mike – Thank you. I guess “clutters” would be a verb.

  20. Mike says:

    This is a really good post. I love the “rat hole” usage. :)

    p.s. – it’s “Clutter” not “Clutters” – feel free to remove this line.

  21. Glen Craig says:

    Spot on! A lot of people can’t get past the fact that buyers don’t want to see their personal effects. A buyer wants to envision a house as if it’s their own. That means your tastes may not fit into the general public’s. Imagine making your place look like something out of a magazine. It’s not always easy but putting a few dollars into making your house appealing can earn you thousands or more on your sale.

    We’re in the process of closing on the sale of our co-op and I think a big reason we are is because of how our place looks. We have a neighbor with a similar sized co-op that’s been on the market longer but still hasn’t sold and they are offering a lower price. They just don’t get that it’s worth it to clean everything out.

    • Montana Ruark says:

      A point that I always make to clients is that value out ways cost. Make your home appear more valuable and buyers will make an offer that you really want.

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