I Want to Sell My Home: How do I get Started?

by on July 16, 2012Shannon O'Brien

preparing to sell your homeThe process of selling a home can be broken down into concrete steps. If taken in order, these steps lead to a successful conclusion. Skimping on any of the steps – trying to take shortcuts – may lead to problems when problems are the last thing you want to encounter – during the escrow period.

Your friends at RealEstate.com believe in the power of the checklist and have created one especially for the home seller.

First, though, let’s dig into each step and discuss its importance.

Clean and Declutter

Before you even think of having real estate agents tour the home, get the heavy lifting out of the way. If you’re confused about what to remove from your home and what should stay, keep in mind that your aim is to make rooms look larger and brighter. Oversized furniture typically make a room look smaller, so store the big stuff and rearrange the smaller furniture to make the room look open and airy.

Go through each room and remove anything that doesn’t fit the room’s purpose. For instance, exercise equipment doesn’t advertise that your office is a place to get work done, so move the treadmill into storage. Do the same with baby paraphernalia in the living room: Either move baby items to the nursery or store them while the house is on the market.

When you clean the house, clean everything, from the drapes to the rugs and carpet.

Curb Appeal

One of the more familiar real estate buzzwords, curb appeal simply describes how appealing your home is from the curb. This is the buyer’s initial vantage point and typically determines whether she wants to see the inside of the home.

At the very least, give the landscaping a good cleaning and pruning, green up the lawn and keep it mowed. A fresh coat of paint on the front door creates a focal point for the buyer when she lands at the curb in front of your home.

Consider Staging the Home

Studies have shown that staging a home allows it to sell quicker and for more money. While you don’t need to go all out and hire the most expensive interior decorator in town, following some basic staging advice will go a long way toward a quick sale and big bucks.

Make Necessary Repairs

To avoid bumps in the home selling road, have your home professionally inspected before putting it on the market. Yes, the buyer will most likely have it inspected as well, but a pre-sale home inspection gives you knowledge of items in need of repair that may slow down or even halt the deal.

At the very least, fix those items that you are aware of, such as dripping faucets, running toilets and holes in window screens.

Hire an Agent

Sure, folks sell their houses on their own all the time. Unless you have a lot of spare time to devote to the process, however, the marketing of your biggest lifetime investment should be left to a professional real estate agent.

Finding the right real estate agent for your situation is the biggest challenge, but we have a checklist for finding an agent to help you out.

Create a Brag Book

The brag book is something you can leave on the kitchen counter for buyers to look through as they tour your home. In it you can place your home’s flyer, a page that includes the neighborhood’s comparable sales, and a listing of the area’s schools, parks and other amenities. Add a sheet that highlights any of the home’s custom features and, finally, a list of all repairs or replacements made with copies of invoices.

Use the checklist below to remain organized during the initial phase of getting your home ready for the market.

Checklist for Preparing to Sell Your Home


  • Clear off kitchen and bathroom counters, leaving only decorative items.
  • Clean out and rearrange medicine cabinet, closets, cupboards, pantry and drawers to make them look roomier.
  • Remove large furniture and other items that make rooms appear small and cramped.
  • Rearrange rooms to advertise their purpose (remove exercise equipment from the office).
  • Remove personal items such as family photos, refrigerator clutter, certificates and awards, books and DVD collections.

Clean the Home Thoroughly

  • Remove odors.
  • Wash or paint the walls.
  • Wash the windows.
  • Launder or dry clean rugs and drapery.
  • Clean out the fireplace.
  • Make the bathroom and kitchen sparkle.
  • Clean carpets.
  • Clean baseboards.

Increase Curb Appeal

  • Make the front porch look as inviting as possible.
  • Fertilize, edge and mow the lawn.
  • Rake debris from the beds and add fresh mulch.
  • Consider new landscape plants that add a pop of color to the yard.

Next Steps

  • Hire a home stager or do it yourself.
  • Order a home inspection.
  • Make the necessary repairs.
  • Interview real estate agents.
  • Create a brag book.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl Wickens January 22, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Looking for a reputable agent in S.C.


Peggy January 10, 2015 at 8:44 am

Hello, i want to sell my 3 bd/2 ba home in Dallas, TX 75217. I’m liooking for a realtor in my area starting today (1-10-2015). Thanks,


Jay Johnson November 19, 2014 at 10:49 am

I recently sold my house. I first got a professional appraisal for about $350 that stated it was worth $588K. I then listed with an agent at 4.5% (1.5% listing agent- 3% sales agent). The 1.5% I saved from the standard 6% listing I used to lower the sales price to $579K. I made copies of the appraisal and displayed it in the house for all to see. It sold for $577k in 2 weeks and I paid no sellers closing cost. Worked like a charm and did not piss off the listing agent too much. I also used most of the 7 tips in this article. Hope this may help someone.


joe savior December 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm

You got someone to work hard and paid a meager percentage and hardly “pissed them off” according to you. Good for you!!! You and the listing agent just devalued what we as Broker’s do.


Chris Phillips November 12, 2014 at 4:58 pm

I disagree with having your home inspected prior to listing. If you do this you now have a multi-page report complete with pictures that you must disclose to all potential buyers. This can scare off buyers before they make an offer whereas they may be more negotiable during an inspection response stage. Fix the noticeable defects and do low cost cosmetic repairs. Let the buyers worry about (and pay for) the inspection, any latent defects can be addressed if they even come up.

If you are looking to sell your home in Indianapolis, IN or the northern suburbs of Carmel, Fishers and Zionsville, send me a reply or click my name to visit my site.


Donald mike October 18, 2014 at 3:03 am

I want to sell my house asap cos am relocating to florida in couple of days pls any interested buyer should contact me on my email at robinclark321@gmail.com


Bruce Clark September 15, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I also recommend sellers meet with at least 2 agents that are knowledgeable about the area/tract. Discussion should be not only about the price, but about how the agent is going to market the home: does the agent have a written plan that makes it easy for the seller to follow with regard to what to expect will be done to market there home. Good question to ask: where are buyers coming from – and how does the agent intend to target them.

This is also a great time to find out how detail-oriented the agent is: did they bring recent sales (comps) with them – and do they plan on leaving them for one to review. What about the listing documents: did the agent go over what is entailed in listing a home for sale and address timelines, contingencies, etc.?

Price: find out what has sold recently in the area. Don’t always list your home for sale with the agent that offers to list your home at the highest price. Fact is, the most activity a home receives is the first 2 weeks – and if the is overpriced, it will typically sell for up to 6.5% less than if it had been priced properly initially. (I always recommend sellers visit ‘the competition’ and find out how their home compares to others on the market.)

Communication is key during the process of selling and buying a home: always let your agent know if you need more information about what’s occurring at any given time during the sale and escrow.


kenneth July 28, 2014 at 8:09 pm

I my name is kenneth I want to sell my house you can contact me on my mail (brnzkay@gmail.com)


Suzanne August 30, 2014 at 7:13 am

Hi Kenneth,

Just noticed your comment on the Sellers Checklist, has someone contact you regarding selling your house?

Where do you live?

Suzanne Scharf


Catherine Sawatsky October 17, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Tell me where you are located and I can put you in touch with a great agent in your area.

Thank you


Elizabeth July 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Hi Im Elizabeth I want to sell Tupperware im not work im stay at home and im not have income. I’m stay free state Deneysville near by sasolburg please.


AC July 12, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Preparing to sell a 3 bdrm 2.5 bath 2 level single family home. Open family room with 20 ft vaulted ceilings, fireplace, huge 2 car garage. Located in Johnston County, NC. Would like to sell ASAP, thanks.


Doreen Sobers-Stewart June 7, 2014 at 3:48 am

I must sell my home in St. Albans Queens NY. One family, semi detached brick home. One full bath and one half bath. 3 bedrooms. Finished basement. Garage and backyard. Fully renovated kitchen. Front porch with awning.


Kay October 7, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Hello Doreen
I’m an agent who specializes in your area of Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties. Please give me a call if you’d like a free market appraisal. I can help you to set the right selling price for your home, locate qualified prospective buyers, and shorten the amount of time your house is on the market. If you need someone by your side that you can trust to negotiate the sale of your home, please call. My office also has a network of professional associates, including home inspectors, mortgage lenders, and appraisers. Not only am I an experienced agent, I am a Century 21 agent. Century 21 has earned the title of best in customer services/ relations sweeping all 4 JD Power awards with respect to such.

Give me a call, I’d love to speak with you further on doing a market appraisal and to inform you of all the services I provide to assist in the sale of your home, including open houses and submitting your home to the Multiple Listing Services.

Looking forward to speaking with you!
Kay Mahadan
(516) 972-3101


Angel Romero May 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm

I’m interested in buying Short Sales only in Illinois and Texas. Are you in Pre or Foreclosure and have a sale date? Then, call me please at 512 487 7175 to discuss.


Angel Romero May 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm

I’m interested in buying Short Sale only in Illinois and Texas. Are you in Pre or Foreclosure and have a sale date? Then, call me at 512 487 7175 .


Terry Smith May 22, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Can you please call me to discuss on 0400 015 394


Tajuana jefferson October 23, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I’m retiring I need to sell my townhome and buy a rambler


Susan Cheung October 16, 2014 at 11:45 am

where are you located. I might be able to refer you to somebody if you are not living in MA.


Alberto Medrano August 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Great article, beautifully written and precise. First step, get a Comparative market Analysis on your home. This will give you an idea of how much your home will be worth when compared to the market in a 1 mile radius. Once you decided that it will be beneficial for you to sell your home, next step is to hire a local agent that knows his or hers marketplace. They should take care of everything from start to finish leaving you with little to no stress. And make sure they communicate, sometimes I offer a communication agreement added to my listing contract.


penny May 29, 2014 at 3:27 pm

To Alberto Medrano: where are you located?


AJMAL.AMEER August 22, 2013 at 1:06 am



Julio Maldonado August 8, 2013 at 9:48 am

I need to sell my home as soon as possible
Because I have to relocate to Staten Island New York.
And i can not afford to pay two mortgages.


archie November 13, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Have you found a buyer?


Laura Larabee July 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Hello I don’t know how start we are thinking of retiring this year, but we need to decide how much we will get for this house because we are going to moving out of state. So I wondering if you could help.


Travis Webb November 21, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Looking to sell newly and fully remodeled home. Two and half bath, full finished basement with bar and bath. 8 x 19 walk in closet or storage room(finished)three levels .garage attached off basement .three level home with 12×16 deck off kitchen newly paved driveway and turn about .custom cabinets in kitchen and hardwood throughout .too many positives to list


Angela Roehl December 15, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Hi, Travis!
I’d love to assist you in the sale of your home – where are you located?
I am located in the Raleigh, NC area, but I have a nationwide network of great agents – and I can help you find the perfect agent properly suited for your specific needs.
Call me at 919.995.0550 and let’s talk!


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }