Getting Started

Maybe you’ve outgrown your current space…or you want to move into a better neighborhood…or you simply want to move closer to your work…whatever the reason for moving, there are a few to-do’s before the “For Sale” sign goes up:

Determine affordability

Look at what you owe on the home (your unpaid principal balance) and what the home is worth today (see below for help estimating). Then factor in all the other costs associated with selling your home, such as: any needed home improvement costs; closing costs; moving costs, etc. Make sure you are aware of the financial consequences of selling your home (and moving to a new one) before you take the next step.

Review market conditions

Analyze your local market, including the current inventory of homes for sale, recent sales, and housing prices. Are homes moving quickly, or are they staying on the market for a long time? Are you prepared for a quick sale or do you need time to find a new home? Helpful sites like Trulia and Zillow as well as local real estate firms are a good starting point for this information.

Decide how to list

Select how you’ll market and list the home (e.g., with a real estate agent, for sale by owner, or using an online marketplace). There are pros and cons to each, but unless you are experienced at selling homes, it usually makes financial sense to get professional help. A professional real estate service will help you determine the best pricing for the house, they’ll market the home, and they’ll guide you through the process.

Prepare your home

Inspect your home—inside and out—for needed repairs, cosmetic updates, and general maintenance. Don’t make the mistake of not thoroughly inspecting your home to look for areas of improvement.

Tip: Potential homebuyers may struggle to look past unique landscaping, brightly-colored walls, or lots of personal touches (family photos, memorabilia, etc.). You want to make the home as attractive as possible to as many buyers as possible—think neutral, simple, and free of clutter. You also may want to rearrange the furniture (staging) to better showcase the home’s assets.