First and Foremost, understand why you are selling!
Your reason for selling is the determining factor as to how you will approach the process. It affects everything in the selling process, from setting your asking price, to how much time, money, and effort you are willing to invest in order to have your home ready for sale. Example being, if your goal is for a quick sale, there would be one approach. If you want to maximize your profit, the process will probably take longer thus needing a different approach.
Keep the Reason(s) you are selling to yourself!
The reason you are selling your home will affect the way you negotiate the sale. By keeping this between yourself and your Realtor, you don't provide a prospective buyer with ammunition to work against you. Example, if a buyer were to learn that you HAVE to move quickly, it could place you at a disadvantage in the negotiating process. Only you and your Realtor need to know your reason.
Before setting a price, Do your Homework! Then have your Realtor Do their Homework!
Know your market as best you can, be aware of what your competition will be, i.e.; homes similar to yours that are currently for sale, as they will be your direct competition for buyers. Insist on a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis). A complete written comprehensive report that includes at least 3 homes similar to yours that have sold in the last 6mos. to 1year, as well as 3 Active listings (homes that are currently for sale that compare to your home). If a Realtor will not supply you with this important ammunition, move on to one that will.
Pick a good Realtor to represent your needs.
Statistics show that nearly two-thirds of people surveyed who sell their homes say they would not try to do it themselves. Primary reasons being, setting a price, marketing, liability concerns, and the time constraints. But, all Realtors are not the same! A professional agent knows the market and has information on past sales, current listings, a marketing plan, as well as providing you with background and references. Be sure to choose someone that you trust and feel comfortable that they will do their best on your behalf. One big pitfall, be as wary of agents whose quote is too low, as to those that are too high!
Appearances not only matter...They're critical!
Appearance dictates first impressions; first impressions dictate a buyers perspective. The look and feel of your home will generate a greater emotional response than any other factor. Prospective buyers react to their senses, most notably what they see, and smell! (See next tip)
Clean, Clean, Clean,.....Fix, Fix, Fix!
Scrub, scour, pick-up, straighten, and above all, get rid of clutter! Repair that squeaky door, the light switch that doesn't work, and that tiny crack in the bathroom mirror. It's true, these can be the simplest ways to ready your home for sale, but if they are left untouched, they can be the biggest deal killers to your prospective buyers. As well, that foul odor you've been noticing, will be NOTICED! Get rid of it! Spray deodorizer light candles, bake some cookies or muffins. The sense of smell is huge here. Not sure if there are any odors, your Realtor will be happy to let you know, even ask a friend. Above all, deal with these odors.
Help the prospective Buyer visualize themselves in your home.
Once again, avoid the clutter. Put away a few of those nick-knacks, remove a chair or two if the living room looks overcrowded, etc.. Try if you can to decorate in neutral colors, ie; whites and beige's. You can also enhance the attractiveness and warmth of your home with a well-placed vase of flowers or potpourri in the bath. Look through some home decor magazines for some great easy, and inexpensive decorating tips.
Be a Smart Seller.....Disclose EVERYTHING!
Smart Sellers are proactive in disclosing all known defects to their buyers in writing. This can help eliminate deal killers when they find out about that leak in the basement from their Home Inspection, as well as reduce liability and potential lawsuits later on.
Keep your emotions in check during negotiations!
You've invested a lot of time and effort into your home, but check it at the negotiation door. The more you can approach it from a business-like manner the more advantage you will have over those who get caught up emotionally in the situation. As well, invariably the initial offer will be below what the buyer knows he'll pay for your property. Don't be upset, evaluate the offer with your agent objectively. This can simply be a starting point from which you negotiate. ALWAYS counter an offer, even if you counter back at the full price, never take a negative approach and just refuse an offer. This will even solidify that you will only consider serious offers.
If at all possible, try not to move out until you have it SOLD!
It's a well documented and proven fact that it's more difficult to sell a home that is vacant as it becomes forlorn looking from the lack of the lived in "feel". It becomes hard for the prospective buyer to visualize how their things will look and/or fit into the floor plans. Even more importantly, buyers turn this into the thought that are probably more motivated to sell, potentially costing you thousands of dollars.
Lastly, try to steer clear of deadlines for yourself.
Don't try to sell by a certain date, this adds unnecessary pressure on you, and can be a serious disadvantage in negotiations.