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Home Selling Process

Once you have decided whether to sell your home, you'll want to do any necessary repairs and touch-ups, get it listed, and start marketing to potential buyers. Although you have likely already seen how a real estate transaction works from the buyer's side, working from the seller's side is entirely different. Below you will find information on listing and marketing your home, plus in-depth information about the typical real estate transaction. Learn about the role of the seller's real estate agent, how to market your home, how offers and closings work, and the meanings of many common real estate terms. This way, you will have a clear understanding as you begin selling your home.

How to Prep Your Home for Sale

Much of the preparation stage is self-evident, such as reducing clutter and addressing any lingering maintenance concerns. But most real estate agents have a few tricks up their sleeves to help your home stand apart from the other units on the market. Keep in mind that a properly prepared home can often fetch a higher sale price, even with small investments of time and money.

Preparation for a home sale typically includes the following:

  • Pack up unnecessary items, such as excess or unappealing furniture, to give the home an appearance of being more spacious
  • Get rid of clutter in general by tidying up closets, clearing off kitchen and bathroom countertops, packing away books and CDs, even removing magnets and other things from the surface of your refrigerator
  • Pack away family photos and other personal items, which can be distracting to prospective buyers
  • Give your home a deep clean, including fresh coats of paint where needed and washing the windows
  • Repair anything that needs fixing, especially major problems (which may reduce the value more than the actual cost of the repair)
  • Enhance "curb appeal" by mowing the lawn, sprucing up the landscaping, and touching-up exterior paint
  • Hide expensive items to lessen the chance of theft (thieves sometimes use open houses to scout homes for burglary)

Holding an Open House

One of the best ways to show off your home is to hold an open house, which gives prospective buyers a chance to tour the home without an appointment and with relatively no pressure. You may choose to hire a professional "stager," who will bring in high-end furnishings and give it a professionally designed look, but you certainly want your home to look its best. If you haven't already repaired and cleaned your home, this is the time to do so. Remember to also consider your home's "curb appeal," or first impression from afar.

If you work with a real estate agent, he or she should already have a system in place for conducting open houses. Unless you're selling the home yourself, it's usually best to vacate the home during an open house and let your agent handle it.

You will want to prepare a fact sheet in advance with square-footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, amenities, and other important information (along with a photograph). It's also helpful to prepare answers in advance to questions, such as nearest schools and what the neighborhood is like. Make sure you tell your neighbors about the open house as a courtesy, since it will increase traffic to the neighborhood. And if you have pets, remove them from the home during the showing.


Most states have law requiring sellers to disclose all known problems with the home, particularly those that would substantially impact its value, but some states are much more stringent, tying disclosures to inspection results as well. Buyers, however, may choose to pay for an inspector -- or even demand the seller pay for the inspection as a condition of an offer -- so catching any such defects or problems early could work in your favor. Most states require sellers to provide disclosures in writing, often with requirements that the buyer also sign a form to acknowledge the disclosure.

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Learn About Home Selling Process