Useful Home Selling Tips for the First-Time Home Seller

As more and more members of “Generation Y” advance in their careers, get married, and start families, they’re doubtlessly looking to move out of that first home into a larger and better home. However, something they should keep in mind is that the market is not the same as it was when their parents sold their first home; it isn't even the same as it was when they bought their own first home.

As a top real estate agent in the Greater Toronto Area, Russell Robson advises homeowners to hire the best when they're looking to sell their first home. Many first-time home sellers aren't prepared for the reality of selling their home, but Russell Robson is here to offer a few tips—what to do and what not to do—for selling your first home.

Home Selling DOs

  • DO research before setting the asking price: They say Gen Y is one of the most tech-savvy generations; that’s why many list their homes online. A good real estate agent will look at the housing market and comparative listings in your area and give you the best asking price for your home. If you price your home realistically, there’s a better chance it will appear in online listings.
  • DO target your own demographic: You know the cliché about Gen Y spending all their time on their smartphones and the Web. That’s primarily how your agent should market your home, since most likely it’ll be buyers in your own generation who’d be interested in your home. Use online listing services that specifically target that market. However, retirees who are downsizing may also be looking for a smaller home, so don’t rule out traditional listing services and do have a phone number your agent can be reached at.
  • DO mention any extras: If your home has any features that will make it stand out, such as high-end appliances or a location close to high-demand shopping or schools, place those features prominently in the listing for your home.
  • DO clean up any clutter: You want your home to look as pleasing as possible to any potential buyers. Clutter in a smaller home can make it look cramped, so it’s recommended you spend a few days cleaning up any clutter in your home, move items to the garage or storage until you're ready to move, so your home looks nicely organized. You should also remove any personal items as well. Buyers need to picture themselves in the space, so all your knickknacks and personal stuff can get in the way of that.
  • DO make repairs before you move: You want your home to be ready for the next owner. No one will want to tackle a long list of home repairs once they move in. Before you put your home on the market, come up with a list of home repairs you’ve been putting off. If there’s anything that’s mainly cosmetic and that will be noticeable during showings, like fixing that broken kitchen cupboard door, you should get it done before you list. As to the rest, be sure to have it completed before moving day.
  • DO consider renovations: Putting more money into a home you’re looking at selling may be the last thing on your mind. But even something as simple as giving your home a fresh coat of paint and new carpet can add value, so you’ll see a return on your investment. A good real estate agent knows what types of renovations can bring the most value, so they can advise you when they do a walk-through of your home before listing.

Home Selling DON’Ts

  • DON’T overestimate your home’s value: Many first-time home sellers make the mistake of overestimating the value of their home. They may have had it appraised when they first moved in, but, unfortunately, the market has changed since then. And, of course, sometimes our personal attachment to the home can up the value in our own eyes. You need to be realistic and consider all the factors if you want to price your home to sell and don’t want it to languish on the market. Also, be aware of agents who overestimate the value of your home. A good agent should be honest about the price you should ask for your property and should be able to back up their estimate with comparables and market knowledge.
  • DON’T get emotionally involved: You may have many fond memories of your home—it is your first one after all—but you need to stop thinking of yourself as a homeowner and thinking of yourself as a home seller. Looking at selling your home as a business transaction can help you to distance yourself emotionally from your home. It’s also beneficial to put yourself in the mindset of a potential buyer. What do they want in a home? What might make your home stand out from the rest? Remember that image is important when it comes to selling your home, so if you think of it in terms of staging for potential buyers, this will also help to raise the price. Changing your home’s appearance will also aid you in distancing yourself from the home emotionally.
  • DON’T try to be your own real estate agent: One of the common mistakes that first-time home sellers make is trying to cut corners by selling their home on their own. Yes, a real estate agent will take a commission, but they still have the necessary experience to ensure that you get the best price and to help you avoid spending your own precious time on sales and marketing. A real estate agent can take the emotional aspect out of selling your home by interacting with buyers and help to weed out the “undecideds” who might give you the run-around for months. An experienced real estate agent also has the experience to negotiate the right price and handle any issues that may arise. Of course, another major reason not to trying selling it by owner is that a real estate agent has an established network of buyers and other agents that they can leverage; this is a huge benefit when trying to sell a home.
  • DON’T sell in the winter: Of course, since we’re in Canada, the housing market tends to slow down in the winter. The combination of holiday commitments and cold temperatures means that not as many people will be looking for new homes. It also means that you may not get as much as you were hoping for the sale of your home. However, this also means that the market will not be as competitive, so if you absolutely must sell in the wintertime due to unavoidable issues, at least you’ll have that as an edge.