et's be honest; if you thought buying a house was hard, selling a home is even more complicated. The sheer volume of details and tasks from cleaning, renovating, listing, advertising, and several home visits can be tiring and frustrating. On top of that, all those emotions roll by, the good memories you made in the house, and you realize you don't want to sell your home anymore.

We know that selling a home is a complete rollercoaster. But, all this hard work would be worth it on the closing day. You are not selling the home; you are just handing it over to someone new. Your dream house will now be theirs. Thus, since it's a very crucial task in your life, it's essential to be organized and well-prepared.

So, here is a complete guide on selling your first home seller with tips and mistakes to avoid so that you can easily sell your home.

Home for sale
Source: Pixelart (Freepik)

Home Selling Checklist

🔲   Make sure you are ready to sell your home.

🔲   Set a timeline for selling your home.

🔲   Prepare your finances.

🔲   Work with an experienced real estate agent.

🔲   Renovate, clean, and prepare your home.

🔲   Leverage the power of home staging.

🔲   Price your home competitively.

🔲   List and market your house.

🔲   Be flexible about home viewing.

🔲   Review offers with your real estate agent.

🔲   Negotiate and select the best offer for your home.

🔲   Close the sale.

1. Make Sure You Are Ready to Sell Your House

Are you sure you want to sell your house? Ask yourself these questions several times. Since you are selling the place you call home, it can be emotionally challenging. Especially if this is your first home, it can be hard letting go of all the memories engraved on the house's walls. Therefore, before selling your home, make sure you are emotionally and financially ready to do so.

Woman holding house keys
Source: pch.vector (Freepik)

Capture the final moments of your home with a photo or video as you stroll through each room. You don't want that last moment of realization that you don't want to sell your home anymore. It's the cliche movie scene that works well on screen but would never work in real life. Therefore, ensure your readiness before beginning the sale procedure.

Here are some blunders to avoid:

  • Putting your home on the market without adequate equity. Selling an underwater mortgage only makes sense if you are in bankruptcy or foreclosure.
  • Buying another property before selling your current one. If you want to purchase a new home, you probably need to sell your old one first.

2. Set a Timeline for Selling Your Home

Generally, home selling takes up to two to three months. Make a timeline and plan the steps you need to take to sell your property to have everything in order before you list it in the market. Also, if you want to purchase a new home after selling your current one, you'll have a more specific timeline to work with. Although there is no universally applicable timetable, here is a rough outline of what your timeline should look like:

Home Selling Timeline

Here are some mistakes to avoid:

  • Don't put the house on the market before cleaning, renovating, and staging it. Home preparation comes before listing the house.
  • Don't sell during the winter. Home sales are low during winter since people are busy with family gatherings and holidays. So, it's better to sell during the summer and spring months.
  • Don't skip the pre-listing home inspection. Homebuyers will indeed inspect your house before buying. But, it's better to solve the problems beforehand before your buyer finds them.

3. Prepare Your Finances

So you're selling the home, and the buyer is purchasing it. So you would assume that selling is all about the money coming in, so you don't need to prepare your finances. Well, that's a huge mistake. Selling a home is expensive, and several expenses are associated, from commission to legal fees. Thus, before selling your home, you must ensure you're in a solid financial position.

Prepping and scheduling financial obligations
Source: redgreystock (Freepik)

Here are the most significant costs that you should include in your house-selling budget:

  • Capital gain tax
  • House staging
  • Transfer tax
  • Mortgage payoff fee
  • Title insurance
  • Real estate agent fee
  • Repairs and maintenance cost
  • Professional photography cost

Here are some mistakes to avoid:

  • Don't underestimate the cost of selling your house. Apart from commissions, legal fees, and expenses, there are other costs that you should prepare beforehand before selling your home.

4. Work With an Experienced Real Estate Agent

Selling a house is a long journey, and you want someone to guide you. Thus, look for a professional real estate agent who can market your home to the widest possible audience and negotiate favorable terms on your behalf. You might be tempted to sell your house on your own. But it's not recommended, especially if you are a first-time seller.

Look up agents' online profiles and interview them. Remember that you shouldn't base your decision on their achievements and how well you get along with them. Also, consider working with a local agent who is well-versed in the area's market conditions.

Real Estate Agent
Source: Freepik

Here are some common blunders to avoid:

  • Don't sell your home on your own. The real estate market is deeper than it looks, so having someone to guide you will benefit you.
  • Never hire incompetent real estate agents out of friendship or because they happen to know someone you know. You are trusting someone with the house you bought with blood and sweat, so make sure they are capable and trustworthy.
  • Never lie to your real estate agent. If there are issues with the home, be honest with your agent and work together to find solutions.
  • Don't tolerate any ill experience from your agent. If you are unsatisfied with your agent, fire him/her and find a new one.

Also, read How To Find A Good Realtor

5. Renovate, Clean, and Prepare Your Home

It is crucial to have your home in tip-top shape before putting it up for sale. For this reason, pre-inspection of your home is a good idea. In addition, give your home a good scrub down or pay a cleaning service to do it for you. First impressions are important. To that end, give your home the attention it deserves by ensuring it is spotless, beautiful, and appealing. The goal is to let the buyer fall in love with your house. So, make sure you are renovating the exterior as well as the interior of the house.

Preparing a home for the sale
Source: pch.vector (Freepik)

Some common pitfalls to avoid are listed here:

  • Not cleaning and maintaining the driveways and lawn. The first thing your buyer sees before the house is the driveway and yard. So, keep them tidy and well-cared for.
  • Not painting the interior and exterior. The most crucial thing you can do to prepare your home for sale is to paint.
  • Painting bold colors like red, pink, or blue. Pick up some white, beige, or ivory paint while you're at it.
  • Not cluttering the house. You should clean every nook and cranny of your home. You don't want your buyer to find smelly socks underneath the bed, right?
  • Overdoing the renovations. Make room for the buyer so that they may remodel to their liking.

6. Leverage the Power of Home Staging

When you buy a dress online, you look at how it fits the models, right? This makes it easier to visualize how it would look on you. It's the same with homes.

Take a look at this image.

Non-staged home
Source: Virtual staging solutions

Now, look at this.

Staged Home
Source: Virtual staging solutions

Which image left a substantial impact on you? The second one, right? That's the power of home staging. When seeing a home, potential buyers envision themselves living there. They are unable to recognize the potential in a blank area. Therefore, home staging is crucial. Making the most of your home's curb appeal is as simple as strategically placing furniture, décor, and accessories. You can stage your home or hire home staging companies to do it for you.

Here are some of our top picks for home staging companies:

Some common blunders to avoid are as follows.

  • Exterior staging is just as necessary. First impressions last, so focus on making the outside seem great.
  • Don't leave your personal items on display as you want your buyer to imagine they are in their house, not others.
  • Keep the house staging so that it looks realistic. A house should look like a house, not a hotel room.

7. Price Your House Competitively

Pricing your house is the most critical and complicated part of selling your home. Too high of a price may deter potential purchasers. Similarly, if your asking price is too low, potential buyers may assume something is wrong with the property and pass on it. Thus, it's crucial to strike that sweet spot. So, how do you do that?

Here are some tips for pricing your house competitively:

  • Get a rough estimation of the value of your home. You can use online tools such as Zestimate, Trulia, Redfin, Realtor.com, etc.
  • Review comparables of similar houses recently sold in the area.
  • Consider the range of prices comparable homes on prominent real estate websites are selling for.
Competitive pricing
Source: barokahselalu777 (Freepik)

Some common blunders to avoid are as follows.

  • Don't overprice your home on the assumption that purchasers would negotiate.
  • Don't use a charm pricing strategy. While the amount ending in 9 works well in grocery stores, it does not work in the real estate market. If your house is priced at $199,999, you might lose buyers looking for property from $200,000.

8. List and Market Your House

It's the day! All the preparation you have done so far is to list your home on the market. You can list your home on the home listing website such as Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, homes.com, etc. Since many house listings are available for prospective buyers to browse, you need to stand out from the crowd. So, how do you do that? Well, wave a magic wand of marketing and see that magic happen.

Real Estate Marketing
Source: aleshaku (Freepik).

Create a marketing plan and advertise your real estate listings online and offline. Homes with beautiful photos and property descriptions sell the fastest and for the most money. Besides traditional means, you may advertise your home via audio/video/text messages/virtual tours. Moreover, use both modern and traditional marketing strategies. Put up a "for sale" sign in your yard; you never know which passerby could be interested in purchasing your home.

Some common blunders to avoid are:

  • Don't use low-quality or poorly shot listing photos.
  • Not uploading the photos. If you haven't even bothered to upload images of your house, how do you expect to attract buyers?
  • Don't put over-edited photos that are expectations vs. reality.
  • Not featuring virtual tour. Post covid virtual tours are a critical part of home selling, so ensure you have featured virtual tours.
  • Overdoing advertising. Too much sugar is bitter, and so is over-advertising. It may irritate people if you are advertising your home a lot.
  • Unrealistic advertising. Don't put fake photos and lies to capture buyers' attention.

9. Be Flexible About Home Viewing

You've put in the time and effort to make your house ready for sale, and now it's time to show it off. Keep your schedule open for as many private showings, open houses, and online tours as feasible while selling your property. It's also essential to provide your agent with the key to the home so that showings may take place while you're away.

Virtual real estate touring
Source: vectorjuice (Freepik)

Some common blunders to avoid are as follows.

  • Showing vacant house. Use the power of home staging.
  • Forgetting the significance of lighting. Buy extra bulbs to light up the house. Bright rooms make your home look bigger.
  • Not letting buyers freely observe your house. You don't want to be that picky assistant in the store who follows you everywhere, right?
  • Make sure you offer a flexible home viewing schedule. Don't only cram home showings into the weekends as there is a risk of losing out on prospective customers.
  • Don't take your dogs with you when home viewing. They might steal the spotlight. You want your home to be the spotlight, right?

10. Review Offers With Your Real Estate Agent

Once your home is up for sale and buyers have viewed it, offers will flood in. At that point, it's time to get down with your real estate agent and go through the offers. In this phase, it's crucial to understand the market. If the market is favorable to sellers, you can likely receive more than the asking price, but if buyers are in control, you should be prepared to accept lower offers and negotiate.

Reviewing Offers
Source: pikisuperstar (Freepik).

You need to review multiple offers to determine the best ones when you receive them. It's not always high bids that are better, but you should look into several other aspects, including:

  • How much down payment are they paying?
  • What is the proposed closing date?
  • Do they have a preapproval letter?
  • Are they paying by cash or other financial means?

Here are some mistakes to avoid:

  • Considering high bids only. Just because buyers are offering a high price does not mean you should accept their offer blindly.
  • Not consulting real estate agents. Your agent is a pro in this, so sit and review together.

11. Negotiate and Select the Best Offer

After receiving an offer, you have three choices: accept, reject, or negotiate. The bargaining table tilts in favor of the seller in the seller's market. Use your real estate agent as a resource, and collaborate with them to find a solution that meets your needs and theirs. There's always the option of making a counteroffer. Buyers may often try to negotiate a lower price by pointing out the house's flaws, such as a tiny kitchen or wet walls. You may sweeten the deal by offering a paint credit or leaving behind some of the tenant's favorite furnishings or appliances. After that, select the best offer to close the deal with.

Negotiations characters
Source: Story set (Freepik).

Some common blunders to avoid are:

  • Taking lowball offers personally. The purchasers are trying to negotiate a low price to get the best deal. They may be charging less, but it doesn't imply they don't value your property.
  • Not using the art of counteroffer.
  • Not sweetening the deal.
  • Not being open to negotiation. Refrain from being unyielding in negotiations because it is a seller's market.

12. Close the Sale

The day has come! The day for which you have been preparing so much. You will complete the necessary documentation to finalize the transaction and get payment. However, before that occurs, you will need to prepare your house for the buyer's final walk-through and address any other last-minute issues.

New homeowner getting keys
Source: designsells (Freepik).

Make sure you are well prepared for the closing day. You can hire a real estate attorney during the closing to help you out with the financial documents. Remember to bring these things with you on your closing day:

  • Drivers license/ID
  • Purchase contract
  • Home keys
  • Unpaid utility bills.

After the homeownership is transferred, payment is made, and all looks good, it's time to hand over the keys! Congratulations! You have successfully sold your home.

But wait, here are some mistakes to avoid:

  • Getting emotional. We know you are selling what you used to call your home. But don't let emotions take over you. Take it as a business transaction and happily hand over your home to the new homeowner.
  • Not handling last-minute issues. Sometimes you might run over issues such as home inspection, mortgage issues, etc. Work with your real estate agent to find out solutions to the problem.

Wooh! There are many things to do when selling a home. So, ensure you stay organized, and it's okay to feel overwhelmed during this process. Plan out the steps and follow them accordingly.


Selling a home is daunting, with many things to keep in mind. The most common mistakes sellers make while selling their house are not hiring a real estate agent, being emotional, not cleaning and staging the house, overpricing their house, and not marketing it well. Selling a home, especially for first-time home sellers, can be emotionally hard since you are selling what you used to call home. But remember, when one chapter closes, another will open, and a new adventure will begin.

Also, read 12 Tips For The First-Time Home Buyer.


Jan 3, 2023

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