1. Overcome any possible objections a buyer would have. Sellers do not often understand that their primary job is to not only eliminate any potential objections that would stand in the way for a buyer to make an offer, but to exceed their expectations as well. If your home is competitively priced, and your home's condition exceeds a buyer's expectations, you'll get an offer – even if it is not the offer you want.
2. Get your home into selling shape. Cleaning your home is a must. After that, you should consider hiring a stager to give your home the television-worthy polish so many buyers expect today. Assess what other sort of work needs to be done, such as fixing things that do not work, touching up paint, or cleaning or replacing your carpets. Decide if you need to update your landscaping, and paint, clean or tuck point your home's exterior. Understand what it will take to sell your home. If you live in an area littered with foreclosures, you may have to meet that price point in order to sell. Is it worth it? Probably not, but you'll have to really evaluate price and timing in order to get the most for your property.
3. Be realistic about the market. Find out what is selling, and what the average number of days on the market it for homes that are selling. Accept the reality of your local market and make sure you price your home realistically. Do not blame your broker if you do not get 3 offers over your list price within 24 hours of putting your home on the market. Sellers who set sky-high prices could wait months for an offer and may wind up with the same price they would have had if they had priced their home correctly the first time – or a lot less. In this real estate market, one of the worst things you can do is over price your home from the sunset. If you price it below where it should sell, you may start a bidding war and will sell your home faster and for more money.
4. Know where you're going. We do not recommend putting in an offer on another house until you have some serious interest in your current property. It's fine to start researching other neighborhoods, but if you're not sure what you want to do, consider renting on a short-term or month-to-month lease. These days, landlords are hurting and they may be perfectly happy to accept a 6-month lease.
5. Read all documents thoroughly before signing them. Why would someone sign a legal document he or she has not read? Home sellers do it every day. If you're going to sell (or buy) in the coming year, promise yourself that you'll take the time to read and understand the listing contract, offer to purchase, and loan documents for your next purchase. (If you're taking back a loan for the home buyer, have an attorney prepare the documents so you are sure to be protected.) Unless you've got cash to spare, a mistake in these documents and the warranties they contain, could seriously affect your finances.
6. Do Not be driven by greed. One big mistake many sellers make is to get a little greedy, particularly if the first offer is above the minimum acceptable price you've set. Then, the negotiation becomes a game of how much you can get. Remember, a successful sale means everyone walks away feeling happy. If you get so greedy that the buyer walks away, you've got the deal get the best of you. Resolve to be reasonable and you'll end up shaking hands with the buyer at the closing. You should also know that there are fewer buyers out there and if you lose a buyer it might take you quite some time to find another one.