by Jordan DeWald
with Alisa Key, Broker and owner of Key Real Estate Texas, PLLC

You have made the major life decision to move. Looking for a new house is the fun part but, for most people, selling your current house is the necessary first step. It can be an overwhelming task to prepare for. Alisa Key, Broker and owner of Key Real Estate Texas, PLLC, shares some insight from her years of experience as a realtor.

What can a Realtor Do for Me?

You’ve made the decision to sell your house. Now what? The next decision you need to make is what realtor you want to use. How do you choose one? One of the best ways you can get a list is to ask people you know who have bought and sold a home recently. They will be honest about what they thought of their realtor and the homeowner’s realtor they would have interacted with. You can also ask the opinions of people in the real estate business: mortgage brokers, inspectors, builders, etc. They will have interacted with several realtors in town and will be able to make recommendations based on their side of business.

It is important to choose your realtor before you do anything else and the home selling process. If you are overwhelmed by what to do, your realtor can ease your nerves by helping you make a plan and assuring you on what steps they will take care of for you. You will want their suggestions before you make any updates to your home. You would not want to waste any money with unnecessary expenses.

You may be wondering why you would need a realtor when some businesses make it seem relatively simple to sell it yourself. Alisa shared some specific insight into this:

“Some homeowners opt to sell their home on their own thinking that they will make more profit by not paying commission. Sounds logical, so why use a realtor? The pitfalls of a transaction that For Sale By Owners experience, costs them money and they typically net far less. Why? Because there are tasks that are a requirement in a transaction that a realtor has a wealth of knowledge about and experience with but a homeowner simply does not. The homeowner tends to have difficulty pricing and marketing the house appropriately. Additionally, a realtor properly vets buyers to make sure they can purchase the home prior to entering into a legally binding contract. Most importantly, a realtor understands how to perform the tasks related to the required disclosures, contract and addenda. All of those are necessary, even in a For Sale by Owner situation. The NAR publishes statistics regarding home sales. The most recent statistics regarding using a Realtor vs. For Sale by Owner are as follows: Listing Agent assisted median sold price is $250,000. For Sale by Owner median sold price is $190,000. That is a 24% loss instead of paying a real estate commission. Hiring a realtor can actually net you more money than doing it yourself.”

When you are preparing your home for sale, think CLEAN.

Clean Color Scheme. The upgrade that gives you the most bang for your buck is giving your house a fresh coat of paint. A smart choice is a clean, white color scheme, particularly in the kitchens and bathrooms. White or light colors has been a trend that is proving to stick around. Neutrals are also safe. Any paint jobs that are out of those color schemes should be painted over.

Clean Interior. When preparing your house to show it is imperative to have the house completely clean. This doesn’t mean simply tidied up. It means to remove anything that looks cluttered or crowded or too personalized. According to Alisa, the potential buyers should be able to look around and visualize it being their home. They cannot do that if it is filled with personalized décor and effects. So as much as you enjoy your wall displaying your kids’ artwork, it would be time to pack it up to take it to your new house. Have the décor be as neutral as possible. Get your realtors opinion on the décor because they are the ones who hear the reactions of potential home buyers when they view a house.

Removing clutter takes away the appearance of overcrowding. If someone is looking for a house with storage, they do not want to see a closet filled to the brim with all of your items. Go ahead and start packing the items in closets, cabinets and areas of storage that you won’t need this season. It is wise to invest in a storage unit for this because you don’t want a crowded garage full of boxes.

Make sure every part of your house is clean. Potential buyers will look everywhere- in the pantry, in closets, under beds and in cabinets. Again, they need to visualize living there so a shower made dirty by someone else will likely be a turnoff for a potential buyer. This can get arduous, especially if you have daily showings and it takes several weeks to get a buyer. It is absolutely necessary though.

Have a way to rid the home of smells, particularly pet and food smells. A helpful tip is to have someone who doesn’t live there come in and smell the air. They will notice things you don’t because you’re used to it, particularly pets. If you choose to light a candle, make sure it is a light and neutral scent. Anything with a strong, perfume scent can irritate some allergies.

Clean Exterior. Curb appeal is a big selling point. It is the house’s first impression, both in advertisements and when people walk up for a viewing. At the minimum, mow your lawn, pull any weeds and sweep or wash off the porch, sidewalk and outside furniture. It would be helpful to spruce up your landscaping, again sticking with a neutral theme. Make sure all windows are washed, patios and backyards are clear of clutter and take care of anything that needs repairs, such as a loose gutter.