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Selling your home can be a taxing experience, but following some simple rules as outlined below can make it easier and faster than you might imagine.

  1. Find an agent. When interviewing a listing agent, be sure to ask about their experience in your neighborhood, connections to potential buyers, social media expertise and a plan for selling. Ask for referrals from friends and look for someone who specializes in your type of house, such as a fixer-upper.1
  2. Research your local housing market and asking price. Do you own research on the local housing market and look at comparable sales in your neighborhood, paying attention to other homes’ square footage and features.2 Be realistic with price, as it will depend on the current assessed value of your home as well as what the market dictates.3
  3. Consider the time of year. While you can sell your house in the fall or winter, the optimum time is spring or summer.
  4. Get rid of/clear out clutter. If needed, rent a storage unit or ask a friend or family member to store items.  Remove children’s toys, out of season clothing, sports equipment, and most books and décor.
  5. Depersonalize the space.  Your house needs to be neutral enough so a buyer can envision themselves and their belongings in the space. A few well-placed and neutral pieces of artwork can keep the home inviting without being too specific.4
  6. Clean the space. Make sure carpeting, floors and surfaces are clean and free of dust. Rid the house of any foul odors (pets, food, garbage). Do this before an initial listing and throughout the selling process. Consider hiring outside help for rug cleaning, mopping floors, a deep kitchen cleaning, cleaning windows inside and out, and thorough bathroom scrubbing (think shower stalls).5
  7. Paint the walls. Repaint the walls in neutral colors.6 Warm whites, light beiges and light gray are good neutral colors that give your home a “blank slate” but also makes rooms appear larger. A new coat of paint also helps to cover imperfections.
  8. Remember, not everyone is a pet lover.7 Conceal food and water bowls, remove the kitty litter box, and do a deep clean to get rid of pet hair and smells. Consider sending your pets to a kennel or pet hotel for the day of an open house, and have a safe back-up plan for pet “storage” for last-minute showings.
  9. Hire a good handyman. There are a few things you can do yourself, such as replacing cabinet hardware and making sure closet doors are on track,8 but call in a handyman or other professional to fix broken locks, leaky faucets or cracks in the walls. This lets potential buyers know the home is well-maintained.9
  10. Consider lighting. Make sure all lights in your house have working bulbs, and the brighter the better.10 Remove heavy draperies, have your windows sparkling clean, and change lampshades to brighten the space.
  11. Hire a quality photographer. Find a photographer who knows how to photograph real estate.11 The photos should highlight your home’s best features, making it look large yet warm and inviting.
  12. Try to be flexible with showings. The selling process can be pain, especially when agents are scheduling showings and you have to get out of the house quickly. As much as possible, say yes to every showing request. Unless it’s truly impossible, rearrange your schedule so it works for the buyer.

There are many things you can do to make sure that when the right buyer does come along, they know immediately that they’ve found their perfect fit.

Purchasing a new home? Learn about Merchants’ homeowners coverage here.


1, 2, 4, 6, 9. Moving, “Get Your House Ready to Sell”

3, 5, 11. Moving, “Selling a Home Fast

7, 8, 10. HGTV, “Best Kept Secrets

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Erica Dalton

Merchants Insurance Group

Merchants Insurance Group sells its products through a network of more than 1,000 independent insurance agents in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. We sell our products through independent insurance agents because we believe they provide value to policyholders through their broad range of products and their insurance expertise.