Selling a Home
Getting a home ready to sell takes plenty of work—of both the physical and the paper variety—and you’re bound to have plenty of questions. We’ve found Web sites with reliable answers and guidance to help you smoothly and quickly through the process, and even offer advice if you fear losing your home to foreclosure.
Selling your home is a busy time (and on top of it all, you’re also planning a move). But it’s important to start with some real estate basics before jumping into the market. Online tutorials and news and commentary sites can arm you with the knowledge you need to feel confident during the selling process.
- Remember that sites on the Web may provide only a very general overview of the home selling process across the United States. Individual states have their own particular real estate laws and requirements, so it’s important to be familiar with the specifics where you live. FindLaw has a page of property and real estate laws in each state. Also check your state’s official Web site for real estate laws (use USA.gov to find your state’s site).
For a real estate glossary …
features a glossary of more than 900 real estate terms
, some of which are related to home sales. Also use this site to search for answers to frequently asked questions about selling a home, and learn how to determine an ideal asking price
for your home.
For reviews of the home selling process …
has a home selling guide that takes you through the steps to selling a home, including choosing a sale price, finding a listing agent, determining what will go with the property when you sell, and showing your home to prospective buyers. Scan the ample list of headlines for help with your questions.
is the official site of the National Association of Realtors. Use “The Home Seller’s Guide to Success” for step-by-step advice about selling your home, or search for a realtor
in your area.
For information about home appraisals …
gives a short explanation of how the appraisal process works. Much of this information is directed specifically to people who want to use the services of Accurate Appraisals (located in California), but the basic information can be useful to anyone.
It can be hard to tell whether now is a good time to sell your home or if you should wait for market conditions to get better. The trustworthy Web sites in this section can help you gauge the best time to put a “for sale” sign on the lawn.
- Read the financial or real estate sections of national and local newspapers to get a sense of the real estate market nationally and where you live. That may help improve your decision about when to sell your home. Many newspapers have their own Web sites; find the Web address by checking your favorite search engine or by using the U.S. Newspaper List.
- Also check Realty Times and other sites recommended in the Real Estate News and Blogs section of this guide for current market information.
helps you understand what to look for in the real estate market where you live. Learn how to determine whether it’s a good time to sell your home, how to set the best price, and whether to hire an agent.
explains what constitutes a seller’s market in real estate. Though this article opens with real estate market predictions for 1999, the article provides a timeless overview of the fundamentals. Also see a relate article about what a buyer’s market
is and when a buyer’s market typically occurs in real estate.
offers its opinion on whether it’s best to sell a home or rent it out when the housing market is slow.
Selling a home isn’t easy and it involves a lot of paperwork no matter how you go about it. Those who want reassurance that everything has been done correctly may benefit from having a realtor sell their home. People interested in saving a little money might decide the best option is selling their home themselves. Either way, we’ve found some of the best resources on the Web to help you make an educated decision about which option is right for you.
- Most realtors have their own Web sites, making the Internet a great place to start shopping around for an agent who can help you sell your home.
- If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of an online home listing site or realtor, look it up on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Web site.
- Classified ads in your local newspaper or on Craigslist are a great place to list homes for sale. To find the Web site of your local paper just type the paper’s name into a search engine like Google or Ask.com or search for it at the U.S. Newspaper List.
- Selling a home may be a particularly emotional process for senior citizens who have lived there for many years. It’s important to ensure that those emotions don’t get in the way of a home sale and cause important steps in the process to be overlooked. Senior Citizen’s Guide published “7 Costly Mistakes To Avoid When Selling Your Home,” that urges caution in making sure seniors are still aware of all details in a home sale, such as finding a credible realtor and understanding the financial costs of home sales.
To weigh your options …
explains the pros and cons of using full-service brokers, discount brokers, and choosing to sell your home yourself in this article.
To learn about brokers and realtors …
Utah State University Extension
differentiates between brokers and realtors, and lists questions you should ask to find a representative who will work with your best interests in mind as you sell your home.
The University of Chicago Personal Web Pages
offers this research report from Steven D. Levitt (one of the authors of the best-selling book “Freakonomics
”) and Chad Syverson. The essay, available in PDF form, claims that real estate agents work harder to sell their own homes for a better price than they do their clients’ homes.
The Real Estate Guide
is a blog by a Connecticut-based realtor. This particular entry takes issue with Levitt and Syverson’s findings about real estate agents who sold their own homes, claiming that some important details were left out.
To sell your home yourself …
helps you determine the value of your home and also provides tips to aid you in making a speedy sale. Visit the “Home Selling Tips
” section to review legal issues and learn how to select the best time to sell your home. Take the “Home Seller’s Pop Quiz
”: not only will it test your knowledge of home selling procedures, but the answers provided offer a little more information you should know before your sale closes.
helps you “Zestimate” the value of your home (or any other home). Search for the address and then use the “My Estimator
” feature to adjust the details listed for the home (based on public records) according to any improvements or additions you’ve made to see if the estimated price goes up. List your home for sale on the site and upload photos of the property.
contains a series of articles about selling your home yourself. Learn how to determine home value and find property records on the Internet. Browse other categories of articles such as “Open Houses
” and “Selling Legal Issues
highlights some mistakes you should try to avoid if you want to sell your home yourself.
is best known for its abundant auctions of collectibles but in recent years real estate has become a prominent fixture on the site. Follow the short instructions posted at the “How To Sell Your Home
” link to list your home for sale, or purchase an eBay real estate sign
to enhance your selling efforts.
Selling a home requires a lot of paperwork and will likely have important tax consequences as well. Make sure you understand all details of this busy time and what’s required of you as the seller by using the Web sites we’ve included in this section.
- Beware of paid versus natural search results when you look for legal information on the Internet. Particularly in the legal field, paid search results (which typically appear above and/or to the side of natural search results, and are usually noted as “sponsored” or “partners”) will likely have more advertising gimmicks than legitimate material. Consumer Reports WebWatch offers these tips on improving the chances that the results you find will be credible.
- If you have questions or are uncertain during any point in the process of selling your home, consult with an attorney or a real estate agent to ensure things progress correctly. To find an attorney who handles real estate matters, check the FindLaw Web site. Make sure you also look at the information under the “Real Estate” tab.
- Generally, the responsibility of having a home inspected falls to the home buyer. However, learning beforehand what an inspector will look for can help you fix any problems that could delay your sale. We’ve included some home inspection sites in this section of the guide.
- If you need to speak with your state’s land title association during a home sale, use the American Land Title Association page to find links to state affiliate Web sites.
For information about real estate lawyers …
explains why a real estate lawyer may be necessary when buying or selling a house and what a lawyer can do to help you.
offers tips on where to find a real estate lawyer. Also get advice on how to find the best lawyer once you decide where you want to look.
For home inspection and title information …
Home Inspections USA
is a directory of home inspection companies in the United States. Click on your state to find inspection companies where you live. Also find informative home inspection articles
for home buyers and sellers.
For contract and closing information …
The American Bar Association
discusses purchase contracts and other legal aspects related to an agreement to purchase a home using a simple question-and-answer format.
U.S. Legal Forms, Inc.
, sells packages of necessary paperwork for real estate home sales in all 50 states. Purchase a package that is available for download online for $39.95, or order a paper copy for $49.95. Other real estate forms are available here as well (pricing varies depending on the form you wish to buy). This site was founded by lawyers and is maintained by lawyers and other professionals.
For tax information …
The Internal Revenue Service
has a lengthy list of tax tips you should follow once you’ve sold your home. Learn about capital gains and losses and other financial consequences of home sales. If you use this site at the beginning of a new year, be aware that the IRS may be planning to update the tips to comply with new tax rules.
explains how selling a home may or may not affect your tax situation in this helpful article.
One of your best bets to selling your home quickly is to clean up as much as possible and complete those little repairs you’ve been saving for later. Buyers want to know that a home has been well maintained and cared for, and your efforts now will pay off in the long run. Use the Web sites in this section to learn where to get started.
- If you obtain home repair advice from a message board, remember to take this information with a grain of salt. Generally, anyone can post to these boards and the advice you receive might not be reputable. Check for sites with moderators who are construction professionals.
- Consult with an area realtor or use their Web site to learn what you can do to improve the appearance of your home. A local professional may have a few “tricks of the trade” that are especially helpful for selling a home in your area.
For cleaning tips …
offers cleaning tips and presentation techniques you can use to encourage home buyers to purchase your home.
For home remodeling and repair tips …
takes you through each room of your home and provides instruction about how to make a variety of repairs. Read up on issues with floors and ceilings, walls, plumbing and electrical systems, and maintenance of heating and cooling controls. Stop by the forum
if you need to connect with someone who’s working on the same repairs as you.
explains that spending a little money to spruce up your home and make a few repairs can improve the chances your home will sell quickly. Learn how to remodel a bathroom to boost your home’s value and get tips on making a fast and profitable sale.
For advice on home staging and curb appeal …
explains what home staging is, why it’s important to your home sale, and where you can look to find a professional home stager in your area.
has a lengthy list of articles about home staging and improving the curb appeal of your home. Find tips from a variety of perspectives here, as the articles come from sources such as Bankrate.com, the Massachusetts Association of RealtorS, Realty Times, and more.
offers 13 tips on home staging, with advice about improving the entry to your home, effectively arranging furniture, improving lighting, and more. Don’t miss the colorful photos to get a better idea of how to implement the tips in your home.
Despite your best efforts, your home might not sell quickly, and it may be due to matters within or beyond your control. Find out what you can do to get things moving with the help of the sites we’ve recommended in this section.
- If your home is overpriced, or you’re having problems in the negotiation phase, remember that the art of negotiation isn’t specific to selling a home. When researching negotiation tactics, look beyond real estate sites; if an article is offering advice for boardroom negotiation tactics, you may find it just as useful if you can apply its principles to your home-selling negotiations.
- Read a bit about market trends and the recent sale history of houses in the neighborhood you are selling in. Public records can be found online and this information may save you from overpricing. Find housing market news and commentary sites in the “Steps to Selling a Home” section of this guide.
- You’ll have to think about interest rates when you’re trying to settle on a purchase price for your home, as they can greatly affect buyers’ budgets. We’ve included a site that lists current rates, updated weekly.
If you have neighborhood problems …
MSN Real Estate
has a “Selling Your House” section that offers specific tips for selling your home. Find ideas for dealing with an eyesore next door and suggestions about what problems you should disclose in your home.
has some helpful information about disclosure requirements when you are trying to sell your home and you live near a registered sex offender.
For help making sense of the housing market …
has compiled a “Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey” for 2008. Find information on interest rates for 15-year and 30-year fixed-rate loans, and five-year and one-year adjustable-rate loans.
offers some tips for selling your home in a cooling market. The article deals primarily with money matters and tells homeowners not to be a “pig” when they set the price of their home.
For those whose financial circumstances may necessitate the quick sale of their home, it’s especially important to take a step back and make sure you understand the home selling process as well as possible. Before you jump into anything, however, read through these Web sites, which can help you determine whether you might be able to keep your home after all.
- Although the Web is a good starting point to get a basic understanding of your options, you should always consult your lender or other financial professional when making a decision about whether it is possible to keep your home.
- Be very cautious of any financial counselors you choose, as there’s an endless supply of scammers looking to prey on people who are in financial trouble and want a “quick fix” to their problems. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if a particular counseling agency is reputable, and be wary of any firms that contact you unsolicited, especially via e-mail.
- Government Web sites (indicated by a “.gov” in the URL) are among the most reputable sources of housing and financial information you’ll find on the Web.
- Much like when you choose a real estate agent, you should be selective about any companies that offer you a quick sale of your home. Immediate cash offers are often very low.
For tips about avoiding foreclosure …
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
also supplies information on what to do if you are behind on your mortgage payments. Learn what a housing counselor can do to help you, how to prioritize your debts, and how to work with your lender so that you can keep your home.
The Merced Sun-Star
offers helpful hints about avoiding foreclosure and discusses some selling options you may need to consider in case you can’t keep your home after all.
For options other than foreclosure …
explains a “short sale” and its advantages over choosing foreclosure.
Following news and developments in the real estate market helps build your knowledge as you prepare to sell your home. We’ve found reliable news and commentary sites that may expand your understanding of the real estate market.
- It’s particularly important when you read a real estate blog to check the credentials of the blog’s author or authors. Most blogs have an “about the author” section; if the information you find is sparse or questionable, the blog’s content may be questionable as well.
- Beware of the many Web sites and publications that offer industry analysis/advice may really be shady investment vehicles. The “About Us” section of a site is a good place to verify author credibility (the absence of such a section could be a sign that the site isn’t legitimate).
is part of The Wall Street Journal
network. Read about market trends or browse a lengthy section of articles about home buying and selling tactics. Place your cursor over the “Buying & Selling” tab at the top of the page to see other reading options like “Taxes & Insurance” and “Mortgages and More.”
is a source of tips and advice for using the real estate market to your advantage. Visit the “Local Market Conditions
” section for specific information on trends and market ratings for all U.S. states, Canada, and Costa Rica. Then browse the “Sellers’ Advice
” section to use this information advantageously. If this information proves useful and you want to learn more, sign up for the real estate newsletter
is a blog written by members of the real estate industry. The entries discuss current developments and trends in real estate, and for the most part, you won't need to be a real estate guru to know what they're talking about. This blog is extensive, but you'll narrow down your chances of finding what you want by either using the search function or checking the topics in the "Blog Categories" list.
provides tips about the real estate market, trends, or whatever else is on the author’s mind. Browse the posts to find helpful recommendations for other online resources to aid in your real estate research.
Future of Real Estate Marketing
is a blog that keeps you up to date on how the Internet has affected real estate and the real estate market. You’ll hear about the newest real estate Web sites and get some insight on the latest generation of home buyers.
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