A family talks about selling their house.
A family talks about selling their house.

How to Sell Your House: 8 Steps for a Quick Sale

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You know what they say — there’s no place like home! What Dorothy didn’t tell you is that there’s also no sale like the sale of your home.

Selling your home is one of the biggest sales you’ll make in your life. There are, of course, the emotional aspects of the sale. You need to say goodbye to a place that’s housed you, kept you warm, maybe even where your child had their first steps. But beyond emotions, selling a home is an extremely in-depth process — and one in which there’s a lot of money on the line.

Feeling a bit stressed? Fear not — we’re here to help. Our guide to selling a home will break the process down into manageable steps, cover tips for a quicker sale, and answer some of the most common questions home sellers ask.

Here’s how to sell your house in eight simple steps.

8 steps to selling your house: decide how to sell, determine list price, get an inspection, list and market, prepare for market, review offers and negotiate, act on due diligence, close the sale and move out.

  1. Decide how you want to sell.
  2. Determine your list price.
  3. Get an inspection before listing.
  4. Prepare your home for market.
  5. List your home.
  6. Review offers and negotiate.
  7. Stay on track during due diligence.
  8. Close the sale.

1. Decide How You Want To Sell

The first step in selling your home is deciding how you want to sell. While working with a realtor is the traditional route, it’s not the only option. You can also choose to sell the home yourself or sell to an iBuyer — companies that use technology to give near-instant offers.

If you’re not already sure which way you’d like to sell, spend some time researching the pros and cons of each option. This will help you know which process will work best for your situation.

Pros and cons of selling with an agent, by owner, or to an iBuyer.

With a Real Estate Agent

About 90 percent of home sellers work with a real estate agent, making it the most popular option. Agents can help you analyze the market, set a competitive home price, negotiate offers, complete legal paperwork, and more. In general, real estate agents make the home selling process easier for home sellers. 

Additionally, according to the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), last year, FSBO homes sold at a median price of $225,000 compared to a median of $345,000 for agent-assisted home sales. That means that even after paying agent fees (typically five to six percent of the sale price), sellers can often make more by using a real estate agent. 

However, if you have real estate experience or just want to sell to friends or family, an agent may not be necessary. In these cases, you may be able to save some money by not paying agent commissions. 

You’ll also want to choose the right real estate agent. Using an inexperienced agent or one who doesn’t know the area may negatively impact your home sale.    


  • Access to professional knowledge  
  • Help with negotiating and completing paperwork


  • Could pay an average of five to six percent in commission fees 
  • Inexperienced agents may negatively impact the sale 

For Sale by Owner 

Some sellers consider listing their home for sale by owner (FSBO) to try and save on agent commission fees. While it’s possible to come out ahead this way, it may not always be the case: last year, NAR found that FSBO homes sold for a median price of $225,000 compared to a median of $345,000 for agent-assisted home sales. This means that even with saving five to six percent on agent fees, sellers may still profit more overall with an agent.  

If you’re an agent or feel confident in your knowledge, you may prefer to manage the sale yourself. This gives you total control over pricing, negotiating, and advertising decisions agents normally make. 

You may also want to list FSBO if you already know who you’re selling to. In some cases, this can save you money overall by not paying agent commissions. However, it’s still a wise idea to have a professional appraise the home if you want to get the best price. You can do this by hiring an inspector or purchasing a comparative market analysis from a real estate agent.    


  • Save on agent commission fees 
  • Total control over the home sale process 


  • Lack of real estate knowledge 
  • Can be time-consuming  

With an iBuyer

If you’re wondering how to sell your house fast, you may want to consider “instant buyers,” also known as iBuyers. iBuyers use technology and algorithms to give home sellers quick cash offers on their homes — sometimes in as little as 24 hours. 

According to data from zavvie, iBuyers can pay market value. In 2020, iBuyer offers averaged 97.6 percent of the market value, and in the first half of 2021, they averaged 104.1 percent of the market value. 

Keep in mind that while you may not need to pay agent commissions with iBuyers, you’ll still need to pay associated fees. Opendoor and Offerpad charge a five percent service fee. This does not include closing costs. Additionally, while iBuyers usually take care of any home repairs, these costs are typically deducted from the seller’s net proceeds. 

iBuyers don’t operate in all areas, and they don’t promise to buy any and all houses. So while they may be a convenient option for some, they may not even be an option for others. If you’d like to see whether iBuyers may be an option for you, some companies to look into include Opendoor, Offerpad, and RedfinNow. 


  • Quick cash offers 
  • iBuyer usually handles home repairs 


  • iBuyers may not operate in your area  
  • iBuyers don’t guarantee they will make an offer 

2. Determine Your List Price

Once you decide on a home sale method, it’s time to determine your list price. 

If you’re wondering how to price your house to sell, one tip is to be as objective as possible. Homeowners with a sentimental attachment to their home or who put considerable work into it may overvalue it. However, overpricing a home can be just as dangerous as underpricing.    

Real estate agents can help you stay objective by analyzing the market and determining a competitive price based on numbers — sale prices of similar homes in the area. If you’re using an agent, this service shouldn’t cost additional money. If you’re selling your home yourself, you can purchase a comparative market analysis report from a real estate agent to get this information.

A comparative market analysis is a report real estate agents can create to appraise a home's value based on similar listings in the area.

3. Get an Inspection Before Listing

While it’s not required, getting an inspection before listing your home can be a smart choice. It will alert you to any serious issues with your home. Because major issues can affect your home sale, it’s best to know about them ahead of time. 

Say a buyer puts an offer on your home. Before making any decisions, they send a home inspector to look for concerns with the home. The inspector finds a massive red flag. The buyer pulls out. The deal is off. 

If you’d known about the issue ahead of time, you could have had time to address it — either by making the repair yourself or by adjusting the listing price accordingly. In this scenario, you may find yourself wishing you had paid for an inspection before going to market. 

4. Prepare Your Home for Market

Before listing your home, be sure to complete any necessary preparations. Usually the better condition your home is in, the better offers you can get. Here are a few tips on how to get your house ready to sell. 

  • Complete repairs and minor renovations: Getting your house in tip-top shape prior to showings can help increase its selling price.
  • Pack non-essential items: This way, you can get them out of the way for showings. It’s also a good way to remove personal items like family photos so buyers can better imagine themselves in the home.   
  • Thoroughly clean: Nothing deters a prospective buyer like a dirty home. Give your home a good thorough cleaning. 
  • Stage: Time to make your home look its best. Staged homes sell 33 percent to 50 percent faster than non-staged homes, and for a 20 percent higher price on average. Create a warm and inviting space that will appeal to all types of buyers. 

If you’re considering any home upgrades, make sure they offer a high ROI. Here are some popular home upgrades along with their average added values.

Average Resale Value of Home Upgrades
Project Average Added Value*
Garage Door Replacement $3,769
Manufactured Stone Veneer Siding $10,109
Minor Kitchen Remodel  $20,125
Fiber-Cement Siding Replacement $15,090
Vinyl Replacement Windows $13,822
Wooden Deck Addition $12,464
Steel Entry Door Replacement $1,409
Midrange Bathroom Remodel $15,990
Midrange Master Suite Addition $93,762
Source: Remodeling by JLC
*Resale values based on national average. Returns will vary depending on location and specifics of the project.

5. List and Market Your Home

You know how you’re going to sell, what a competitive price is for your home, and you’ve made all the necessary preparations. The next step is to actually list your home. 

Since over half of buyers find their homes on the internet, you’ll want to make sure you have a strong online presence. A great way to do this is to make sure your home is listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This database automatically distributes home listings to hundreds of real estate sites.  

Only real estate agents can create MLS listings, but there is a workaround if you are selling on your own. Some brokerages will create an MLS listing on your behalf for a flat fee. 

Here are some other tips when listing and marketing your home: 

  • Take great photographs: Online photos are likely to be a buyer’s first impression of your home. Make sure your photos are well-lit and show the home in its entirety.  
  • Offer home showings: This can be through open house events or for interested individuals. 

6. Review and Negotiate Offers

Negotiations can feel intimidating, but they’re important if you want a good deal on your home. Here are a few strategies that can help you get the best price while reviewing offers and negotiating.

Push Back with Your List Price 

If a prospective buyer comes in substantially under asking, it’s probably not in your best interest to counter with a price lower than your asking price. Instead, it can help you maximize your return by countering the first time with your asking price. 

Here’s why: You priced your house competitively from the get-go. A good buyer with a good agent will recognize that. They’re likely to come closer to asking if you stand your ground. If they continue to lowball you, it may be a sign that they’re not worth negotiating with. 

Use Multiple Offers for Leverage

If you’re in a seller’s market and your home is priced competitively, you’re likely to get multiple offers. That’s a great situation to be in — use those offers as leverage to ask for more. Let prospective buyers know what they’re up against and see if they’re willing to up their offer. 

7. Stay on Track During Due Diligence 

After you’ve accepted an offer, the buyer will pay earnest money and the due diligence period will begin. During this time, it’s the seller’s responsibility to take care of any contingencies in the contract within the agreed-upon timeframes. Failure to do so can void the contract and cause the sale to fall through. 

Common contingencies to be aware of include:  

  • A home inspection: Even if you already paid for a home inspection as the seller, the buyer will almost always complete their own additional inspection. Most loan companies require inspections to secure financing.   
  • A home appraisal: Lenders typically order an appraisal to ensure buyers aren’t paying more than the home is worth. Make sure your home is available for an appraiser to walk through when scheduled.  
  • Confirming a clear title: Sellers must clear any liens, debts, or other legal issues with the home before the sale can go through.     
  • Completing negotiated repairs: If the buyer included any repairs in the contract, such as replacing the carpeting, the seller must complete them during due diligence.  

Staying on track during due diligence can help prevent holdups so your home sale goes more smoothly.      

8. Close the Sale

Once due diligence is over, it’s time to close the sale. During this time, you will sign any necessary settlement papers, pay closing costs (if applicable), and receive your payments. If you’re not using a real estate agent, hire a real estate attorney to help with financial matters at closing. 

Tax Implications of Selling Your Home

So you’ve received your payment, but will it be taxed? If you’ve owned and lived in your home for at least two of the five years previous to the sale, you won’t need to pay taxes on profits up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples filing jointly). If you don’t meet these qualifications, you may need to pay capital gains tax. 

What about if you sell your home at a loss? Unfortunately, in this case, the loss will not be tax deductible, but it also will not be liable for taxes since there was no capital gain 

Moving Out

The final step in the home sale process is moving out. Be sure to tie up any loose ends such as transferring your utilities and forwarding your mail. Schedule movers or have your friends and family come help. Move-out day can feel hectic so be sure to plan in advance. 

Congratulations on selling your home!

FAQ About the Home Selling Process 

Have additional questions about the home selling process? Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. 

How Much Do Realtors Charge To Sell Your House?

Agents usually take five to six percent of the home’s final sale price as a commission. So on a home that sells for $400,000, agent fees are likely to be between $20,000 and $24,000.  

How Do You Sell Your House Without a Realtor?

If you’re wondering how to sell your house by owner, you can do it in much the same way as you would with an agent — determine your list price, prepare your home for market, list and market the home, negotiate offers, and close on the contract. 

The biggest difference is that you won’t have access to an agent’s professional knowledge at each step. Here are a few tips that can help you gain some of the benefits of using an agent without having to actually hire one: 

  • For help determining a competitive list price, purchase a comparative market analysis from a real estate agent for a one-time fee. 
  • For help listing and marketing your home, pay a participating brokerage a flat fee to list your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS automatically distributes your listing to hundreds of real estate sites. Not all brokerages offer this service, but some do. 
  • For help with financial matters at closing, hire a real estate attorney.

What Is the First Step to Selling Your Home?

The first step to selling your home is deciding how you want to sell — on your own, with an agent, or to an iBuyer. Most people (90 percent) choose to sell with an agent. If this is you, the next step is to go out and choose a real estate agent

What Should I Do Before I Sell My Home?

Before selling your home, prepare it for the market by: 

  • Completing any repairs or renovations
  • Cleaning and decluttering 
  • Depersonalizing the space
  • Staging  
  • Taking well-lit and high-quality photos

You may also want to get an inspection before listing to see if the home has any major problems that you’ll need to address.  

What Is the Most Common Reason a Property Fails to Sell?

One of the most common reasons a property fails to sell is that its asking price is too high. Overpricing your home can lead to it sitting on the market and being ignored by buyers. 

Other common reasons for homes not selling include: 

  • Major structural issues 
  • An undesirable neighborhood or location 
  • An unconventional home that limits the buyer pool  

How Does the Money Work When You Sell Your House?

If you break even when selling your house, the money from the sale will pay off any remaining balance on your mortgage, cover agent commissions, and fund any other fees associated with the transaction (like closing costs, if applicable). If there is any remaining balance, this becomes your profit.    

Most of the time, the seller will receive their payment on closing day, although it may take longer depending on your situation.  

When thinking about how to sell your house, it helps to break the process down into manageable steps. We hope our eight steps to selling a house did just that for you. 

After selling your home, remember to purchase a home insurance policy or renter’s insurance for your new place!   


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