Mortgages & Home Loans Real Estate Resources Selling Your Home Important Steps in the Home Selling Process By Elizabeth Weintraub Elizabeth Weintraub Facebook Twitter Elizabeth Weintraub is a nationally recognized expert in real estate, titles, and escrow. She is a licensed Realtor and broker with more than 40 years of experience in titles and escrow. Her expertise has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS Evening News, and HGTV's House Hunters. learn about our editorial policies Updated on June 12, 2022 Reviewed by Doretha Clemon Reviewed by Doretha Clemon Doretha Clemons, Ph.D., MBA, PMP, has been a corporate IT executive and professor for 34 years. She is an adjunct professor at Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, Maryville University, and Indiana Wesleyan University. She is a Real Estate Investor and principal at Bruised Reed Housing Real Estate Trust, and a State of Connecticut Home Improvement License holder. learn about our financial review board Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article Choose a Listing Agent How Much Your Home Is Worth Get Your Home Ready for Sale Market Your Home Show Your Home Receive Purchase Offers Open Escrow and Order Title Schedule an Appraiser Cooperate With the Home Inspection Deliver Seller Disclosures Negotiate Requests for Repair Ask Buyer to Release Contingencies Sign Title and Escrow Documents Close Escrow Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: Glow Images, Inc / Getty Images The home selling process is the same whether it's a for sale by owner or you're hiring a listing agent. Certain details can vary a little from state to state, but this checklist can serve as a general guide. Just be sure to confer with a local professional for details on specific requirements in your state. Key Takeaways Interview agents, and meet with at least three of them before you make a decision.Keep your price in line with sold homes that have been identified in a comparative market analysis report.Prepare your home for sale by cleaning and decluttering it and improving curb appeal.Be prepared to receive multiple offers if your home is priced right, but don’t ignore any offers, even if they seem low—you can always negotiate. Choose a Listing Agent A listing agent represents you and has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interests. Interview agents and meet with at least three of them as you make a decision. Try to hire based on experience. Ask questions about your listing agreement, including the length of time the home will be listed and the commission you will pay for the agent’s services. Will you also be paying the buyer’s agent commissions? (Most traditional agreements require it). Note You don’t have to use a real estate agent to sell your house. You can also sell your home yourself (dubbed an FSBO or for sale by owner) or sell it to an iBuyer. There are also discount/reduced-fee agents if you’re looking for a less hands-on experience. Find Out How Much Your Home Is Worth A seller's greatest mistake is often overpricing her home. Keep your price in line with sold homes that have been identified in a comparative market analysis report. Consider whether your market is hot, cold, or neutral and price the home accordingly. Get Your Home Ready for Sale Prepare your home for sale by cleaning and decluttering it and improving curb appeal. You might want to consider hiring a professional stager to stage your home for showings or ask your real estate agent for help or ideas. You can often use your furniture. Note There are also virtual staging apps you can use if you can’t afford a full staging. Some of these options include Rooomy, VisualStager, and BoxBrownie. These allow you to stage a home digitally, then use the photos in your listings or other marketing material. Make any necessary repairs and consider a pre-listing, seller’s inspection to identify any potential problem areas. If you're selling a home with pets, you might want to make temporary living arrangements while you show the house. Remember, you only get one chance—and sometimes only three seconds or so—to make a great first impression. Make it count. Market Your Home You or your agent should identify the selling points of your home and choose the best advertising words to convey them. Approve your agent's marketing campaign or figure out how to advertise your house for sale yourself. Hire a virtual tour company to take quality photographs and put a virtual tour online if possible. You should also confirm that your listing is posted online. You—or your agent—should saturate the internet and social media with photographs and descriptions of your property. According to stats from the National Association of Realtors, 50% of 2018 homebuyers found their home online. Show Your Home You'll get more showings if you let agents use a lockbox or keypad to show your home rather than force them to make appointments. If you are opting for appointments, try to be flexible. Some buyers will want to see the home on weeknights (after work) and all across the weekend. Be as accommodating as possible. Prepare for an open house, but use this approach sparingly. If you do one, be sure to ask for buyer feedback so you can adjust your price, condition, or marketing campaign accordingly. Receive Purchase Offers and Negotiate Be prepared to receive multiple offers if your home is priced right. Don't ignore any offers, even if it seems too low. Negotiate by making a counteroffer. Consider making a counteroffer that's contingent on you buying a home if market conditions warrant it. And don't be afraid to make a full-price counter offer if your price is competitive and it's backed up by comparable sales. You can also ask for a kick-out clause or right of first refusal if the buyer's offer is contingent on selling a home. This contingency ensures that you won't wait around too long if the buyer can’t offload their property. Open Escrow and Order Title Your agent or transaction coordinator will open escrow and order a title policy for you. Write down the contact information for the closing agent, and select a date to close based on when the buyer's loan will fund. Note Don't forget to ask for a receipt for the buyer's earnest money deposit and option fee, if they’ve paid one. Schedule an Appraisal Clean the house the day before the appraiser arrives. If you receive a low appraisal, ask your agent about alternatives. You're typically not entitled to receive a copy of the appraisal because you didn't pay for it. If the buyer decides to cancel the contract based on an appraisal, ask your agent or lawyer about your rights. They’ll need an appraisal contingency in the contract to pull out. Cooperate With the Home Inspection Now get ready for the home inspector. Ask your agent to provide you with a home inspection checklist, so you'll know in advance what the inspector will want to see. Prepare the attic and basement for inspection, too. Move stuff away from the walls in the garage, and make sure there’s a clear path for the inspector to get through. If your contract calls for a roof certification, hire a reputable company to conduct the inspection. Keep in mind that states that allow for termite or pest inspections will often make these reports a matter of public record. The buyer may also request a sewer inspection if your home is older. Note Prepare for the final walk-through inspection with the buyer as well. It usually takes place a few days before, or even the morning of, the closing. Deliver Seller Disclosures If you're aware of any other material facts or problems with the property, you must disclose them using a seller’s disclosure form. Your title company should provide the buyer with the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) for your community or the homeowner's association, if necessary. Note All homes in the U.S. are subject to lead-based paint disclosures, even those built after 1978. Negotiate Requests for Repair You don't have to accept a buyer's request to make repairs, but they may back out of the deal if you don’t (as long as they have an inspection contingency in place). In some cases, a buyer might accept a closing cost credit instead of an actual repair. This credit essentially lowers the sales price, giving them cash to make the repairs on their own once they assume ownership. Note You're entitled to a copy of the home inspection report if the buyer requests repairs. Make sure to review the report carefully to see what issues were noted. Ask the Buyer to Release Contingencies If the buyer had any contingencies in their contract, ask them to “release” them, meaning affirm that they have been resolved. The buyer isn't obligated to provide a contingency release if you don't demand it. In some states, you might have a right to cancel the contract if the buyer will not provide a release. Sign the Title and Escrow Documents Depending on where you're located, you might sign escrow documents shortly after opening escrow, or you'll sign them nearer to closing. It's common in some states for everyone to sit around the table—buyers and sellers—so ask your agent about the norm in your location. Be sure to bring a valid photo ID. Close Escrow Finally, attend your closing appointment, sign the final paperwork, and hand over your keys. Your property deed, reconveyance, and deed of trust will go into the public record, and—depending on the buyer's possession rights—you might be required to move on the day the home closes or even in advance. This requirement should be specified in the contract. Once all is said and done, the sale proceeds will be wired to your bank account—minus agent commissions, repair credits, and other fees noted on your closing documents. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What is escrow when selling a house? Escrow is a type of financial agreement in which a neutral third party controls payments between two other parties. When you sell a home, escrow is used to protect both you and the buyer. It ensures that payments, such as the buyer's earnest money deposit, are only released once the terms of the contract are met. What steps should you take if your house is not selling? If your house is not selling, it may be overpriced for your area and the current market. You may also need to make repairs or updates if buyers in your area are looking for a turnkey property. You might even need to do something as simple as clearing out more of your possessions if your house is too cluttered. Consult with your agent to come up with a plan to improve your listing and get it back on the market. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Redfin. "What is a Listing Agent?" National Association of Realtors. "Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy." National Association of Realtors. "Prelisting Inspections: Head Off Trouble." National Association of Realtors. "Quick Real Estate Statistics." Redfin. "What is Right of Refusal?" Quicken Loans. "How an Appraisal Contingency Can Protect You." Texas Real Estate Commission. "Seller's Disclosure Notice." Environmental Protection Agency. "Real Estate Disclosures About Potential Lead Hazards." A and N Mortgage. "Getting a Credit for Repairs."