1) Check Your Home's Value
Plug your address into Zillow.com and RealEstateABC.com to get rough estimates of your home's market worth. Then refine the estimates by entering in more info. about the renovations you've done or about other factors that may affect the home's value. Added an extra bathroom? That'll boost your estimate. Even if you've just built in bookshelves or added a garden, Zillow has a space to input that as well. At RealEstateABC.com, you can adjust the site's valuation by noting whether your house has a better than average view, or if your street is particularly quiet. Just over half of the country's 85 million single-family homes have Zillow estimates, and the site employs statisticians to refine its formula for calculating home prices. The valuation the site suggests won't necessarily determine your offering price, but it should give you a helpful ballpark figure so neither brokers nor buyers can steer you wildly astray.
2) Find an Agent
Given that 90% of sellers use a broker, you'll probably end up with one too. Homethinking.com is a new site that lets you see what homes agents in your area are selling and what they've recently sold. It also posts ratings from past clients, though the site is too new to include a comprehensive database of such evaluations. It's still raw, but it's free and easy to use. After getting a quick overview covering some of your area's agents, visit Realtor.com, the site for the National Association of Realtors, to search for a local broker and to find out more about the home sale process. Finally, to see how the Web is changing the way some agents operate, go to ziprealty.com, which lets sellers save 25% on broker commissions.
3) Consider Selling it Yourself
Many people cringe at the thought of handing over 5% or 6% of their sales price to an agent who, in some cases, does just a few hours of work. If you're the do-it-yourself type, managing your home sale is now easier than it's ever been, given tools available online. You can market your home digitally through sites like Forsalebyowner.com, if you're confident you know the market well. Flat fee rates range from $200 to $900 depending on how broadly you post your offering. One caveat: the National Association of Realtors argues that average sale prices are lower for those who go agent-less. Before you dive in on your own, bone up on the real estate biz by reading up at sites like inman.com or blogs such as curbed.com. If you've got the skills, consider making a high-quality video of your home like those posted at inmanstories.com. You can include a link to the video in your online (or offline) ads.
4) Beef up the Home's Value
If your home isn't selling, or you'd like to get more for it than the market seems ready to bear, consider investing in some upgrade projects. Letsrenovate.com, Doityourself.com and Hgtv.com can be useful in redoing a kitchen, bathroom or closet, for instance, to boost the price of your home. Before launching a major endeavor, though, it's worth getting some independent input on whether the upgrade will actually boost your home's value. Remodeling Magazine has a handy guide with cost-to-value assessments for whatever changes you're contemplating.
5) Stage it to sell quickly
Before your open house, do some last-minute prep. For those in need of help, Stagedhomes.com has contact information for professionals well versed in the art of making a home look appealing. If you're not eager to shell out a thousand or more dollars to bring in a pro, take advantage of a few specific tips offered at home staging hubs. First, clean up clutter and tone down loud wall-paint colors. Then put away personal photos and other chotchkes (so the buyer can more easily imagine him or herself living there), and set up some flowers so the place smells nice and feels summery. Even if you're in a rush to cash in because you fear a looming bubble burst, staging experts argue that taking a few days to set up your home for display can mean a 5% to 10% difference in price, and can cut down the number of weeks a home sits on the market. When your sale goes through, save your contacts and research. Most sellers will one day sell again.