How to Sell Your Home


Understanding what you want and how to work with your REALTOR to get it

Your home has been your most prized possession. It may also hold your lifelong financial achievements. It's a place where you have raised your kids & pets. It's where you can relax and be yourself after a long day. You want the next owner to give it love and appreciation too... Maybe mostly, you want to get the most money out of it.

Selling your home is a complex transaction with a lot of emotion at play. It takes plenty of work to clean and fix a home in preparation to sell. There will be times of great frustration. You will invest many many personal hours into your home's sale, especially if there are numerous showings (that you have to vacate the premises for). But when you close the deal and obtain your financial goal... what a wonderful feeling!

Understand What You Want

Why are you moving? When do you want to move? Where are you moving? After reviewing market prices and accurate comps (your REALTOR will generate this report), what price do you want to sell your house for? What is the lowest purchase offer that you will accept?

Research the Market

Understand the prices and characteristics of the homes that have sold in the past year within a comparable geographic proximity to your property. This is one of the most vital steps you can take in the preparation to sell your home. This alone will provide necessary insight as you build expectations prior to listing. Proper expectations will save you time and frustration in the long run. Proper pricing leads to SOLD. Always.

How to Choose the Right REALTOR to Sell Your Home

Hire a qualified agent you feel completely comfortable talking to. This is the most important relationship you will have in the journey to sell your real estate. Communication is the key component to a successful transaction. Choose the well-vetted REALTOR you feel most comfortable talking to in person and over the phone.

What are your real estate agent's responsibilities?

Your agent should:

  • Provide a competitive market analysis and comps while working with you to price your home.
  • Manage the preparation of your home for the market – provides staging recommendations, take pictures... pretty much counsels you how to live in your home during the sale process.
  • Market your home for sale, and be the communications hub for all inquiries into the possible purchase.
  • Negotiate the purchase contract.

In addition to being  your go-to for any and all questions and concerns, through this whole process your REALTOR will manage the necessary paperwork required for a legal sale transfer with mortgage assistance (over 99% of all home purchases in the U.S. include assistance from mortgage lenders... and there's many process and paperwork).

Questions to Ask

You may consider asking prospective agents these questions in order to understand who may work best with you and your family:

  • Do you work as a full time real estate agent? As in every profession, the more often someone practices their craft, the better they are at it.
  • How long have you been in business? Generally speaking, agents who have been in business longer are more tapped into the local market.
  • What's the price range of homes you have sold in the past year? Does it correspond to a price range your home will fall into?
  • What is your plan to market and sell my home? Don't get stuck with an agent who uploads the data to the MLS, sticks a For Sale sign in the yard, and calls it a day. Your agent should have a process to display PROFESSIONAL pictures of your property. Your agent should have a comprehensive marketing plan that involves internet exposure. The more internet-advanced your broker's marketing plan is, the more exposure your property listing will get.
  • Do I work directly with you?
  • What is your list price to close price ratio?
  • What is the commission fee for your services? Typically, a real estate agent fee on the listing contract for your property will be 6%-8% in the Cleveland market (Northeast Ohio). This is the total fee paid out to the real estate agents at the closing of your home. Your listing contract will further describe the commission split between the listing agent and the buyer's agent. The split is typically close to 50-50.

Proper Pricing Leads to Sold

Work with your real estate agent to price your home properly. Rule of thumb – your listing price will not effect your final purchase agreement price – it will only effect the amount of time it takes to sell your home. Economics 101 lesson – the American real estate market is one of the most fluid and secure investment markets on the planet – the market will largely determine the price at which your property transfers. Take the counsel from your agent to optimize the window at which you can return profits. Review objective market data from the Competitive Market Analysis your REALTOR provides you – remember set proper expectations for yourself.

How to Stage Your Home for Sale

Today's home buyers have incredible access to internet listings, county auditor data, and satellite viewing. The modern buyer will initially view your home about three times electronically before making the decision to schedule an in-person showing. For this reason, your electronic listing must include professional photographs that show your home in it's best light.


In order for your REALTOR's photographer to take presentable photos, the home must first be de-cluttered and staged. We all accumulate things on a daily basis. It is now time to purge those things. Rooms should be close to empty except for necessary staging furniture. Odors need to be eliminated – steam clean your carpets. Your home should be from from any personalized décor such as photographs, trophies, etc... a good rule of thumb is (1) hanging decoration per wall. If your walls are dirty or painted any color other than white or earth-toned neutral, re-paint now. Painting is one of the least expensive ways to improve a home. It is also an improvement that carries an immense impact. Paint your ceilings flat white with Sherwin Williams Eminence ceiling paint. Accessible Beige, also by Sherwin Williams, is a popular recommendation by listing agents.

Discuss improvements before you commit

Discuss additional pre-sale improvements to your home with your REALTOR before committing to any projects. Depending on the current state of your local market, minor repairs may not be necessary for it's successful sale. In an area of high demand and low inventory, some improvements can become irrelevant. You might as well save some money where you can! Ask you REALTOR first!

Market Your Home For Sale

As previously discussed, home buyers today view your home for the fist few times online before determining to view in person. The well-marketed homes in Greater Cleveland have big beautiful professional photographs listed on the MLS with meticulously scripted descriptions that trigger buyer interest. The generated interest translates to digital exposure – likes and sharing on social media. The top real estate agents use a multitude of internet exposure techniques. Be sure your REALTOR is tapped into the digital realm. Virtual tours will be the next best things since sliced bread and toilet paper.

Showcase via Open House

You've done all the cleaning and this is the best your home has ever looked... it's time to show it off! Commonly thought of as a traditional marketing technique, and sometimes perceived as out-dated, one thing is certain – open houses attract people. Isn't this the goal? Yes! The more people that walk through your home, the closer you are to a sale. Furthermore, recent observations made by real estate agents in Cleveland indicate open house visitors often times share their experience and/or the property listing on social media during or after their visit. In effect, modern open houses result in more exposure due to social media communications.

Receive Offers and Negotiate

Your REALTOR will receive, review, and explain each and every offer to you. Likely, if you want to receive top value for your property, there will be some extent of negotiations. Your REALTOR will help you decide what offer to act on – either accept, decline, or return a counter-offer. A counter-offer is common practice when you receive an offer close to what you want, and wish to work with the probable purchaser in negotiating a deal at or near your comfort level and transaction goal.

Negotiate Home Inspection Removal of Contingencies

Almost all purchase agreements are contingent of a home inspection. After an accepted offer, the buyer has (about) ten days to complete a home inspection and forward to the seller all items they have considered necessary to negotiate. Negotiating removal of contingencies refers to buyer and seller negotiating problems found during a home inspection. Sometimes, if there is a big enough problem, negotiating may not be possible, and both parties agree to terminate the purchase agreement.

Most of the time, minor repairs are recommended by a home inspector. Details of the home inspection are forwarded to the seller side along with the subsequent asks. Professionally negotiated removal of contingencies usually include clear communication of found issues and the agreements made between parties about these found issues in order to move forward with the purchase agreement – Removal of Contingencies.


This is the final step for the sale of your real estate. A lot of paperwork gets signed and you finally get your check. You can expect the buyers, the buyers agent, a title agent, the loan officer, and possibly an attorney at the closing. Closing costs average about 10% of the real estate transaction price. The title company will provide a statement with the itemized closing costs which will be deducted from your payout check. These costs include:

  • buyer and seller agent commissions
  • escrow, title, and attorney fees
  • county transfer taxes and recording fees
  • prorated property taxes
  • loan payoff and associated fees
  • HOA dues up to the settlement date

Congratulations! You have sold your home! Now it's time to celebrate with some vino!

In Cleveland's Greater West Side, call Christine Stowell, REALTOR, at 440-263-8630 for premier real estate buy/sell services.

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