A Timeline for Selling Your Home

Unlike a last-second squeeze through the closing doors of the uptown Q train, selling a home isn’t something you can rush. But, if you’re like most homeowners, you probably aren’t even sure where to start. We’ve broken down the steps for you: 


  •  Pick a date

If you’re in complete control of when you want to move, good news—you get to pick when to sell. The temptation is to Google this for advice about best months for selling. Please, close that browser. The internet is full of contradictory advice and about 1% of it applies to the singular real estate market that is New York City. This is really when a reliable agent whose counsel you trust can help you. They should be informed of current neighborhood concerns and overall Brooklyn trends you need to consider. And if you must Google, take the advice with a grain of salt. 


  • Research your local market

Here’s where your seller’s agent will also help you but it’s wise to go in as prepared as possible. Think of your own prep as a second opinion to your agent’s. Check out what similar properties are selling for (note how long they’ve been on the market, too) and formulate some thoughts about a sales price. But you can’t find out everything online. It never hurts to go to a few open houses in your area to experience the neighborhood, building features and other tangibles that you can’t see online and that change within a few blocks here in NYC. 


  • Hire an agent

If you are hiring a real estate agent to handle your listing, start interviewing candidates now. Ask friends and family for recommendations and research agent reviews (ahem, you can read ours here). Here’s why we think working with an agent is in your best interest. Once you’ve picked, you’ll sign a listing agreement and start working out a marketing plan. Discuss any additional fixes or remodeling work the agent believes will pay off.


  • It’s time for open house

Time to make everything shine, fix that weird hinge, and clean that window that’s hard to reach so you never bother. Now’s the time to make it count. Here’s our extensive Open House Guide for Sellers to get you started. 


  • Start moving out – really

If you can, get a storage pod or unit and start packing up, a little at a time. Not only will this help you with the eventual move, but a home that isn’t overloaded with furniture and personal items just shows better. 

Let your neighbors know what’s up. Not only is it nice to give them a heads up that you’re leaving, but they can help market the property. They may have friends looking for a house who already love your neighborhood!


  •  Check your complete financial picture

Get your loan payout information for your mortgage. You’re going to need to know how much you owe so you can figure out what your sales proceeds will be – or if you are going to be doing a short sale in which the sales price won’t satisfy the mortgage. Clear up any liens on the property.

Keep cleaning and decluttering! If you are using an agent, they will probably have advice on staging. If not, remember you want it to look as much like a picture out of a magazine as possible.


  •  Marketing can be fun and not awful, we swear

Once you’ve got the house looking its best, time for pictures. If you have an agent, they will likely take pictures or hire a real estate photographer to do it. Be picky. No clutter should be visible. Shades should be open to let in as much flattering natural light as possible. And please keep it natural—not the time for Photoshop or artsy filters.

Your agent should help create an engaging, accurate and upbeat description of your home. Think about what made you fall in love (or at least in like) with it when you bought it. In NYC, we always tell buyers that the person who will most likely buy their place is them—5-10 years ago. What did you want in a place when things were different for you? Before kids or a promotion, or an unexpected split (it happens). That’s who you should be talking to. 


  •  Go live!

If you have an agent, make sure they get your home listed on the major online sites. StreetEasy is a huge force in NYC but listings now require agents to pay. Discuss the possibility with your agent.

Live in a perpetual state of clean. Unless you’re a clean freak, this is going to be a little bit of a pain but it’s worth it in the long run. When the agent calls with a showing, you want to be ready. That means, every bed must be made every morning. Even if you don’t have a showing scheduled, you have to assume a buyer will come by every time you leave the house. (Many people don’t know this, but the surest way to get a buyer to come by is to leave dirty socks on the floor.)

When it comes to offers, your agent should give you feedback after every showing. If you aren’t getting a lot of showings and it’s a hot market, an early price adjustment may be in order. Remember, in any market, the sooner you sell, the higher the price you’re likely to get. So in these early days, you want to be responsive to what the market has to say.

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