1. Home staging can help your home stand out to buyers, resulting in a quicker sale and higher offers. Even small touches like removing family photos, diplomas, and other personal items make it easier for buyers to visualize themselves in your home. Before you put your home on the market, take an impartial look at your property, inside and out. Quick and inexpensive touch-ups that will give your house a polished look include fresh coats of neutral paint in the bedrooms; new cabinet knobs in the kitchen and bathrooms; and organized closets and cabinets.
2. To make sure you set the most realistic price for your home, learn all you can about your local housing market by carefully reviewing your REALTOR®’s Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). This valuable tool explains what consumers have paid for similar homes in your market, which homes failed to sell in recent months, and their corresponding list prices. While you will ultimately decide the final listing price for your home, your REALTOR® can help you analyze the information contained in the CMA and make an assessment of how other homes on the market compare to yours in terms of size, location, amenities, and condition.
3. Keep in mind that as a home seller, you may qualify for the capital gains tax exclusion--up to $500,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly and $250,000 for single taxpayers. To qualify for this tax break, you must have used the home as your primary residence for at least two of the prior five years—and the two years don't have to be consecutive. Additionally, this exclusion is not a one-time benefit; you may take advantage of it once every two years as long as you meet the qualifications.
4. Worried about selling your home before you can identify and purchase a new one? It is not uncommon for sellers to add a contingency clause to the sales contract stating that the sale will only proceed if the sellers can purchase a replacement property. Contingency clauses stipulate conditions that must be fulfilled before a contract is binding. They typically provide for a set number of days after which the contingency must be removed from the contract or the parties must decide not to proceed with the sale.
5. Plan for a smooth closing—that's the day ownership of your property is officially transferred to the buyers—by requesting a preliminary copy of the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, which lists estimates of all the settlement fees to be paid by the buyer and the seller. While your portion of the closing costs will be deducted from your earnings from the sale, it is still wise to carefully review the fees to ensure they match what has been negotiated in your sales contract.