5 Smart Ways to Sell Your Home Fast

The busiest time of year for real estate is right around the corner, so thousands of Americans are getting ready to put their homes on the market. If you plan on selling, here are five ways to make sure your home sells fast and the closing goes as smoothly as possible.

Timing is everythingThe summer is (by far) the busiest time of the year for real estate. Kids are out of school, and the weather is nice. It's simply a convenient time of year for many families to house-hunt and move. In fact, 50% of all home sales occur during the summer months, according to the National Association of Realtors.

One of the best things you can do to sell your home fast is to take advantage of the busy times. It's a well-known fact among industry professionals that the majority of the attention your home attracts will take place within the first week or two of it being listed. So, waiting until the market heats up a little (both literally and figuratively) can make a tremendous difference in the amount of attention your listing receives. In other words, don't waste your "peak" time when it's cold outside.

Be realistic on the priceThe absolute worst thing you can do when trying to sell your house is pricing it way too high. Many sellers list their home for an ambitious price, figuring they can always reduce it later.

However, bear in mind that by doing so, you'll turn off a lot of prospective buyers before they even take a close look at your home. For example, let's say your house has a realistic market value of $260,000, so you price it for $305,000 to see what you can get. Well, the people who are searching in the $250,000-$275,000 price range (your target market) aren't even going to look. And, most people who do look at your listing will expect to see a lot more "house" for the listing price.

Studies have shown that homes that sell quickly tend to sell for more than their original listing price, meaning they were priced aggressively and appropriately right from the start. In contrast, homes that sit on the market for four months or more sell for an average of 11.5% below the original asking price.

As I said before, the first two weeks after listing are the most crucial time, so if you want to sell fast, it's important to go after your target buyers by pricing your home realistically right from the start. In the above example, a $275,000 listing price would be a better starting point. Or, better yet, defer to your real estate agent, who can perform a thorough analysis of your local market and recommend a good listing price.

De-clutter and de-personalizeWhen trying to sell your house, clutter can be your worst enemy, especially if your home is on the small side (or "cozy" in real estate language). A major goal when showing your house is to allow buyers to picture themselves living there. If your rooms are full of random stuff, it may look like home to you, but prospective buyers might have trouble picturing where all of their stuff is going to fit.

If a storage area in your home looks like this, it could be a major turn-off to prospective buyers.

On a similar note, it's also a good idea to de-personalize the house a little. While you're trying to sell, take down family photos, diplomas, and other "personalized" items. As I mentioned earlier, the goal is to get buyers to picture themselves living there, and this can be hard to achieve when there are pictures of your relatives everywhere they look.

The biggest challenge here is figuring out where to put everything. You can temporarily store your things in the attic, at a friend or relative's house, or rent a storage unit nearby while your home is on the market. This part of the process may sound like more trouble than it's worth, but it works.

Make your house look good... virtuallyThe majority of homebuyers today do at least some of their house-hunting online. According to a joint study by Google and the National Association of Realtors, 90% of homebuyers searched online during their buying process. So, it's important to give them something worth looking at.

Your listing photos should only be taken after you've completed the de-cluttering step I mentioned earlier. And even then, don't just snap some pictures with your phone and upload them. Many real estate agents are skilled at taking good listing photos, and there are professional photographers in every major market that specialize in taking good listing photos. This could end up being well worth the investment, especially if the home you're trying to sell is at the higher end of your market, or if there is an abundance of comparable homes on the market in your area.

Remember that the purpose of listing your home online is to make people want to see the home in person. Your listing photos (and the description) need to make buyers say, "I need to take a closer look at this one." Amateur-looking photos with poor lighting and photos of cluttered spaces aren't going to get the job done.

First impressions are everythingFinally, make sure you give buyers a good first impression. This should come at little to no cost to you, and can set the tone for the entire showing. For starters, some of the things you should do before your first showing are:

  • Mow the lawn.
  • Trim all hedges and get rid of any weeds.
  • Wash all windows (natural light through clean windows looks better than light shining through smudges).
  • Make sure all lightbulbs are working, and replace the ones that aren't.
  • Give the front door and garage doors a fresh coat of paint.
  • Vacuum the carpet, mop hardwood floors.
  • Get pets out of the house.

According to some experts, potential buyers make up their minds about whether or not your house is worth a closer look before they even walk through the front door. Making the effort to do all of these things will make sure those 15 minutes are as positive as possible.

To sum it up, if you want to sell your home fast, you can't think of it as "your" home. Look at your home from a buyer's point of view when it comes to price and appearance, and the sale of your home could be quicker and easier than you may think.

The article 5 Smart Ways to Sell Your Home Fast originally appeared on Fool.com.

Matthew Frankel owns shares of Google (C shares). The Motley Fool recommends Google (A shares) and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Google (A shares) and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright 1995 - 2015 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.