There comes a time in every home owner’s life when he or she realizes: “I am not the same person I was when I bought this place.” Maybe your lifestyle or your family configuration has changed, or maybe the house just isn’t as appealing as it was when you signed that ream of paperwork on closing day.

If you’re thinking about moving on, then there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you take the plunge and list the house. When you can answer these questions, you’ll know you’re in the right place emotionally and financially to move on to your next space.

What is my home really worth?

You can find almost anything on the internet, and that includes an estimated value of your home. How convenient!

But before you try to figure out how much your house is worth on your own, take a deep breath and resolve to remember one thing: “I shouldn’t believe everything I read on the internet.”

It’s possible that an automated estimate is going to be spot-on, but those algorithms depend on numbers that might or might not be accurate, like the condition of your property, the square footage, any features or amenities you’ve added (or removed), and recent sales of properties nearby that could be comparable to your own home.

You can also talk to a professional about your home’s value and that person is going to be able to give you a more accurate idea of how much your particular, specific home might capture on the current market. 

And a real estate professional can also explain what you can do to your home to help inch that number upward a little bit – especially in the competitive Northern Michigan market. Then you can make the call as to whether or not you want to make any upgrades or take the estimated price as-is. Which leads to the next question …

How can I sell at the highest price possible?

When you’re selling anything, you want to get fair market value for the item you’re releasing, and that’s exponentially truer for your house.

If you’re not ready to call in a professional, then start with things that can spruce up almost any dwelling. One of the first and most important steps to selling your home for top dollar is to get the place deep-cleaned from floor to ceiling, including washing the windows and scrubbing down all of your kitchen appliances. It also makes sense to clean the tops of the mechnicals, including your HVAC system, hot water heaters etc. (This shows that you’ve really cared for your home.)

Also, start attacking the clutter; it’s much easier to clean a room that doesn’t have a lot of furniture or objects in it, so even if you’re hoping to move up to make space for all your stuff, it’s a good idea to start cleaning out the items that you know you don’t want to move with you. If there’s still a lot left, consider a shed or an off-site storage facility where you can stash things without packing them in your closets (where buyers are most definitely going to be looking). If you have a junk drawer or even a “junk room,” now is the time to start corralling that beast.

Then get cleaning. There’s no detail too small — make sure every room in the house sparkles to the best of your ability and smells fresh and aired-out.

There may be quite a few additional projects you could tackle to increase your home’s value, such as adding a deck, remodeling the kitchen, or even adding entire rooms, in some cases. These are good opportunities to discuss with a real estate professional, who can share feedback about whether the project is going to be worth the eventual return on investment when you sell the home — and what projects will net you more money for your property.

Also, if there are any fixtures in your home that are not going to be sold with your home, now is the time to remove them to avoid any later conflicts. 

Real Estate One and Rob Briggs have strong working relationships with stagers and home photographers. When a buyer falls in love with your home, it’s most likely going to be from an online listing, so your listing photos should be as high-quality as possible — that might mean bringing in a stager to spruce up the rooms and a photographer to capture results.

Real Estate One also routinely uses drone video and photography to capture dramatic imagery.

How long will my home be on the market?

No one can predict the future, but experts who work in the industry can usually come close. If you haven’t called an agent yet, you might need to in order to get the information you’ll need to begin developing an answer to this question.

Ultimately, it depends on what the housing market is like in Northern Michigan at the time that you’re ready to sell. But there are a lot of anomalies within a housing market — even in markets that seem red-hot, sometimes sellers make a mistake and overprice a home that then languishes for weeks or even months longer than more realistically priced homes. And there are some neighborhoods or even specific blocks where buyers seem to be willing to do just about anything to get their foot in the door — and other geographies where they might need to be educated a little more aggressively.

The number of days that homes stay on the market gets shorter and shorter as housing heats up, but that number is absolutely contingent on the initial list price. Homes that need to reduce their prices to attract qualified buyers will remain on the market significantly longer than homes priced competitively from the start. It’s really important to get the initial list price right if you’d like the home to sell quickly but always leaving a negotiating cushion in the asking price. (And remember: The longer that house takes to sell, the longer you as the seller will be responsible for keeping it in showing condition for buyers — seven days a week.)

So, even in neighborhoods where houses seem to be flying off the shelves, it’s smart to talk to a professional who can give you an educated estimate about the amount of time it should take your property to get from list to close.

How can a Real Estate Professional help?

Selling a home is a huge life event that encroaches on just about every aspect of your existence, from when, where and what you eat to your work schedule to how often you need to do laundry and vacuum. It can be an incredibly stressful time, and Rob Briggs can serve as your personal advisor to guide you in making the best decisions possible while keeping track of all the details.

Rob Briggs will help you find the best price for your home, list it for you on the MLS, and handle all of the marketing — from photos to open houses to glossy brochures to Facebook and other advertising.

He can manage your showing schedule for buyers who want personal tours and can help you decide which offer to accept if you happen to receive more than one.  A licensed real estate professional is absolutely essential during the negotiation process, especially if the buyer is making demands that the seller isn’t prepared to address.

Rob Briggs and the Real Estate One team will also know the best plumbers, electricians, and general contractors in the area who might be able to make any repairs or changes to the home before it closes. He can manage the transaction timeline, alerting you when an inspection or appraisal is about to happen. He or a member of the Real Estate One team will attend inspections and showings. He will also keep you in the loop regarding financing and every other aspect of the deal.

Rob Briggs can help you do all of this while you’re simultaneously looking for a new place to live and can assist you manage that, too — including what to do if you find a home before your current house sells.

And Rob Briggs has a deep understanding of many complicated personal situations and tricky life events, including divorce, that can affect the home selling and buying process.

Selling a home is not as simple as listing it on the MLS and waiting for an appropriate offer to come in. There’s so much more involved that most sellers can’t handle it on their own.

Rob Briggs would be delighted to talk with you – regardless of whether you are ready to list or not. He can help you focus your thinking and may be able to point out what you didn’t know you were missing.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.