FAQ's When Selling a Home. House model with a sold sign.

Written by Kelsey Lane


FAQs When Selling a Home


What do I need to do to get my house ready to sell?

The more cleaning, packing, and sprucing you do in your house, the higher price you'll get. That said, if due to personal reasons you need to sell your house without doing much prep work, that's possible too... the price you get will just be lower. Most good Realtors who are full service will help you coordinate getting it ready, and help find solutions for paying for the work to be done if needed. Our team includes these services in our commission which is a typical commission for the area. The most dramatic impact you can make in getting ready is to pack 1/4 to 1/3 of your stuff and find a place to store it while you're in the moving process so your home shows to its fullest. Your Realtor can coordinate scheduling professional cleaners to come in right before you go on the market so the deep cleaning (home, carpet, windows) is fresh and sparkling when the first visitors are coming through. For sprucing and remodeling, generally basic repairs and updates are best - high end remodeling will usually only break even so there's not much point to it unless you want to enjoy it for awhile prior to selling. Anything that's broken may give buyers the impression that there are problems with the house (even if small - so these items should be addressed). Updates such as paint, lighting, and hardware can quickly bring a property into the current timeframe's trends. Our team puts together a customized list of prep items, and helps you determine a budget to maximize your sales price.


How long will it take to sell my house?

The average current days on market is right around 3 weeks, and of course this fluctuates. This timeframe represents days until your property gets into contract. Once in contract, expect a 21-60 day escrow in order for it to close. From the time our clients decide to sell their house, the average is 2.5 to 3 months until it's closed. This includes time for getting the home ready to go on the market.


Do I need to move out before I sell my house?

If you can move out before you sell, you'll get a higher price for your home. The reason is that buyers like to envision their own life and their own things in properties they become motivated to purchase. If you elect to stay in the house during the selling process, good professional staging with your furniture and belongings can certainly help. Once de-cluttered, spruced up, staged, and cleaned, here's what to expect while on the market: if you're living there, you'll need to make a list of tasks each morning to return the house to showing condition so any potential buyers will see it at its best.


As a seller, am I obligated to accept an offer that comes in?

No, not until you've signed and ratified a contract and then those terms apply.


Can I buy first before I sell my house?

Depending on your financial situation, this may be possible. In most cases, you'd need to sell first in order to buy - however, we often do concurrent closes (e.g. our clients find their new home as soon as they know they have a buyer for their current home). They're able to move from one to the other directly. Some lenders have special programs for buying first then selling. Our team helps you find a customized solution for your situation.


When is the best time of year to sell my house?

Late spring and summer before it gets too hot in August. Then it picks back up again mid September until before the holidays. So the short answer is late spring, early Summer, and Fall. Holidays, rainy season, and heat (and vacation season) tend to see less buyers out in the market although the ones who are tend to be highly motivated and ready to close soon.


How do I know how much I'll be able to get for my house?

A good Realtor will provide you with nearby comparable sales (called comps) to show recent sales prices. These will give you a good idea of what you'll be able to ask for your home, especially by looking at the level of remodeling in the interior photos.


How is the real estate market?

Our site has specific pages for the market's activity and update for Santa Clara County, Alameda County, San Mateo County and cities such as San Jose, and Sunnyvale. These are updated monthly. If you'd like a customized report for your city and area, even zip code, please let us know and we'd enjoy preparing that for you with no obligation.



Kelsey Lane has been helping clients with the home selling process (and home buying process) since 2003 as a Bay Area Realtor DRE #01390557. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with real estate tips and steps.