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What No One Ever Told You About Selling a Home for the First Time

Everyone talks about what it's like to be a first-time homebuyer. There are tons of guides, tips, and personal stories available to peruse. But selling a home for the first time is an equally important adventure. Homeowners with property in Athens, GA, can benefit from gaining a few insights before diving into the local housing market.

Preparing your home for sale, naming the right price, and knowing how to attract motivated buyers are acquired skills. With the support of an Athens, GA, real estate agent like Jenny Reville on your side, you can navigate the complexities of selling a home for the first time like a pro.

You should get a pre-listing inspection

The first step to selling your house should be getting a professional to look at it — inside and out. A pre-listing inspection is when you hire a home inspector to estimate the condition of your home's essential structure and systems. A professional can tell you how old the roof is, if your pipes are in good condition, and whether your foundation shows signs of stress — things homebuyers will be looking for in their inspections.

You can also ask your pre-listing inspector for pointers on areas of your home to improve. They might advise you to straighten the doors by adjusting the hinges or applying a new caulk bead to stop your windows from rattling. Home inspectors often have useful insights to make your home cozier and create a better impression on your buyers.

You'll need to gather a ton of paperwork

When you decide to sell, be sure to keep up with all necessary documents. At this time, you’ll want to pull out old paperwork from when you first bought the property. Try to locate every receipt and maintenance report relating to elements such as the roof and large appliances.

Be sure to keep up with documents that list any improvements you’ve made to the home. If you can, get a print of your floor plan, a copy of your title, and information from your utility companies. In fact, including a few visually appealing pieces of documentation — such as the floor plan — can improve your listing and entice eager buyers.

You might have to pay taxes on your profits

When talking about the joys of selling a home, people rarely mention taxes. If the home is your primary residence, you do not have to pay taxes on the first $250,000 in profit or $500,000 if you sell the house jointly with a spouse or a partner. However, if you do happen to make a significant profit due to factors such as home improvements or a boosted local market, be prepared to pay capital gains taxes on anything that exceeds this threshold.

Your listing price might not match online estimates

A skilled Athens, GA, real estate agent will help you calculate the right listing price for your home. It should rival prices for homes of a similar size and feature set in your neighborhood. A good housing price lies somewhere between the highest- and lowest-priced homes in the neighborhood. Your agent will help you determine a listing price that balances desirability, value, and the best profit potential. It's also important to remember that your listing price is not final. There is still bidding and negotiating ahead.

Your listing price probably won't match online estimates, either. If you tried to estimate the value of your house before working with an agent, there's a good chance that the tool was not an accurate predictor of your listed or final selling price.

The decision to stage depends on your audience

Do you have to stage your home to sell it? Even for properties in Athens, GA, the choice to stage is based on the audience you hope to draw. Staging helps give purpose and a sense of dimension to each room. Larger dwellings and homes sold on the luxury housing market are much more likely to be staged. This gives buyers a vision of the lifestyle they might enjoy if they choose to buy the house, and it also provides more context for photographs and virtual tours online — both of which now play a large role in the selling process.

If staging is the right move for your property, your agent will help you secure temporary furniture and accessories that flatter the space.

You should get a virtual 3D tour made

3D tours are at the height of real estate popularity right now, and not just because they're high-tech and flashy. A 3D tour is created by taking 360-degree photographs placed at different locations around the house, each a few steps away from the last, and the ultimate result is an immersive virtual space that allows buyers to explore from around the world.

These tours also enable buyers to look for the details they care about most, such as the size of the windows or the number of power outlets available. They can sell your house before buyers see it in person, and most real estate photographers offer them.

Closing costs are not always predictable

Sellers and buyers both pay closing costs in a home transaction, but you can't always predict what those costs will be. Remember that 6% of the sale will likely go to agent commissions, while up to 5% of the sale may be allocated to factors such as legal services, paperwork processing, utility matters, and incidental costs that accumulate during the selling process.

Keep an open mind about closing costs, and try to calculate them as you go. Your real estate agent can help, as they will be familiar with any additional costs associated with selling in your region.

There's more to an offer than the number

When you start accepting bids from buyers, don't just look at the number. Each bid should be evaluated with multiple factors in mind:
  • Is the buyer backed by a preapproved mortgage, or will their financing fall through?
  • Is the buyer ready to close within 30 days, or is there something holding up their schedule?
  • Does the buyer offer additional concessions that will make negotiations easier or provide nonmonetary value?
  • Has the buyer offered to cover some of your closing costs instead of raising their bid?
  • Is the buyer someone you want to sell your house to based on their bidding letter or someone you want to negotiate with?

Your real estate agent can help you evaluate each offer.

Tackle the local market with specialist Jenny Revillee

Most home sellers don't realize how much one housing market varies from the next. Selling Athens, GA, real estate is not the same as selling properties in New York or California. Real estate advisor Jenny Reville knows the intricacies of selling homes in the area and can help familiarize you with local real estate customs. As your real estate agent, she can ensure you have the best possible experience when selling your Athens property.

Jenny  Brown Reville

Jenny Brown Reville

Broker | Owner

About the Author

Jenny grew up the daughter of a forester and Realtor in rural Washington, Georgia. Her love for people and land came at an early age when she began following her father’s footsteps in the woods. Those times led to a lifelong passion of being in the familiar woodlands surrounding her home. Evenings at home revolved around conversations of family, land, and homes.

Jenny was educated at Young Harris College and received her Bachelor’s of Forestry at the University of Georgia. She came home to work with her father and has continued to do so since 1996. In 2000 Jenny began her real estate career and built a clientele ranging from local owners to the Wall Street traded titans of timberland. Jenny resides in her beloved Wilkes County with her family.

Jenny’s longtime career in rural towns and agricultural communities in Wilkes & surrounding counties make her the go to broker for sellers and buyers in Northeast Georgia. Her clients benefit from her wide array of firsthand knowledge in timberland management, cattle operations, and smalltown life. 

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