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Your Guide to Selling a Home

Everything you need to know to buy a home without an agent.

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List Your Home

Now you’re ready to list your home!

The things you need for listing your home include:

  • Photos in MLS size
  • Home facts
  • Paragraph description
  • Showing service

Currently you will still want your home on the local MLS system. This is where real estate agents have access to home, set up searches for their buyers, and create CMAs Comparative Market Analysis. There is a potential in the future that these regional MLS systems will go away in favor of a national MLS, but right now we are not there yet. 

First step – find your local MLS.
Second step – determine if you are able to add your listing to the MLS yourself, or if you need to go through an agent. 

Times are changing and after the NAR settlement in 2024, the future of the MLS may change. Most MLS in the past required an agent to enter any listings. However, MLS systems may change and allow people to enter their listing into the MLS.

If you need to go through an agent, then there are a couple of options if you still want to primarily sell on your own but need an agent for a few things like entering in the MLS. 

  • Hire a real estate agent and negotiate the price for their services.
  • Hire an agent just for certain tasks, a la carte (Note that some states require a minimum level of service and is illegal to only add a listing to the MLS and showing service without providing help throughout the process of buying or selling a home.)
  • Don’t use an agent and try to market and advertise outside of the MLS. 

The photos for your home are extremely important! If it looks like the home owner took the photos, that is a negative for potential buyers. They think it will be a tough transaction if the home owner is not using an agent to help them through the transaction and paperwork. Seriously consider paying for a professional photographer!

Photo Size

The MLS system has an odd size for photos: 1024 x 768 pixels. This means you will probably need to edit all photos taken yourself to get them into this format. You can use Photoshop or Gimp or Preview or what ever program you know how to use to resize them. You will want to resize and crop to get to this dimension. 
Hint: I like to create a blank canvas in Photoshop or Gimp that is 1024 x 768. Then I copy-paste as new layer images into it. Then resize and crop the layer until it looks good!

Photos of What?

You are going to want photos of the whole property, and any additional features such as nearby parks or special views. Sometimes taking 2 photos of a room can help show the full room from different angles.

Photos with Windows

Photographing a room and the view from the window can be tricky, depending on your camera and settings. Ideally you could have a nice bright view of the room as well as a crisp image of the view from the window.

The First Photo

The first photo is the main photo presented for your listing. This is critical, as this is what gets printed out for a listing and is the photo everyone sees. You want this first photo to be
(a) "That looks amazing - I want to see that home!" and
(b) Memorable so buyers can remember and find it again.
Typically the first main photo is of the exterior of the home. However, with condos, sometimes it is better to show the kitchen or a feature room.

Virtual Staging

Virtual staging can be a huge benefit to help buyers envision a way to use and decorate the space. Virtual staging is thousands of dollars less than paying a professional stager to bring physical furniture into the space. However, remember that when a buyer walks through the home, the experience is quite different than what was shown in the virtually staged photos. 

Photo Sort Order

There are a couple of opinions on how to order your photos after the first photo. Some agents believe you should walk the buyer through the home, from the front door as if you were walking through the home. Some agents like to get the main rooms and features shown first, as a buyer may not wade through lots of blank empty rooms to get to the exciting rooms and features 20 photos in.

If using virtual staging, you should show the virtual room followed by the same room empty.

3D Tours

Modern tech now enables home owners to provide buyers an interactive virtual experience through their home. These are phenomenal for buyers to get a feel for the space and walk through the home as if they were there! Matterport is a very popular option, but Zillow also has a free app for iPhone and Android users. You can also pay your photographer for this service (we have an optional extra for that!)

There are a lot of basic home facts that need to be entered into the MLS when listing your home for sale. Some of these items may be optional, but some are required - depends on the MLS. So get ready by having these ready to go!

  • Property Type and Sub-Type: The type is detached or attached residential home or land. You can use the sub-type if there is acreage for land or an income stream from a rental.
  • List price
  • Expiration date of when this listing will go from "Active" to "Expired" in the MLS (if not sold).
  • County, address, subdivision, and legal description. You can get the legal description from looking up in public records. Google the assessor for your county, and look for "property search".
  • Driving directions is not as necessary now that we all have smart cars and phones to take us places. However, if there is something tricky about getting there or where to park or if in a gated community, then make notes here.
  • Property URL if you have a website set up specifically for this home.
  • Recent Taxes.
  • School district and designated schools for elementary, middle, and high school.
  • Utility providers for water, electric, gas, trash.
  • Special taxing districts.
  • Suggested minimum earnest money or due diligence amount.
  • Showing Service contact and phone number.
  • Year built
  • Water rights, well permit # (if applicable)
  • Energy certifications (if applicable)
  • HOAs: Contact name, email, phone number, monthly/quarterly/annual fees, transfer fee
  • Lot size in sqft or acreage.
  • Home sqft
    • Finished vs unfinished sqft
    • Main/lower/upper level sqft
    • Room dimensions: kitchen, lounge, dining, laundry, office, basement, bedrooms
  • Bathrooms: full, 3/4, 1/2, rough-ins

This is your chance to describe your home in a paragraph. Create a story of why it is so nice to live in your home. Walk potential buyers through the features to help elicit an emotional sense of longing to live there.

Read your competitors descriptions

Research what your comparative homes have said about the area and neighborhood. By reading through a bunch of other descriptions, you'll get a sense of what works and what doesn't. This can also help you realize a feature in the area that is worth noting (like a highly desirable school, rec center, or country club).

Size Matters

Usually the MLS will limit you on how many characters you can put in your property description (around 2,000 which includes spaces). No one wants to read a book! Think about your description like a poem, where every word matters and focus on what you want them to feel after reading your description. It doesn't have to tell buyers everything - use property brochures or other materials to present more details.

Typically only about 500 characters are shown on print-outs of a listing when agents bring and give to their buyers as they tour the home. Focus on those first 500 characters.

AI-Generated Listing Descriptions

A great help to creating your listing description is to use AI. Create a first draft of your listing description then ask AI to refine and make it better. The caution here is to make sure your description doesn't end up over-the-top with adjectives, as is commonly seen with listing descriptions that obviously used AI. Use AI to help you refine your description, but keep it real!

You will need to specify how buyers can tour the home. Typically the listing will specify one of five options:

  • Showing Time
  • Broker Bay
  • Listing Agent (typical for luxury homes, the listing agent must attend all showings)
  • Open Houses only
  • Call the seller directly to set up showings (don't do this! It looks unprofessional and makes it difficult for buyers to access the home. Buyers and their agents will worry that you will stay for the showing which is awkward, and believe the whole transaction may be more of a struggle.)

Here's the tricky part - you may not have access to add your listing to the MLS, or to add your listing into the showing service. 

This is where we can help! Hire an agent-on-demand for the minimum level of service you need including MLS entry, showing service, access to proper contract forms, and guidance through the process to ensure everything is done correctly. 

Click here to view agent-assisted help options

Action Items
  • List your home on the MLS
  • Syndicate to 80+ websites
  • Set up Showing service
Additional Optional Actions
  • Facebook & Google Ads
  • Social Media posts
  • Brochures in the home
  • Open Houses
  • Emails
  • Postcards auto-shipped
  • Magazine ads
  • Talk to neighbors
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