Advice for First-Time Home Sellers

At Compass REO we have noticed that there seems to be no shortage of tip lists for first-time homebuyers. But what about current homeowners like you who are considering selling for the first time ever?

It’s likely that if you’re thinking of putting your home up for sale it has been quite a while since your last real estate transaction. You may have gotten glimpses of how things worked on the seller’s side during that time but having an up-to-date and clearer picture of what you may go through as a seller can be incredibly beneficial. The following list is just what you need to give you the foundation of knowledge necessary to list your home with confidence in today’s fast-moving housing market.

So, what are some things you should keep in mind as a first-time home seller?

First-Time Home Seller Tips

Here are 7 tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey to getting your home sold.


If you weren’t already aware the current stock of homes in Illinois is at one of the lowest points that it has ever been. How low you ask? At Compass REO we like to explain the lack of housing available by saying that homes are a lot like certain popular new gaming consoles—they are very, very in demand and there aren’t nearly enough to go around right now. And just like the people who are willing to do almost anything to get their hands on a next-gen console, would-be homebuyers are also adopting a “desperate times call for desperate measures” attitude just to get their purchase offers accepted.

Wait. How is this a bad thing? More demand means I sell my home for more, doesn’t it?

While you are correct that this could be great news for your pocketbook as a First-Time Home Seller, it can mean that your hunt for a new home may not be as simple as it was the first time around. That’s why we have to stress that when it comes to home sale contingencies and (more importantly) having a place to go after your sale is completed, you CANNOT underestimate the current extreme competition for homes.

2. Find Your Motivation

Have you come to the realization that you’re living in too little or too much house? Are you moving for work or to shorten a commute? Do you need more living space, a bigger yard or a garage with a workspace? Is your mortgage payment becoming too much of a burden? Secondary home becoming your primary? Do you just want to take advantage of the current surge in home sales prices?

It’s important to take some time to seriously consider the exact reasons for why you want to put your home up for sale. Having a clear picture of what you are trying to accomplish by selling can be helpful to look back on and get refocused if the process seems to be veering off-track.

3. Figure Out Your Finances

If the home you are selling is financed then gather your most recent mortgage statements to figure out how much you still owe on the loan or loans. These statements will help to determine the types of sale you qualify for and if you need to sell in order to buy. Home already paid off? That’s great! In either case there are still a number of closing costs associated with selling a home that you should understand before listing. Often the cost that makes the biggest dent in what you net from your sale is the property tax credit provided to your home’s buyer. Other notable closing costs are those for title insurance, survey, attorney fees and commissions.

Another thing to keep in mind is whether you’ll be trying to defer capital gains taxes on the sale of your current home and purchase of a new home. It’s best to speak with a financial advisor or your tax accountant for more information on deferring your tax payment or for more assistance with evaluating your finances and budget.

4. Know Your Timeline

Ask yourself when you would ideally like to close on your home and how flexible this date is for you. You may then want to strategize with a competent real estate agent about when the best day to put your home on the market is to maximize your earning potential. It’s important to have an overall timeline to reference so that you are prepared when it comes time to consider purchase offers and negotiations with buyers.

Ideally you should not be in a rush to sell but sometimes a quick sale is necessary. In some cases finding a buyer who can accommodate a quick close can present challenges but a seasoned real estate professional should be able to help in these types of situations as they may already have a network of available cash buyers they can present your home to as well as strategies for appealing to buyers that are ready to close fast.

5. Get a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA)

Your home may be priceless to you but buyers will have their own idea of how much it is worth to them. That is why pricing competitively and correctly is one of the most crucial factors in getting a home sold quickly and for top dollar.

Recent sales in your neighborhood and online calculators can provide you with a general idea of what sales prices are possible but these estimates are often too surface level. Consult with a reputable real estate agent who can prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) free of charge for you so that you can get a complete idea of how to best position your home for netting the most profit possible.

To get a jumpstart on a CMA and an estimate of your home’s current market value head to:

6. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent will guide you through the home sale process every step of the way. They will offer options for how to list your home. They will help market your home to it’s full potential and find a pool of buyers that fit your needs. They can provide comfort through the complexities and help ease any first-time seller anxiety you may have by being on top of the transaction and letting you know about any issues that arise. Interview several agents and ask them how they address all of these aspects of listing homes for sale.

Our agents are well versed in the trends of your local market and there are many advantages that come with working with our real estate professionals as a result of that knowledge. We have experience with pricing options, preparing homes for sale and dealing with negotiations as well as working with attorneys, home inspectors, appraisers, lenders and title companies. There are many aspects involved in selling a home and the friendly professionals of COMPASS REO will make sure that your transaction stays on course.

7. Make a List of Overlooked Repairs and Improvements

You already know what you love about your home. Now it’s time to highlight all of its amazing amenities and charm so that interested individuals become highly motivated buyers! We understand that sometimes planned remodeling and required repairs get pushed back but unless you’re going to be selling “as-is” there is no better time to address these issues than the weeks leading up to listing.

It’s also not a bad idea to do a quick search of public records for your property to make sure you are not surprised by any outstanding city/county code violations. Sometimes even the simplest of repairs and fixes along with a fresh coat of paint and/or some deep cleaning can really pay off when it comes to pricing and increasing the pool of eligible buyers.

First-Time Home Sellers often find that an outside opinion from an experienced real estate professional helps them gain a fresh perspective on what aspects of their home can be addressed to improve its marketability. Curb appeal matters and a COMPASS REO agent will be with you from the start to provide great tips on what really catches the eyes of buyers.

Save yourself from some serious stress

Selling a home presents a whole host of unique challenges no matter how healthy the housing market. The process involves a lot of moving parts many of which can be tricky to navigate if you do not have the experience.

Hopefully this list of First-Time Home Seller tips provides you with a good launching point for preparing you to sell your home. But should you have any questions or need clarification on any of these tips or any other real estate matters please don’t hesitate to reach out to the real estate professionals at Compass REO Inc. directly at 630-859-8966 or head to

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