The best advice for selling real estate in New York City is adopting the motto “be prepared.” Doing so can save you throbbing headaches — not to mention actual money — throughout the process. To kickstart your home selling journey, here you’ll find a checklist brimming with advice from real estate professionals. It’s even organized in order of priority. If you’re getting ready to sell your home, these tips are 100% worth referencing, like a handy to-do list, step-by-step.
1. Work With Good Real Estate Professionals
When getting ready to sell your home, the first order of business is to enlist a real estate agent to smooth your selling journey. Any hairy process gets infinitely more manageable with a professional at your side to assist. “I always think it’s best to talk to an agent the moment you get serious about selling,” says Compass agent Robert Khederian. He’s also the influencer behind the jaw-dropping architecture Instagram account @notenoughhangers. “Agents can provide valuable context for the current market, so you can decide whether you want to sell now or later. I speak with potential sellers all the time when they are several months away from listing. Your agent should be a consultant.”
Jennifer Kaufman Stillman, a former attorney, turned broker with Douglas Elliman, agrees. “The earlier you speak with a broker, the better! You don’t have to list right away,” she says. “The point is having time to consider and execute the updates or tweaks your broker suggested before listing. For example, painting a room or decluttering.”
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2. Consider Making Small Upgrades Before Selling
Are you thinking about freshening things up to make your home more enticing to potential buyers? It’s a smart idea when you’re getting ready to sell, according to agents. Make sure all projects are completed before taking listing photos, though. “Turnkey homes move,” Khederian says. “Buyers don’t want to renovate and risk a delay.” If you’re looking to upgrade, he advises sticking to the kitchen and bathroom. “It may not be a revolutionary tip, but it can help get your home sold.”
Beyond creating a move-in-ready interior, Stillman has noticed another upgrade that gets buyers excited. “Bonus space is in demand,” she says. Think small nooks big enough for a work-from-home desk or a Peloton bike. While you likely can’t add more square footage to your home, you may be able to put a mini office in an unlikely spot — like a closet.
3. Declutter & Clean Before the Open House
Another big task to consider is deep cleaning. This includes paring down your belongings. “Less is more,” Stillman says. “Especially when it comes to your home’s contents. Less stuff will make your rooms, closets, and cabinets feel more spacious.” Don’t forget to remove items that don’t appeal to a broad range of tastes. It can help maximize the number of potential buyers who can see themselves living in your home.
Is there one quick change that can make a big difference in just a few minutes? Here’s Khederian’s secret tip: “The fastest, cheapest, and most impactful thing you can do is to take down heavy curtains. Show off your windows! You want nothing obstructing your home’s light and views.” Other ideas? Try staging each room with clean-lined, modern furniture, and stocking your bathroom with fluffy new towels worthy of a five-star hotel.
4. When Is the Best Time to Sell a Home?
If you’re fretting about the ideal time to put your NYC home up for sale, don’t. Agents have good intel on the topic. “Typically, the spring and fall markets are the most robust,” Khederian says. Stillman agrees, adding, “August and the holiday season tend to be slower. Inventory and being well priced are big factors. But the good news is, homes sell 365 days a year.” And that’s one of the most important tips to know when it comes to getting ready to sell your home.
5. What to Do About Real Estate Problems
As the old saying goes, nobody’s perfect. But striving for perfection can mean a bigger payday when it comes to getting ready to sell your home. So what do you do if your home has, er, issues? For example, if it’s in a flood zone? Or has a history of bedbug infestations? The wisest course of action is to consult your real estate agent. An experienced professional will know exactly how to handle it. Remember, honesty is the best policy. The more informed your agent is, the better they can present your property to potential buyers. And hopefully, avoid any last-minute hiccups or unexpected problems.
In addition, there could be a silver lining to any perceived issues. Whether it’s a bathroom in the kitchen or a fifth-floor walkup, there is a charm to the quirkiness of NYC real estate. “Embrace it!” says Stillman. “It’s almost impossible for most buyers, at any price point, to check every item off their wish list.” As a seller, emphasize the positives. There is a market for everything in this city, including a tub in a cooking space.
6. How to Sell Your NYC Home From a Distance or Remotely
There are many reasons you may need to sell your NYC home from far away. For example, maybe you’ve relocated for health or family reasons. Maybe you scored your dream job in Beijing! It’s still possible to have a seamless real estate transaction, especially if you follow Khederian’s advice. “You must have a broker you know and trust,” he says. “And ensure that you have a virtual tour of the apartment on your listing. Those are becoming increasingly essential to the initial search process.”
The top tip for sellers in this position is to work with a skilled broker. They will know how to stage and market your home, of course. And they will also know pricing, and how to respond to market feedback. In addition, if your home is in a co-op, a broker will know how to navigate the co-op board process. “Your broker needs to be agile, sharp, and observant,” Khederian says.
Pro tip: Explore all your home selling options, from pricing your NYC apartment to finding a great agent with these hassle-free tools by StreetEasy.