Two men shake hands after selling a home

11 Ways To Sell Your House Faster

Updated December 2, 2020 . AmFam Team

When it comes time to sell your home, taking smart steps can give you an advantage in the market. Use these tips to make your home more appealing to buyers.

Your house has served you well, but your dreams are growing and it’s time to move on to a new and improved home. When it comes time for you to sell, you’ll want to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible. Selling your home quickly largely depends on staying organized in the selling process to give you the chance to close with your prospective buyer when the time comes. Check out these simple steps for selling your home faster:

List Your House During Peak Season

Most homebuyers start shopping between the months of March and April so they can close around June or July. This lets them move before winter sets in and, if they need to, get their kids settled before school starts. Because this is the busy season for home buying, homes listed in March and April tend to sell for top dollar — up to two percent more than those listed later in the season — and up to 20 percent faster.

If you can’t list in the spring, the second-best time is in early fall when from the outside. A home staged during the dead of winter isn’t always the most appealing.

With this in mind, you and your agent will need to work backward from your target listing date to put together a plan for staging, research, photos and marketing so that it fits your time frame.

Do Your Home Selling Homework

Putting your house up for sale can take a lot of prep work. First, get your mortgage, insurance, title and potential selling expenses together. Second, figure out the right home price. It’s a very critical part in moving the selling process along quickly. If you’re taking the for sale by owner route and doing this on your own, you’ll have to do some research to determine the best price.

Sign with a Real Estate Agent

Before hiring a real estate agent, talk to at least three and have them bring a list of comparable homes that have sold recently. Ask them for a recommended listing price for your home, do a little of your own research using online real estate listing tools and then make your decision.

As appealing as it might be, try not to simply choose the real estate agent who suggests the highest sales price. Setting an unrealistic price for your home will make your sale take longer, and you may end up reducing it in the end.

Get Your Home Appraised

The most in-depth and most authoritative evaluation is , done in person, by an appraiser who is familiar with your neighborhood. The appraiser will compare the condition of your house to others recently sold, adding value for unique features — like a fireplace or screened in porch — and deducting for features you don’t have, or the wear and tear your house has seen over the years.

An appraisal is often an investment that can cost as much as $500, but think of it this way — it will help you prioritize spending for repairs, replacements and upgrades. Not to mention it will validate your asking price to the buyer and give you authority when negotiating! Learn more about how an appraisal can help sell homes faster.

Stage and Repair Your Home

Before you list your home or take even one photo, make sure you’ve gone through the staging process. It’s time to amp up your home’s curb appeal — making sure it’s clean, depersonalized, de-cluttered and arranged to highlight each room’s best possible use. Don’t be afraid to store those extras in a storage unit while you stage your home.

Many sellers today are opting to hire a professional staging company to make the home more appealing to a wider array of buyers. A small upfront investment can yield a fantastic windfall, with staged homeowners selling on average 17% higher vs unstaged homes, according to a Forbes article (Opens in a new tab) on the subject. 

Freshen Up the Floor

A little tip for big impact? Make sure your floors look like new. Spending a few extra dollars to buff up a wood floor, brighten tile grout or replace/clean worn carpeting can more than pay for itself in your final sale.

Paint Precision

You also want to be sure that your walls look clean with a fresh coat of paint. However, as fun as it can be to experiment with new paint colors, try to go for neutral colors that are pleasing to most people — shades of gray, taupe, brown and cream work the best. That means avoiding bright hues like aqua blue or lime green — save those fun, personal touches for your new and improved future home.

Remove Evidence of Furry Friends

You love your pets and probably treat them like furry babies, but potential buyers may not feel the same way. If you have cats or dogs — or even hamsters, birds, or fish — clean their homes and bedding. Shampoo carpets and scrub floors and walls around their beds and pack away their toys for any showings.

Try to keep your lawn free of dog toys and other surprises, too. This is especially important before a showing, but you may want to make it a habit while you await the sale of your home. Some prospective owners will do a drive by and you want your lawn looking picture-perfect!

When you do have a showing, take all of your pets with you. If you have fish, birds, hamsters or other small pets, perhaps you can find them a temporary home with friends while you are working hard to keep your home fresh, clean and ready to show.

Market Your Home Like a Pro

Marketing is a key element to sell your house fast, and online home selling tools are a smart bet. To really make your sale, however, you’ll want to employ all the marketing tools in your agent’s (or your own) arsenal. For instance, you’ll want to evaluate whether you’re operating in a seller’s market

Take great photos of your home and share the news on social media. Attach a stack of brochures to your yard sign, and make sure you or your agent schedules several open houses.

Provide your agent with some key information about your neighborhood and schools that only a resident would know. Show your potential owners the benefits of living in your neighborhood that might not be apparent — like the happy sound of softball games from the nearby ball diamond, wild cranes living in the meadow across the street, or a cozy family restaurant within walking distance.

Make Your Home Easy to Show

You never know when someone may want to pop in for a viewing! If you haven’t already, you may want to make sure your home is always ready to show off by spending some time every morning and evening putting away items that are lying around and by keeping your kitchen and bathroom tidy.

You may want to do some deep cleaning every week as well. If your lifestyle doesn’t allow you the time to do so, you can hire a cleaning service to come in and do a quick cleaning once a week.

Head Out While Your Home Is Being Shown

Finally, make sure you leave during the showing. You want would-be buyers to imagine themselves living in the home. Leaving the house gives them the freedom to peek into closets, sit in the living room and at the dining room table and discuss its pros and cons honestly without worrying about offending the seller.

Reach Out to Your Agent for a Quote on Your New Home

Selling a home can feel like a lot of work, but keep your head up and your eye on the prize! Having a new home that better supports your life and inspires your dreams is well worth it! Before you’ve sold your home and move into your new one, talk with your American Family agent (Opens in a new tab) about our homeowners coverage options to get the customized protection your new home deserves.

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    20 Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

    Choosing your new apartment isn’t an impulse decision. The choice you make will have an impact for a long time. There are many different things to consider as you tour one possible home after another. On top of that, landlords and management companies work hard to make them all seem perfect.

    How can you tell which one’s the right fit for you? Here are 20 key questions to ask when renting an apartment. The answers can give you a better idea of what you’d get from each one.

    How Much is Rent & the Security Deposit?

    Any apartment hunter should ask themself this crucial question: “How much should I spend on rent?” Setting a budget ahead of the search helps narrow the possibilities. You’ll save time by eliminating options that are too expensive.

    Still, relying on online listings alone may not be enough. It’s better to personally ask the landlord, whether by calling, emailing, or visiting. Make sure to also bring up the security deposit, as well as any other upfront costs they may ask of you. This will save you from unpleasant surprises before you sign anything.

    How Much are Utilities and What Do I Cover?

    Every apartment complex handles utilities differently. Water, electricity, air conditioning, heating, gas, and more may be split between landlord and tenant. Then there is the matter of which ones you’ll need to get yourself. Your apartment may come with cable and wi-fi, but you may be responsible for them on your own.

    Only your landlord will know for sure, and they should be clear about what’s expected of you. Before leasing an apartment, you should ask what utilities are available and which ones are covered. Record the answers, factor the costs into your budget, and look for the place that offers the most for the least.

    How Does Parking Work?

    Some apartment complexes have their own parking lots, with many spaces reserved for tenants and a few set aside for guests. Others may give residents access to a dedicated structure, providing greater security — but possibly at a higher cost. Others still may only offer street parking, which can be expensive to maintain.

    In short, parking may be a complex situation involving specific locations and extra costs. If you have a car, don’t just ask if parking is available. Get the details. As you weigh your options, consider what’s best for your car as well.

    What’s the Pet Policy & Is There a Deposit or Fee?

    The pet policy won’t matter to every apartment hunter. If you have a furry friend or might want one someday, make this one of their first questions to ask when touring an apartment. A “no” answer is no deal, no matter how great the other perks may be.

    Some landlords may allow pets if you pay a one-time deposit or additional monthly fees. Make sure to keep that in mind during your search.

    What Amenities are Included?

    Utilities cover the most vital parts of a home — the things that make living there comfortable. Amenities are the complex’s welcome bonuses — the things that make living there enjoyable. Common examples include clubhouses, swimming pools, public kitchens, communal laundry machines, and fitness rooms.

    Amenities are great for those who use them, but their presence can justify higher rent. As your landlord takes you through each selling point on your tour, ask them whether these perks are included with your price. Also, make sure to consider if you’ll even use them.

    Do I Need Renters Insurance?

    Home insurance is for houses. If you live in an apartment, you look for renters insurance instead. In fact, some places make it mandatory for all residents. Be sure to ask your landlord in advance so you can make any arrangements you need.

    This practice is all about liability. Landlords have their own insurance, but it’s based on their duties and would only cover their share of the damages. Renters insurance offers protection for your living space and your belongings. Even if it’s not required, getting your own policy could bring you peace of mind.

    Can You Describe the Application Process?

    Applying for an apartment can be complicated and time-consuming. You might have to pay fees, undergo background checks and other screenings, and more just to see if you qualify. This may be preferable to the alternative: apartment listings that promise no credit check may be scams.

    You could always learn about each step of the application process as you go. Still, it never hurts to know ahead of time, especially if there are any fees and risks. If anything is unclear, the landlord should explain it to you.

    What Should I Know About Rent Increases?

    A variety of factors can change the value of an apartment. Examples include market shifts, new installations, repairs and replacements of fixtures. Your rent will likely not change for the duration of your lease. Once the time comes to sign again, though, your monthly payments may very well go up.

    This may not seem like a pertinent question when starting a lease. Still, making it one of your questions to ask when touring an apartment could be useful. How your potential future landlord approaches the matter can tell you what to expect. At the very least, it can help you choose whether to look for a new place well before your lease ends.

    What are the Lease Length Options?

    How long are you looking to stay at your next apartment? One year, two years, longer, less? Not everyone has a plan in mind, which means the apartment’s available options may give you an idea of what to expect in the future.

    Landlords always inform apartment hunters about the duration of their lease. However, you might need to probe them for other available options. Be sure to make this one of your questions to ask before leasing an apartment, even if they only mention one length that sounds good. They might have something better.

    Can I Make Changes to the Rental Unit?

    Your apartment may come pre-furnished, but it’s unlikely to be pre-decorated. Few people are content with blank walls and sparse spaces. Most prefer to personalize and beautify their home with art, decorations and other belongings.

    Unlike houses, apartments usually only have temporary residents. The building’s owner may not allow certain kinds of changes, believing they may hurt the unit’s future value. Take the time to go over policies. That way, you can get a better idea of how you’ll make your space feel like a home.

    How Do Maintenance Requests Work?

    Besides rent, tenants might only interact with their landlord through maintenance requests. After all, it’s the complex owner’s duty to keep everything in their apartments running smoothly. If your shower stops pumping heated water or your lock gets sticky, maintenance will get it fixed.

    Asking about the process of filing maintenance requests can give insights to how landlords view this responsibility. Does the process seem straightforward or complicated? Are approvals easy, or do they require a great deal of evidence and demonstration? The answers may reveal how long this landlord will let you live with inconvenience. Few questions to ask about apartments are more revealing than this.

    What’s the Guest Policy?

    In most cases, a guest policy doesn’t apply to someone who’s just visiting for a few hours. It covers situations where someone might want to stay at a tenant’s apartment for a few days or longer. Depending on the terms of the policy, you might even need permission for someone to spend the night.

    Don’t just assume that any landlord would be okay with your best friend crashing on your couch for a while. Get the details on the guest policy before moving in. They’ll tell you what permissions they’d grant and how you can get them granted.

    What’s the Neighborhood Like?

    The oldest real estate myth holds that three factors must guide where you choose to live: “location, location, location.” There’s more to it than that, as this list of questions to ask when renting an apartment should make clear. Still, the area around the complex is important to consider.

    Getting info on the neighborhood is valuable to any apartment hunt. Try to get your landlord’s perspective about any areas of concern. We also recommend exploring on your own, both by car and on foot. See if any useful places are close by, such as grocery stores.

    How Soon are You Looking to Fill the Unit?

    In most cases, you won’t be the only person viewing an apartment. Others have likely received a grand tour, and others may be waiting in line to see the place as well. Landlords might be screening you as much as you’re screening them.

    Landlords are also usually interested in starting a new lease as soon as the current one ends. One way to get noticed is to strike quickly: ask when they’d want you to move in. You should still weigh your options, but don’t procrastinate.

    Do I Need a Cosigner?

    People with rental history have a record that landlords can review. If this is your first time paying rent, they won’t know if they can trust you to make payments on time and consistently. Adding a cosigner to the contract can make it easier. Their signature promises that even if you can’t pay rent, someone else can pay for you.

    Many renters with no history may worry about background checks and credit checks. However, there are some landlords who won’t ask for them. While the answer will likely be a yes, it doesn’t hurt to have it on a list of first-time renter questions.

    What Payment Methods are Accepted?

    Rent payments can take a variety of forms. Before you make any assumptions, though, you should double-check what’s allowed. Each place will have its own policies. Some offer more payment method options than others.

    You might be able to set up a regular automatic withdrawal from your bank account. You might have to do it online. The landlord might accept checks or cards (warning: anyone who only takes cash is likely a scammer). There’s only one way to know for sure.

    What Furnishings & Appliances are Included?

    Preparing for the big move is a big task. It’s not just deciding what to take, but also figuring out what you need to get. Each apartment is different: some come fully furnished with appliances, while others only have a bed.

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    How Much Notice Do You Give Before You or a Representative Shows Up at the Property?

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    What’s Your Late Fee Policy?

    Accidents can happen. Paychecks can come late. You might have temporary money problems. Most apartment contracts provide some leeway for late rent payments. But they might charge a late fee.

    Given that it’s so common, there’s no problem with asking about late fee policies. You’ll want to know the terms just in case anything happens. You’ll also want to know the limits according to state law, so you can see if the fee is fair. Just try not to seem too eager, and don’t count on being able to do it often.

    What’s Your Subletting Policy?

    Subletting is when a renter temporarily moves out and lets someone else cover their lease. A landlord may refuse to rent to your candidate if they don’t meet their requirements.

    Even if you don’t plan to leave during your lease, you may still want to know your apartment’s subletting policy. Life may surprise you. Being aware can save you some time and trouble in looking for someone to take over.

    Know the Best Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

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    Renters Insurance from American Family Insurance

    Even while you’re still apartment-hunting, it’s never too early to start thinking about renters insurance. If you have any questions about that, feel free to contact an American Family Insurance agent. Once you’ve learned what we have to offer, you can get a quote online and get protection for your next home.

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    Woman sitting at table writing a home inventory for homeowners insurance.
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    Your home is more than a roof over your head. It’s where your dreams grow, your family thrives and memories are made. But the possessions you keep inside are important, too.

    Whether you’re renting an apartment or own your home, you’ve most likely got an insurance policy designed to protect your dwelling and the things inside. Should the unthinkable happen and you have to use that insurance policy, it’s important to have a plan in place. And a home inventory list is a great way to get started!

    We’ll walk you through how to create a home inventory so — in the event of the unexpected — you’ll be more prepared and have a streamlined recovery.

    What Is a Home Inventory?

    Quite simply, a home inventory is a complete list of all the items, especially valuables, in and around your home. The best home inventories include photos, descriptions and dollar values of each of your belongings. The more detail, the better! It’ll help you provide a comprehensive list to your agent of items lost in the event your home is damaged or destroyed, allowing you to get the most out of your coverage.

    When your describing the items in your list, remember that the more information, the better. Here’s a quick reference list of the type of information you should include in your home inventory list:

    • An in-depth description of the items. For example, rather than writing down “diamond ring,” be more descriptive, such as: “an emerald cut diamond ring, with white gold shank, accent stones and initials inscribed below the bridge.”
    • Make, model, and/or serial number of the items.
    • Date of purchase, receipts and photos.
    • Estimated replacement cost if you bought it today. Do note that the value of the items might be different today than it was when you first bought them. This is especially true with jewelry, and other valuables.
    • Appraisals at time of purchase. Especially if your items were appraised for insurance purposes.

    Why Do I Need a Home Inventory?

    Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, everyone can benefit from a home inventory!

    If you ever have to make a claim, a home inventory is a great asset to have, especially after stressful events like theft, storm damage or a fire (take a look at how one renter used their home inventory after facing an apartment fire).

    When you make a claim, you typically submit information on everything that was lost — which can be difficult to do off the top of your head for all your possessions. Remembering to replace your TV or computer are no-brainers, but when it comes to remembering each piece of jewelry in your jewelry box, things tend to get overlooked. Having a personal property inventory will help, along with knowing how to properly insure your jewelry.

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