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FAQs About Selling a House

Selling a house can be a big undertaking and an emotional process. We understand there are a lot of questions and misconceptions about the home-selling process, so we’ve answered some of the most common questions and misconceptions below to help you be prepared.

A Shine real estate agent can also help answer any questions you may have about selling real estate. We also encourage you to read our Seller’s Guide.

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1. What’s the First Step if I Want to Sell a House?

The first step when considering selling your house is to consult with a real estate expert. You’ll discuss your goals and establish a plan to meet those goals. You may ask questions about the current market conditions and together, you’ll determine what are your responsibilities and what the agent’s responsibilities will be as your listing agent.

These consultations are completely free, and there’s no obligation to move forward with signing any paperwork.

Do you know how to evaluate if a realtor is good?


2. When is the Best Time of Year to Sell a House?

You can sell your home any time of year, but if you have flexibility, there are some months when selling is easier, faster, and more profitable. The spring and summer months tend to be the best months to sell a house in Wisconsin.

June was the month last year when the most houses sold and they sold for the highest median price. Since closing typically takes 30-45 days, many of these houses likely were listed for sale in May when the weather is nicer and school years are ending. April was the month when houses in Jefferson County and Dane County spent the fewest days on market, while January homes sat on the market the longest.

Read the Best Time to Sell a House in Wisconsin to learn more about timing the real estate market.


3. How Much is My House Worth?

This depends on the condition of your home and the demand for homes like it.

While Zillow can give you a rough ‘Zestimate,’ the best way to gauge how much your house is worth is to have an experienced local real estate agent visit your home.

Not only will agents look at comparable homes currently on the market (“comps) and homes that have recently sold, agents take into consideration the local demand and other conditions. Ideally, comparable home sales have a similar size, style, location, features, and condition.

When determining the market value of your home, a realtor will also take into consideration things like:

  • age of your roof and windows
  • upgrades to your kitchen
  • the layout of your home
  • style of home
  • features of your lot and location
  • the look and feel of your neighborhood

You can quickly check out your home’s value for free, but we must warn you: a computer’s calculation cannot replace a knowledgeable agent!


4. How Long Will it Take to Sell My House?

How long it takes to sell your house largely depends on the conditions of your local housing market.

In 2022 in Wisconsin, the median days on market was 52 days (according to Redfin, a national real estate brokerage).

Your asking price, the condition of your home, your location, and your agent’s skills also affect how many days your home will remain on the market.

Check out the recent Local Real Estate Market Reports to see how long homes in your area are on the market before selling.


5. How Much Does it Cost to Sell a House?

Selling a house involves quite a few expenses, but many of these are paid for out of the sales proceeds at closing.

Some of the potential costs are:

  • Staging and prepping your home
  • Professional photographs (*Shine realtors pay for these)
  • Real estate agent’s commission
  • Repair or inspection costs
  • Closing costs
  • Property taxes
  • Transfer tax

The remaining amount on your home mortgage will be taken out of the proceeds at closing. The remaining amount after these expenses is the amount you will get to keep (aka your “Net Proceeds”).

The map below shows the average closing costs in every U.S. state. As of November 2023, the national average of closing costs is $4,243.38.

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Photo from REALTOR Magazine by the National Association of REALTORS

Ideally, your Realtor will give you an Estimated Net Proceeds breakdown of what you can expect for expenses. If they don’t offer it, ask!


6. Why Do We Need to Stage and Use Professional Photos?

We only use professional photographs and we offer staging services and advice because they help you sell your house faster and for more money.

Not convinced staging is necessary? Look at these staging before & after pictures!


7. Why Should I Use a Real Estate Agent?

A realtor will guide you through the entire process, from helping you prepare your home for selling, staging it, hiring professional photographers, listing it on the MLS and other marketing channels, handling showings, fielding and negotiating offers, informing you of your options, dealing with deadlines, and anything else that comes up through closing. Professional agents also have access to local market data to help you price and market your home appropriately to help you reach your goals of selling quickly and for top dollar.

While all agents are not the same, Shine Realtors only hire the best professional photographers to showcase your home and help it stand out.

Shine agents also have professional marketing skills that shine above other realtors as we’ve built online platforms so the properties we list reach 10,000+ people in addition to those on Zillow and the MLS through our website, emails, and social media. That professional marketing means your home will reach thousands of more potential buyers.

You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest!


8. Can’t I Keep More Money if I Sell Without a Realtor?

The main concern we hear about selling your house with a real estate agent is that sellers usually pay around 6% commission combined for the full-service listing agent and buyer’s agent.

Since homes listed on the MLS typically sell for 16.98% more than homes sold off the MLS, sellers usually profit more even after paying 6% to full-service realtors (and they have a lot less stress to deal with!)

We have a full post on How to Hire a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your House.


9. What Things Should I Do Before Listing My House?

Many of today’s homebuyers want a “move-in ready” home that doesn’t require much work or effort. This is especially true of buyers accustomed to picture-perfect homes on HGTV, Instagram, and Pinterest.

At a minimum, you should declutter and deep clean your house to showcase a clean living space that’s free of odors. Fresh paint, new carpet, and minor cosmetic repairs can make a well-loved house more marketable.

If your house requires bigger repairs, such as a new roof and HVAC unit, you can make the repairs yourself, you can offer a closing credit, or just price the home accordingly as most buyers will not pay a premium for a house if they know a big, costly repair is needed.

This Staging Checklist is perfect for getting your home ready to sell.


10. Should I get a Home Inspection Before Listing a House?

Maybe. Some sellers opt to get a home inspection before putting their house on the market so they can get ahead of potential issues.

Sellers may also include this document in the listing documents if it could increase buyers’ confidence that the home is in good condition.

Keep in mind you may be required to disclose certain issues on the Real Estate Condition Report if they surface during an inspection.

Will you be buying a new house? Here’s the Step-by-Step Guide for Buying a House in Wisconsin.


11. We Recently Had our Home Appraised. Can We Use That to Satisfy the Appraisal Contingency?

No. Each lender must use an independent appraisal from their approved pool of appraisers in order to satisfy an appraisal contingency and issue a loan commitment.


12. Are Appraisals and Assessments the Same?

No. An assessed value is used to determine property taxes. The larger your assessed value, the higher your property taxes. A home’s assessed value is usually less than market value.

A home’s appraised value represents a real estate appraiser’s opinion of the home’s value. Since appraisers look at past homes sold and don’t account for future prices or all local market conditions, appraisals will sometimes be lower than the selling price.

The true market value of a property is decided by buyers, who value real estate based on how much they think the price of a property should be and are willing to pay for it.


13. What Needs to Stay and What Can I Take With Me?

Pretty much anything that’s attached to the house needs to stay for the buyer. This includes things like curtain rods, blinds and shutters, built-in shelving, mounted TV brackets, storm doors, and light fixtures. This also includes things outside, such as plants, shrubs, trees, garage door openers & remotes, installed security systems, and storage buildings on permanent foundations.

If there’s something specific you don’t want to be included in the sale, you should remove it prior to photos and showings. Alternatively, you can note it as an excluded item in the sales contract.

For Wisconsin Sales, the WB-11 Residential Offer to Purchase has lines 20-23 available to list items NOT included in the purchase. And lines 24-38 provide more clarity and examples of Fixtures on the property that are included with the sale unless noted.

Ask your realtor any questions you have about fixtures that need to stay before selling your house.

Selling your house while living there? Here’s How to Stage a House While Living in It.


14. Can I Submit an Offer to Buy a New House Before Selling My House?

Yes, you can make an offer on a new house before you sell your old house IF at least ONE of the following statements are true.

  1. You have been approved by a lender to carry a second mortgage.
  2. You include a Closing on Buyer’s Property Contingency in your offer to purchase.

Learn more about trying to buy and sell at the same time.


15. What Can I Do if My House Isn’t Selling?

If your home doesn’t sell as quickly as you’d like, you should consider if your home is overpriced for the market it’s in. You and your realtor should compare your listing price to recent sales of comparable properties and adjust accordingly. This is especially important if there’s recently been a shift in the market, as we saw in late 2022.

Another thing to consider is the condition of your home. You may need to paint or make repairs if those things are getting in the way of buyers writing an offer. Many buyers are looking for “move-in ready” homes, so fresh paint, repairs, more curb appeal, and staging can go a long way to make your house more appealing.

Here are some Recommended Paint Colors for Selling if you’re getting feedback that buyers don’t like the paint.


Have a Different Question?

Finding honest answers to your real estate questions can be a challenge, but we’re here to make it easier!

A good real estate agent is a valuable resource to have on your side. We will gladly answer your questions and inform you of your options through each step of the home-selling process.

Tips for Home Sellers

Save These Common Home Selling Questions & Misconceptions

Save this list of common questions and misconceptions about selling a house on Pinterest or bookmark this page to refer back to later. Pass it on to that friend who is considering selling a house too!

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