For the owners of a home the entire sales process boils down to two things: How Much?, and When?
Before we can answer these questions we need look at what needs to be done first
Let's assume that you want to sell to move up to a brand new home. Before we can get started buying this new dream home we need to the maximum amount of proceeds from the sale of your current home.
Here are a few tips on preparing the Inside your home for sale:
Get rid of all your clutter, ALL of it. Prospective owners need to be able to "place" themselves and their belongings in their new house, not your home. Those stacks of unread magazines, junk mail, unpaid bills, family photos, curios, collections, countertop appliances (just when did you last use that bread maker?), unfinished "projects", kids or granddad's "art" and anything else attached to the refrigerator with a magnet. Anything that personalizes the house needs to go. Look around, those near death plants you've been nursing, chuck 'em, those stacks of throw pillows, lose 'em. Anything that you don't use daily, get rid of.
Have that garage sale first, before you begin to actively try to sell the home. Get rid of anything you have to think twice about keeping. Your selling because your moving, everything you can sell, you don't have to move.
Now that you've got rid of all that junk, you'll probably notice that the walls need painting, this sounds stupid now, try it, you'll see. Then the walls get painted and the ceiling looks shabby (you should have painted the ceiling first!). Once the ceiling is painted and the walls are done the floor will never do. New carpet would be nice. The bathrooms could use new towel racks and shower enclosures. Now, new faces for the kitchen cabinets would bring the whole decor together.
Go a little nuts cleaning. If this isn't one of your joys in life, hire a professional to do it. Local property management companies can probably recommend a good crew to scrub down everything.
Also, anything that helps the house appear brighter helps. WASH THE WINDOWS! Let the light in! Unless the view, or lack of, is depressing, open the blinds. Think about ripping out that dark wood paneling, it really isn't too much work to patch and paint the walls afterwards. Those "blackout" drapes, out they go, replace with miniblinds.
Here are a few tips on preparing the Outside your home for sale:
Stand in the middle of the street in front of your home. Yes, look both ways first. This is the first view a buyer will have, maximize it. Trim back those overgrown junipers, weed and replant that flower bed. Tell your kid that you'll no longer be storing that "vintage" car in front of the house or in the driveway. Is that garage door sagging and ugly? A new door with an opener can help.
How's the paint on the house. Wash the house down and look. Could you get by with just a fresh coat of trim paint?
What does the lawn look like? A quick shot of Sulfate of Ammonia is a quick and cheap way to turn it green. Misapplied, it's a quick and cheap way to turn it brown. At the very least water it. Watered and mowed weeds can pass for grass from the middle of the street.
Trim your trees, rake up the leaves and put a fresh layer of compost under the roses.
Just as we decluttered the inside, do the same outside. All those piles of wood, euphemistically called "compost piles", get rid of them. That rusted swing set and fading lawn furniture, that unused sandbox and kids wading pool, chuck 'em all.
"This place looks GREAT, tell me again why you're trying to sell it?" Now that you've done all the uncluttering, you might realize that there's enough room. After all the sprucing up the house looks and smells clean. And now that you've cleaned up the yards you can open the drapes and it's bright and airy inside and the views a lot better. At this point it's fair to say, "we can make do here...".
You need to be aware that the motivation for many moves is consumerism, plain and simple. People make an emotional decision that can't stand up to serious scrutiny, financially or otherwise. The arguments that the schools are better and crime is lower "there" may not stand closer inspection. Schools better?, at what cost? Your kids could be better off staying where their at and you using the savings to send them to private school, or home schooling. Crime lower?, by how much? 10%? 2%?
The point is that a new 30 year loan makes that "burning the mortgage" party and a measure of financial security another 30 years away. Do you want to work forever? Think about where you are in life and what's important to you. If you don't like the way your neighborhood is heading, get together with your neighbors and DO something about it. If you like the area but need more room, consider adding on to your home with a 10 year loan. This decision may be the second biggest in your life.
If your still convinced that your continued happiness rests on moving or your resigned to the fact that your life is taking you elsewhere, there's no going back. This house has got to be sold.