How to Sell Your House in Seattle For The Most Money (And In The Fastest Time)

Here’s Exactly What To Do – And 5 Silly Mistakes To Avoid

By Emily Cressey

When you have a home to sell, you’re always caught between greed and fear. Obviously you want the most money for your home – everybody does.  But you are also fearful no one will buy it, and you will have that feeling of being the last kid picked for the kickball team, or the girl on the bleachers at school who was never asked to dance.You want your house to be popular, and it brings back all those Middle School insecurities we have  each felt from time to time.

Despite these emotional challenges, finding the right balance between a fair price and attracting potential buyers is crucial. Navigating this delicate dance requires a strategic approach that acknowledges both the desire for profit and the fear of rejection in the competitive real estate market.

Make Your House Look “Cool” 

When you bring your home to market, you need a real estate professional who is going to help make your house, cool, popular, and selling for the best price possible.  You need a makeover, like Sandy got at the end of the movie Grease.  You want to WOW the audience and make them think that “this place looks much nicer than the home they are currently living in now.

The key is largely in preparation.  You have to do quite a big of work to get the home ready for sale.  From moving out your stuff, to primping, cleaning and landscaping, the honey-do list can feel unending, but that’s why we call in our rolodex of home services experts to your aid.  Some will even finance the repairs for you , so you can pay out of your proceeds at closing, and not have to foot the bills up front. 

How To Sell Your House For More Money | Seattle, WA

Get It In Front Of The Biggest Audience You Can

Once your home is looking its best… it’s time for the Big Reveal!  Yes!  We need someone to see the home and say “I want that!”

This is the time when your realtor’s marketing skills come into play.

At HomePro Associates, Emily Cressey’s home sale process does not stop at just sticking a sign in the yard, throwing the property on the MLS and call it good… No!  Can you believe that is “all” some realtors do to your home?  Maybe in a hot home sales markets that process is adequate for an as-is listing, but even then, your property is being under-served if it is being under-marketed.

That’s why “We Do More” to sell Seattle homes.  With your consent, we will pull out all the stops to make sure we earn our fees and get your house’s best features in front of anybody and everybody who may be in a buyer for your listing for sale.

Does The Seattle Real Estate Market Affect How You Should Advertise And Position Your Home Sale? 

Now, I know that many times when home owners in Seattle are preparing for the sale of their homes, they start watching the real estate market and interest rates like a stock ticker-tape, and wondering if it’s a good or bad time to get into the house sale market.

I understand the temptation here, because we all love data and we love to be informed about home sale  data so we can make good decisions regarding our houses- that makes us feel safe.  That’s probably what brought you here, in fact.  You wanted to get more info on the home sale process and  started googling “how to sell your house in Seattle fast” or “best way to sell your home for more money” or some similar term.  I do the same thing.  I want to be informed before I “have to” talk to a home sale agent. 

However, Seattle’s real estate market is very slow-moving… if you’re in a “bad” cycle of the market, you could be stuck there for years with many houses on the market failing to complete a sale quickly.  Likewise, if Seattle is having one of its “good times” it will likely continue to have good times for months (if not years) into the future.

3 Things Sellers Want When They List Their Home | Seattle, WA

If you have to move for personal or professional reasons, then chances are you’ll just need to work with the phase of the market cycle you’re in, and your real estate broker can help you understand what that looks like, so you can make allowances for things like your pricing strategy, your likely time on the market before going under contract, buying your next house, and negotiations with your buyer.

Your home sale value will be maximized within the sales cycle you’re in if you work with a good broker who’s working hard selling your home. 

I would say the “way” you sell your home will depend on where you are in the market cycle, but for most people – unless you’re a real estate investor with a multi-year market-timing horizon, where you are in the market cycle typically isn’t the controlling factor determining whether you should move “right now.”

Is Selling The Property Yourself “Worth It”, Or Is It Better To Hire A Real Estate Agent?

Marketing your home for sale is similar everywhere. But if you don’t have a sales background, are too busy to think about selling real estate, or are emotionally involved in your home’s sale because (a) you love it so much or (b) you are super-stressed due to work, death, divorce, a new baby, or a pending move, then maximizing your home’s profitability is likely something you might not have the bandwidth to achieve. Having a level-head and a clear strategy is important if you want to maximize your profits and walk away from the closing table with the most net proceeds in your pocket.

For first-time sellers (and sometimes even for repeat home sellers), selling a home can be an overwhelming, and draining undertaking. If, however, you avoid making these silly mistakes when your house is for sale, you’ll be far more likely to find a buyer for your house who will love your home, won’t balk at the inspection, and will make you a strong offer on your property and stick to it. Home Deals stick better when buyers know your house is the only one like it, and other buyers will snatch it up, if they don’t get it first!

Steer clear of the five house selling pitfalls described below, and you will increase your chance of selling the home for the most money possible, within an easily-predictable time frame.

1. Don’t Skimp on Professional Real Estate Photography

Sold Townhouse - Lynnwood WA
Marketing Step One: Great Real Estate Photos – The first thing you have to do is SELL people on visiting your home for sale. They will view it online and decide based on pictures whether it’s worth coming out to visit with their real estate agent.

We now live in a visual age, and there’s no getting around it. So, today, most home buyers do their shopping online, at least in the early stages. The sad fact is a lot of the photos in online listings are poor quality. They must have good lighting, they must use the right lenses, the must be taken from the right positions in the home, and if necessary – they must be retouched after being taken. Some photo processors can make your gray-day Seattle photos look as if they were taken on a blue-sky beautiful morning. If you provide plenty of crisp, quality photos that show what is unique about your home, your house will stand out from the others and will generate plenty of interest.

Take your property photos during the day when there’s adequate natural lighting. A photographer may need to bring a professional lighting set up to ensure interior photos are well-lit if taken during one of our famously overcast skies here in Seattle. Our photographers actually have high-tech cameras that take pictures under multiple exposures, so your house looks great no matter what the weather.  Also, be sure your numerous photos display your home to its best advantage and highlight its selling features.

2. Don’t Sell in Winter

Avoid listing your home in the winter, especially during the holiday season, because this is a painfully slow time for home sales. Obviously, people are busy with social activities, and the cold weather drives them indoors – they don’t have time to go look at homes.

Even though Seattle doesn’t get *that* much snow, people are less likely to go out after work to look at homes when it is dark and rainy. The upshot is that there will be fewer people looking at your home for sale, it will likely take longer to find a buyer for the house, and there’s a chance you won’t get the sale price you want.

Listing your home for sale in the winter can be less than ideal.
If you must, you must try for a home sale in winter… but winter is not typically the best time to list and sell your property. It’s harder to see and appreciate the exterior landscaping and condition of the home, and weather conditions can make it more difficult for people to visit the property.

3. Don’t Get Emotionally Involved In Your Home Sale

It’s tough to give up and sell a home you’ve been living in for several years because you have an undeniable emotional attachment to that house. But you’ve gotta let that go of the property emotionally to make a smart business decision on your home sale.

The trick is to think of yourself as a business person now, a home seller, rather than as a home owner who is selling a home. A good real estate agent can help be an effective intermediary because she is not attached to the home in the same way you are and can more easily remain neutral and effective. Try to take a strictly financial view of matters to create distance between yourself and the home you’ve lived in and made memories in.

Also, try to think about things from the buyer’s perspective. Here’s a place where we want emotions to be running high. The buyer is not just buying a piece of property with a structure on it, rather – they are buying a new dream and a new life! You’re doing something good for them, which will reduce your own emotional attachment and so help you sell your home for the most money in Shoreline.

4. Don’t Fail to Use A Real Estate Agent

Sure real estate agents take a small slice of the pie with their commissions, but there are good reasons to pay an excellent advisor, and a good agent one is well worth her fee. Trying to sell your home on your own is generally not a good idea. And in most cases, an agent will help you get a better sale price when selling your home.

Agents understand all the legal intricacies and ramifications of the home-sale transaction. They also know how to deal with the mountain of paperwork involved and the problems that inevitably come up in the process. Further, agents are the ones who will spend their time dealing with potential buyers as well as all the tiresome tire-kickers.

Get Top Dollar For Your Home By Using An Agent Instead Of FSBO!

5. Don’t Ask An Unrealistic Price For Your House

Certainly, you want to sell your property in Seattle for the absolute highest price possible, but you also have to be realistic. Simply put, overpriced homes just don’t sell.

Some agents will promise you pie-in-the-sky and let you list the home for an inflated price if you wish. They are banking on eventually talking you down to a lower price once you’ve dipped your toe into the market pool and been discouraged by the lack of interest. This is a bad strategy. It’s important that your home make a splash with the buyers right out of the gate. A stale, tired listing becomes less attractive the longer it sits. People who might otherwise be interested start to wonder if something’s wrong with it. The social-proof factor makes them wonder what they’re missing, and ask, “If this house is so great, why hasn’t it sold yet?”

Listing with a real estate agent will help you sell your Seattle home faster.
Selling your home with a real estate agent like Emily Cressey helps you get a better price and smoother transaction.

Reviewing the data and understanding your comparable market analysis is key here to avoid egregious overpricing. If you need a market analysis, I am happy to provide you one here. You can even use your market analysis to under price your home a bit to generate more interest and multiple offers, which can then (quite frequently) encourage a bidding war amongst the many interested buyers in that price range.

If you want to sell your home for the most money in Seattle, then DON’T do the five things listed in this article. Instead, you can talk to me about what you SHOULD do to sell your home fast and for more money.

Frequently Asked Questions About Selling Homes

Is It A Good Time To Sell A House In Seattle? 

Yes – if you talk to a real estate agent, it’s ALWAYS a good time to be selling, right?  They want to get paid, so that’s what they’re inclined to tell you.  However, for most Seattle residents, their timing of their home sale is driven more by personal factors, like wanting to be near family, having a baby, becoming empty-nesters, or getting a new job.  

If you want to sell , you almost always can do so fairly easily in this market.  We tend to lean toward being in a seller’s market, which means seller’s have the advantage with more property buyers than sellers in the market.  Our real estate market weekly newsletter shares our insights with our buyers and sellers about homes in the Seattle area, and you can see some of our articles on this site as well. 

However, if you think of your property as more as an investment home, or the choice to sell and move up is an option you have and you want to make sure you time it right, there are bigger factors at play.

I would suggest that you make an appointment through our contact page to talk to one of our real estate professionals, and we can dig in to the current statistics and market trends and let you know about the pros and cons of selling now.  In fact, that’s a great way to phrase your question to any real estate agent.  If you ask for the pros and cons – they’ll be forced to explain the reasons NOT to sell, as well as the reasons in the “PRO column,” which will give you a better picture of the data so you can make a smart decision based on your situation. 

How Fast Do Houses Sell in Seattle?

How fast Seattle homes sell is another time-based question that is hard to answer here in an article that may be read years in the future.  However, there are a few things you can look at to give you an idea of what is going on for most listings in the market, before you call your real estate agent and ask for help.

Also bear in mind that the home sale process your agent uses will have an impact on how long homes take to sell.  Having a modern, tech- and personal-based appraoch is a good way for agents to increase the exposure of your home for sale. 

One of the key metrics realtors track is “Days On Market,” and we can look up very specific stats based on your house size, location, age, etc.  For example, condos in Lynnwood, may have a different average days on market than luxury homes in Bellevue or Capitol Hill.  

We want the data that is most specific to your situation.  Click “Contact Us” if you would like us to get that for you.

As a point of reference.  During our hot seller’s market in 2020-2022, we were seeing 5-6 days on market in many areas, meaning that homes were selling in less than a week, many with multiple offers and competitive bidding.  However, downtown Seattle studios were not doing so well, and many sat on the market for months without selling.  

So it’s very important to do your homework and get figures that are appropriate for your specific situation.  Again, we are happy to help you with this.

What Is The Fastest Way To Sell A House? 

If you have to sell your house fast, say you need money for drugs, you’re being extorted or your children were kidnapped, maybe you inherited a probate property and the heirs need funds to pay the bills… if you are really in a “back against the wall situation,” your best bet is going to be to take a fast cash offer on your home.  You can find an investor who will buy houses in Seattle and would be happy to make a fast cash offer for your home. 

Usually these “We Buy Houses” or “Sell Your House Fast Seattle” advertisements are followed by fast but low-ball offers from investors – anyone from a Mom-and-Pop rehab house buyer who is going to fix-up your home himself, to a Silicon Valley startup who doesn’t know what they’re doing with their home buying process, and have a list of disgruntled clients who have been frustrated by hidden inspection fees and repair costs that surprised them after the deal was inked.

Often times the “Cash” they are buying with is not actually greenbacks stuffed in a mattress, but money from a private lender or a line of credit. 

Typically these types of house buyers can close in about 10 days – that’s about what the title and escrow company needs to get all the paperwork together and clearance from your bank.  

However, this is kind of like selling something at the pawn shop – you’re not going to get the best price. You’ll get money today, but if you could have waited a little longer to sell it you might have been able to get more money.

We, in fact, offer fast cash offers to people, but I usually try to talk them out of taking it, since it’s usually more lucrative for the home owner to sell with their house getting full exposure to the marketplace. 

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Remember that whoever buys the home is in it to make a profit, and part of their profit model involves getting a discount on the price from you, so please use caution and if you do want to sell to an investor, get bids from more than one person, so you can know what they are willing to pay. 

If you can wait a little longer and put the home on the open market, you can usually get a number of bids coming through in 1 week if you price it right.  Many of these buyers may take 30 days to close, although they could potentially bring cash, especially if the home needs repairs and is priced attractively.  So, in this scenario, you’d be selling in one week, and getting your money in 2-5 weeks, but if you can hang on for that extra month, you can anticipate putting more in your pocket.  

If you do decide to work with someone like that, I suggest you ask for reviews and contact information from prior clients, and then reach out to those folks for an honest assessment of their experience, and info about any hidden fees or costs they might have paid that were not originally disclosed. 

How Do I Sell My House By Owner in Washington State?

If you want to sell your property For Sale By Owner, there’s no law or restrictions in Washington State preventing you from doing that.  Many people investigate how to sell a house by owner in Washington State and want to investigate all the home sale paperwork, forms and contracts online.   You can find it, and you can go that route, but before you do, let me share a few words of caution. If you are hoping to find someone directly who will buy your house without an agent, you can expect that it may take longer to sell and your house may sell for less money.  Statistics show that most people who start out trying to sell FSBO end up listing their home with an agent within 60 days.  Worse, if they do sell, they usually net less than would be expected if the home had broader market exposure.  

Your Guide to FSBO: Sell Your Home Like A Pro!

Remember, most home owners selling on their own get called and hounded by real estate agents wanting them to list the home and investors who want to buy at a lower price.  Most buyers who come will be working with a real estate agent and will expect you to pay that realtor’s 3% commission. 

You will be the one who is unrepresented and unfamiliar with the paperwork and contracts which can put you in a position of potential legal liability and risk. 

Realtors do this all the time and they still have insurance for errors and omissions coverage.  Just like you would hire a dentist, and not do your own tooth extraction… some cases just really benefit from expert help and supervision. 

Remember, most home owners selling on their own get called and hounded by real estate agents wanting them to list the home and investors who want to buy at a lower price.  Most buyers who come will be working with a real estate agent and will expect you to pay that realtor’s 3% commission.  You will be the one who is unrepresented and unfamiliar with the paperwork and contracts which can put you in a position of potential legal liability and risk.  Realtors do this all the time and they still have insurance for errors and omissions coverage.  Just like you would hire a dentist, and not do your own tooth extraction… some cases just really benefit from expert help and supervision. 

If you’re afraid your real estate agent won’t provide value or won’t earn their commission, we’d like to change your mind.  Please contact us for a better understanding of how we earn our salt.  Some people always go for the cheapest option.  Some people always go for the most expensive.  But most people go where the value is, and that’s why we have chosen to stack so much value to our clients in all our transactions, we find our services nearly always more-than-cover your investment in our time and expertise.  Isn’t that the way it should be?

And we can help you navigate the whole complicated process. Simply contact us by phone at (206) 578-3438 or fill out the form on our website.

Emily Cressey

Emily Cressey is a real estate broker residing in Lake Forest Park, WA who services the Greater Seattle area including Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Brier, Lynnwood, Kenmore, Bothell and Edmonds, WA.

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