By Margaret Heidenry

Dec 13, 2022

(Photo-Illustration by; Photos: Getty Images (5))

If you’re like a lot of sellers in the latter part of 2022, you decided not to put your house on the market this year. Sure, you knew about record-high home prices. But maybe you also heard how, at the end of the year, homes were lingering on the market and that sellers had to offer price reductions to unload their properties.

Or maybe your current home has a low mortgage rate that you don’t want to trade in for a higher one that will come with buying a new home.

Whatever the reason, 2022 was not the year for you to plant a “For Sale” sign in your front yard. But perhaps 2023 is.

So to help you fetch top dollar, in the shortest amount of time—with the least possible amount of headaches—we rounded up our top advice stories on home selling over the past 12 months. And we also highlight one top tip from each article as a holiday gift that will keep giving in 2023. Here’s to a healthy, happy, and profitable new year!

Putting your home on the market is an emotional and financial endeavor. So it’s little wonder that it’s easy to get caught up, confused, frustrated, or excited by the real estate market’s ups and downs.

Of course, you want to get top dollar for your home. Yet it’s crucial to take a step back and remember that selling a home is a business transaction above all—and that involves compromise and decision making founded on the realities of the market rather than hopes and dreams.

To that end, sellers need to price their homes reasonably and examine an entire offer instead of simply chasing after the highest dollar sign.

Can’t-miss tip: Some sellers may get so caught up in selling their homes that they may forget about where they’re going to live next. But in today’s market, with listings still below pre-pandemic levels, it’s wise to start your home search as soon as you decide to sell your current property.

We get it: There are things in your home that drive you bonkers! And you want to fix it, paint it, and generally make it a place you want to live. If you’re handy, what better way to get there than to do it yourself. Yet some projects that are easy to do yourself can be hard—and pricey—to undo when it comes time to sell.

Some common projects that can turn a potential buyer off centers around your kitchen cabinets—or lack thereof. Many DIYers think nothing of distressing or removing cabinet doors or getting rid of cabinets altogether in favor of open shelving.

While these options may work for you, not being able to shut a door on kitchen clutter can turn off many buyers.

Can’t-miss tip: Perhaps the biggest no-no, if you’re planning to sell someday soon, is hopping on the dark wall trend. Buyers will walk into a room with hard-to-paint-over dark walls and see a project they don’t want to undertake. So keep your walls airy and bright until you find your forever home.

If you live in a home that’s uniquely your distinct, funky style, has dark wood paneling, or has simply seen better days, your real estate agent may recommend that you stage it before you put it on the market.

Put simply, staging is when you pack up most of your possessions for storage, and a professional decorator turns your home into a fresh, blank canvas that potential buyers can see themselves in.

While staging can often help you sell faster—and for more money—it can be difficult to see your home turned into an entirely different space while you’re still living there.

So before you hire a stager, think carefully about the time, money, and effort it takes to stage a home. Then weigh whether or not it’s worth it based on your pocketbook and ability to live in a home that is no longer quite yours until you move.

Can’t-miss tip: A stager will work with many items you already have to reinvent your home, but sometimes the pro might have you order a new bright lamp or fresh sheets to zhuzh your bed. The good news is these items are yours to keep, so be sure to buy items you can see sprucing up your new home.

Attention, sellers! We know packing up your home, selling it, and moving to a new place is a lot. But we just want to make sure that, in addition to making a (hopefully) tidy profit on your home sale, you also reap all the available tax benefits that come along with it.

For instance, you can claim a tax deduction for the upgrades you made, like painting the house or repairing the roof. Another sweet tax deduction you can take is any costs you incur selling the home, including legal fees, escrow fees, advertising costs, and real estate agent commissions.

Can’t-miss tip: Capital gains are the profits your make from selling your home after paying off expenses and mortgage debt. And it’s crucial to remember the money is taxed as income. But you can exclude up to $250,000 of the capital gains from the sale if you’re single ($500,000 if you’re married) and you’ve lived in your home at least two of the past five years.

Well, the real estate market has gone up, down, and sideways in the past 12 months. And so have all the supposed “rules” of home selling. For instance, sellers may have to work a bit harder to draw buyers in these days. So instead of your real estate agent taking some fantastic photos of your lovely home, you might have to shell out a few extra dollars to create a 3D tour to draw a buyer in.

And once those buyers take an interest in your home, prepare to leave for long stretches of time. Open houses are back, which means you’ll have to clear out and make peace with strangers traipsing through your home.

Can’t-miss tip: With home prices still high, you might be tempted to price your home at the top of the market in an effort to get a bid over the asking price. However, this tactic can often backfire by scaring off buyers. And if your home goes stale on the market, you’ll likely have to accept a low offer in the long run. A better strategy is to price your home slightly below market value to get buyers interested—and bidding.

Your real estate agent has one mission: to sell your home for the best price with the best overall offer. And that directive is sometimes complicated by the space itself. No home is perfect, yet some have more flaws than others. And an agent with a ton of experience will be able to quickly pick out what might make your property more difficult to sell.

For instance, you may have a kitchen with a colorful backsplash, a living room with dramatic stained-glass windows, or wall-to-wall carpeting that you love. But the truth is, agents know that most buyers prefer simple kitchens, bright rooms, and hardwood floors.

Can’t-miss tip: You have a unique personality that your agent appreciates. But the pro also wants you to keep it under wraps while selling your home. That means anything political, religious, or downright kooky should be removed from your home (including your yard) when you put your home up for sale.