The Ultimate Guide for the First-Time Home Seller

If you’re getting ready to sell your first home some common questions tend to spring to mind, like “Who can help sell my home?” or “When is the right time to sell?” or “How do I best position my property?” or “Do I need a property evaluation?” The list goes on.  

As a first-time seller you might be feeling caught between not knowing all the answers and wanting to do everything you can to set one of your largest investments up for a successful sale. Begin your journey right here with our Ultimate Guide for First-Time Home Seller!

You’ll get tips on everything from pre-listing prep to closing day to get you from start to sold with confidence.

Table of Contents

  1. Sort out the preliminary property details
  2. Decide if you are going to buy or sell first
  3. Contact your local REALTOR®
  4. Prepare yourself and your home for the sale
  5. What to expect on closing day?



1. Sort out the preliminary property details

An important part of selling your home is taking care of the necessary preliminary steps. You’ll need to decide if you want to arrange for an inspection before you list, organize paperwork and schedule a home evaluation to get accurate pricing advice.

Decide if you want to do a property pre-inspection
Usually, a buyer pays to have a home inspected as a condition in their offer to purchase. This is done to uncover any potential problems before closing and if any issues are found they are often used to negotiate a lower price for the property. It is a good idea to have your home inspected before putting it on the market and here’s why:

Transparency is good for home sales
Pre-inspecting your home signals to any potential buyers that you are transparent about your property and this fact alone may set you apart from other sellers.

It might save you money
If there are problems with your property, a pre-inspection can inform you of anything that a potential buyer will likely want repaired. This empowers you to fix issues before listing your property. Less problems for a buyer usually means a faster turnaround for a seller.

If you decide not to fix any problems that are found, you’ll be able to factor those issues into your list price ahead of time. That way if a buyer does include an inspection in their conditions, you won’t be surprised by anything that is found. Being well-informed about the potential pitfalls of your property will help protect you against a buyer negotiating for a lower price, a delay in the sale or the buyer backing out of the deal altogether.

Highlight the value in your home
You can also use a pre-inspection to highlight certain aspects of your home you want buyers to notice. This can include any renovations, electrical upgrades, or appliance swaps.

Organize the paperwork
There are a lot of little things to get ready before you list that will help answer the questions your agent or prospective buyers will have about the home. Keep in mind, every property is different, so there might be some special documents needed for closing of your property. Therefore, it’s important to use a local REALTOR® to help put together an itemized list.

To get you started, here are some of the major things to find in the file-cabinet.

Important Items [1]

  • Original sale contract
  • Mortgage statement (payoff amount)
  • Homeowners insurance records
  • Home repair and maintenance records
  • Receipts for capital improvements
  • Manuals and warranties
  • Past utility bills
  • Home inspection report
  • Property tax statement
  • Settlement statement
  • Deed

Hot Tip: Selling your first home comes with costs most first-time sellers don’t plan for. Depending on where you live, you’ll need to consider closing fees, taxes, moving costs, potential boarding costs for pets, and days off work to move. Make a timeline and budget so you’re thoroughly prepared and there are no surprises.

Attaining a property evaluation
In today's highly competitive market, setting the right price is the most important factor if you want to successfully sell your home. There are free home evaluations at every turn, but its important to go with a team that can help you through every step of the journey. You can book an evaluation with experienced REALTOR® that provides a customized Comparative Market Analysis. This analysis considers other listings in your area and the latest market trends, while providing insight into the real value of your home.

Property evaluation with Purplebricks
Property evaluations are available through many different organizations, but with Purplebricks, your sale is our passion. Book an in-person or virtual meeting to learn how to get the most out of your sale! Keep in mind, Purplebricks only charges $3,999†† to list your home. This will save you thousands of dollars. In fact, in 2020, we saved Ontario home sellers $15,100§ on average in commission. Long story short, we accurately price homes and sellers pay a fixed fee to list. Our profit does not change based on the value of your home. Our goal will always be transparency and accuracy.

2. Decide if you are going to buy or sell first

One thing all sellers will need to decide is whether they want to sell first or buy first. When the market is hot, properties sell fast and it might be more difficult to buy, it may be wise to purchase your next home before you list. During the low season when the pace is slower, you have more flexibility on whether you’d like to buy first and can make the decision based on your needs. Keep in mind if you buy first, you could be put in the position of carrying the costs of two homes if you cannot sell your current home right away and the sale of your current home is not a condition of purchase for your new home.

In contrast, when you sell your home first, you know your exact budget. Selling first will likely create a time crunch to purchase a new home that coincides with your current home’s closing date. Be ready to make decisions under pressure with this strategy.

Purchasing a new construction home comes with its own set of considerations. There may be delays in construction that push the closing date for your new home. Have accommodations like a hotel or stay with relatives ready.

When it comes time to decide whether to buy or sell first, consult with your local REALTOR® about the current market conditions and with your mortgage lender about your options. By using this approach, you’ll be well equipped to make the right move.

Hot Tip: Talk to your real estate-savvy friends or family to see how they navigated the transition between homes to gain some first-hand insight!  

3. Contact your local REALTOR®

REALTORS® are trained professionals with the expertise needed to position your home well and get you the most for your sale. Not to mention selling a home yourself can be time consuming and does come with some legal risks that could cost you big.

Did you know you can save on commission costs without compromising on service by selling with Purplebricks? Our local REALTORS® handle everything, you keep thousands more in your pocket.

 Hot Tip: There are certain questions you can ask to help narrow down the right brokerage or REALTOR® for you, find them here.

4. Prepare yourself and your home for the sale

After the paperwork and nitty-gritty is handled, it’s time to do some soul searching. Revisit the reasons why you are selling your home in the first place. Think about the benefits and the downsides and be prepared for all of it.

Release your emotional attachment
A home is more than a house, it’s your haven, your happy place. The place where thousands of memories have been made. So naturally, selling your first home stirs up a lot of emotions. But it’s also an exciting next step in your life! Consider hosting a small gathering to celebrate your home (a house cooling party if you will). This can serve as a nice way to close one chapter and get excited for the next.

Hot Tip: Set up a tripod and take some photos of your family (pets included!) in your beautifully staged home right before listing. These shots will make wonderful memories to look back on one day.

Now that you have meditated on the pros and cons and released your emotional attachment, it’s time to prepare your home for the sale, which means everything from cleaning, staging, and reorganizing living spaces

Declutter, declutter (then declutter some more)
If you want to sell your house fast and don’t want to pay a professional, becoming a master of decluttering is a crucial step.

Don’t wait to begin. Start purging or donating at least three months before listing your home. If you have a large home, separate the jobs into rooms or sections. This will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed and contain any potential mess from spreading across your entire house. Organize your items into three piles: donate, toss, keep for ultimate efficiency. Removing the clutter will allow prospective buyers to picture themselves living in your home.

Hot Tip: opt to store your out-of-use items in colour-coordinated tote bins rather than cardboard boxes for a more appealing, tidy look.

Focus on the little things
It may be easy to find some large improvements you’d like to make in your home to increase home value, but don’t underestimate minor upgrades and touch-ups. It’s practical and one of the fastest ways to boost your home’s value for selling.

Walls and baseboards always need a fresh coat of paint. If there any scratches, holes, or, dents, take the time to fill them before painting. Swap out outdated hardware and light fixtures and easily achieve a modern, polished look.

If you have a larger budget and a little bit more time, putting in new countertops, flooring, or carpeting can have a significant impact.

 Hot Tip: Get inspired by what other sellers are doing – peruse homes for sale online!

5. What to expect on closing day?

To finalize the transaction between a buyer and a seller, the two parties must undergo a closing process called a “settlement.” If it sounds complicated? Don’t worry, almost everything is handled by the layers on the day of closing. This is where they exchange all relevant documents and funds for the property sale. After the settlement is completed, the ownership will be officially transferred to the buyer and the seller will receive all proceeds from the sale.

Closing dates vary depending on what is agreed during the offer process. If there are any repairs that need to be made as part of the conditions, the seller will need to have those completed by the closing date.

What do sellers need to provide for closing?
Remember, once the deal closes you are no longer the owner of the property. That means you’ll need to pass on important items to the new owners. Have this list handy on closing day!

Keys, codes, and garage door openers to the house

  • Keys to the front door, back door, garage, porch, and backyard.
  • Punch codes for gates, fences, door locks, and garage doors.
  • Access information for smart locks, thermostats, doorbells, or appliances.
  • Any other remotes or devices that control systems of the house.


Take the next step in your real estate journey
You’re now equipped with the information you need to sell your first home! When you’re ready to take this exciting next step, Purplebricks can help. Our local REALTORS® use the latest market data to price your home, and our professional team is with you through every step of your sale. Plus, you can save thousands of dollars in commission! Call 1-855-999-9740 to learn more.

Hot Tip: Did you know we have dedicated Home Buying REALTORS® that can help you find your next home AND give you $2,000 cash


††$3,999 fee payable when the home successfully sells, plus the applicable taxes. Does not include remuneration paid to a buyer’s agent, if any. §Average savings based on a commission of 5%, less a buyer agent commission estimated at 2.5%, taking into account fees paid to Purplebricks and applicable taxes, from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020.

On December 1, 2021, Purplebricks rebranded to FairSquare Group Realty. Blog articles published before this date were created under the Purplebricks brand but remain the property of FairSquare Group Realty.

In January 2019, ComFree Commonsense Network Brokerage rebranded to Purplebricks.