Of course get referrals, but just because your sister used an agent she loved, doesn't mean that person is right for you. You need someone you have good chemistry with, who understands your vision.
Advice: Visit open houses but don't just choose the agent in your neighourhood who has all the signs. Conduct interviews and make sure the agent clearly outlines what he or she will do for you.
If you think your home is worth $30,000 more than the comprables in your area, you need a very good reason why. If your agent isn't convinced, buyers won't be either.
Advice: A house that sits on the market at a top price will turn off buyers, but a house that is slightly undervalued can often spark a bidding war.
Your home should be light and bright so that potential buyers can see the space and feel happy there! Take into consideration that they might be coming to your home after dark, in cloudy weather etc. and they shouldn't have to scramble to find an on-switch.
Advice: Put your lights on timers so the home shows well all the time. And don't forget to make sure there is adequate lighting outside as well!
No potential buyer wants to see the homeowner hovering over their shoulder. They need to feel comfortable to properly look around, and imagine themselves living there.
Advice: Clear out. Not just you, but also your stuff! Many home stagers recommend storing personal signs and objects (such as family photos, kids toys) so that the potential purchaser can personally connect to the space.
Potential buyers need flexibility, and vendors need to make their homes available for showings as much as possible, despite the inconvenience. Also, it's always best to assume the buyer has no imagination — a potential third bedroom should not be filled with junk or gym equipment.
Advice: Stage your house to its full potential. Clear out your junk and set up spare rooms as bedrooms or office spaces. If possible, bunk with family or a rental space for a couple weeks while your house is on the market so that agents and their clients can come and go without having to make appointments.
Buyers have a much lower threshold about cleanliness than you do. If they see a stain or mark on the floor they will wonder what is lurking behind the walls and the home won't seem cared for. Be really conscientious about every nook and cranny — you should even dust the furnace!
Advice: Never underestimate how clean house the should be and stay on top of it! Invest in a professional cleaning service to make your home sparkle, and have them come back regularly while your house is listed.