Selling your house is not as simple as just putting it on the market and waiting for offers from eager buyers to roll in.  If you have any hope that your sale will go smoothly, you'll have to sit down, take a hard look at your house, and ask yourself a few questions.

Though some steps of the home-selling process seem fairly straightforward—find a real estate agent, set a list price, hold a few open houses—there are a number of lesser-known factors that play a big role in whether your house gets sold.

To help you enter the home-selling process with your eyes open, here's a list of five essential questions to ask yourself to get started.

1. Can I afford to sell my house?

Although you’re going to cash a check when your house gets sold, it takes money to make money. Some home-selling costs are obvious, like commissions but there are a number of other expenses to take into consideration.

Here are some expenses home sellers often overlook:

  • Professional photographs: About 4 in 10 home buyers start their home search by looking at properties online. And, no surprise, photos are overwhelmingly viewed first. That's why I recommend home sellers hire a professional photographer to take their listing photos. (the cost is around $200)
  • Landscaping: No doubt, curb appeal is crucial. After all, it’s what gets prospective home buyers in your front door. What many home sellers don’t realize, though, is just how expensive professional landscaping can be. 
  • Staging: It’s all about presentation. In a recent survey from NAR, about 83% of buyer's agents said staging a home makes it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. In addition, staged homes sell, on average, 88% faster and for 20% more than non staged homes. 
  • Closing costs: Closing costs will likely be your second-biggest expense behind commission fees. You can expect to spend roughly 2% of your home’s sale price.

Professional photographs and staging are part of the complementary services that I offer to all my sellers.

2. What do I need to disclose to home buyers?

As much as you want to present your house in the best light, you should also be prepared to disclose some of your home's flaws.

Though disclosure laws vary by state sellers should disclose any known facts about the physical condition of the property, existence of dangerous materials or conditions, lawsuits or pending matters that may affect the value of the property, and any other factors that may influence a buyer’s decision.

3. Should I hire a home inspector?

Home buyers will include a home inspection contingency in their offer. But as a real estate agents I recommend home sellers to hire a home inspector to perform what’s called a “pre-inspection,” where a professional inspector scrutinizes your property for problems before it's even listed.

There are pros and cons, of course, to doing a pre-inspection. One huge advantage is that pre-inspections give sellers the ability to fix problems ahead of time. However, pre-inspections cost money (about $200 to $500 on average), and just because you hired a home inspector doesn't mean the buyers won't hire their own—and their results won't necessarily be the same.

4. Which areas of my home get the most attention?

Even if you can't stage your entire house, many home stagers recommend home sellers, at the very least, stage their house’s living room, kitchen, and master bedroom, since home buyers focus on those areas. Also don’t forget about your home’s entryway.

80% of prospective buyers know if a home is right for them within seconds of stepping inside.

Another room home sellers make the mistake of overlooking: the garage. A recent realtor.com® survey found that 32% of home buyers said the garage is one of the most important rooms in a house! Thus, it may make sense to organize the space, like by adding storage space or even a fresh coat of paint.

5. What do I have to leave behind when my house is sold?

While it’s ultimately your decision what house items you leave behind for the home buyer, there are rules governing what things convey with your property.

The law says that anything bolted to the wall or ceiling goes to the buyer unless specifically excluded in the contract.