If your home isn't selling, ask your listing agent to get feedback from brokers who have shown the house. Also, consider hosting a open house for broker's only. This gives you an opportunity to promote the property and get ideas on how to improve sale prospects.
Renovating your home can increase its resale value. But don't expect a dollar-for-dollar return. Some upgrades (an extra bathroom, for example) pay off; some (like swimming pools) don't pay off at all. If you want fine marble in the foyer, spend away. But don't count on buyers being willing to pay as much for it as you did.
Buyers sometimes ignore houses that have remained unsold for a long period, assuming, often incorrectly, that they must have serious flaws. One way to avoid the stale-listing syndrome if your house isn't attracting buyer interest is to withdraw it from the market temporarily and then relist it, so it will appear fresh to brokers and to buyers, who won't be put off by the old listing date.
If you're looking for ways to attract buyers, consider offering a warranty for the first year after the sale. The assurance that they won't face major repair bills right away may make some buyers more comfortable with your asking price.
Before putting your house on the market, attend a few open houses at similar properties in your area. That will give you a firsthand basis for comparing your home with competing properties. It's also a good way to take the pulse of the local market and to spot some of the selling brokers who are active in it.
If you are planning to sell a home and are interviewing listing agents, ask if they have any near-term vacation plans - and then ask about back-up support in their absence. Everyone is entitled to time off, but you want to make sure your home sale doesn't have to take a vacation when your agent does.
Beginning on the day that you complete the purchase of a home, keep track of everything you spend on major improvements. You will need to document those expenditures, which increase your home's "basis" (and thus reduce your net "gain") when you eventually sell. Even with today's liberal capital gains exclusion, rapidly rising home values may push some homeowners closer to the taxable gain threshold faster than they suspect.