Selling a house can be a lot like remodeling –- it takes longer, costs more and is more emotionally draining than you thought but in the end was worth doing. Knowing what to expect when your house goes up for sale can be half the battle of getting through the transaction. Most people are a bit excited when they put their house on the market. Hopefully, they are moving up to a better home or off to new challenges in another city. Unless you’re the rare homeowner who gets multiple offers above the asking price days after listing, the sales process can be an emotionally challenging time. Here’s a look at what you can expect once you sign a listing agreement:

The first thing your agent will likely do is place your home in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This notifies all other agents in the area that your home is for sale. It will also likely appear on the Internet at Soon, a for-sale sign will appear in the yard and a lockbox will be attached to your house, most likely the front door. The lockbox allows local agents access to the house when you aren’t home.

It may seem unsettling but it’s important to allow agents to show your home when you are away, especially in a slower market. If you don’t have a lockbox, many agents will put you at the bottom of their client’s list of homes to see because it’s a headache to track down your agent, who must track you down to find out when you’ll be around, which may not fit into the buyers’ schedule. Plus, unless you’re in a hot sellers’ market, there will be plenty of other houses to see.

Open house

Your agent will want to have a couple of open houses as soon as possible, which is why it’s not recommended to list your house until everything is ready for a good showing. This means you’ll likely be swamped with last-minute touch-ups and clean-ups to get the house ready

The agent will likely have a brokers’ open house, which is during the week, so area agents, hopefully with clients looking to buy, can see the property. Next, traditionally on a Sunday, will be the public open house.

It is best if you are not present during open houses because buyers want the freedom to look in closets and make comments. That’s difficult for most people to do it you are present. When potential buyers come for a viewing, try to step outside while they tour your house.

Whether you have additional open houses is between you and your agent. Many sellers incorrectly think that multiple open houses are needed to sell a house. In fact, few houses are sold at open houses but there are many good reasons to have one for the public and another for agents.

Traffic patterns

You should get the most traffic the first two to three weeks your house is listed. Anyone looking for a house similar to the one you’re selling will want to see your home. Don’t fret when the traffic dies down.

The average days on market (DOM) can be 60-90 days in a normal cycle, depending on the area of the country. In a slower market buyers can take their time and they usually do. If you have buyers come back a second or third time it usually means they are seriously considering your home and you’ll want your agent to keep in contact with their agent. Any offers, even one you consider low-ball, is a chance to begin negotiating, which often leads to a sale.

Neat freak

Keeping your house in tip-top shape, especially if you have kids and pets, is one of the more difficult parts of selling your home. But remember, buyers will walk into your house and try to picture living there.

Most people don’t have the vision to look past toys scattered throughout the house, dishes in the sink or pet food spilled on the floor. It doesn’t matter that they probably live the same way.

Changing course

Sellers usually hit the wall at about six weeks. The initial excitement of listing has waned, you’ve tired of keeping the house looking like a model and are irritated at yet another looky-loo coming through the front door.

Unless you are in a very difficult market, if you have not had serious interest in six weeks, it’s time to meet with your agent and discuss sales strategy.

Markets can change quickly, so you need to consider price and any physical changes or improvements that could enhance the home. This doesn’t mean you have to remodel the kitchen, but maybe realizing the garage should be cleaned out or the pink bedroom walls should be repainted can make the difference.

When you sign the listing agreement, you can generally expect a three-step process to begin: Getting ready, showing it off and responding to the market place. If you are prepared, especially for the last one, you can avoid getting that prescription for sleeping pills to get through the process.