Getting Ready

Selling a Home

12 Things to Do Before Selling Your House: Home Selling Checklist

You’ve decided that you want to sell your home.  It’s time to put in some work to make sure it hits the market strong.  In Real Estate, your home’s first impression it makes when it is first listed is more important than anything else.

Whether you’re trying to sell your home fast or for the highest amount you need to make sure it is at its best when people first see it.  If you wait until your house is already listed to make all of the little improvements after it’s already for sale you will have already missed huge selling opportunities.

Take some time to look closely at your home to see what improvements can make the most impacts. Here is a list of 10 things to consider while preparing to sell your home.

1. Find a Great Real Estate Agent

Thinking about selling your house yourself? Be sure to also read: Selling Yourself – For Sale by Owner.

Selling by yourself can be tempting but you will have a huge advantage working with an agent.  There are many things an agent will be able to help you with along the way that you may not be able to handle as well on your own. 

You want your home to sell as fast as possible, and when you start negotiating, preparing and reviewing contracts, looking at offers and dealing with buyers who are represented by agents you will want someone on your side. Your agent will have your best interests in mind making sure everything runs smoothly.  A seller’s efforts will always be most beneficial working on the home itself and its presentation rather than with selling it themselves.

2. Improve Your Curb Appeal

Buyers will first judge your house by its appearance on the outside.  You want to make sure potential buyers first impression of your home is a good one.  If a buyer has a bad impression of your home from the outside, they will most likely expect the inside to also be unappealing.  If a buyer likes the outside of your house, they will usually hope that will also like the inside.

In order for your home to sell it has to be considered first.  In order for you house to be considered it has to be seen first.  Make sure you are not preventing anyone from seeing your entire house inside, and out by having a bad curb appeal if it could easily be improved.

If you are unsure how to improve your home’s curb appeal, ask your agent or your even your neighbors on how others in your area have improved the exterior before selling their houses.  

Common Improvements:

  • Prune Bushes and plants to look healthy.
  • Do not allow shrubs or plants to block windows.
  • Weed all planting areas.
  • Remove any dead plants.
  • Add some flowers for some color if needed.

3. Declutter Living Areas

Remove as much unnecessary stuff out of your house as possible, you want your potential buyers to imagine moving in and living in your house. 

Do a clean sweep of counters, windowsills, tables, and all other visible areas, and then tackle behind closed doors: closets, drawers, and cupboards—since virtually nothing is off-limits for curious buyers.

If the house is overflowing with stuff, buyers might worry that the house won’t have ample space for their own belongings. They won’t sign up to pay a mortgage if they think they’ll also have to rent a storage space.

Take your excess stuff and donate it, or pack it up to be stored off-site. Not only will clearing clutter help your house look more appealing to buyers, it will also help you once you’ve accepted an offer and it’s time to move into a new home. Moving out will be easier if some of your stuff is already be packed.

4. Depersonalize Your Home

Remove personal items and family photos, as well as bold artwork and furniture that might make the home less appealing to the general public. The goal is to create a blank canvas on which buyers can project their own visions of living there and loving it.

5. Repaint Walls with Neutral Colors

You will aways be safe with a neutral color because it’s rare that someone hates it, but the other benefit is that a light color allows buyers to envision what the walls would look like with the color of their choice.

It’s the seller’s job to help buyers picture themselves in the house. If they don’t feel at home, they’ll probably continue to look at other houses.

6. Touch Up Any Scuff Marks

Even if you don’t repaint your walls, pay special attention to scrubbing and then touching up baseboards, walls, and doors to make sure the house looks well cared-for.

Selling almost any home can be tricky, but selling a home with lots of little problems and small repair needs can be downright difficult. When buyers walk into an open house, or go on a home tour, they want to fall in love with the house, not add a bunch of small repairs to their to-do list.  Pay attention to the small things, those are the things that are easily noticed and easily fixed.

In order to impress buyers (and sell your house quickly), fix up your house before putting it on the market.

With a home that is fixed up and move-in ready, you will probably see more interest, and may even see multiple offers.

7. Fix Any Loose Handles & Replace Missing Lightbulbs

It’s the smalls things, but you’d be surprised by the negative effect a loose handle, or a missing lightbulb can have on a buyer.

Don’t let prospective buyers wonder, “what else is broken?” by not repairing something minor.

For a buyer, submitting an offer, and later committing to a mortgage, is a big deal. When you’re selling your home, you don’t want to give any buyers doubt that your house will make a great home.

8. Add Some Plants

When staging your house, remember that green is good. Plants create a bright and more welcoming environment. You might also want to consider a bouquet of flowers or bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or dining table.

Some plants and natural elements will impress buyers by bringing some extra color and life to your decor.

9. Home Smell Check

Foul odors, even slight ones, can be a deal breaker, and you might not even notice them.

Invite people in to try to detect any pet smells or lingering odors from your kitchen.

If the smells are pervasive, prepare to do some deep cleaning as many buyers are on to seller’s “masking techniques” such as candles or plug-in room deodorizers. Covering up odors with a stronger scent might backfire if the buyer doesn’t like the smell of lavender or artificial citrus.

10. Clean Everything

Once you’re done cleaning your house, clean some more. Even if you don’t have any smell issues, you want your property to look spotless.

You will probably have professional photos taken of your house when it looks its best. You will want your house to always look like it does in those pictures.

When selling your home, it’s important to keep everything tidy for buyers, and you never know when a buyer is going to want to schedule a last-minute tour. Remember to take special care with the bathroom, making sure the tile, counters, shower, and floors shine.

11. Hide Valuables

You can’t trust everyone who comes into your house, even when you’re trying to sell it. Sometimes things disappear during an open house, and there’s little the seller can do to get those things back. Take care to hide your valuables or move them to a safe space away from your home.

12. Consider Staging

Home stagers will evaluate the current condition and belongings in your house and determine what elements might raise the bar. They might recommend you buy or rent some items, or they might just reorganize your knickknacks and bookshelves in a whole new (that is, better) way.

Stagers know the real estate market, and what sells, so it’s important to take their advice and not take offense when they make big changes. Their job is to help drum up interest from potential buyers, which is always good news to the seller.

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