Home Sale Checklist
Organize your home sale for maximum return
Preparing to sell a home is almost as big a job as moving itself. There is
so much to do and a relatively short time frame for accomplishing everything.
To get the largest offer in the shortest period, take advantage of a little
planning and a lot of elbow grease.
The reasons are obvious when you think about it. People want to look at a clean
house in good repair. If something is off or just a little dirty, it opens the
door to doubts about the home's overall integrity and its past maintenance.
When a prospective buyer sees a home where everything is shipshape and move
in ready, they are more likely to meet or even exceed the asking price. Regardless
of what the rest of the housing market is doing, you stand a better chance of
selling your home quickly if you work your plan.
Three to six months before placing your home on the market
- Hire a building
inspector to check your home from top to bottom. Ask your building inspector
to prioritize the items that need to be taken care of.
- Select a real estate agent and request some information about the housing
market. If possible, work with the real estate agent to review the list of
items found in the building inspection. It's not necessary to sign an agreement
with the agent at this point. This is a preliminary stage. (You might even
decide to stay in your home!)
- If you intend to sell your home yourself, do some research and become familiar
with the local market and what features matter to home buyers in your area.
- Create a list of items that need attention along with a budget for getting
them done. Plan major fixes that could stop a sale from proceeding first.
- Begin building a home inventory of work done, warranty information, and
vendor contacts. Document everything you do (and what you have done). This
book is a critical sales tool and guide for the next owner so don't be tempted
to underestimate its value. It will help you set your selling price as well
as reduce your capital gains, if any. You know how the IRS loves good records.
- Begin working major projects.
One to three months
- Wrap up major projects.
- Organize outdoor projects to enhance
curb appeal. Hire a landscape maintenance service to do regular trims
and mowing to keep everything looking neat from now until the house sells.
- Paint rooms that need fresh paint. Use neutrals like taupe, grey, and muted
colors like sage green. Tie rooms together with freshly painted trim. Do a
neat job and be picky about the clean up. If you don't have time, hire a painter.
- Declutter your home. Remove EVERYTHING that you don't need or use regularly.
- Conduct a garage sale to unload as many of your unused and unwanted possessions
as possible. If a garage sale sounds like too much of a nuisance, list items
with an image and price on Craigslist
or get someone to just take it away through a Freecycle
- Donate usable items to a charity or thrift store. (Don't forget your receipt
- Get packing boxes, labels, tape, and markers.
- Items that you want to keep, but don't want to display or use until after
you relocated can be packed now. (Secure and store items that you don't want
on public display.)
- Contact a real estate agent about listing your home if you are not working
with someone already. (If planning to sell yourself, put together your marketing
and advertising plan.)
- Assemble all the paperwork concerning your home including deeds, notes,
and any legal documents if applicable. Collect plans, working drawings, mortgage
company information, utility bills, and Home Owners' Association CC&Rs.
Note items that stay and items that go (i.e., you are leaving the washer and
dryer, but want to take your grandmother's prize hydrangea).
- Make keys if necessary for agent and for the lockbox.
- Plan staging for open houses.
- Create a routine to ensure that everything is absolutely clean from now
until the house sells.
- Do a thorough deep
"spring" cleaning (even if it isn't spring). Hire pros to take
care of cleaning projects that you don't have time or skill to do from cleaning
gutters to carpets. Take advantage of professional services whenever possible.
- Make arrangements for doggy daycare or off site pet care so you can whisk
Fifi away as necessary.
One week to listing
- Set staging for buyer viewing. If you have old furniture that doesn't display
well, rent furniture for showing during the sales process. (This may necessitate
a bit of education of family members accustomed to eating in front of the
- Prepare a final checklist to execute in a few minutes when the realtor calls
to say they will be over to show the house. (For example, open drapes and
blinds so the house appears bright and cheerful. Turn on lights. Remove pets,
After listing showings and open houses
- Pets, especially their odors (cat box and dog bed) need to be neutralized.
Keep their stuff clean. Change cat boxes daily. They have a way of knowing
that something is up and faithfully barf to let you know that they know.
- Monitor smells. Any "off" smell is a huge turn off to buyers.
- Perform your cleaning routine faithfully every day. The kitchen and bathroom
are particularly important to keep immaculate.
- When the agent calls, arrange to disappear.
Daily cleaning routine during listing period
- Touch up windows and mirrors
- Sweep/vacuum entire house
- Mop floors
- Clean smudges around doorknobs, light switches and on walls
- Dust ceilings, walls, blinds, etc.
- Clean and polish bathroom fixtures (Rubbing alcohol on a cloth quickly removes
water spots on bathroom fixtures)
- Fluff pillows
- Add strategic bouquets of seasonal flowers.
- Empty cat box
- Run wash (don't leave dirty clothing laying about)
- Clean stove, refrigerator front, and sink
If it seems like you are living in a model home, take heart. It's only temporary,
but your efforts will pay off in a smoother sale with a better return.
You have your hands full with so much when selling a home that hiring a carpet
cleaning service could be one big load off your mind. Find a reputable local
service at ContractorNexus