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“How do I sell my house without going crazy?” We’ve all heard how stressful a traditional home sale can be, from the endless open houses to intense price negotiations. The good news is that with just a bit of preparation, you can avoid many of these obstacles. In light of that, we’ve brought you the ultimate home selling checklist so that you can be ahead of the curve.
1. Select an agent
Many home sellers choose to work with a real estate agent who can guide them through the process. If you’re on the hunt for an agent, remember that not all real estate agents are created equal. Here’s how to pick a top real estate agent:
☐ Make a list of candidates
- Ask friends and family for any recommendations.
- Look at active listings in your area to identify local agents.
☐ Rank your candidates
- Read online reviews.
- Look for awards or disciplinary actions.
- Check if their past listings are similar to your home.
☐ Meet your potential agents
- Ask them about properties for sale in the area to gauge their local knowledge.
- Get their opinion on what you will need to do for your home in order to sell.
- Ask about their fee and what services are included.
☐ Make your pick!
2. Check your home’s condition
While home buyers are usually prepared to handle minor repairs, some issues might just scare them away. That’s why it’s often a good idea to assess the condition of your before listing. Here are some areas to look out:
☐ Walls and ceilings
- Look for any signs of water damage or leaking.
- Check for nail pops, cracks, chips, or other finishing details.
- Look for discoloration, stains, or abrasion on paint.
- Check wallpaper for lifting.
- Check for areas of excessive wear or damage.
- Look for stains or discoloration on carpeting.
- Check for any cracks or damage to window panes.
- Ensure all windows properly open and close.
- Feel for drafts or signs of air escaping.
- Verify all windows have functional locks or latches.
- Examine window screens for holes or damage.
☐ Lighting & Electrical
- Verify all light switches and power outlets function, including those with reset switches.
- Look for any exposed wiring or damaged electrical boxes.
☐ Water & Plumbing
- Check faucets for dripping or leaking, including bathtubs, showers, and outdoor taps.
- Test drain function.
- Ensure toilets flush normally.
- Verify sinks are properly sealed to countertops.
- Look for damage to sidewalks, driveways, or patio.
- Check your yard for bare spots, overgrowth, and drainage issues.
- Examine wood decks for split boards, bowing, or structural damage to supports or railings.
- Check fences and gates for damage.
3. Make repairs
Consider tackling any home buying red flags before they even become an issue. In order to decide what to fix and what to leave as-is, consult your real estate agent and consider getting a pre-listing home inspection.
Tip: Want to just focus on repairs that will help you get top dollar? Our Home Advisors can evaluate your home and suggest repairs that will get your home sold.
4. Prepare for listing
Don’t forget to do some decluttering and deep cleaning to boost your home’s appeal to buyers. Many sellers also choose to make upgrades to their home so it can make the best first impression possible.
- Upgrade: Do you have any unusual or controversial wall colors? If so, consider painting them with neutral colors instead.
- Touch up any paint damage to walls, doors, baseboards, and frames.
- Upgrade: Do you have old or worn carpeting that should be replaced?
- Upgrade: Do your hardwood floors need to be resurfaced?
- Do you have area rugs that need freshening or replacing?
- Consider removing them if there is suitable flooring underneath.
☐ Windows & Doors
- Clean the inside and outside of the window glass.
- Remove and clean all screens.
☐ Knickknacks & Decorations
- Remove as many personal items as possible, including family photos.
- Store children’s toys in an organized fashion and pack away the non-essentials.
- Check your home’s curb appeal, especially:
- Is all exterior paint in good condition?
- Are flower beds and gardens orderly and weed-free?
- Is your lawn well-maintained and tidy?
- Are you storing any items outdoor that should be discarded?
- Upgrade: Consider planting flowers to improve curb appeal.
☐ Cupboards & Closets
- Start pre-packing for your move by decluttering your storage areas, including:
- Kitchen cupboards
- Bedroom closet(s)
- Linen closet
- Find a good place to store prepacked boxes without making your basement or garage crowded.
- Consider off-site storage options.
- Walk through your house and look at rooms from each entry. Do your rooms feel spacious?
- Consider removing some furniture to open up the room.
- Consider rearranging and staging your home to be more inviting.
5. List your home
Now it’s officially time for you and your agent to put your home on the market. While you (naturally) want to maximize your profit, keep in mind that competitively-priced homes tend to sell quickly, while overpriced properties usually spend more time on the market.
☐ Decide on price
- Ask your agent for a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)
- This will give you information on similar homes in the area that are currently on the market, pending sale, or recently sold.
- Research current market trends
- Seller’s market? That competition may help you get top dollar for your home.
- Buyer’s market? To attract buyers, you may have to lower your list price.
- Calculate your “break-even point”:
- How much you need from the home sale to cover your mortgage balance, real estate commissions, and closing costs?
- Factor in the cost of any repairs that the buyer will need to make.
- Get professional estimates to calculate this expense accurately.
☐ Review your listing
- Make sure that all details in the listing are present and accurate.
- Does it highlight your home’s unique features and recent upgrades?
- Review the listing photography.
- Does it showcase your home in the best light possible?
- Ask your agent how they will be marketing your home.
- Will they be using both online and offline channels?
- Do they have existing clients who may be interested?
Tip: Tell us a bit about your home, and we’ll give you a free estimate of your home’s value and an analysis of comparable homes in your area.
6. Show your home
In a traditional sale, the average seller will show their house to potential buyers 13 times. Be sure to tidy up before each showing, so your home always makes a great first impression.
☐ Before each showing
- Remove any remaining personal items or valuables you haven’t already packed.
- Clean all floors and dust surfaces.
- Ensure all beds are made and bedrooms are tidy.
- Clean all bathrooms, including showers and bathtubs.
- Make sure you and your family are not in the home during the showing.
☐ Ongoing maintenance for showings
- Keep your lawn cut, gardens maintained, and walkways clear while your home is on the market.
- If you have a pet, consider having him or her stay with a relative while selling.
- Keep closets as organized as possible.
Tip: Want to avoid the lengthy process of showing your home to dozens of prospective buyers? Homes listed by Orchard sell faster than the market average:
7. Evaluate offers
Once the offers start rolling in, you’ll enter the negotiation process. It can take a lot of back and forth to finalize the details of an offer, especially if you and your potential buyer aren’t on the same page.
☐ Be ready for offers
- Decide the price range and contract conditions that you’re willing to accept. That way, you can speed up the negotiation process later on.
☐ Read each offer in detail
- Look out for any contingencies that could result in the deal falling through on the buyer’s discretion.
- Make sure that your buyers have their home financing ready-to-go.
- Ask any potential buyers to bring a pre-qualification or proof of funds letter.
☐ Compare competitive offers
- Take all aspects of the offers into consideration, including the purchase price, closing date, contingencies, etc.
- Evaluate the bidders’ closing dates against your own plans.
- Factor in any additional overlapping housing costs, like double mortgage payments, moving costs, and temporary housing.
☐ Close on your home
- Select the winning offer and start the closing process with your agent and title company.
- Wait for your buyer as they finalize the details of their mortgage
- Sign all paperwork at closing and celebrate your home sale!
At Orchard, we have one goal: to simplify your home sale. That means removing the hassle and uncertainty that comes with the traditional process, from costly repairs to contingent offers.