A Checklist: How to Get Your House Ready to Sell

No matter how you sell your home, there’s always some level of preparation and thought and alot of time involved. After all, your home is usually your largest financial asset, so you should take the necessary steps and time to ensure it is done right.

According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2020, home sellers spent an average of six months thinking about selling before they take action.

Follow this simple checklist to get the help you need before listing your home on the market.

Getting Ready to Sell Checklist

6 Months Before Listing:

Pick an ideal listing date: FYI, sales data from 2019 showed that the best time of year to list your home to maximize profit and minimize time on market is the first half of May. And the most popular day of the week to list your home for sale is Saturday. So please plan way ahead, to ensure the best time to list and sell your home. On average, a home may sell as quickly as two months after you put it on the market, and you should figure in another 45-60 days between pending and the actual close date. But these are just estimates.

Research the market: Learn what similar homes are selling for so you can get a better sense of what your home is worth.It does not hurt to run the comps early. If you’re looking at comps now, remember that home prices can change drastically depending on the season. If you have flexibility in when you will be putting your house on the market, then consult with local real estate professionals to determine the best sellers window for your local market. But remember, even with the best research, real estate is unpredictable. 

Assess property condition: Know that understanding the condition of your home will help you match it to comparable residential properties in your local area. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to fix known issues before listing. If you are not sure of what needs fixing in your home, get a pre-listing home inspection done with a reputable and certified home inspector. It allows you to discover potential issues and address them, instead of the buyer finding them and calling off the deal, which would not be good.

Find an excellent agent: If you don’t have a trustworthy agent in mind yet, now’s the time to start looking for a local certified real estate professional who can guide you through the selling process and manage most of the pre-listing, marketing, showing and negotiation tasks.

Ask for feedback: You may not even realize it, but getting feedback, whether negative or positive, from your friends, family and neighbors and even your agent, will be your most valuable asset. Ask them to speak openly and freely and honestly. What needs work? Are there any major defects worth addressing before selling? Finding this out way in advance can save you headaches when listing your home for sale.

60 Days Before Listing:

Address repairs: Do you have any home repair projects you have been putting off? NOW is the time to cross them all off the to-do list. Spend a weekend walking around your home and making a list. Do any faucets need fixed for leaks? What about any repairs to the broken fence or patching holes in the fence or patio or porch? Did you know that according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report of 2020, the average seller makes 2.3 renovations to prepare to sell, and 79% of sellers make at least one home improvement. Less than 21% of sellers list their home as-is.

Declutter and donate: Start the decluttering process now, because it will save you from any last minute hustle and bustle of getting rid of stuff right before listing. Purge and donate and/or sell anything you no longer need. 

Create a marketing plan: If you’re selling with an agent, you can help them by spreading the word with family and friends, at work, and on social networks. But if you are selling it all on your own privately, you will have to create your own marketing strategy. 

Get paperwork in order: One of the most important pieces of info you will need is your mortgage payoff amount. While the final amount will change a bit by the time you are ready to close, getting an estimated payoff amount (including remaining loan balance, applicable interest and prorated property taxes) can help you determine how much your profit will be when you sell. In addition, when it comes time to sell, you will land surveys, utility and tax bills, copies of permits for past renovation work, and home warranty documentation. Assemble these in advance so you don’t have to go digging around right as you’re preparing to list.

30 Days Before Listing:

Set a listing price: You or your real estate agent should run the comps at least or around 30 days before listing to gauge your home’s current market value and set an appropriate listing price. Pricing your home too high could lead to a stale listing and a price reduction. 

Start the staging process: Staging your home is much easier once you get rid of any and all extra clutter. Now go walk room by room and eliminate any additional unnecessary furniture taking up valuable space. Avoid the temptation to cram things in your closets because buyers look for homes with ample storage space. And full closets may make it seem like your home doesn’t have enough space or room.

Paint: Painting your home a month before listing is the perfect time because the walls will still look freshly painted when your home goes on the market. Did you know that painting a home’s interior is one of the most common pre-listing tasks? About 35% of sellers paint the interior before selling; it’s best to choose a light neutral tone like greige or taupe.

Create curb appeal: The exterior of your home is the first thing buyers see, bothin listing photos and online, and when they finally see your home in person. Poor curb appeal can even cause a potential buyer to decide it’s not worth coming inside.

2 Weeks Before Listing:

Do a deep clean: Have your carpets professionally cleaned. And in addition to your regular weekly cleaning, you should clean windows and screens, disinfect bathrooms and polish kitchen appliances. Just a reminder that you will definitely need to clean regularly the whole time your home is on the market, to keep your home clean from dirt, stains and dust.

Hire a professional photographer: Whether you’re selling on your own privately or working with an agent, a professional photographer is an absolute must in today’s market. Check to see if your photographer can also capture a virtual 3D house tour to give your listing that extra boost it needs for more online visibility and more in-person showings.

Plan for showings: With regards to showings, will you allow lockbox tours? How much notice does your agent need to give you for a showing? Where will you go during showings? (It’s best that the homeowner isn’t present.) Plan in advance accordingly.

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