10 Things to do BEFORE Placing Your House on the Market

Many homebuyers are also sellers who need to place their current property up for sale in order to move into a different home. If you fall into that category, here are ten jobs to tackle before listing your home for sale.

  1. Remove All Non-Essential Items – You are getting ready to sell your house and move your stuff… ALL your stuff. It makes sense to eliminate as much as possible now. After all, it will be much easier to stage your home (storage spaces, for instance, should be less than half full during showings). You’ll also have less stuff to pack up and move later.
  2. Let the Light Shine – Clean your windows, eliminate heavy/dark drapery and window treatments, and change out all the lightbulbs for the highest wattage recommended for each fixture. Do this inside, outside and in storage areas. The lighter and more “airy” your home seems, the more space it will appear to have and the more attractive it will be to potential buyers.
  3. Fix Stuff – Scratch off every small repair job you can find (a running toilet, a leaky faucet, a closet door that’s jumped track, the doorbell that never worked, torn screens, etc.). Also look for small but important cosmetic updates (new light switch plates, fresh tub/shower grout, a brand new welcome mat, etc.). Touch up the interior paint where needed and replace worn or outdated cabinet pulls/towel rods/hardware in the kitchen and baths. These small weekend fixes make a big difference and will pay for themselves, while massive renovations and makeovers may not.
  4. De-personalize Everything – Envision a show room or luxury hotel executive suite and remove anything you wouldn’t find in one of these locations. If it’s a personal “statement,” it probably needs to go. This includes collections, knick-knacks, and too-full shelves. People want to imagine THEIR stuff in your house. If your stuff is consuming all the space, it’s much harder for buyers to see themselves living there. It’s an important first step toward “Sold!”
  5. Tend the Yard – First impressions are made at the curb. Add a few flowers (preferably potted in beautiful containers) and remove anything that’s not essential in your front, back and side yards. If you have a mailbox, now may be the time to replace it with a shiny new model. Paint fences, remove dead branches from trees, pull weeds, repair and edge sidewalks and driveways.
  6. Pull Together Paperwork – Before you start packing stuff, pull out all your owner’s manuals, warranty information, and even purchase receipts on any appliances, renovations, etc. Create a notebook of these items to hand over to the new buyer and to easily answer potential buyers’ questions. Also create a folder (that you’ll keep) containing the last year of utility bills, so it’s easy to answer those questions too.
  7. Get a Pre-Sale Home Inspection – Investing in a pre-sale inspection will help you know the potential problem areas of your home before you start showing it. You may want to remedy those issues, but even if you don’t, you can avoid being surprised with big expenses after accepting a sales contract.
  8. Get Written Estimates – If you know that something in the home needs to be replaced (the roof or HVAC system, for instance), get a few replacement estimates. Even if you aren’t going to have the work done, you won’t run the risk of knocking $20,000 off your selling price, during negotiations, for a $9,000 repair.
  9. Interview Real Estate Agents – Before you are ready to put your house on the market, begin researching and interviewing potential listing agents. This will include asking local co-workers and family members who have sold their house who they would recommend—and why. Do your own online research to see which agents do the best job of advertising and marketing their listings.
  10. Release Emotional Attachments to the House – Completing each of these steps (especially de-personalizing your home) will help you view your current house as a cherished place in life’s journey, while also recognizing that your memories will be carried forward into new places. Detaching yourself emotionally from this major financial transaction will make negotiations much easier and a successful sale happen much faster!