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Getting Your Home Ready to Sell: A Checklist

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell: A Checklist

Checklist for Preparing to Sell Your Home

We suggest a three-month lead time before you put your home on the market, this will give you time to get organized, reduce clutter, and make the home presentable. Below you will find our tips for preparing to sell your home and a checklist to download.

Decide on a Date to go on the Market

Planning on a listing date will let you structure your entire plan, culminating in the day you go live on the market. Keep things like holidays and school seasons in mind so that it’s convenient for you and more appealing for buyers who may have children. Exposure is the name of the game when you list your home, the more buyers that are looking the better. Your agent will be able to advise you of current market conditions- and it’s best to have a conversation well in advance of listing with an advisor to get your strategy down. For some quick advice with no strings attached call the experts at Real-ativity (they can help you with dates and processes well before hiring an agent, it’s free and fast.)

It takes 21-45 days to close on a house, depending on how the financing and title work progresses as well as working your way through negotiables and contingencies. When you pick a list date you must keep in mind marketing time and contract to close time.

Plan three months from listing date to closing date. If you are planning on buying a home while you are selling your home make sure and get the guide on buying and selling at the same time in the smarts section.  These logistical factors are crucial to consider while preparing to sell your home.

Do Advanced Market Research: Supply and Demand Stats

Throughout the process of preparing your home to sell, you will need to do your homework. Real Estate markets can be volatile and can change drastically based on lending criteria and interest rates, job markets, distressed inventory, and investment competition. Depending on the type and location of your property you own there could be a different marketplace than what you hear in the media, your early research will help you manage your own expectations and make your decisions easier and less stressful.

Take an Honest Look at the Condition of Your Home

Sellers sometimes have a difficult time making an accurate assessment of their home so you may find it helpful to have a property inspector come in to do a pre-inspection which is generally between $300-$500 and will act as a to-do list for your repairs and prepare you for what a buyer may want to negotiate.  As a seller you will need to disclose all material facts, knowing what needs to be done and addressing issues in advance will likely save you money on repairs and ensure your home is saleable to the widest variety of buyers. Keep in mind some types of financing dictate property conditions be up to a certain standard, FHA guidelines and Veterans Administration Guidelines for purchasing can be sticky, its best to take a look in advance since these types of buyers are prevalent in the Florida market.

Hire a Knowledgeable Listing Agent

alt text = "interview agents before listing"

The selling process can be handled on your own, but usually results in a lower sales price. The statistics on for sale by owners accounted for 11% of home sales in 2018. The typical FSBO home sold for $200,000 compared to $280,000 for agent-assisted home sales. That’s HUGE! And stressful, remember agents are paid a commission only if you close at terms acceptable to you, and from their commission, they handle contracts and manage most of the pre-listing details, pay for the photography, print, and digital marketing, schedule and supervise showings, negotiate, work through contingencies and make sure you get the best deal.

Repair Damages and Refresh your Home in Advance of Listing

Go through your home and fix the little things that might deter a buyer or give your home an appearance of disrepair, buyers want to see a pride of ownership and you only have one time to make a great impression. If there is a broken gate, fix it, make sure doors open and close well, replace burnt bulbs, retouch paint, and broken handles. Lightswitch covers, plug covers, leaky faucets, and toilets are low-cost repairs, and taking on weekend warrior duties will increase your sales price and reduce negotiation stress.

Preparing to Sell Your Home: Declutter & Organize 

alt text = "organized closets seem bigger"

Start this early, you want photographers to get amazing shots and buyers to feel your home is spacious and inviting. Consider a temporary storage unit for large furniture, closet items you don’t use, and garage extras that are overwhelming your space (like holiday decor and collector’s items). Closet floors should be visible and shelves should not seem overfull. Simple things like color coordinating your closets for photos and facing your pantry labels and cleaning products give potential buyers an impression of a meticulous owner and lends itself to trust and confidence in the home.

Preparing to sell your home includes the interior and exterior.  Outside of the home needs to be clean, and neat also- do you need a new paint job? Powerwash, mulch, trim, mow, replace broken sprinkler heads and plant some pretty flowers! Curb appeal is real.

Work with your Agent on a Marketing Plan and Timeline

Listing your property on the multiple listing service is a start, but it is the base level. If you want to get top dollar exposure is the name of the game, your agent should do all of the following:

  • Book 4k Professional Photography
  • Drone Aerial Photos
  • Stage the home or plan virtual staging
  • Create Virtual Tours for buyers who will be shopping online
  • Decide on video marketing and distribution
  • Collateral Material design (EDDM mailings, flyers, and buyers presentations)
  • Decide on custom websites and/ or landing page
  • Strategize for Social Media Marketing on Facebook & Instagram by targeting buyers looking at similar homes, defining the most likely buyer audiences, and traffic funnels.
  • Build Bing and Google Ads marketing channels targeting buyers who have recently qualified for a mortgage and are looking at homes in the surrounding 50 miles.
  • Write comprehensive multiple listing service descriptions and supplements.
  • Syndication plans for exposure both locally and abroad
  • Featured the listing on advertising platforms like Real-ativity, Zillow, Trulia &
  • Email marketing to the entire South Florida Brokerage community
  • Plan Broker opens
  • Plan public open houses

Get Paperwork in Order

You’ll need these documents for closing and some may come in handy for marketing:

  • A copy of your deed
  • Copies of permits for past renovation work
  • Warranty documentation on systems and appliances
  • Elevation certificates and land survey
  • Most recent tax bills
  • Mortgage payoff amount

Set a Listing Price

Spend some time seriously looking at what has sold in your neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods, then look at what is on the market and assess the activity. Homes that have been sitting on the market for months are likely overpriced. Talk to your agent about consumer buying ability and get recent stats for interest rates and debt to income ratios for buyers. Your agent will be able to map out the possibilities and pricing strategies that will get the most exposure for your property. Gone are the days of “list high and hope to negotiate,” this is the digital age, buyers are using advanced algorithms to define buying price strategy and home prices- you want to both understand what this looks like and how you can use it to your advantage.

Clean Like the Queen is Coming for a Visit

alt text = "two girls cleaning house before listing it for sale"

  • Steam clean the carpets
  • Wash the windows and screens
  • Scour sinks
  • Scour door handles
  • Scrub lightswitches
  • Fan blades need to be dusted
  • Vacuum the door jambs and slider tracks so doors work well
  • Disinfect bathrooms, replace toilet seats (low cost and big for buyers), and polish fixtures
  • Kitchen appliances need to be scoured and polished (Sheila shine works wonders)
  • Scour and organize the fridge and freezer

Keep it up— you’ll need to keep it clean the whole time your home is on the market, and touch it up every time the home is going to be shown.

Hire a Professional Photographer

Whether you’re selling with an agent or on your own, professional photographs are a must in today’s market. Check to see if your photographer can also capture a virtual 3D house tour to give your listing a boost in online views. Before your appointment, make sure rooms are sparsely furnished, depersonalized, bright, welcoming, and photo-ready.

Plan for Showings

Talk with your agent about the logistics of private showings

  • When will tours be allowed?
  • When will open houses be scheduled?
  • Will you allow unescorted tours?
  • Will the house be on a lockbox? Digital or conventional?
  • How much notice does your agent need to give you to book a tour?
  • It’s best that you are not there for showings, where will you go?
  • Make sure medications and cash and valuables are hidden away
  • Will you keep cold drinks and designate a bathroom for public use?


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