Five Steps to Sell: Your House Selling Checklist

Dale Lavine December 9, 2021 | 6 min read
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Ready to sell? Keep this house selling checklist on hand.

As you might imagine, selling a home isn’t exactly as easy as selling a car. In an ideal world, we’d exchange keys for cash, sign some paperwork, and call it a day. Needless to say, it’s more involved than that.

That’s why we put together a handy little house selling checklist to help you prepare for your upcoming listing. Before making any major decisions — and trust us, selling your home is a major decision — run through this list once or twice (go ahead and print it too, just in case) to make sure you’re in a prime position to sell.

Declutter, depersonalize, disassociate.

The first box to check in our house selling checklist is also the most difficult. When you decide to sell your home, it’s important to free yourself of any sense of ownership. The less attached you are, the better.

Depersonalizing your spaces can go a long way in helping you disassociate. And, in doing so, will help you declutter the home. We recommend clearing out your closets, boxing up bric-a-brac, and tucking away non-essential trinkets that can distract buyers from the beauty of their future home.

The home shouldn’t be sterile, but less you means more opportunity for buyers to see them in this space.

Remember: This is your home right now, but you’re simply an occupant in their future residence.

Professional photography

You know what’s always frustrating? Looking at houses online and finding listings with only one picture, or worse, pictures that look like they were captured on an old brick phone. We’re talking blurry photos, bad lighting…the whole nine.

Hiring a professional photographer is a must if you want to attract buyers and expedite your sale. Professional photographers capture your home’s best angles and most attractive features in the most flattering light, making it easier for buyers to envision themselves in the space.

Going above and beyond, some professional real estate photographers are equipped with drones, meaning they’re able to capture the home and its surroundings from different angles. These photos show buyers how much real estate they’d be buying, all-inclusive of the home and the lot it sits on.

Create curb appeal.

When folks come around for in-person visits, your home’s exterior appearance is often the first — and most important — impression.

What’s that mean for you?

For starters, gather the family for a day of yard work. Rake up leaves, mow the lawn, clear out any toys, and remove any personalized decorations (i.e. flags) that might confuse or put off potential buyers. We’d also recommend trimming branches and bushes to create a clear view of the home’s exterior.

You don’t need full landscaping, but lively flowers and a good powerwash can go a long way in setting you up for a successful sale.

Clean, paint, repair.

A functional home is a sellable home. When potential buyers tour your home, they probably want something they can see themselves moving into quickly and without much hassle. For your sake, that means thoroughly (and regularly, depending on how long your home is on the market for) cleaning the spaces people see most often and the ones you’ve likely forgotten about — hello baseboards, am I right?

Additionally, you’ll want to touch up any scuffs with a fresh coat of paint. Accent wall? Reconsider it. You may love that distinct shade of purple — or whatever color you picked — but buyers may hate it. Aim for something neutral.

Lastly, don’t forget to make minor repairs. Faceplates, doorknobs, lightbulbs are all things you’ll want to ensure are in working order. Imagine touring a house, turning a knob, and having it snap clean off. Yikes.

Pets vs. plants

One might think that including pets in a home’s photos would set a familial, comforting tone for prospective buyers. Unfortunately, not everyone loves animals. When some people see animals, they imagine the worst. Will the home smell like a wet dog? Or worse, a litter box? Will there be dander and fur circulating through the vents? What about stains and scents that have seeped into the carpet, or worse, hardwood floors?

Consider swapping pets for plants. Greenery is always a welcome addition for its ability to freshen up a space and create a sense of calm. If live plants aren’t your thing — or if you weren’t blessed with a green thumb — a few plastic plants should work just as well.

Be mindful of the market.

Feeling like you’re ready to start your journey as a seller? Great! Wondering what’s next? That depends on the market you’re in.

Pause. Rewind. We’re going all the way back to school for a little lesson on economics (fun stuff, I know). In real estate, you’ll hear the terms “buyer’s market” and “seller’s market” flung around a lot. People don’t usually explain what they mean. They sort of just expect you to get it as if it won’t have a substantial impact on the entire process. Not just how long it takes, but how much money you’ll be able to get for your home as well.

Fluctuations in the real estate market are commonplace, so the difference between a “buyer’s market” and a “seller’s market” comes down to a thing called “supply and demand.”

What’s a buyer’s market?

A buyer’s market is when there’s more supply than demand — meaning there are more homes for sale than there are people interested in buying them. A buyer’s market also affords prospective buyers more time to scout things out — allowing them to make educated decisions about what can truly be a life-changing investment.

What’s a seller’s market?

Conversely, a seller’s market occurs when there’s more demand than there is supply. Fewer homes on the market with plenty of interested parties ready to snatch them up at a moment’s notice.

In a seller’s market, competition is a real thing and buyers are often forced to fight for the home they want. For sellers, this can mean a greater number of offers and an even greater profit (especially if they put our house selling checklist to work — wink wink).

Ready, set, sell.

Knowledge truly is power, and now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of how to set yourself up for a successful sale in any kind of market, you’re ready to list. Get in touch with a trusted real estate agent and, if you’re selling one home to buy another, consider connecting with the experts at Cardinal Financial for help financing your next home.

Before making any major decisions — and trust us, selling your home is a major decision — run through this list once or twice to make sure you’re in a prime position to sell.

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