Your Home For Sale Checklist

Your Home For Sale Checklist
  • Opening Intro -

    You've made the decision to sell your home and are ready to prepare it to be marketed.

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There are several steps you will need to take first, important considerations that can make a difference whether the home sells and if you are to receive full price for it.

1. Tackle minor repairs and updates. Take a look at your home inside and out, reviewing maintenance projects that should be handled before you list your home. This can include applying a coat of touch up paint around the front doors, power washing the driveway, trimming bushes and repairing your lawn. Buyers are looking for curb appeal — if it is present, then you’re ready to move on to the next step.

2. Stash the excess. Your living room may be cozy, but for the buyer she may see it as cluttered. Put away nonessentials that fill your rooms including excess furniture, knick knacks and anything else that can make your house seem smaller. Certain religious relics and paintings might put someone off so be mindful what the buyer might see when she tours your home.

3. Determine your method of marketing. Today’s homeowners can choose to sell their home themselves or use the traditional method of relying on a real estate agent to do that for them. If you are considering the “for sale by owner” option, know that you’ll need to take care of many details an agent would handle including placing signs, running ads, vetting potential buyers, showing your home, negotiating with another agent and more. If you choose to work with an agent, find one that is experienced and knows your neighborhood. Avoid a long-term sales agreement, keeping it as short as possible in the event things do not work out. Expect to pay a fee, but that fee may be negotiable — get it in writing!

4. Set your price. Take care here — you’ll want to set a price that is reasonable and gives you and the buyer some wiggle room to negotiate. Since the mortgage meltdown and housing crisis, many housing markets across the country have been pounded. Review local comps and track the trends to determine where prices are headed. If heading down you may need to come in with a lower price from the start. If trending higher, you’ll be in a better negotiating position with a buyer.

5. Keep it buyer ready. Once your home is on the market, you will need to keep it buyer ready at all times. This means that windows and doors should be kept clean, walkways swept, the lawn cut and shrubs trimmed. Inside, your home can have a “lived in” look, but not to the point where clutter takes over. Keep counters clear, bathrooms clean and clothes should be kept in their proper place.

6. Field all offers. Once an offer is made, review it carefully to learn if it is within range of your asking price. If it comes in too low, then you’ll most likely reject it out of hand. Also consider what the buyer is asking. If the offer is close to what you want and the buyer asks that you provide money toward closing, weigh that cost too. In a tough market, a buyer with a pre-approved mortgage or cash may be just the one you want to negotiate with.

7. Hire an attorney. When you receive an offer and conditionally accept it, then take your sales agreement to a real estate attorney for his review. He’ll make sure that your interests are protected and will see you through the closing. He’ll also ensure that your agent has handled each of the home inspection items satisfactorily.

8. Prepare to move. The moment you have a deal, you’l want to get ready to move. This assumes that you have a place lined up to move to as well. Start packing, sell or store what you’re not taking with you, arrange for the carpets to be cleaned and contact a moving company or arrange for a rental truck if you’re doing the move yourself.

The Unexpected

Every home sale and move includes unexpected events, any of which can slow down your process. Limit stress by planning ahead and build in some margins to handle the unexpected.

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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".