Home Seller Checklist
We can't stress enough how important it is to get your property in its best possible condition prior to the listing. Everyone wants to sell their home in the least amount of time at the best possible price, right?
The simple truth is that homes with great curb appeal that are super clean, well maintained, and have pleasing decor sell faster and for more money than homes that don't measure up. Today’s buyers are looking for “HGTV” ready homes. It does not have to cost you a lot of money as most of the tips below are based on cleaning and de-cluttering. Just work your way through this checklist to be certain you are presenting your home in its best possible light.
Step 1: Get Rid of Clutter!
Clutter takes up space, and space is what sells. Make your home look bigger and more desirable by editing down to just the basics. You don’t have to get rid of things forever, but you should certainly pack them up and store them away. Listed below are a few room specific tips:
- Remove EVERYTHING from the refrigerator doors and sides.
- Remove EVERYTHING from the kitchen counters, including the Dawn dishsoap.
- Clear off all bathroom surfaces leaving at most the soap dispenser. This includes hiding your toothbrush, blow dryer, lotions, etc.
- Update your bathroom towels, rugs and shower curtains.
Family & Living Rooms
- Put away the coasters and remotes in the living room.
- Remove family photos from the home. People want to envision their family living there and it can be hard if the house is filled with someone else’s family pictures. Replace with neutral art and decorations.
- Clear off the dressers and nightstands. Don’t leave out the lotions and beauty products, tissue boxes, alarm clocks, charger stations, cords, etc.
- Remove oversized big furniture and king size beds from small rooms. Even if it’s useful to you, it’s best to show the room’s potential and large dressers can make it feel cramped.
- Pack away everything that you are not going to need for the next few months. Neatly store in boxes in the basement, or rent a storage facility if you don't have a basement or have a lot of clutter. Remember that closets are never big enough, and the least amount of items that are taking up space, the larger your closets look.
- Organize your clothes and shoes neatly on bars and racks. The more organized and clean and better!
- Doors and drawers should open and close easily. Make sure all tracks are clean and free of obstacles, and any squeaks are oiled.
- Get rid of all the old junk taking up space in your garage. Buyers need to see that their cars will fit in the space. If you can't part with the stuff, then rent a storage unit for a few months while your home is for sale and take everything there that you don't need right now.
- Thoroughly clean the walls, shelves and floor, and repaint where necessary. It's not difficult or expensive, but having a freshly painted garage floor leaves an amazing impression.
- Ensure the garage door opener is working properly and put some WD40 on a squeaky door. Make sure the garage door has been thoroughly cleaned and windows washed.
Step 2: Clean Like You’ve Never Cleaned Before!
Spring-cleaning has nothing on the cleaning you should do when you’re selling your home. You want every square inch to shine, from the baseboards to the corners of your ceilings and everywhere in between. A squeaky clean home suggests to buyers that the current owners took good care of the property.
- Windows, mirrors, appliances, cabinets, countertops, toilets, sinks and tubs should sparkle.
- If you have ceramic tile, thoroughly scrub all the grout, or stain the grout if it is beyond cleaning. Often Soft Scrub used with a stiff brush produces good results. Professional cleaning may be in order.
- Professionally shampoo your carpets, mop the floors, polish your stainless-steel appliances, wash doors and trim and thoroughly scrub your bathrooms.
- Check the caulking around the tub and shower and replace with fresh caulking where necessary. Any caulking with mold on it has to go.
- Clean the fireplace and remove smoke stains from the wall and mantle.
- Hide any animal beds, litter boxes and food dishes. This can be a quick turn-off for a lot of buyers. Large cat trees, dog beds and the smell of litter quickly turn off a lot of buyers.
Step 3 - Make a Great First Impression:
Curb appeal is that indefinable something that draws you to a home at a glance. It is a combination of visual charm, good upkeep and attention to detail. Your house needs to look like a picture from your favorite home and gardens magazine when buyers arrive.
- Make sure your lawn is manicured. Fill in bare spots in your lawn with grass seed, and eliminate as many weeds as possible.
- Run the edger along the driveway and sidewalks for a clean line, and keep the driveway and walkways swept or hosed clean.
- Trim all shrubbery, remove dead branches from trees, and remove/replace any old or dying bushes.
- Either till or add some fresh mulch to your landscaping beds.
- Thoroughly clean all your outdoor furniture, and touch up paint where needed.
- Dress your patios/decks up with some fresh flowers now that they are clean and inviting.
- Keep your front entryway super clean and freshly painted. This includes the front porch, pillars, stairs, and door. Once it is clean and painted, dress up the front door with a welcoming wreath or a new door knocker. A potted plant or two also dresses up the entry and makes a great first impression.
- Check that house numbers, mailbox and exterior lighting are all in good condition.
- Stand back at the street and take a good hard critical look at your property. Do the roof, gutters, downspouts, siding, and chimney look good? Would a good cleaning do them wonders?
Step 4 - Go Neutral!
This tip is a bit more time intensive, but it can make a major difference when it comes to your sales price and time on the market. While you may like bright colors to express your personality, chances are they could be a turn off to buyers. Bold colors can be a distraction and take away from a home’s assets. Paint over any bold colors with neutrals like gray, white and taupe.
- Paint all oak and wood paneling white. It makes a pretty dramatic difference and the majority of buyers today are turned off by oak and too much wood. Painting wood-paneled rooms white also makes the space feel larger.
- Open up the blinds and curtains. Natural light is everything! Unless you’re trying to block a really undesirable view. Everyone loves a bright, cheery room.
- Remove family photos from the home. People want to envision their family living there – it can be hard if the house is filled with someone else’s family pictures. Replace with neutral art and decorations.
- Remove any offensive decor or political signs. You want to appeal to ALL people.
- If you have a nice stereo system in your house, show it off. Play classical or jazz music (you can even get 'home staging' music CD's) at a low volume to create a pleasant ambiance and unique showing experience.
Step 5: Patch and Repair!
Whether you have lived in your house 3 years or 10 years, you’ve likely neglected to address some of those non-major items in your home that you know need attention. This can be anything from a chip in your drywall, stain in your carpet, dripping faucet or cabinet door that will not shut properly. Buyers notice these imperfections and it sends a signal of poor maintenance.
- Replace all burned out light bulbs.
- Clean your furnace and water heater, and replace furnace filters as needed.
- Make sure all doors, windows and cabinets are not sticking, squeaking or loose, and the hardware is in good condition.
- Fix any dripping or leaking faucets.
Step 6 - Set a Realistic Price!
Even in competitive markets, buyers don’t want to pay more than what comparable sales show, so its crucial to get it right the first time! Overpricing a home can lead to a listing becoming stale; as it will linger on the market and buyers agents use it as a negotiation tactic. Work with a Real Estate agent who can provide you with comparable sales in your neighborhood.
Use the common-sense approach to preparing your home to sell. All this cleaning and repairing takes time and energy, but is well worth it.
A clean, well-maintained home will always sell faster and for more money. Our sellers who follow these tips tend to sell houses quicker and for top dollar verses those who don’t. It’s nothing personal, but these tips are based on what the typical buyer is looking for in a home.