You have decided to sell your own home or investment property. It is going to take more than just putting a “For Sale” sign near your house. If you are a first-time seller, you may be asking yourself questions like, “What do I need to sell a house?”, “What should I do?” When selling a property, you need to prepare well if you want the process to be smooth and successful. From the time you make the decision to sell your house to actually selling it, there are things you need to put in order. There’s definitely plenty to do, which can be quite confusing. However, making a checklist of everything you need to do before selling a house will keep you organized. A checklist will ensure that you are focused and that nothing important is left out. Here is the ultimate checklist for selling a house to make your house sale painless and quick:
1. Hire a Real Estate Agent
The first thing on your checklist for selling a house should be hiring a real estate agent. Selling your house without an agent can be a recipe for disaster, especially if it is your first house sale. If you want a smooth and quick sale, a knowledgeable real estate agent is a must. Real estate agents are usually experienced in real estate transactions and have a better understanding of the local housing market. The agent will help you throughout the sale process by listing your house at the right price, promoting your home to potential buyers, negotiating on your behalf, and much more.
If you can’t afford a real estate agent, you can still sell your house on your own. However, you will need to do most of these things yourself. Therefore, the checklist for selling a house without a realtor will include more things.
2. Declutter and Depersonalize
Clutter in the visible areas of the house will often leave house buyers with a bad first impression. It should be easy for potential buyers to visualize themselves in your house. Your objective should be to create a blank canvas for them so that they can create their own ideas. The house should look spacious. In this regard, remove anything in your house that is personal. Go through the whole house and remove your family photos, political and religious items, excess furniture, and other personal items. Clear out cabinets and other storage areas as well.
3. Clean the House Thoroughly
This is another item that you should not leave out of your checklist for selling a house. Once all your personal items are out of the house, do a thorough cleaning. Leave your house the way you would like to find it if you were the one buying. If you can’t do the cleaning yourself, you can hire a professional cleaning service to do it.
Have a cleaning checklist to make sure the whole house is deep cleaned. Clean the kitchen and bathrooms and remove stuff from the countertops. Polish sink fixtures. Mop the floors and pavements. Wipe the inside and outside of the cabinets. Shampoo the carpets. Wipe underneath the refrigerator. There is so much to clean when you are moving out, but you get the idea. You should be thorough! Here is a simple cleaning checklist:
☑ Dust ceiling fans and lampshades
☑ Vacuum the carpets
☑ Wipe down the mirrors
☑ Take out all trash
☑ Wash windows inside and out
☑ Scrub and disinfect the toilets and tubs
☑ Shine fixtures
☑ Vacuum and mop floors
☑ Dust surfaces, furniture, window sills, blinds, etc.
☑ Damp wipe all cabinets
☑ Remove cobwebs
4. Catch Up on Maintenance
When you have lived in a certain house for long, you often get complacent or postpone some maintenance of the house. Even if it is a rental property, some maintenance may have been deferred. As a smart seller, you will want your house to be in good condition to support a higher asking price. However, the house doesn’t have to be perfect. You should focus on the most important repairs and improvements to make before selling a house. You should never forget to include important repairs in your checklist for selling a house. Here are a few:
☑ Fix damaged flooring
☑ Repair leaky faucets
☑ Fix major plumbing issues
☑ Ensure the water heater is in good working condition
☑ Fix loose cabinet hinges and broken handles
5. Add Curb Appeal
Curb appeal also counts for your house and should be on your checklist for selling a house. You need to make a great first impression when a potential buyer pulls up to view the property. This is because you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. You may have a house with a stunning interior. However, property buyers are less likely to check out the rest of it if the exterior is unappealing. If you’re looking to sell your house, make sure the outside looks really great by making small improvements. Curb appeal can make your house sell faster and can also add more value to the asking price. However, this process doesn’t have to be overly expensive. Here are some ways to add curb appeal on a small budget:
☑ Lawn maintenance
☑ Trim the bushes
☑ Add attractive flowers and greenery
☑ Paint the front door
☑ Makeover your front mailbox
☑ install a new doorknob
☑ Add some outdoor furniture
☑ Add a cheerful front doormat
☑ Install window boxes
☑ Replace old gutters
☑ Create a clear path to your door
6. Prepare for Home Staging
After you have cleaned and decluttered the home, the next thing to consider in the checklist for selling a house is staging. The goal of home staging is to make the house as appealing as possible to prospective buyers. The key rooms in the house should be attractive and welcoming. While curb appeal improvements help a lot, the interior is also an important selling point. A well-staged house will sell more quickly and for more money. Here are some home staging tips:
☑ Remove any damaged furniture from sight
☑ Add tasteful rugs
☑ Add some greenery
☑ Replace old light fixtures
☑ Add modern accessories
7. Gather All Closing Documents
Make sure that all your documents are safe and accessible should they be needed later. For instance, a bill may be left unpaid or you may have other legal issues with the property buyer. Your closing agent or escrow officer will ideally give you all documents at closing. However, you should not rely on them. The following are some of the important closing documents you should keep after selling a house:
☑ Closing statement
☑ Purchase contract
☑ Seller disclosures
☑ Home inspection
8. Cancel Homeowner’s Insurance Policy
You will no longer be living in that house after the sale. Therefore, it makes sense to cancel your homeowner’s insurance policy after a title transfer. Remember to ask for a refund of any prepaid premiums. You can also use this opportunity to acquire a new policy if you have purchased another house.
9. Cancel Utilities
You should cancel utilities and services so that you don’t keep getting charged. Contact your utility companies in advance and inform them that you have moved out. Some utilities can even be canceled online. You may be required to give the details of the buyer. Remember that not all utilities are paid monthly and you may claim a refund for some. Some of the utilities you should cancel include:
☑ Newspaper subscriptions
☑ Water and sewer
☑ Telephone and cable
☑ Waste removal
10. Change Your Address
Don’t forget to update your address with the post office. Also, inform everyone that you are no longer using the previous address. You may have to directly contact some entities to give them your new address. This may seem like a small issue but many people tend to forget it. So, it is important that it is included in the checklist for selling a house.
11. Price Your House Right
Your checklist for selling a house should also include finding the right selling price for your house. To determine your home value and a realistic selling price, you need to conduct a comparative market analysis. This involves examining the prices at which comparable properties in the same area were recently sold. A real estate agent can help you out with this process. You can also find real estate comps using Mashvisor’s investment property calculator. You should then evaluate the condition of your house and its special features to adjust your sales price accordingly.
12. List Your House for Sale
Although marketing your house for sale seems like a no-brainer, be sure to add it to your checklist for selling a house. You may have a good house but you won’t get a good customer if you don’t market it. You should promote your house through multiple channels that are highly visible to give it more exposure. Ensure that you have a good real estate listing marketing plan. Your real estate listing checklist should include taking quality professional photos of your home's exterior and interior. You should also provide a comprehensive description of the property, including the address, price, and number of rooms. There are many free real estate listing sites you can use for real estate marketing. You can list your house for sale on Mashvisor for free here.
The Bottom Line
Selling your house doesn’t have to be confusing. Regardless of whether you are a homeowner or an investor, you need to know how to get your house ready to sell. The above checklist for selling a house will keep you on track and put you ahead of the game. If you accomplish everything on the checklist, your sale process will be almost complete. What will remain is the negotiation and filling out the paperwork!