Seller’s Checklist: A Timeline to Prepare Your Home for Sale
We’re still in a seller’s market both nationally and locally, but that doesn’t mean your home is guaranteed to get multiple offers or even sell at all. 1 In fact, closed sales are down 23.6% in the Tucson, Arizona area while the number of homes for sale is up 39.3% as of September 2022. The numbers tell us that there are fewer buyers and more homes for them to choose from. If you want to maximize your sale price, it’s important to prepare your home before putting it on the market.
Start by connecting with a real estate agent as soon as possible. Having the knowledge and attention of an insightful real estate professional to guide you can help you increase your home’s appeal to buyers. Also, beginning the preparation process early allows you to tackle repairs and upgrades that can boost your property’s value.
Use the checklist below to figure out what other tasks you should complete in the months leading up to listing your home. While everyone’s situation is unique, these guidelines will help you make sure you are ready to sell when the time is right. Of course, you can always call us if you’re not sure where to start or what to tackle first. We can help customize a plan that works for you.
Some home sellers want to plan their future move far in advance, while others will be required to, or choose to, sell on brief notice. Whatever your circumstances, these first steps will help assure you’ll be ahead of the listing game.
AS SOON AS YOU THINK OF SELLING
- Contact Your Real Estate Agent
We go the extra mile in servicing our clients, and that includes complimentary, pre-listing consultations to help you prepare your home for the market.
Some sellers make the mistake of waiting until they are ready to list their home to contact a real estate agent. But we’ve found that the earlier we are brought into the process, the better the results are. That often means a faster sale—and more money in your pocket after closing. We always strive to get your home sold for the price and terms you desire.
We know what buyers want in today’s market, and we can help devise a plan to maximize your property’s appeal. We can also connect you with our network of trusted contractors, vendors, and service professionals. This network of support can ease stress and help ensure you get everything done in the weeks or months leading up to listing your home.
- Address Major Issues and Upgrades
In most cases, you won’t need to make any major renovations before you list. But if you’re selling an older home, or if you have any doubt about its condition, it’s best to get us involved as soon as possible so we can help you assess any necessary repairs. The last thing you want is for something major to come to light after you are under contract and kill the deal.
Depending on your home’s age and condition, we may recommend a pre-listing home inspection. Although they are less common in a seller’s market, a pre-listing inspection can help you avoid potential surprises down the road. We can discuss the pros and cons of having a pre-listing inspection during our initial marketing consultation.
Pre-listing is the optimal time to address major structural, systems, or cosmetic issues that could hurt the sale of your home later on. For example, problems with the frame, foundation, or roof are likely to be flagged on an inspection report. Issues with the HVAC system, electrical wiring, or plumbing may cause the home to be unsafe. And sometimes outdated or unpopular design features can limit a home’s sales potential.
Remember, when you’re dealing with major repairs or renovations, it’s best to give yourself as much time as possible. Given rampant labor and material shortages, starting right away can help you avoid costly delays.2 Contact us so we can guide you on the updates that are worth your time and investment.
1 MONTH (OR MORE) BEFORE YOU LIST
Once any large-scale renovations and/or repairs have been addressed, you can turn your attention to the minor updates that still play a major role in how buyers perceive your home.
- Make Minor Repairs
Look for any unaddressed maintenance or repair issues, such as water spots, pest activity, and rotten siding. This is the time to take care of minor annoyances, like squeaky hinges, sticking doors, and leaky faucets, too.
Many of these issues can be handled yourself with just a few simple tools. Tackle the ones you can and be sure to call a professional for the ones you’re not comfortable doing yourself. We have a list of local service providers who can help.
Remember that it’s easy to overlook these minor issues because you live with them. When you work with us, you get a fresh set of eyes on your home—so you don’t miss any important repairs that could make a big difference to buyers.
- Refresh Your Design
This is a great time to think about some simple design updates that can make a significant impression on buyers. For example, a fresh coat of paint is an easy and affordable way to spruce up your home. One survey found that interior paint offered a 107% return on investment.3 For broad appeal, opt for warm, neutral colors.
Pay attention to your home's curb appeal. Homes with good curb appeal sell for 7% more, on average than similar homes with an “uninviting exterior.”4 Trim bushes and trees, remove any weeds and/or debris, and sweep walkways. Replace or remove any sun-bleached/worn furniture, decorative doormats, wreaths, etc.
Even just repositioning your furniture can make a huge difference to buyers. A survey by the Real Estate Staging Association found that staged homes sold faster, and 73% sold over the list price.5 We can refer you to a local stager or offer our insights and suggestions if you prefer the DIY route.
- Declutter and Depersonalize
Doing a bit of decluttering every day is much easier than trying to take care of it all at once. A simple strategy is to declutter one room at a time, working your way through each space as time permits.
Start by donating or discarding items that you no longer want or need. Then pack up any seasonal items, family photos, and personal collections you can live without until your home is sold. Bonus: This will give you a head start on packing for your move!
1 WEEK BEFORE YOU GO TO MARKET
With just one week before your home is available for sale, all major items should be crossed off your to-do list. Now it’s time to focus on the little details that will really make your home shine. Here are a few key areas to focus on during this last week.
- Communicate With Your Agent
We’ll connect with you to make sure we’re aligned on the listing price, marketing plan, and any remaining preparations. We will be there every step of the way, ensuring you’re fully prepared to maximize the sale of your home in the time frame that suits you.
- Tidy Your Exterior
You’ve already done the major yard work—now it’s time to spruce things up. Make sure your hedges haven’t grown out, walkways are swept, and the yard is still weed-free.
In addition, this is the time to clean your home’s exterior if you haven’t already. You may wish to power wash your home’s exterior, patios or pool decks, walkways, and driveway, then wash all of your windows and screens.
- Deep Clean Your Interior
Your house should be deep cleaned before listing, including a thorough deodorizing of the home’s interior and steam cleaning for all carpets. Consider hiring a professional cleaning company to ensure the space smells and looks as fresh as possible.
Once the major cleaning is done, take some time to tidy up. Buyers will look inside your closets, pantries, and cabinets, so make sure they are neat and organized. Small appliances, toiletries, and shower items should be cleared away and stored out of sight.
DAY OF SHOWING
Now you’re all set to list your home and there are just a few small things you need to take care of on the days you have showings or open houses. Before potential buyers arrive, do a final walk-through and take care of these finishing touches to give them the best possible impression of your home.
- Pre-Showing Prep
Happy and comfortable buyers are more likely to submit offers! Make them feel at home by adjusting the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. Open any blinds and curtains throughout the house, and turn on all lights so potential buyers can experience your home at its best.
Then tidy up by vacuuming and sweeping floors, emptying (or hiding) wastebaskets, and wiping down countertops. In the bathrooms, close toilet lids and hang clean hand towels.
Don’t forget to secure firearms, jewelry, sensitive documents, prescription medications, and any other items of value in a safe or store them off-site.
Finally, it’s best to have pets out of the house during showings. If possible, you should also remove evidence of pets (litter box, dog beds, etc.), which can turn off some buyers.
DON’T WAIT TO PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR SALE
If you want to get top dollar for your home, do not put it on the market before it’s ready. The right preparation can make all the difference in maximizing the offers you get. The upgrades and changes you need to make will depend upon your home’s condition, so don’t wait to speak with an agent.
Call our team if you’re thinking about selling your home, even if you’re not sure when. It’s never too early to seek the guidance of your real estate agent and start preparing your home to sell.
- Fortune -
- Forbes -
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- Realtor Magazine -
- Real Estate Staging Association -