This story was originally published in 2015.
Selling a home can be a stress-inducing experience, especially if you are counting on the sale of your existing home to fund the purchase of a new home. It can seem like you are coordinating a million things at once. A simple checklist can help you to keep track during the chaos and prevent necessary tasks from falling through the cracks.
Choose an agent — Take the time to research an agent that has a proven record of success in your area and with whom you feel comfortable. An agent with whom you can easily and readily communicate is worth the extra diligence.
If you cannot find a suitable agent, you may decide to sell your own home — in which case, there is a much larger checklist of things to consider.
Set a proper price — Whether you or an agent is in charge of selling your home, you will want to do your own research on your home’s value to set the asking price correctly. You can use sites such as Trulia or Zillow for starters, but a prelisting inspection and appraisal can help you to set the price more accurately (and to spot simple things you can do to improve the home’s appearance and value).
Make small repairs — Take care of any small repairs such as leaking faucets, cracked windows, worn gaskets, loose door handles, sticking cabinets and sliding doors, and minor drywall holes or cracks. You do not want to leave the impression that the house has not been well maintained.
Organize and de-clutter — By organizing early and deciding what you intend to keep and discard, it will be easier to keep your home clean during showings. Pack away everything but the bare essentials and get rid of anything that will not be making the trip to your new home.
Depersonalize — Take down any family pictures and keep any reminders that the house is being currently lived in to a minimum. Potential buyers want to picture themselves living in the home.
Clean, clean, clean — Stains, dirt, dust and other blemishes are going to leave a poor impression. Give the house a thorough cleaning, from ceiling to floor and everything between. If you need to bring in professionals to get it done correctly, then do so.
Consider painting — A fresh coat of paint in a relatively neutral color can leave a great impression. It can also cover up any paint colors that seemed like good ideas at the time but are not likely to impress potential buyers.
Plan for showings — You need to keep the house ready for showings with quick notice. Make contingency plans for kids and pets. Keep your house at a reasonable temperature, and keep a stock of fragrances on hand to keep the house smelling pleasant (especially if you haven’t made the pet contingency plans yet).
If possible, open up the house to keep the air relatively fresh, and adjust the blinds to make the most efficient use of light to make your house look warm and inviting.
Don’t forget the exterior — Maintain the landscaping and the outside of your home as well. Keep the grass mowed, weeds pulled, and hedges trimmed. It is hard to overcome a poor first impression as your potential buyer pulls up in your driveway.
And if you haven’t already done it, there is one more item to remember — look for a new home for your family. You probably shouldn’t wait until yours sells to do so.