What Should I Do Before Selling My Home?

February 4, 2021

Okay, the decision has been made to sell your house, no matter what the reason. Then you ask yourself, “What do I do next?” ; “How do I get top dollar for my house?”; “What sells a house quickly?” ; and so on, and so on.

Getting your home ready to sell requires a lot of education/information and hard work. It’s more than just taking some pictures, checking online estimate websites and planting a sign in the yard. So before you put your home on the market, get pen and pad, go through the list below, make notes and develop a plan for selling your

With some education, planning and scheduling, you can minimize the stress of selling your home and moving. Here are some tips:

Decide How You Want to Sell Your House

Do you have the temperament to sell your house on your own? Do you want a real estate professional to sell your house for you? Selling yourself vs a Realtor is the subject matter of another one of my blogs but here are a few things to consider when deciding to sell your house yourself or to use a trained real estate professional. When selling their own house it is considered a For Sale By Owner transaction, (FSBO). Remember, selling your house – is a legal transaction. Do you have the time to show your house? Do you have problems with negotiating? Are you up for the challenge of marketing your own house? Deciding to use a trained real estate professional with this transaction can save you time and money in the end. Don’t be afraid to talk to a few real estate agents before choosing one. Your real estate agent should be someone you feel comfortable working with and someone who is knowledgeable about your specific market area.

Plan Ahead

Know when you want to be moved out and into your new home and have a backup plan in case it falls through. Before you sell your home, familiarize yourself with local and state laws about selling a home so you’re not caught by surprise if you forget something important.

Lists and schedules are going to be your new best friend through the process. Have a timetable for when you want to sell your house when you have appraisers, realtors, movers, etc. over. Also, keep one for when your things need to be packed and when you need to be moved into the new place. I suggest keeping it on an Excel sheet so you can easily update it as the timeline changes (and it will – stuff happens).

Use Resources

First time selling a house? Check out some great resources on what you need to know. US News has excellent, step-by-step guides on what you need to know to sell. Appraisers, Inspectors and realtors can also be good resources, and since you’ll be working with them through the process, be sure to ask them questions or have them point you to resources.

Appraisal and/or Pre-Inspections

This step is totally optional. Let me state that again. Appraisals and/or pre- inspections are optional. Reason being you may be able to get some ball park information by using your resources without paying for the information. Also any material defect information you obtain must be revealed to the buyers.

Having your house appraised before you sell so you know your budget for your new home. This will help you look for an affordable home that meets your family’s needs. It will also help you maximize the amount you can receive for your old home. Having a pre-inspection also gives useful information about the condition of your house, such as which repairs need to be made, if any.


Does your house need repairs before you move? If so, figure out whether you’ll be covering them, or whether your buyers will (this will be a part of price negotiations, so factor it in with your home budget). Will you need to make repairs in your new house, or will that be covered? Either way, make sure you know which repairs need to be made – and either be upfront with buyers about them or make them before you sell.

Clean, Clean and Clean Again

Once you are done cleaning your house, clean it again and then clean it some more. Consider having a cleaning service clean your home before listing it. It is important for your property to be and look clean. It’s even more important for your house to smell fresh. A lot can be told by the smell of a house. Smells can be deal breakers. Invite an unbiased third party to home to see if your house appears clean and if they can detect odors. Now, don’t use your uncle who couldn’t smell a skunk sitting in his lap blindfolded.

When selling your house, remember to keep everything tidy for buyers. It is not uncommon for buyers to want to see your house at the last minute. You want your house to always look like the pictures you posted in your listing.

Declutter Your House

Get rid of ALL your junk! Nothing is off-limits for curious buyers. If your house of overflowing with your stuff, buyer can not see their belongs there. Better yet, buyers will think your house is too small for their belongs.

Do a clean sweep of every room in your house including the nooks and crannies. Tackle the closets, counters, windowsills, tables, cupboards, drawers, anywhere where you have excess stuff. Next be sure to donate it, discard of it or store it off- site.

Start packing now! What will you need to use before you move, what can get boxed and what needs to stay out?

While we are on the subject of decluttering, remove your personal item and family photos. Also remove any bold artwork or furniture that might make your house less appealing to the general public. The goal is to create a blank canvas on which buyers can project their own visions of living there and loving it.

Consider Your Curb Appeal

Buyers do tend to judge a book by its cover. You want to make sure potential buyers’ first impression of your house is a very good one. A good impression will inspire potential buyers’ to stop by your open house or schedule a viewing, so they can see more.

Invest some effort into easy fixes, like planting flowers and repainting your front door, and cleaning your yard. The outside of your house can beckon prospective buyers to come on in.

Prepare to Move

If you’re moving to a new town or a new state, you need to prepare more than just a new home. Research doctors and dentists, places to eat, and what to do for fun. If you have school-aged children, look at the local school district or private school options – not only to learn how to enroll your kids, but also to get a feel for the school culture, see what extracurricular activities your kids can do, what standards/learning methods your kids’ new school will implement, etc.

If You Have Kids

Moving with kids can be extra stressful. Be sure to include them in the process. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach younger children about their part in selling your house, moving and prepare them for the changes it brings. Older children can help out with responsibilities, like packing their room or researching their new town.

Finally, selling your house is hard work. It requires time, energy, market knowledge and maybe some up-front money. If you comprise a plan and use these tips you should have a greater chance of success.

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