10 Steps to Take Before Listing Your Home for Sale

You love your home, but it is time to move on. It is time to put it up for sale to eventually let someone new fall in love with it. But before you begin putting up that “For Sale” sign, you have some things to take care of. These are the ten steps you should take before listing your home for sale.


© Andy Dean - Fotolia.com

© Andy Dean – Fotolia.com

Step 1. Start Researching For A New Place

This may go without saying, but if you haven’t thought about where you’ll be living after your home has sold, you’d be crazy to list it. The particular approach to take when researching is to look for two kinds of homes in your desired area. The first type should be homes that specifically represent what you’re looking for (i.e., upgrading or downsizing). The second type should be homes similar to your current home. This will give you a good idea of various factors about the state of the market in the area.

Step 2. Secure Pre-Approval For A Loan

It would be downright foolish to sell your home without first knowing whether or not you qualify to purchase a new one. No doubt, the sale of your current home may put you in a better position to qualify, but you shouldn’t rely on such uncertain circumstances. Find a lender that you trust and complete the pre-approval process. It is also not a good idea to list your home for sale in the middle of the pre-approval process.

Step 3. Find Out How Much Your Home Is Worth

Of course you weren’t planning on merely throwing a number out there. Rather, you intend on proceeding based on your home’s fair market value. Many real estate agents will help you determine the value at no extra cost, but it doesn’t hurt to do your own research. Look up comparable sales in the area, take note of anything about your property that may make it worth either more or less than fair market value, and consider obtaining an official appraisal.

Step 4. Determine The Costs to Sell

There are a number of costs associated with selling a home that you should be prepared to front. What’s even better than being prepared to take on these costs is having some sense of what they’ll run you. To estimate your selling costs, consider:

  • Commission if you are selling through an agent
  • The cost of advertising the property if you are selling by owner
  • Attorney fees
  • Closing costs
  • Excise taxes
  • Expenses commonly paid by the seller like the cost of an inspection

Step 5. Calculate Potential Gains

If you’re selling while still under a mortgage, contact your lender to determine your mortgage payoff upon selling. Then, deduct this amount from your home’s fair market value. Finally, deduct your estimated costs to sell from what’s left to have a reasonable estimate of how much you stand to gain from the sale.

Step 6. Make Repairs

If anything in your home is in need of repair, now is the time to fix it. That is, of course, unless you intend to market your home as a fixer-upper. Depending on the state of your home, this could involve substantial enough costs to be added to the list in Step 4. But if you were good about maintaining your home, no doubt for your own benefit, this shouldn’t be too significant a step. Just remember that any little thing which requires repair can be grounds for lower offers.

Step 7. Make Some Improvements

Now that everything is in working order, it is time to spruce things up a bit. There is no need for costly renovations or upgrades, however. Small things like doing some landscaping, updating light switches, and repainting the interior can make your home look and feel like new.

Step 8. Neutralize

Speaking of painting, you should really take the time to make sure walls and ceilings are either white or a close neutral color. Sure, that red accent wall may have really done it for you, but it’s time to appeal to someone else. And since you can hardly please everyone, it’s best to provide a blank canvas upon which potential buyers can project their desires.

Step 9. Get Rid of Kids and/or Pets

Now Your home is almost ready for open-houses, but it is not quite ready until pets and kids are out of the way. If you have either, it is very likely that a lot of the preparation for an open-house involved undoing the damage caused by kids and/or pets. If they were to remain in the home during an open house, you would probably be bombarded with questions about how you got all the fur out of the air ducts or stains out of the carpets. You’d also be opening yourself up to more critical buyers who would begin to look for any hidden child or pet-related damage.

Step 10. Get Out

So, once you’ve sent the kids and the dog off to spend a week with grandma, it’s time for you to leave as well. Buyers feel uncomfortable shopping in the presence of the seller, so make sure grandma saves a place on the couch for you too.

These last five steps are all about the process of staging your home. Check out the video below for some expert tips on home staging.

Michele Duchet is a graduate of Economics and lives in Southend England. She is a regular contributor to some business magazines.  She has been worked partly as an estate agent for 1st Call Property as one of the Southend’s realtor companies.