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10 Steps to Take Before Listing Your Home for Sale

By Lori Weaver | January 29, 2020

Take these steps before ever putting your home on the market

Deciding to list your home can be a big decision. Maybe you're looking to downsize or perhaps you need more space. Sometimes, divorce, death or a job relocation makes the decision to sell your home for you. Whether you've made up your mind after months of contemplation or immediately knew you wanted to sell, there are some important measures to take before listing your home.

Here are 10 steps to ensure a smooth sale:

1. Come to grips with the sale. Failing to emotionally detach from your home can cause several problems that could stand in the way of a successful sale. For example, you may feel your home is worth more than comparable properties in the area or have a difficult time accepting a strong offer simply because a part of you isn't ready to sell. You may fail to depersonalize your decor or properly prepare for showings. If you're having trouble with emotional detachment, focus on your future and begin thinking of your home simply as property. If you're forced to sell, you can still think of the future and remind yourself you will get past this point.

2. De-cluttter and depersonalize. Buyers should picture themselves living in your home, but if family photos and refrigerator art remind them otherwise, it will be difficult for them to do so. You'll be moving soon anyway, so take the time before you list to pack away photos, collectibles and other items. Declutter and organize as well, even if you have to put some of your belongings into storage for a short time. Allow only a minimal number of objects on any surface space.

3. Organize and empty closets. Expect buyers to open closet doors and peek into cabinetry. Be sure they can do so safely, without the risk of items tumbling out. Kitchen cabinets should have matching dinnerware stacked neatly according to size. Keep coffee mug handles all facing outward. Closets should be emptied to 50 percent capacity ideally. Donate or toss what you clean out or pack it for the move.

4. Do a professional-level clean. Ideally, you should hire a professional to give your home a deep clean before putting it on the market. If you insist on doing it yourself, be sure you give it a thorough cleaning from to to bottom. This step is usually more effective if it's done after you've decluttered and organized. While you're paying all that attention on the inside, remember to spruce up the exterior, which may require a power wash.

5. Ramp up curb appeal. Although it's important to concentrate on the interior of your home, its curb appeal will be the first thing potential buyers notice. Trim overgrown bushes and trees. Give your front door a new coat of paint and hose down your front sidewalks. Depending on the season and your climate, you may need to add some colorful flowers at the front of the house. Your yard should be kept neatly mowed and driveway and sidewalks free of debris. You may hire an asphalt paving contractor if you want to redo your driveway and/or sidewalk. You want buyers and their agents to be as welcome as possible.

6. Remove what won't convey. Other than appliances, if you have an item you do not want to sell with your home--such as a special light fixture or antique bathroom mirror, replace it before the first showing and store the one you plan to keep. Items like lighting fixtures and window coverings are typically included, so if you plan on taking it with you, remove and replace these items before buyers see them.

7. Open up living spaces. If your taste in decor lends itself to the accumulation of bulky furniture, you could be making your home look smaller than it really is. In general, homes show better with fewer sofas, electronics, bulky tables and chair. Put extra pieces in storage and sell or donate what you don't want to move. Rooms that you have re-purposed should be restored to their original intent.

8. Finish repairs and touch-ups. Put yourself in the position of a buyer and walk through your entire house, taking notes about any repairs that should be made. Whether squeaky door hinges, scratches on the wall or dripping faucets, take care of these minor repairs now, before they have the chance to distract buyers and give a poor impression of your home's condition. You may also want to undertake larger repairs, like a roof replacement, if you can reasonably expect they will be flagged by an inspector later.

9. Role play as buyer. Once you've done all the repairing, organizing and decluttering you can, try on the role of buyer and take yourself for a tour through you own home. Scrutinize every room, just as a buyer would. If you see areas that still need some help, take care of them now.

10. Interview listing agents. Ready, set, go! Once you've followed the steps above, you're ready to sit down with several Realtors and interview them for the job of listing your home. Ask for their marketing strategy and discuss their knowledge of your area. Once you've settled on an agent, they may be able to offer further advice on ensuring your home is ready to list.

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

Lori Weaver is a writer and licensed real estate agent in Lexington, Ky. With over 25 years’ experience in communications and marketing across a number of business sectors, she provides content marketing, writing and social media services to a variety of B2B and B2C clients, with a focus on real estate., real estate investments and new construction. In her spare time, Lori enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.
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