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Getting your home in top selling condition: The big checklist

getting a house ready to sell
Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’re wondering how long it’s going to take your house to sell, congratulations. You’ve just asked one of the toughest questions that most realtors, homeowners, and market analysts struggle with from state-to-state. To answer this all-important question, we first need to explore the factors that help move a home sale along — those you can control, and those you can’t. Read on if you’re getting a house ready to sell.

How fast are homes selling?

How quickly you sell your house has a lot to do with the current market. It also has to do with several factors that excited sellers frequently overlook:

  • Location
  • Design
  • Age
  • Condition
  • Staging
  • Durability

For those gearing up to sell, it may comfort you to know that some of these criteria are out of your control. These static factors include location, age, and durability. The factors that are under your control, however, can have a great influence on how quickly — and how successfully — you sell your home. You can make major changes in a short amount of time when it comes to your home’s design, condition, and staging.

If you’re not ready to sell yet, you may benefit from a home loan refinance. Find out if you’re eligible to save on your mortgage.

The even better news for current sellers: Realtors called spring 2017 the “strongest seller’s market yet.” New homes are flying off the market, as bidding wars ensue. Sellers who have done their homework by getting their homes in tip-top shape are rewarded with a quick sell, in most cases. In this traditionally busy buying season, sellers are in the driver’s seat.

Depending on your market, it’s entirely possible to get an offer on your house on the same day it’s listed, or even within the week. Of course, we all know of homes that have taken months or years to sell. But if your home is selling on the fast track, it could take three weeks to get it under contract. Once under contract, closing may take anywhere from 7 to 45 days. (As a note, this is why we always recommend that buyers get prequalified for a home loan before house-hunting. Prequalifying can speed the closing process along.)

You can fly into your loan with our free app! Click here to download it today.

The ‘getting a house ready to sell’ checklist: 20 best-practices

You can optimize your chances of selling quickly by taking care of your home prep work before you’re ready to list.

Home interior: Curb appeal

getting a house ready to sell

  1. Remove toys, equipment, and clutter from the yard. Pro tip: Drive past your home and look at it through a buyer’s eyes.
  2. Repair/replace damaged shingles. The National Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) named a new roof as the greatest home remodeling value in 2015. Even cosmetic roof and shingle updates can help.
  3. Repair/replace light fixtures, doorbell, and doorknobs. This can present the perfect opportunity to upgrade to automated technology that’s enticing to new buyers, both inside and out. Outdoors, lights can be automated through an app or a home security system to save money on energy costs. Similarly, Danielle Marquis, Director of Strategy for AM Conservation Group, recommends installing a programmable thermostat indoors — many of which are also app-controlled. “Every degree that a thermostat is dropped can save 2 percent of energy use.”
  4. Fix broken windows, shutters, and torn screens. Go the extra mile and seal window frames and seams with solid caulking.
  5. Clean/repair gutters and HVAC units. Remove any cobwebs and nests that you find.
  6. Clean or paint the front door and mailbox. Only 8 percent of people prefer a bold exterior home color, according to results from a Better Homes and Gardens survey of 400 homeowners. A pop of color may be better used on your front door, to attract attention without going overboard.
  7. Power wash the exterior, especially around entrances. Take care to remove mildew, moss, and stains from the side of your house using bleach. For more stubborn stains on the driveway or walkway, try a concrete cleaner.
  8. Wash windows. Wash out your garbage can while you’re at it, and store it out of sight.
  9. Mow lawn, trim bushes and shrubs, weed garden, and add potted plants for color. Attractive landscaping can add 6 to 7 percent to the value of your home. But be warned: Many buyers may be turned off by high-maintenance landscaping that looks too complicated.
  10. Sweep or shovel walkway and driveway. As an added bonus, keeping the snow away from your house can prevent damage to your foundation. Lauren Haynes, a home maintenance expert at Star Domestic Cleaners, says, “When the snow eventually turns into water, this can cause flooding and further water damage. Regularly shoveling the snow and maintaining your house can keep you protected from such problems.”

Make that transition from selling to buying a new home seamless. Start by getting prequalified online.

Home interior: Finishing touches

getting a house ready to sell

  1. Store, sell, or donate any items you no longer need, like clothing, toys, knickknacks, furniture, appliances, books, games, etc. While your personal decor may be adorable, it’s best to remove items from the home that say too much about who you are. A buyer needs to picture themselves in your home before they’re motivated to purchase.
  2. Fix loose doorknobs, leaky faucets, cracked molding, etc. Do a quick walk-through with your toolkit and address any obvious fixes, or call a repairperson for the bigger tasks.
  3. Replace or repair broken doorknobs, cabinets, light fixtures, outlets, faucets, and vent covers. Making these small updates can have a twofold benefit — improving the appearance of your home, while increasing its energy efficiency. “Air can escape from behind light switches and outlets, causing up to 5 percent heat loss in homes,” Marquis says. When making updates, Marquis recommends adding foam draft stoppers behind outlet and switch covers to reduce heat loss.
  4. Clean and organize closets. In order to declutter the main area of your home, Haynes suggests converting the hallway closet into a handy mudroom. “Remove the door, place a bench inside, add a small trash can and enough sections with bins and hooks for every family member, and voila — you will handle all the disorganization in the hallway.”
  5. Refresh rooms with a new coat of paint. Light, neutral colors, which can help open up a room and create space, are recommended.
  6. Shampoo carpet and replace, if needed. You can also use our easy pet stain remover recipe for stubborn carpet stains and smells, guaranteed to be a turnoff to buyers.
  7. Wash all windows, frames, and sills. Also, vacuum window blinds and shades. Wash and dry window curtains.
  8. Open all window shades to create space and let in light. As HGTV’s Matthew Finlason confirms, lighting is the most effective way to set a mood when staging.
  9. Store pet supplies and pet dishes. Buyers who don’t own pets may be put off by pet accessories and smells at first sight.
  10. Add an air freshener plug-in in each room. However, keep in mind that heavy air freshener smells can be overpowering. Ask a friend or family member to give you their honest opinion when they first enter a room.

You can download our full printable checklist here.

Once you’ve gotten your house ready to sell, we’re ready to help you take the next steps. Contact one of our loan officers to find out how much house you prequalify for before moving to a new neighborhood. To make things even easier during your transition, we can refer you to a realtor we’ve successfully worked with in the past.

For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.

Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.