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How to Sell a House: A 30-Day Checklist

So, you want to sell your house but you don’t know where to start. Preparing your house to go on the market can feel exciting and overwhelming, all at the same time. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive checklist on how to best prepare your house for professional photography and house tours. This list covers a multitude of spaces in your home, allowing you to focus on each room and make sure it is in top shape for prospective home buyers!

How to Start

Let’s be honest. It can feel daunting to look at your home and start thinking about all the little things you want to change before prospective buyers tour your space. But let’s start simple!

  • Declutter and neutralize your living spaces. This allows the photographer to depict your home in a way that allows any and all potential buyers to envision themselves in the space. (Hint: this includes personal photos, family member names, etc.)
  • Make any necessary repairs to blatant defects in the house. Replace that broken tile on your fireplace and find a company that can reattach the tattered corner of carpet in your office.
  • Clean all windows (inside and out!) for maximum light. (This trick will make you wish you did it more often!) You don’t realize the amount of dust and dirt until it is gone.
  • Tidy up outside (mow, mulch, edge the yard). Curb appeal is a real thing! The first impression a buyer will have of your house, is when they pull up and look at the front yard. Help them envision themselves wanting to be in this space–both front yard and backyard. Make sure to remove all clutter and extra debris before photos and home tours.
  • Update lightbulbs with high luminance for brighter rooms and make sure each fixture has all of the required lightbulbs installed.
  • Neutralize any brightly colored walls, furniture, and home accents. Again, this is a way to allow future buyers to envision themselves and their life in this space. (Unfortunately, the magenta polka-dotted bathroom rug has got to go).

Time to Roll Up Your Sleeves

Now that you have completed the more simple check-list items, it’s time to focus on the more nuanced tasks. We advise allotting yourself ample time to complete these tasks, as they make take longer than you expect.

  • Get the HVAC system serviced and inspected. This is an incredible way to make sure there will be no surprises when the inspections come around and to provide valuable information to potential buyers.
  • Schedule professional cleaning services prior to photos. No matter how meticulous of a cleaner you are, we strongly recommend this step. It is extremely helpful to have unbiased eyes in the space who may catch things that you don’t.
  • Plant brightly colored flowers near the front door. This is a great “facelift” hack that is memorable when buyers walk up to the front door.
  • Remove old storm doors and screens and store them neatly away.
  • Have earthquake straps installed around the hot water heater. This will help to expedite the inspection paperwork, as most buyers’ lenders will require this be taken care of before closing.
  • Paint and patch any scuffs or marks inside and outside the house. This is a simple task that will make your space feel fresh and well cared-for, as prospective buyers tour the space.
  • Have carpets professionally cleaned (this is another non-negotiable!) The level of cleanliness of a home truly depicts the value that others will see in it. This will pay off, we promise!
  • Gather manufacturer warranties for all appliances. This is a great way for potential buyers to feel taken-care-of when buying your home. Doing this step early will also save you a headache during inspection negotiations, if a buyer requests this paperwork.

Final Steps

Listing day is on the horizon! These final steps will truly dictate how successfully your home sells, so be sure to address each item.

  • Sweep the garage, storage, and any unfinished places. Again, cleanliness is key!
  • Replace the welcome mat with a fresh, new one.
  • Buff, clean, and polish all hardware in the house (handles, knobs, etc.)
  • Keep the decor and staging simple, light, and minimal- less is always more!
  • Use plants and greenery to bring outside elements inside the home. This brings life into a space and allows people to envision movement and life in the home.
  • Remove bulky furniture to make the spaces feel larger. This will create better flow throughout the rooms, and allow a prospective buyer to imagine themselves living in the space.
  • Highlight focal points in the house that will help with the sale. (We suggest making a list with your agent, and brainstorming ways to highlight these features). Examples include: the history of the home, bonus amenities, and favorite quirks.
  • Burn a candle or use a room freshener to make the scent fresh and clean (Warning: don’t go overboard here!) Also, be aware that using a room freshener should not cover up another scent, but simply enhance the existing space. Unwanted smells should be addressed prior to this step.
  • Develop a showing schedule to maximize market exposure for your home. This step will mainly fall on your Realtor, but make sure you know the expectation for showings so you can have the house ready-to-go.
  • Lastly, hire your favorite local real estate agent! Make sure you choose someone that you are confident will negotiate on your behalf, market your cherished home well, and communicate effectively with you!

We love this process and getting to coach clients through it. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. Cheers to the next 30 days!


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