For Sale

Selling a Home Checklist

ESTATENVY breaks down the steps you should take when putting your home up for sale.

Selling your home is an overwhelming process, especially if you’re a first-time seller. ESTATENVY broke down the steps to take when selling your home so your process can be seamless. From making looking at your personal finances, to prepping for showings, ESTATENVY has you covered! Check out the complete list below.

Ask yourself, do you really want to sell your home?

Examine your motives. Why are you selling your home? In some cases, selling is the only option (i.e. moving out of the country, divorce, you can’t afford it). If you’re just looking for a nicer home, or to move to a different neighborhood, it’s important to look internally and think ‘Is this the right move right now?’ because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Make a Plan.

If you already own a home, it’s important to determine if you will be purchasing and selling a home at the same time. Do you have a backup plan if you find a home before you find a buyer? This decision will influence the financing you’re able to get and the type of offer you’re able to put on another home. You should map out the exit plan for your current home and understand your entry plan for your new home.

If you’re renting, the process is similar. What will you do if you find a house you love, but have 10 months left on your lease? Think about the factors that will influence the selling process and outline an exit plan that is most effective for your lifestyle.

Are Your Financially Ready to Sell?

Once you figured out your plan, it’s time to see if you have the financial means to move forward with the process. The first step is to get financing for your future home. This helps you to better understand what type of home you can afford and how you will handle the down payment (i.e. purchase outright, or on contingency). Some questions to keep in mind when meeting with your lender include:

  • What is the interest rate?
  • What is the estimated monthly mortgage rate?
  • Is the mortgage fixed rate or an adjustable rate mortgage?
  • Can you estimate and explain your fees?
  • Is my rate locked in?
  • What is my estimated closing date
  • Are there any factors that slow down the process?
  • Are there any prepayment penalties?
  • Who will service my loan?

Assess if Your Home is Ready to Sell.

Now that your finances are in order, it’s time to assess your home. The state of your house may impact how your house is listed, or even determine if you should sell or not. Sometimes minor cosmetic adjustments should be made. These may include:

  • Painting
  • Decluttering
  • Minor updates/fixes: tight handles, new electric sockets, new lamp shades
  • Touching up scuff marks

You also need to look into larger projects that you may want to tackle before the house goes on the market. Not making these adjustments may impact your selling ability or the price of your home. If you are not able to make these changes, you must be ready to disclose the issues to potential buyers. Projects may include:

  • New roof
  • Updating old windows
  • Removing mold
  • Kitchen upgrades
  • Updating old electricity

Determine how you are going to sell your home.

After you have assessed the state of your home, it’s time to determine how you are going to sell your home. If you plan to sell the home yourself, you should hire a real estate lawyer, price your home accordingly and list your home.

If you decide to work with an agent, it’s important to understand this person is going to be a big part of a very emotional and stressful decision in your life. You do not want to take lightly who you choose as your partner. It’s important to choose someone who has an understanding of the area, works with a well-known company, has a good reputation and is a real go getter. Look for reviews and ask for referrals. Be sure to meet with potential partners in person. They shouldn’t rush you and they should be mindful of your needs and expectations. Before you sign anything, understand their stance on exclusivity and the percentage they expect to receive when the house is sold.

Determine your house’s worth.

Now that your home is ready to sell, it’s time to determine your list price. You or your realtor will need to do a market analysis -- you will look at similar homes in your area and consider the condition of your home in order to set an accurate price. You may also look at real estate sites such as Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia to see their estimate of your home’s value.

If you are working with an agent, after the market analysis, then they will go through your home an analyze the home’s condition. They are going to assume the home has no major issues (assuming you have taken care of major issues before you decided to sell the home). They will likely give cosmetic recommendations (i.e. repainting, updating bathroom, kitchen, etc.) in order to help your home sell faster.

Prepare your home for listing.

It’s best if your home is not photographed in its natural state. Buyers like to see a clean slate, so they can envision their own life in the space. Your agent will likely recommend you remove much of the personality from the home such as personal photos and general clutter (i.e. coffee makers or toaster on the kitchen counter). Your home should look decluttered and spacious.

Once you have created a clean space, you should have professional photos taken of the home. If you have already moved out, an agent may recommend staging the home to help potential buyers better visualize themselves in the space. If working with an agent, they may create a brochure of your home which lists the details of the home such as square footages and price.

List your home.

Once you have determined your home’s value and gathered all of the information on the home, it’s time to list your house. An agent will list your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which will feed to other listings such as Zillow, Redfin and Trulia, in order to help market your home to potential buyers. Your listing should have a detailed description of the space, along with professional photography.

If you are working with an agent, they may invite other agents to view your home before it is listed. This provides agents with the opportunity to show your home to their clients before opening it to the public.

Game plan for showings.

Once your home is listed, people will begin to request to see the home. It’s important that you are not home at the time and you have a place to go while people are viewing the home. Keep in mind the pets and children that may be impacted by the disruption and make sure they are accounted for, but never left at home. It’s a very emotional process, so make an effort to be easy going and provide potential buyers ample time to view the home with no pressure.

Review your offers.

Hopefully the showings go great and offers begin to come in. What do you do next?

  1. Review the type of offer you received -- does it have financing associated with it, does it have contingencies, is it a cash offer, is earnest money included?
  2. Study offer price, contingencies, and timelines.
  3. Decide if the offer appeals to you.

If you don’t receive sufficient offers, or any offers, it is likely your list price is too high. Begin to lower your price incrementally until the house is at the right market price. If you are working with an agent, they might recommend hosting an open house.

You are ready to accept an offer.

Once you have found an offer that you would like to accept, the buyer will schedule an inspection of the home. You will be expected to make the home ready for inspection and you have to make yourself available during that time. Once the inspection is over, the buyer has the right to cancel the contract at any time and does not have to disclose why they do not want to continue in the process.

Sometimes buyers will respond with requests for projects around the house to be fixed. In this case, you will receive a copy of the inspection report and you will have the option to agree to fix the problem, or you will give the buyer a credit so they can fix the problems themselves.

Closing Day

At this point, you and the buyer have come to an agreement on the value of the home. You will wait for the buyer’s financing to go through. The buyer will have one final walkthrough of the home where they go through the house again to make sure everything is in order and all the conditions have been met.

If everything is in order, you will meet at a third-party location to sign the final papers. This is a long day, so be patient and be ready to sign a lot of documents. After the signing is complete, you will pass over the keys to the house to the new owner.

Understand that this is a long, emotional process. Be patient with yourself and the process. The right buyer will come around eventually and you’ll be your way to your dream home!