The Complete Home Seller Checklist
If you have decided to sell your home, you may be wondering what exactly you should do to ensure that you not only get it sold - but get top dollar for it, too. Particularly for first-time home sellers, the process can be daunting. By taking some time to understand what goes into selling a home, you can set yourself apart from other sellers in your area.
There are certain things that any home seller should do to maximize their chances of selling their house and getting the price that they want. By going through a list, step-by-step, you can make sure that every part of your house is prepared for sale for an open house or showing. Our comprehensive checklist is a great way to make sure that your house is in tip-top condition for sale.
At Eaton Realty, we work with both buyers and sellers of real estate in the greater Tampa Bay area. We understand what buyers are looking for in a Hillsborough County home - and we know what sellers should be doing to up the odds of a successful transaction. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help you sell your house and move onto the next chapter of your life.
An Overview Of The Home Selling Process
Before you get started on the checklist, it’s a good idea to take some time to learn about the home selling process. While you may have seen some of this when you bought your home, if you haven’t been a seller before, many aspects of the process may be new to you.
Once you hire an agent and get your home ready for sale, your agent will work with you to set a timeline for selling your home and having professional pictures taken of your house. You will also work with your agent to set a realistic price for your house. Keep in mind that you will have closing costs, including your realtor’s commission, recording fees, attorneys’ fees, and transfer taxes.
At this point, your agent will put your house on the market. Typically, they will host open houses and otherwise coordinate showings with other realtors.
After your home is officially on the market, you will hopefully start to receive offers. In an ideal situation, you will receive multiple bids, which optimizes the likelihood that you will get your asking or above-asking price.
When you receive an offer, you have three choices. First, you can accept the offer as it is. Second, you can respond with a counter offer and attempt to negotiate a sale. Third, you can reject the offer outright.
If you are fortunate enough to get multiple offers, then you will need to evaluate the various offers carefully. In addition to the overall price, you will want to consider:
- Form of payment (cash or financing)
- Type of financing
- Amount of downpayment
- Any requests for credit
- Proposed closing date
If the buyer will be financing the purchase, then the house will have to be appraised before the deal is completed. This can sometimes lead to the deal falling apart if the appraised value is below the purchase price. For this reason, cash offers are often preferable, even if they are slightly lower than other bids.
At closing, you will need to come prepared with certain documentation, such as the deed to your home and acceptable forms of photo identification. Some states use real estate attorneys, but in Florida, a Title Company will typically prepare these documents for you. When all of the documents are signed, then the funds will be transferred to you via wire or a check.
Things To Do Before You List Your Home
Once you have decided that you want to sell your home, it’s time to get serious. No matter how great the market may be, you still should do certain things if you want to get the best possible price for your house. Below, we go through a step-by-step list of what you should do before you put your house on the market.
Determine Your Home’s Worth
Before you can sell your house, you will need to determine exactly how much your home is worth. Pricing analysis takes into account a number of factors, including the size and condition of your home, comparable sales in your neighborhood, and your location.
While you might be able to get a rough idea of the value of your home through online sites like Zillow, these tools often aren’t accurate. The best way to get a realistic idea of what you can list your home for is by working with an experienced realtor.
Find The Right Team To Work With
To help you with pricing - and getting your home listed - you will need a real estate agent. There are lots of ways to choose a realtor, including googling or asking friends and family for recommendations. You may even want to use the same agent that you used to purchase your house.
When you meet with agents, remember that you get to make the final decision about whether you will hire them. Be prepared with questions, such as the type of services that their agency offers, what experience they have in your immediate area, how they will price your house, what their marketing plan is, and what their fee is. Once you have found a realtor that you feel confident will represent your best interests, you can sign a listing agreement with them and get down to work.
Budget For Selling Expenses
It can be tempting to think that when you sell your house, every dollar that you get over your current mortgage will be pure profit. In reality, there are a number of expenses associated with selling your home. It is a good idea to start budgeting for them now so that you aren’t surprised when closing day arrives.
Your agent’s commission is usually the biggest expense. Typically, a realtor’s commission is between 5 and 6% of the sale price. If your house sells for $25,000, then the commission might be $12,500 to $15,000. This commission is split between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent, and is typically paid by the seller.
In strong markets, you may even be tempted to list your house for sale by owner (FSBO). If you choose to go the FSBO route, you should know that homes sold by owners (as opposed to agents) typically sell for much less.
In addition to the commission, you may need to pay for:
- Your share of closing costs, which may include HOA fees, transfer taxes, an escrow fee, and other miscellaneous expenses;
- Attorney fees;
- Repairs that were uncovered during a home inspection;
- Outstanding utility bills;
- A pre-sale home inspection;
- Seller concessions;
- Home improvements; and/or
- Home staging
Depending on the amount of profit that you make on your home, you may also need to pay capital gains taxes. If you have a mortgage, you will also need to pay that off from your proceeds, and may also be responsible for a mortgage payoff fee.
Make Any Needed Repairs
Before you get your house on the market, take some time to go through it and make any necessary repairs. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should embark on major home improvement projects. Instead, you should focus on the types of things that buyers will notice.
For example, if it’s been a few years since you have painted, now is a good time to update your paint with neutral colors. If your floors are scuffed up, you can have them professionally cleaned to restore their shine. If you notice loose door knobs or broken lightswitch covers, take this opportunity to get them fixed.
Get A Pre-Sale Home Inspection
A pre-sale home inspection isn’t required, but it is usually a good idea. When you get an inspection done before listing, you will have time to make necessary repairs. It also avoids any surprises that may come up during a buyer’s inspection.
Hire A Staging Company Or Buy DIY Staging Items
If you’re a fan of HGTV, then you know the importance of proper staging. Ideally, you want prospective buyers to walk into your house and truly see the potential. A staging company can make your house stand out from the crowd. Alternatively, you can buy some items yourself to stage your home on a budget.
Remove Excess Furniture
A certain amount of furniture is necessary to make your home functional and comfortable, but too much furniture can make your house seem smaller. If you want potential buyers to be attracted to your house, it’s a good idea to remove some furniture to make your home seem more spacious.
Remove Or Hide Personal Items
When you are trying to sell your house, you want to appeal to as many people as possible. You also want your buyers to be able to envision themselves living in your home. To make this happen, remove personal items like framed pictures and knickknacks. Overstuffed closets and cabinets tell buyers that there’s not enough storage in the house. Pack up infrequently used items and donate, or temporarily rent a storage unit until you’re ready to move.
Invite Unbiased Family Or Friends Over For A Smell Test
Let’s face it: we all go a little noseblind in our own houses. What may smell off-puttireng to others may be completely normal when you live in the home. The best way to ensure that your house doesn’t have an unpleasant odor is to invite loved ones over and ask for their opinion. If they think your house stinks, take steps - like carpet cleaning - to eliminate the odor (rather than just covering it up with scented candles or plug-ins).
Complete A Room To Room Home Showing Cleaning Checklist
Living Room & Family Rooms
In main living spaces, be sure to eliminate clutter and make the room warm and inviting. You can do that by fluffing and positioning throw pillows and blankets, straightening all books and magazines, and making sure that all surfaces are clean and dust-free. You should also run the vacuum regularly.
Like the living room, you should get rid of any clutter in your dining room. You should also keep the table itself clean and clear. Vacuum or sweep the floors regularly, particularly after eating.
The kitchen can be hard to keep pristine, especially when you are still living there. You can still take steps to keep it looking good, such as wiping counters, spot cleaning cabinets, cleaning the stove top, eliminating clutter, and taking the garbage out regularly. Be sure to check your fridge for any old food, which can lead to unwanted odors.
Each day that your house is on the market, you should neatly make your bed and make sure that your clothes are properly folded and put away or hung up in your closet. Regularly dust and clean your surfaces, and fluff and then arrange throw pillows and blankets.
Once you get your laundry room ready for a showing, you should be able to easily maintain the room. Straighten your household products, wipe down your counters and appliances, and neatly stack unused drying racks and baskets. If you can’t put your laundry away immediately, make sure that it is tucked away inside one of your machines.
Like the kitchen, it can be hard to maintain bathrooms in show-ready condition. After you have done a deep cleaning, however, it should be a simple matter of maintaining. Each day, wipe down sinks, faucets, mirrors and glass. Keep towels folded nicely, take out the garbage regularly, and keep personal care products out of sight.
If you have a garage, make sure that it doesn’t turn into a dumping spot for everything else in your house - which can make it look cluttered. Sweep it out once a week and spray bug spray when necessary. You should also try to designate zones for different items - like sports equipment - and keep everything in the right place.
Home Exterior & Yard
Before listing your house, you should have taken the opportunity to spruce up your landscaping and make minor repairs. Once that is complete, maintain curb appeal by regularly, mowing, raking, and sweeping.
Things To Do While Your Home Is On The Market
Keep Your Home Show Ready
This is one of the hardest things for most people to do: maintaining a show-ready house. While you still have to live in your home while it is on the market, you can put in a little extra effort to make sure that it looks its best. Make sure that you make the beds daily, put things away after you use them, take out the trash frequently, and wash and put away your laundry promptly. You should also figure out a place to go during showings.
Gather Feedback From Buying Agents
One of the best sources of information on how your home is showing is the buyers’ agents. They can tell you what their clients are saying about your home - such as it having an outdated color scheme, bad curb appeal, or too little space. While you may not be able to fix all potential issues, this feedback does give you an opportunity to make some changes while your house is on the market.
Things To Do Once You Accept An Offer
Agree On An Escrow Agent
After you accept an offer, you will need an escrow agent to act as a neutral party during the transaction. In most situations you’ll choose a title company to act as the agent. However, if the buyer isn’t amenable to having your title company act as the escrow agent, you can negotiate to choose one that works for both of you.
Prepare For A Final Walkthrough
The buyers have an opportunity before closing to do a final walkthrough. Make sure that you have completed all necessary repairs and that your home is in good condition. If you have agreed to leave any items - such as furniture or appliances - those should be present and in good shape as well.
Request Final Utility Readings
Even if you aren't living in your home while it is on the market, you will want to keep the basic utilities like water and air conditioning turned on while it is being shown. Be sure to request a final reading for these utilities and remove your name from the accounts as of the closing date. Then pay those final bills so that you don’t get a ding on your credit.
Hire A Moving Company Or Move Out On Your Own
Now that all of the hard work of selling your home is done, you still have a major job ahead of you: moving out of your house and into your new place! Whether you hire a moving company or move on your own, make sure that you aren’t leaving any unwanted items behind for the new owners.
Conduct A Final Cleaning For The New Owners
Once all of your stuff is out of the house, take some time to make sure that the place is clean. At this time, you should make sure that all doors and windows are locked and the property is secure.
Show Up To Closing
The last step in selling your home is to attend the closing. As mentioned above, you will need certain documents for closing. You will also need to bring a form of identification and your house keys, garage openers, mailbox keys, pool or amenity keys, alarm system codes, and any other information the next owner may need. Once everything has been signed, you will be ready to go! Once the buyer signs their documents and the lender “funds” the loan, the title company will wire the payoff to your mortgage company and wire the proceeds to your bank account. Depending on timing, those funds may not arrive to your bank until the next day.
Choose Eaton Realty For Expert Guidance Throughout The Home Selling Process
The decision to sell your home is a big one. Once you have made that choice, there are a number of things that you should do to prepare - and to increase the likelihood of selling your home quickly and for a good price.
At Eaton Realty, we have successfully guided thousands of individuals and families through the process of buying or selling a home. We will help you get the best possible price for your home, and stand by your side through each step of the process. To learn more, fill out an online contact form or give us a call at 813-672-8022 to talk to a team member.