All the Things to Do Before Selling Your House

Jacqueline Zenn
Written by Jacqueline Zenn
Updated August 18, 2021
A home for sale with a real estate sign in front of it
Photo: fstop123/E+/Getty Images

Ease the stress of selling your home by following this checklist of things you should do before closing

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

When you sell your home, the list of tasks you need to complete can be overwhelming. This is where having a detailed checklist comes in handy. Not only can you be sure that you won’t miss something important, but if we’re honest, there’s also something very satisfying about crossing an item off a to-do list. Here’s a checklist of everything you need to do before you sign on the dotted line.

The Ultimate Home Selling Checklist

While selling your home is a significant undertaking, you can simplify the process—and your life—by breaking things down into smaller sets of tasks or a series of checklists. It’ll keep you on track and make a massive undertaking more manageable, and it may allow you to divide and conquer tasks with a partner, spouse, or family member.

What to Do Before and During Listing Your House

Of course, you want to sell your home quickly and for the right price. When it comes to real estate, taking careful steps pre-listing can help you achieve your home-selling goals, sans stress.

1. Find a Real Estate Agent

If you have a real estate agent you’ve successfully worked with in the past, they can be a logical starting point. You can also solicit recommendations from friends and family or research local listings for listing agents who sell properties similar to yours because they’re the most likely to have deep knowledge of the market.

2. Understand Your Home’s Value

A suburban house with landscaped lawn
Photo: Phillip Spears/DigitalVision / Adobe Stock

Assigning a value to your home involves several factors:

  • The general cost of living in your area

  • The cost of comparable properties, also known as comps, in your area

  • The size of your home and lot

  • Nearby amenities like parks, public pools, and more

  • The school district

  • Proximity to highways or other means of transportation

  • Special features, such as pools or patios

  • High-end appliances and finishes such as hardwood floors, marble bathrooms, chef’s kitchens, and anything that sets your home apart from others

Your real estate agent can help you appraise your home or hire a consultant that will ensure your property is priced appropriately for the area, the current market, and its overall value.

3. Create a Plan for Listing, Advertising, and Marketing your Home

Establishing a plan for selling your home will likely involve working with your real estate agent to determine how they will get the word out about your home. There are a variety of steps you and your agent can divide and conquer, including:

  • Writing the listing

  • Staging

  • Having photos taken

  • Adding your listing to the real estate agent’s websites, social media, email lists, etc.

  • Set an open house schedule

4. Get Your Paperwork in Order

There’s plenty of paperwork you will likely need to have on hand to sell your home. Getting things like the deed, inspection records, and other documents in order (including making sure your home’s title is up to par) before you need to scramble for them will save you time and stress in the long run.

And if you come across any real estate terms you don’t understand while compiling this paperwork, now is a great time to ask questions.

5. Schedule a Home Inspection

You don’t want any unpleasant surprises or problems to pop up when potential buyers have your home inspected before a sale. Accordingly, having your house checked out in advance and hiring your own home inspector can be an excellent way to mitigate the chance of issues and allow you to fix any problems before you are dealing with potential buyers.

6. Make Any Necessary Repairs

Did the home inspection bring up any problems or issues? Are there somewhat minor renovations or things that you’ve been putting off?

Now is the time to call up your favorite home maintenance professionals and schedule that work to get your literal house in order. And, plan some time to make any minor DIY repairs, touch up the paint, and otherwise make sure that your home shines when you show it to prospective buyers.

Don’t be pressured to make any major upgrades or repairs to your home without getting an independent professional to advise you. Alternatively, consider the cost of repairs or improvements as they relate to the listing price of your home. Potential buyers may be willing to handle these updates themselves in exchange for a better deal on the property. It’s worth weighing which home projects are worth doing and skipping before selling your home

7. Stage Your Home for Showings

The furniture arranged in a bright living room
Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/Getty Images

It’s all about the curb appeal, or so you’ve likely been told by various real estate experts. However, they are right to a certain extent, and making sure that your home looks great inside and out is important. You can do it yourself or hire a professional home stager near you. Here’s a list of what you should know and do before an open house or showing:

  • Declutter everything. Get rid of anything that might distract visitors from the positive aspects of your house, including papers, laundry, and anything distracting.

  • Highlight the best features of your home like storage space, built-in organization, adaptability for seniors and people with disabilities, green or eco-friendly features, and anything else that makes your home stand out from the pack.

  • Consider moving any overly large or imposing furniture out of the home during the selling process. It gets in the way of visitors seeing the “bones” of your house!.

  • Fix any chipped paint, damaged hinges or doorframes, and other minor cosmetic details that detract from the overall ambiance.

  • Take your pets elsewhere if you can, and vacuum up or clean any pet hair or related debris, including their toys. We know you love Fido or Whiskers, but your potential buyers might not appreciate their dander in the house.

  • If you have room, carve an area for a home office or workout area or other potentially useful space that might showcase how potential residents could take advantage of the property (even if you don’t use it that way yourself).

  • Mow the lawn, rake the leaves, shovel the snow, and otherwise clean up the yard (if applicable).

  • Clear out or organize the garage if you have one as well.  

  • Remove private or valuable things–not only will this step help to protect your valuables, but it will also help minimize clutter and help your visitors envision how they could make your home their own.

8. Make Contingency Plans for Various Scenarios

Your realtor likely advised you to leave some leeway for lowball offers when you listed your property, and chances are you will receive some bids below the listing price (depending on your market). Therefore, you should have a few things ironed out before you even list the home.

  • Determine the absolute rock-bottom price you are willing to accept.

  • Consider the possibility of waiving home inspections.

  • Think about the costs (or lack thereof) of dropping the price versus making major updates yourself, like a new roof or new flooring.

  • Keep in mind that you may need to consider the speed you need to be out of your current property (if applicable), moving costs, and related factors.

Home Closing Checklist

What do you need to do before you move? Close on your property, of course. There are some things you should take care of before vacating, and they can be easy to forget, especially in the flurry of activity that occurs during a move. If you’re buying and selling your home at the same time, your new home should ideally be move-in ready by closing day.

Once you’ve sold your house, you might think that you are literally home-free. However, there are some key things you should do before you hand over the keys. For instance, you need to:

  • Transfer or turn off utilities

  • Take a final walk-through and document the condition of everything with photos and videos, in case there are any issues later.

  • Sign all the necessary documents with the real estate agent and new buyers.

  • Say goodbye to your old home and hello to your new one.

  • Relax and enjoy getting settled!

Congratulations, you’ve just sold your home!

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.