Selling a Home Checklist

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I’d never heard of a selling a home checklist before two Realtors, when we were selling two different homes, presented us with theirs. That is, they’d put together a checklist for sellers on what you need to know–and do–before your house would be market ready.

This real estate checklist ran the gamut on preparing your home for sale. It include repairs we should do, cleaning we should complete and–get this–permits we should secure before listing our home.

I mention the permit thing because that caught us by surprise. At one home, where we’d had a fence installed, we discovered that the fence company never got a permit from the town. This even though they told us they did.

At another home we’d started to finish our basement and then stopped the job midway when the basement flooded. When the Realtor did her first walk through with her pre-listing checklist, she asked us about the permit. We didn’t have one.

Also, at the home with the half-finished basement, we discovered that you needed to secure a permit just to sell you house. Basically, the town would do a pre-listing inspection for a tidy sum of $100. Then, you had to fix any related problems the inspector found before you could secure your permit to sell.

Who knew that selling your home could be so complicated?

Why use a selling a home checklist

Never mind all the things you need to do before selling your home to make it legit with your town. Also, there are plenty of things you should have on your house-selling checklist to ensure you can sell your home fast and get top dollar for it.

That’s why I’ve created this selling a home checklist. Below, you’ll find 50 tasks that you should do to prepare your home for sale and to ensure that it’s as market ready as it’s every going to be. This checklist for selling a home will give you a leg up whether you decide to list your house with a Realtor (highly recommended) or you try to sell it yourself.

Note: many of the items that appear on this home selling checklist also appear in my blog posts on curb appeal and best home improvements you should do before selling your home. Items appear on this checklist in no particular order.

Selling a home checklist

1. Repair, patch or replace broken parts of sidewalk, driveway, steps, fencing, or anything else on the exterior of your home that needs fixing up.

2. Weed garden beds.

3. Spruce up plants, flowers and bushes outdoors.

4. Lay down a fresh layer of mulch in garden beds.

5. Patch all nail holes in walls and ceilings.

Quick tip

If your walls or ceiling are white, you can get spackle and apply with your finger. Wipe off excess and let dry. The white will blend right in with the walls. I prefer to use DAP DryDex spackling, which goes on pink and dries white. You can buy DAP DryDex spackling on Amazon.

6. Touch up paint on walls, ceilings, baseboards and moldings as necessary to give it a fresh coat.

7. Declutter every horizontal surface–countertops, desks, dressers, nightstands, tables and more.

8. Check if your town needs permits to sell your home.

9. Double check that any contractors you’d hired to do work on your home (interior or exterior) filed the proper permits.

10. Spruce up your mailbox and post, and plant flowers around base, if possible.

suburban street with mailbox and trees
Spruce up your mailbox and post.

11. If it’s been more than a year since you’ve had your furnace, water heater, fireplace chimney or other major system serviced, get it down now.

12. Reduce moisture and any mildew-like odors around the home.

Quick tip

Stock up on and put out containers of Damp Rid. They soak up moisture like crazy. You can buy Damp Rid in bulk on Amazon.

13. Give your home a deep cleaning. If necessary, hire a cleaning service.

14. Deep clean your carpets.

15. Store toys, gardening tools, bikes and more neatly in a garage or shed.

16. Clear bulletin board, refrigerator doors and more of magnets, notes from school and anything personal.

17. Minimize personal clutter, such as magazines, sports trophies, family pictures and more.

18. Wash all windows, inside and out.

19. Powerwash your home’s exterior.

Quick tip

You can do the power washing yourself without owning a power washer. Windex Outdoor attaches to your garden hose and acts like a power washer while also cleaning off dirt and grime. You can buy Windex Outdoor on Amazon.

20. Fix or repair any windows or doors, including sliders and garage doors, that do not open and close easily.

21. Replace missing or burned out light bulbs in lamps, ceiling lights and exterior lighting.

22. Recaulk around showers and tubs if dirty or cracked.

23. Regrout bathroom tile or backsplash tile in kitchen if necessary.

24. Replace filters in HVAC system.

Change air filters in furnace and HVAC system.

Quick Tip

Sign up for a filter replacement subscription service, such as Second Nature (formerly Filter Easy). Or sign up for subscribe and save on Amazon when you buy filters. Either way, you’ll never run out of fresh filters.

25. Fix any leaking, dripping or running faucets and toilets.

26. Defrost freezer and wash inside and out.

27. Deep cleaning inside of refrigerator.

28. Vacuum ash or debris around wood stoves or fireplaces

29. Trim or trash indoor plants that have seen better days.

30. Fix any broken stairs to basement or attic.

31. Clear cobwebs from ceiling rafters in unfinished areas of the home (garage, basement, attic).

32. Dust ceiling fan blades.

Quick tip

If your home has high ceilings, invest in dusting tools with telescoping poles. One such brand is Extend a Reach, which you can buy on Amazon.

33. Clean garage floor, especially degreasing any oil stains.

34. Pick up any pet poop from yard.

35. Wash out all trash cans and empty them regularly.

36. Identify show-ready linens for bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchen.

37. Make beds.

38. Add fresh flowers to table in foyer or entrance hall.

fresh flowers on a table
Add fresh flowers to your table.

39. Keep dishwasher run and empty.

40. Trim any dead branches on trees in yard.

41. Thin furniture from overcrowded rooms.

Selling a home checklist quick tip

If you have a lot of junk to remove from your home to make it market ready, consider hiring a company like 1-800-GOT-JUNK. It’s the service we used before listing my mother in law’s home when we sold it for her. Use this link to sign up online and save $10 on your junk removal job.

42. In winter keep walks and driveway shoveled and salted. In warm weather, keep them swept and edged.

43. Hire someone to seal your asphalt driveway.

44. Hang wreath on front door.

45. Place flowers in window boxes or in pots on porch or patio.

46. Replace cushions and pillows on patio furniture, if they’ve become green or yellow with mildew.

47. Add colorful throw pillows to chair and couches.

48. Place fresh flowers or bowl of colorful fruit on kitchen counter and table.

49. In winter have a fire in fireplace during showings.

50. If you have a woodpile, neatly stack logs.

Stack firewood outside neatly.

Final thoughts on this home selling checklist

Of course, this checklist is primarily for getting your home ready to sell and prepping the house for sale. It touched a bit on home staging tips, which I cover in this blog post on staging your home on the cheap. Perhaps I’ll create a complementary home staging checklist printable or PDF for that post, too, so you’re reading when it comes time for showing your home.

Basically, you want to use this home selling checklist to make your house as attractive as possible to prospective buyers. You want to get top dollar for your home, which is why you really need a checklist like the one above to get through the process of selling a house as quickly and as easily as possible.

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