Checklist for Selling a House

If you’re getting your house ready to attract buyers, here’s a checklist for selling a house with the most important things to do to ensure a seamless sale.

When preparing to sell your home, there are plenty of ways to cosmetically promote resale value. These tactics include increasing curb appeal, making interior improvements, and having your home professionally staged and photographed. But behind the scenes there are other important factors to keep in mind to make the home sale a bit more seamless. Follow this checklist of to-do items before putting your house on the market.

Get a printable checklist here.

Decide how you want to sell

After you decide you’re ready to leave your current home, you need to first establish how you plan on selling your house. There are several popular ways to sell a home. Choose a strategy that’s best for your needs that will ensure you get the best price and process. Deciding which tactic works best for your individual situation likely requires some initial research and planning. Thankfully, we have a range of helpful resources to help you make the decision.

For example, you might want to sell your home in as-is condition, list it on the MLS yourself, or use an agent. Whichever route you decide to take, make sure to do adequate preparation and leave your emotions at the door.

Do a net proceeds calculation

When deciding how you want to sell your home, it’s imperative to know how much money you’ll make from the sale. This helps you get a better understanding of how your decision will impact you financially. You’ll need to start by doing a net proceeds calculation. Knowing your net proceeds will help you determine your bottom line after the sale of your home. To calculate net proceeds, you will need information such as the current value of your home, and all other expected fees. These include agent commissions, holding expenses, closing fees, and repair costs, if applicable. Don’t forget to calculate the balance of your mortgage, too. You need an accurate estimate of how much cash you can expect to walk away with after closing.

Talk to the right people

Before you move forward with selling your house, you’ll want to get other trusted opinions. If you’ve decided to sell your house on the market, you’ll need to hire an agent. If you need to do repairs, it’s probably a good idea to hire a contractor. You should also speak to your financial advisor to understand how the sale impacts your tax liability. Whatever the case, you don’t have to do everything alone. For many aspects of the home sale, it helps to talk to a professional.

Get your paperwork in order

Because selling your home is such a significant decision, there will be a large amount of paperwork involved throughout the process. You probably remember the stack of documents and paperwork you signed when purchasing your home. You’re going to prepare this documentation again from the other end of the closing table.

Related: What Documents Do I Need to Sell a House?

To help alleviate some of the stress in the selling process, start by gathering all of your legal documents. Getting the documents ready in advance means you wont have to scramble before closing. During each stage of the selling process, there will be different paperwork needed. It’s especially helpful to gather these items before your home is even for sale.

Before you sell your home, you will need to have specific items, if applicable, such as:

  • Original sales contract
  • Utility and water bills
  • Maintenance records
  • Mortgage statement.
  • Preliminary title report
  • Mandatory disclosures
  • Pre-inspection report

Once an offer has been made, you also need your purchase offer and counteroffer. During the period between accepting the offer and closing, you may need additional items such as the appraisal and home inspection reports, tax statements, and the deed. While this process is a headache, remember that it makes a big difference. Having this documentation prepares you for a sale that is legally secure and protects both parties involved in the purchase.

Have your own inspection done

While your mortgage company might require a home inspection prior to purchasing a home, it’s also possible to do a pre-listing inspection as the seller. Having a pre-listing inspection before selling your home can:

  • Help you determine the condition of your home and what you need to repair.
  • Give you an inside look at what potential buyers will uncover during their own inspection.
  • Allow you time to research the best and most affordable course of action to address issues. This is preferable to scrambling to make repairs during a tight contingency period window after a buyer’s inspection.

While there are benefits to a pre-listing inspection, keep in mind that you will have to pay for this out of pocket. And remember that if the inspector uncovers a problem, you will likely have to disclose it to buyers.

Obtain a copy of your survey

It can be helpful to have a copy of your home’s survey handy before selling. You should include the survey with your home’s listing information to give buyers an idea of the property size. While not required, providing the survey eliminates questions about boundaries or easements on the property. Since it’s common to wait until the home is under contract to see the survey, obtaining it ahead of time will reduce confusion.

Get copies of warranties or manuals

When selling your home, try to gather your warranties or product manuals for any items included in the sale. Warranties for appliances such as a dishwasher or stove are valuable for the buyer’s records. Any product information regarding your hot water heater or furnace are also helpful.

If you have a home warranty, be sure to provide this information, too. Sometimes the warranty is transferable to the next homeowner. Potential buyers will appreciate having this information because it takes the guesswork out of the equation.

Update insurance policies

Before selling your home, be sure to update your insurance policies. You want to be certain that you have adequate coverage throughout the entire selling process and beyond.

Homeowners insurance

When purchasing a new home, your bank will likely require you to secure a new homeowner’s insurance policy. Your current policy cannot be transferred to a new residence. It is important to be in contact with your agent to ensure the insurance company will reimburse any already paid premiums.

When determining a new policy, it’s helpful to take a home inventory. You probably have more items now than when you purchased your home. Take some time to consider this when deciding how much coverage you want in your new home. Additionally, if you have done improvements to sell your home, make sure your current coverage reflects these features just in case any damage were to happen while you’re in the process of selling your home.

Life insurance

When preparing to sell your home, it’s also a good time to look into your current life insurance policy. You may want to obtain a new policy if you do not have coverage. Depending on the price of the new home you’re purchasing, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough coverage to protect this new asset. Your current policy might not be enough after you move.

Conversely, if you’re downsizing, you could potentially need less coverage. So it’s important to take some time to review your options when preparing to sell your home so that you don’t overpay for your policy.

Search your address online

Did you know that 95% of potential buyers use the internet during the home buying process? This is why it is important to search for your address online to see what buyers see when they’re searching for your home. Make sure that all listing information is accurate. This includes details such as square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, price estimates, and property tax amount. If you’re house is on a listing site, ensure that pictures look appealing and are not blurry or too small on mobile devices. The info you see online is the first impression any prospective buyer will form about your house. Make it count.

The road to selling your home can be long and at times, stressful. Being diligent and following a checklist of things to do before selling your home will alleviate some stress associated with this process. But if you want to avoid the stress and worry altogether, consider selling your house on Sundae’s marketplace.

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Kyle Spearin

Kyle is Sundae's Real Estate Editor. As both an investor and content marketing professional, Kyle combines his passion for real estate investing and educational background with his love of helping others. His experience with real estate tech companies, including contributing to BiggerPockets Pro, gives him insight into markets across the United States.