7-Point Checklist to Follow Before Listing Your Home

Trish Lowe  |  February 19, 2023

7-Point Checklist to Follow Before Listing Your Home

The primary goal of selling your home is to position your property to generate traffic and produce offers. Particularly for luxury real estate, you want to impress enthusiastic, deep-pocketed buyers eager to make a deal.

Achieving that level of success requires preparation and plenty of it. The more you can ready your home upfront, the sooner you'll get buyers through the door, and, in turn, the sooner you can begin vetting offers.

Below we detail a 7-point checklist to follow before your listing goes live. Follow these simple, straightforward tips to decrease stress and increase your property's value.

Step 1: Choose an experienced listing agent


Just over a year ago, at the height of North Carolina's seller's market, it was en vogue for some dealmakers to forego the knowledge and experience of a seasoned listing agent. Though DIY real estate is done to save money, it more often costs the seller in both time and money.

The former is self-explanatory. Whatever you hope to save in potential fees is outweighed by money left on the negotiation table. Even more critical is the time and commitment it takes to sell a home. Consider the following responsibilities that fall to the listing agent to ensure your home is positioned and ready to sell:

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  • Identify comps and assess the market's recently sold properties to generate a list price for your home
  • Market your home's listing digitally and physically
  • Coordinate and host open houses and private tours; follow up with interested parties
  • Collect and consolidate offers; serve as negotiating intermediary
  • Engage and schedule contractors for repairs, home staging, inspections, or escrow-related service
The challenges don't stop there. Real estate agents and support teams are adept at keeping the home transaction process moving forward. But first, they ensure it gets off the ground.

Interview several agents before handing over the keys to what could prove a lucrative sale. Choose an agent that specializes in your area or type of home and who has a proven track record of success. As you'll see, it also helps if your real estate professional has a network of best-in-class vendors, contractors, and suppliers.

With a savvy sales agent in your corner, you check off many pre-listing boxes in a single step.

Step 2. Organize your home's documentation


One of the most tedious aspects of the selling process is the paperwork. There's plenty to go around on both sides of the transaction; however, the seller has less to track than the buyer.

Much of the below should already be part of an existing ownership file in your possession, physically or digitally.

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  • Certificate of occupancy
  • Code compliance information
  • HOA documents, including agreements, covenants, fee schedules, and vendor contracts
  • Maintenance records
  • Mandatory disclosures
  • Mortgage statement
  • Original purchase contract
  • Preliminary title report
  • Property survey
  • Seller's net sheet
  • Tax records
Depending on the specifics of your home and location, there could be more or less required.

Lean on your agent during this phase. They'll advise what's needed and when and assist in coordinating that all documentation is collected, scanned, and posted. A well-connected professional provides additional support should you require information from a local city or municipality.

Step 3. Profile your ideal buyer


An often overlooked aspect of selling a home is understanding the type of buyer you want to attract. You want to cast a wide net and attract a large pool of interested parties. But you also want to weed out the tire-kickers and curious on-lookers in favor of serious buyers—those ready to buy or invest in your property.

To achieve this, you need your home to tick off boxes from a buyer's checklist. Start by considering the following questions:

  • What factors make your home unique to a prospective buyer?
  • Is your property near desirable schools? Close to a popular retail center, business park, or collection of outstanding restaurants?
  • Is the neighborhood part of a country club, active, or family-friendly community?
  • Does your house have extra space, specialty rooms (office, gym, playroom, etc.), or spaces to convert or expand?
The answers will determine your property's strengths and weaknesses and guide you toward thoughtful updates and staging.

Step 4. Order a pre-listing inspection


With step four of the pre-listing process, you move towards preparing the home itself. The first order of business is also the simplest—order a pre-listing inspection.

In the past, reserved for buyers during the offer and negotiation phase, seller-driven inspections are proving more popular. It puts you ahead of the game and informs you of the necessary steps to ready the home. This includes:

  • Problems of which you were previously unaware
  • Viable list of essential repairs you either fix yourself, disclose, or contract with a third party to address
  • Areas where renovations may increase the value of the homer appeal to your ideal buyer
Though it means money out of your pocket, it's money well spent that ensures you make informed decisions.

Step 5. Update, upgrade, or repair


With inspection information, you can start physically positioning your home to sell. The central aim is to freshen up the lived-in aspects of your property and influence the home's perceived and real value. The better a home shows and the less a buyer must deal with outstanding issues, the more money you could command in the final transaction.

In most cases, homes set to hit the market, and luxury homes, in particular, will only require cursory repairs. It may be worth exploring minor updates to give your home a new purpose. These could include:

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  • Upgraded lighting packages in your kitchen and bathrooms
  • New fixtures and hardware
  • Replacing old blinds with modern styles
  • Updating the home's interior paint scheme
  • New garage doors
  • Fresh landscaping and exterior lighting
  • Refinished or repainted shutters
Discuss with your agent to verify if these or larger updates are necessary and would increase your odds of earning an even greater return.

Step 6. Declutter, clean, and stage


Once the heavy lifting of updates and repairs is complete, it's time to start organizing the home's interior spaces.

Decluttering


The central purpose of decluttering is to create an environment free from your connection to the home. Provide potential buyers with a clean slate to envision their perfect home. This includes:

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  • Removal of personal pictures and family heirlooms from walls and shelves
  • Elimination items such as refrigerator magnets or debris piles from tabletops or off of the floor
  • Packing away any non-contextual "art" or gaudy pieces that don't fit with your home's updated-for-sale aesthetic
  • Clearing kitchen and bathroom countertops, with exceptions for essential items only—coffee maker, hand soap, etc.
  • Store extra pillows and blankets out of site
  • Organize or hide exposed cords or wires
  • For closets and shelves, try to remove and pack away at least half of the contents; two-thirds are optimal
  • Eliminate "lived-in" or large furniture pieces

Cleaning


To ensure a spotless home for the listing phase, contact a professional cleaning service for an initial "top-down" all-purpose cleaning. Schedule regular weekly cleanings until the house is under contract.

It doesn't have to be perfect, but to generate the most value, and secure the most offers, aim for like-new conditions wherever possible. A general cleaning list should cover the following:

Home Interior


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  • Scrub hard surface flooring and vacuum/deep clean carpets and rugs
  • Wash windows (as part of your repairs, replace damaged screens)
  • Wipe down all countertops and related hard surfaces (inside drawers and cabinets, light and plumbing fixtures, hardware, and appliances)
  • Dust furniture, ceiling fans, and light fixtures
  • Address dirt, cobwebs, and hair piles from common collection points (baseboards, corners, and crown molding)
  • Address oft-overlooked spots such as air returns, the top of the refrigerator, exposed shelves
  • Weekly touch-up cleaning should include floors, counters, and hard surfaces, windows an

Home Exterior:


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  • Organize and clean the garage and any additional auxiliary buildings
  • Power wash the driveway, walkways, patio or decking, and exterior siding
  • Remove excess brush, fallen branches, or dead foliage from the yard
  • Trim overgrown trees and bushes
  • Liven up planters with seasonal colors and fresh mulch
  • Contract regular landscape service for the duration of the listing (if you don't already utilize one

Staging


Lean heavily on your real estate agent's market knowledge and a professional stager's expertise to transform your property into a showcase listing. You don't have to stage the entire house—the most critical areas include the living areas, the primary bedroom, and the kitchen. You want a cohesive flow from room to room, floor to floor.

A successfully staged home feels bigger and brighter, with a world of possibilities for a new owner to make it their own. Staging enhancements include:

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  • Trading oversized or outdated furniture for contemporary pieces with smaller footprints
  • Accenting your home with stylish decor and tasteful accents, including updated side and coffee tables and lamps
  • Retooling a rooms traffic pattern to enhance its flow, create more space, and establish a "marketing path" from one room to the next
  • Swapping existing drapery or window treatments for lighter materials, in some cases none at all, to promote natural light
  • Stage flex spaces, such as temporarily converting an extra bedroom to an office or staging a small work area in the corner of an oversized living area

Step 7. Set your list price


Once fully prepped, your home is ready to list. Before doing so, you need to set an asking price. While you have the final say in your target number, look to your listing agent to ensure you make an informed decision. Key points to explore:

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  • Research comps comparable in size, location, and features to your listing
  • Assess recent home sales in your neighborhood or market to spot price and sales trends
  • Account for your property's intangibles to dial in a solid starting point (improvements, ownership costs, proximity to excellent schools, commercial districts, parks and recreational opportunities, transportation access, or views)
In tight, competitive markets, how you price your home can make or break the success of your transaction. Too high and savvy buyers will bypass your listing for those in line with the market. Too low, and you risk leaving money on the table.

Your goal is to create a listing that produces multiple competing offers, which will naturally push the final sales price higher. The more attractive that initial number, the greater the interest you'll generate.

Is the time right to sell your Montclair or Briar Chapel luxury home? Or are you interested in homes for sale at The Preserve at Jordan Lake? Contact the Trish Lowe Group today to explore these spectacular North Carolina communities and begin your real estate journey.

*Header photo courtesy of Unsplash




Work With Us

At The Trish Lowe Group, we've helped our valued clients buy and sell their single most important purchase – their homes – across Chapel Hill and the Greater Triangle region. We have a proven track record of over $140 million in gross sales of real estate at The Preserve at Jordan Lake, Montclair, and Briar Chapel. We would be honored to work with you on your own real estate journey.