Save This! A pre-listing checklist for your home.

Jon and I got a call from old clients of ours who are looking to sell their home and wanted to know what needs to be done before-hand to command top dollar in the spring market. I don’t know if you’ve gathered this from previous posts, but jobs like these make my heart skip a beat. For most of us, your home is the single biggest investment of your life and there are two things I love – crafting a beautiful, loved home – and making people money. So we took a family trip to check it out last weekend and got to work on a punch list. This is something all of us can do whether you’re selling or not, so you have all of your action items in one place, and can check them off one by one, in a less daunting, more gratifying way for you. This idea may seem familiar, as I mentioned it in last week’s #PackPunchList. Turns out, we got a bunch of questions, so I thought we’d go through one so you can see the value in it. Jon and I do it quarterly in our own properties, and I promise, it’s not as cumbersome as it sounds.

You’d think the pen and paper would come out after niceties in the foyer. Nope. We whip out the notebook before we even pull in to the driveway. Curb appeal is everything. It continues up the walkway, and through every room – cupboard, closet, nook and cranny. Sound invasive? I suppose it is. But oh so necessary. You know why? Whether you think so or not, every single buyer will be snooping (heck, even guests in your home will be), and it’s important to pay attention to the little things because they add up.

Sample Punch List:

exterior →

∇ Replace existing mailbox. Paint color of front door for added personality.

∇ Give front door and surrounding trim a fresh coat of paint.

∇ Replace dead flowers/ shrubs/ landscaping with new blooms as soon as season allows.

∇ Dust away any cobwebs/ remove old bird nests/ pressure wash front porch.

entryway →

∇ Remove all walk-in clutter (mail, keys, coats, boots, etc.)

∇ Replace entry rug with something vibrant.

∇ Remove dated artwork and replace with mirror to add light.

∇ Take down existing (and dusty!) wood blinds in the front of the home and replace with sheer panels.

∇ Remove all wallpaper, paint entire first floor all one color for cohesive look and feel. Something light, airy, neutral. (We like Reflection by Sherwin Williams.)

kitchen →

∇ Go through every cabinet and purge. Keep only essential items, put holiday trays in storage and donate the rest. People want to feel like absolutely every gadget they own will fit in there and if they see extra room, it’s a win.

∇ Speaking of cabinets, what shape are they in? If you have any water damage, cracks, or they are beyond repair, it truly is in your best interest to replace them. Kitchens and baths sell homes so if your kitchen screams “dated!, send help!” the buyers will hear it and they will run.

∇ If you’re dealing with good quality wood, but the hue of the wood is no longer in (let’s say cherry), paint them. Yes, I know, paint cherry?! How could you? Easily. Forget what you’ve been told by your parents, your colleagues, whomever – about what should or should not be done with wood. The point is, the vast majority of buyers will not appreciate those cherry red cabinets and unless your mom or coworker is buying your house, paint them. Dark kitchens are really “in” for 2018, but we’re not going for an of the moment kitchen, we’re going for the vast majority of buyers. Paint them white.

∇ We mentioned purging your cabinets. That goes for the pantry too. All of those jars of pasta sauce you got 2 for 1? Donate. Take everything out, donate anything you’re not using in the next month, and take time to give it a good wipe down. Then organize it in a thoughtful way when you put it back in, and voila, you’re one step closer. I actually find it therapeutic to do the pantry and the closets. It’s definitely a gold star moment when you’re done.

∇ Materials. I know not everyone will be able to replace their countertops and bring them up to date with something more modern. However, if you have a little bit of money in the budget, consider redoing your tile backsplash, or replacing light fixtures. It will create the illusion that your kitchen has been recently renovated, and we all like a fresh swipe of lipstick.

∇ #NixonPack nugget: If you replace *one* thing in the kitchen, make it your faucet. Odd, I know, but stay with me. Every buyer we have toured with, every home of our own we have sold – one thing happens without fail each and every showing. Someone tests the faucet. If you spend an extra $100 and get one of the new fangled touch faucets, oh wow, you’ve just left them impressed and distracted from your dated ceramic tile floor.

family room →

∇ I can’t stress this one enough. While your kid’s school picture may bring a flood of memories and a smile to your face, it will not evoke those same feelings in a buyer. Take down every trace of your family’s mugs from the walls. Then patch and paint.

∇ Clean up all the toys, and move ’em out. When we sold our last home, we had a new baby and lemme tell you, we had all. the. toys. Walkers and jumpers and trains and push carts and highchairs and packandplays and my goodness the list went on. But no one knew we had a kid. Because aside from the crib in his room, there was no trace of baby anywhere. Was it a royal pain to get them out for every showing? Oh yeah. But well worth it. Some buyers don’t want, like, have babies. Same goes for pets.

∇ And speaking of our furry friends, that’s next on the list. The house we toured last weekend had an array of cat perches (is that what they’re called? I’m a dog person). There was one in every room, by the window, covered in scratches and hair and people do not want to think cats have lived there. You know why. Same goes with smelly dog beds (guilty), hamster cages and the like. And when you have showings, please remove your pets, too. It is safer for your little ones, and better for your buyers (which is better for you).

∇ Edit your bookshelves. Don’t allow them to look overcrowded. Here’s your chance to show some style, a pop of whimsy, and give those buyers the feeling that cool people live there. It only adds to the feel good vibes you want pulsing through them the entire tour.

∇ Make sure your furniture has been de-haired, cleaned, and is looking fresh. Though you’d think people are looking at the bones of the room, they rarely are. They’re looking at your furniture and are comparing it with theirs and trying to get a feel for the space. Add some fresh throw pillows, clear all the clutter from your end table, dust the tops of everything, and have those nice lines from the vacuum looking tight and right.

∇ Edit, edit, edit. If you can live without something, do. The more room, the better, the cleaner, the more aesthetically pleasing for your buyer. This is always one of the big areas we assist clients – purging. I know, you have sentimental attachment. Thankfully, we don’t.

bathrooms →

∇ Fix her up. Again, if you have it in your budget to do a mini-refresh, it will be well worth your while, and you will get it back and then some. Kitchens and baths sell homes. Because think about it. Your average buyer may not be the next Chip and Joanna and the idea of tackling renovations when they move in is enough to scare them to the next (newer) property on their list. Go simple, clean, bright. (I personally think subway tile is way overdone at this point, but I will agree that the majority of buyers still like it so if that’s your jam, go for it).

∇ If you can’t fix her, then you can try these inexpensive, big-impact swaps to make a splash. Switch out builder-grade mirrors for something new. You can pick up one that pops at your local Home Goods for a great price. Swap the hardware on your cabinets. Paint them if you’re able! And at the very least, add a vase of fresh flowers, new fluffy towels, and clear out the junk.

bedrooms → 

∇ Fresh bedding is a must. Listen, I am guilty of this one because I am uber particular about coverlets and we’ve had the same one for most of our marriage. But even if it’s something you don’t like to sleep with, use it as a “show comforter” just for showings.

∇ Eliminate 90% of the clothes in your closet. You need as much free space as possible in there because the husband always says (it’s inevitable) “I won’t be able to fit in this closet, my wife’s clothes will take up the whole space.” And while that may be true, the more you eliminate, the less likely they are to see there’s a problem.

∇ In that same vein, put away all the laundry in its proper place – remember, they are looking everywhere. And though super rude IMHO, I’ve seen some people go as far as opening your dresser drawers.

extras → 

∇ NEAT, ORGANIZED, CLEAN for the win! When your home is immaculate, people say things like, wow, this was really kept up. So it makes them think the bigger ticket items have been kept up too.

∇ Speaking of big-ticket items – if you can’t swing replacing them with newer, energy efficient models, then have them cleaned and service. That helps more than you think.

∇ Paint baseboards (or at the very least, scrub them clean).

∇ Things like new runners, a houseplant in a basket strategically placed, a cozy throw draped over a bad spot on the chaise – all of these help the buyers feel that homey feel you’re aiming for.

∇ Rent a storage space nearby. Trust us, it’s well worth a couple hundred bucks for peace of mind, and as you can see from the punch list above – removing all the clutter. Heck, you may even find that you don’t miss the contents and end up donating them for a nice little write-off and feel good deed.

1809 words and we didn’t even brush the big stuff. Still want more? Phew. You deserve a medal. That was a long one – but you can get more home selling and staging tips here and here. And well, everywhere on our site. Thank you so much for stopping by! Anything you’d add? Share in the comments below!

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