Pre-Listing Home Seller Checklist

As you prepare to put your home on the market, you’re likely aware of some of the big things that need to be updated or fixed prior to listing. But don’t underestimate the impact that even cosmetic changes can have on potential buyers and how much they’re willing to offer. Here are our best tips to get ahead of what buyers and their house inspectors might request. Follow along to set yourself up for a smoother home-selling process.

Focus on the Exterior

If you’ve lived in your home for some time, it’s easy to overlook areas that could use some work. Your real estate agent can help you to gain a fresh eye when looking at your property, trying to see it as a first-time visitor and potential buyer might. 

If someone else lived in your home, would you assume that the owner put effort into caring for their property? Would you be impressed with the cleanliness, orderliness, and overall presentation of the exterior of your home? These are key questions to ask yourself.

Here are some important features to pay attention to when you’re making this detailed evaluation of your home:

  • Siding and Paint Finish: cracks, peeling, or any other signs of wear or damage need to be addressed with at least a fresh coat of paint, at most, replacement of a section
  • Front Door Appearance: a worn finish or flaking paint should be updated, along with dingy or outdated fixtures and hardware
  • Mats and Rugs: welcome mats or porch rugs that are faded, hold dirt and grime, or allow mold to grow need to be updated with clean, new replacements
  • Landscaping Maintenance: trim back overgrown plants, edge garden beds, trim the lawn, pull weeds, and add annual flowers in pots or plant in the ground for cheery, seasonal color

Taken together, all of these relatively small chores will go far to improve your home’s curb appeal but will also impress potential buyers upon closer inspection.

Pay Attention to Interior Issues

Once a potential buyer and their agent or inspector steps inside, they’re going to be looking for possible issues that could lead to repairs. But let’s be real, they’re also going to be assessing cosmetic updates they’d make and rating your aesthetic choices. Now is your opportunity to take care of these things in advance of inviting buyers in. Now is the time to make the best first impression.

Make these quick checks to be sure that you’re offering the best version of your home to inspectors and buyers:

  • test every sink and water fixture in the home for leaks and make needed repairs; remove evidence of prior leaks you’ve already fixed
  • replace outdated fixtures and hardware (e.g. door and cabinet handles, drawer pulls, faucets, sinks, shower heads) and be sure they coordinate
  • refinish, repaint, repair, or reface worn or outdated kitchen cabinets
  • check that all light switches, light fixtures, doors and windows are fully functional, and make any needed fixes
  • look for painted areas that could use a refresh, patch any holes in walls or ceilings, and address worn areas on trim, baseboards, or chair rails

Unless they’re antique, original to the home, and part of what potential buyers are looking for, old and outdated fixtures, hardware, and other stylistic elements should be changed to reflect a more modern, neutral interior. New owners will always make changes once they’ve lived in the space, but homebuyers will often feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed if they don’t pick up on countless things they’ll need to update. 

Take Time to Deep Clean

Everyone knows cleaning is a central part of the work involved in preparing a home for selling. That’s because regular cleaning doesn’t always take into account tasks that are typically done less frequently. You also want to show off your home to its best advantage, and a big part of that is a sparkling clean interior. Here’s where to focus your energy:

  • Thoroughly vacuum and/or mop floors, paying special attention to corners or stains
  • Steam clean (DIY or professional service) or replace carpets, and refinish or replace flooring that is very worn
  • Dust everywhere and everything, including wiping down baseboards
  • Clean window casings and panes, inside and out
  • Wipe down high traffic areas where handprints or dirt/grease marks could appear, like interior, exterior, and closet doors and handles, wall corners, and backsplashes
  • Kitchens and bathrooms are high-value parts of your home, so give them the most care: 
    • Deep clean the stove/oven/exhaust hood, fridge, sink, inside of cabinets, and counter
    • Sanitize bathroom fixtures and surfaces, scrub shower lining and tracks, replace fabric bathroom items (shower curtain, towels, bath mats), regrout/reseal if necessary

The same applies outside as well, and this is the ideal time to scrub or powerwash exterior surfaces that could use a thorough cleaning.

Consider Minor Upgrades

Typically, the little bit of extra work you do based on the above lists will go far to affect how long your home is on the market, along with the offers you’ll receive and the final sale price to expect. Clearly, it’s worth your time and effort. But beyond a pleasing appearance, the functionality of your home will appeal to buyers on a practical level. Ideally you’ll hire a home inspector for a walk through, to help you pinpoint improvements that should be made. Whether you plan to do that or not, as a house inspector in Cleveland, Ohio, we can offer three solid tips:

  • Hire an electrician to upgrade outlets so they are all GFCI protected to take the safety hazard–and the ask from a buyer–off the table
  • Ensure that all downspouts extend at least 6’ away from the foundation, adding extenders if they do not
  • Bring in an HVAC technician and plumber to inspect and clean/service your heating and cooling systems and water heater

Once you have all these details wrapped up, your home will be in great shape to list and get it sold! But if you’d like a professional opinion, and to help ensure the best return for your work, it’s always a good idea to hire a home inspector. It’s also important to consider that every seller may not be as conscientious as you are, even if you’re planning on buying a brand new home––be sure to look into new home inspection for overall peace of mind.

There’s a lot to know about home inspection in Cleveland, but all you need to remember is that at Keystone Home Inspection, we have you covered. We perform Ohio home inspections in Cuyahoga County, Geauga County, Lake County, Lorain County, Medina County, Portage County, and Summit County, and we’d be happy to help you too. Get in touch to learn more about our services and to schedule an inspection.

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