5 Important Things to Do Before Listing Your Home for Sale

This post is part of a sponsored collaboration with Redfin.

I mean, what even happens when listing your home for sale?

Long-time readers know that I've wanted to sell my adorable brick home….pretty much from the second I moved in. What was supposed to be a starter home for me and my pretend family has now turned into an exhausting two-year long flip, with me upgrading the bulk of the home in 2013, and doing a million dizzying projects ever since (new stairs! Window treatments! Upgrading light fixtures!).

Even though the plan was always to sell, that doesn't mean I wasn't nervous about it.  I've interviewed a handful of realtors over the last few years each time I toyed with the idea of selling, so I had a fair idea of what to expect, but Redfin brought in a foolproof process that was unlike anything else any other agency had shown me. It actually helped me feel more secure and confident about my decision: like I had a strategic selling partner rather than someone working “for” the listing.

My initial consultation with my agent, Will, also helped to clarify a list of final to-do's I needed to scratch off before officially listing the home.

Now for the five most important things to do before listing your home: two of these are important questions to ask before you select a realtor, and the final three are mantras to repeat to yourself every day as you prep your home for listing photos and (ultimately) showings to prospective buyers.

5 Important Things to Do Before Listing Your Home for Sale

Ask Yourself: Can We Be Honest with One Another?

I'm probably more opinionated than most sellers. My history with this home has been well documented, and my complete and total ignorance during the renovation also led to a lot of self-education in the years that followed. It was important to me to be very knowledgeable when it comes to what is now the biggest investment I've ever made.

That crash course in a real estate education means I have a very clear idea of what the market is like, what my financial bottom line is, and a super specific timeline for when I'd like to make it all happen. Will made me feel comfortable voicing these opinions directly and not beating around the bush.

I also appreciate that he didn't look at me, see “single female homeowner” and immediately treat me like a little girl, which happens more often than you think at auto mechanics, hardware stores, and (surprisingly) banks. He treated me with respect, which made me feel like I could be completely honest in terms of what I wanted.

And the simple truth is you should be honest with your realtor. Literally, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS are on the line. If you feel uncomfortable with your agent, find someone else you do feel comfortable partnering with.

Ask Yourself: Are they Super Responsive and Communicative?

Your realtor can make you feel like Beyoncé at the Super Bowl when you meet, but if they aren't timely with answering emails, questions, and phone calls, this is a bad sign.

When I was buying my home, I used a real estate agent someone had referred to me. I'm not kidding when I say that I met her at closing. I looked in-person at about ten homes, across three separate showing appointments. Every time she would be busy and would send her husband to do the showing. He was married to the realtor and knew a thing or two, but it felt more like I was picking a home to buy and not that someone was helping me find a great fit.

Looking back on it, I wished I'd demanded more from my agent, and perhaps I could have avoided the mess that came later on.

Redfin's process is different, but in a good way, as you get a realtor, and a dedicated support agent who handles the paperwork and scheduling. I've seen Redfin's team approach in play and I can honestly say everyone has been super responsive. It also makes me feel better that with more than one person on the case; I know nothing is going to fall through the cracks.

Tell Yourself: First Impressions are Everything

Most of my focus has been on renovating the interior of my home. Other than the front door makeover, I've done zero to amp up the “curb appeal” of my home. I mowed the lawn and trimmed the hedges, but that was about it.

One big point Will drove home to me was that first impressions are everything. If the interior of the house is great, it really matters to carry that through to the outside.

So I painted my stoop, trimmed the bushes down, added the flowerbeds, put up a cute new mailbox and pressure washed the outside. At first acquainting myself with yard work was annoying, but the finished product really does make the house “pop” from the street.

Tell Yourself: A Little Lipstick Never Hurt Anyone

I'm not going to lie: over the years the projects on my current home have (sometimes) felt like lipstick on a pig.

I've shelled out close to $2500 in the last four weeks alone getting my home up to snuff, and that was with me calling in favors, using all my discounts, and doing a lot of the work myself.

One at a time those “lipstick” projects, like new faucets, light fixtures, hardware and a new kitchen backsplash, felt futile – but in total they've really elevated the look and feel of my home.

And then I realized that sometimes even pigs need a successful makeover – especially if you want to attract a high-end buyer, or sell quickly. The more you can do to make your home “sparkle” (as Will says), the more successful you will be.

Tell Yourself: You Are Selling to Your Nitpickiest Friend

Some of the money I spent upgrading the home had nothing to do with cosmetic touches, and more to do with fixing annoying little things that I know a buyer (particularly if they are a first-time buyer) wouldn't want to deal with. These changes made the home truly “turn-key” ready.

I framed in a bunch of old ductwork, added a new floor in an awful, smelly closet, built-in new attic access doors and put up sheetrock in parts of the basement. Not exactly the stuff “oohs and ahs” are made of, but important nonetheless.

Even low-key sellers who don’t mind a little handiwork will appreciate your diligence.


Like this post? Get more first time home buying information in my book, The Millennial Homeowner: A Guide to Successfully Navigating Your First Home Purchase, now on Amazon. Click here to get your copy! 

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Thinking about putting your house on the market? Do these 5 things before listing your home for sale!


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  • Claudia @ Two Cup House
    September 4, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    We are still trying to sell our house, so I wish I had some solid advice for others! I think what I’ve taken to heart from what our agents and others have said is to declutter–make it easier for the new owner to visualize their “stuff” in the house.

  • Shannyn @frugalbeautiful.com
    September 4, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Oh my gosh, that’s crazy that you never got to meet your relator in person until the closing, that’s CRAY CRAY! It’s almost like an unfair bait and switch..you book a hair appointment with one stylist only to get their intern or something- yes, you’d hope they are just as good, but really, you booked that person specifically..and with a HOUSE? That’s the biggest purchase you can make in a lifetime, why would they skimp on service? Sad! 🙁

  • Giulia Lombardo
    September 4, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Absolutely agree!!!

    • Lauren Bee
      September 4, 2015 at 9:47 am

      Thanks Giulia!