Organize to Sell Your Home

Organize to Sell Your Home

Are you thinking about selling your home in the next few years? There are so many tasks to accomplish to prepare your home (and yourself) for that fateful day. It’s never too soon to plan. Begin with a dedicated notebook to list your assignments. Let’s break it down by time frame. Here are the traditional tasks and tasks you don’t think about.

BEFORE you even THINK about listing your home

Consider your home sale as a FUTURE investment because the NET proceeds from your sale may determine your financial future. Did I lose you already? Please stay with me!

List (spreadsheet) all of the major improvements you’ve completed. We call these “capital costs.” Organize and summarize your capital costs including dates, contractors and amounts paid. It’s best to have receipts for work completed. These amounts are added to the cost basis (the purchase price) of your home. IRS Publication 523  provides examples of improvements that increase your basis. The higher your capital costs, then the higher your cost basis will be, then the lower your capital gain will be on the sale, resulting in a lower tax on the sale of your home. Are you following me?

I’m trying to save you money on your tax bill in the year you sell your home. It’s easier to accomplish this before listing your home. After listing your home, your time will be spent on home maintenance. Preparing to list your home and each time a potential buyer comes over is stressful and time consuming. After listing your home, your activities should be focused on looking forward to your new destination, not backward on the history of your home.

Plan to list your home

A year or so before putting your home on the market, start to shop around for a realtor or research FSBO. If you hire a realtor, they will be SO IMPRESSSED that you already prepared your cost basis spreadsheet!! If you will be selling through a realtor, decide if you want an exclusive or MLS.

Plan your destination. After your destination is known, plan and select the furniture that fits in your new home. Decide on storage, if needed. Avoid the expense of moving unwanted items.

Start to de-clutter. Too much furniture in a room (or in a closet) makes it look smaller, and your potential buyers want to see spacious rooms. For items that are no longer part of your life, join a Buy Nothing group  and/or register with Freecycle. Give away things to relatives and friends. Donate to charities. Find an ebay seller or sell on your own if you want to try to raise cash. Plan a house sale or tag sale. Begin to remove personal items from your space and organize your sentimental possessions

Tasks to accomplish within one year of the listing

Curb appeal is your first priority. Pay attention to the way the exterior of your home looks in each of the 4 seasons, just in case your home lingers on the market. When a photographer takes pictures for your listing, you want to put your best face forward.

Make a list of necessary repairs (cracks, water stains, broken fixtures, etc.), and get estimates. Repair necessary projects outside and inside the house. Paint interiors a neutral color.

Contact your local building department for any outstanding permits that did not receive a certificate of completion or certificate of occupancy. It will take time if you need to legalize a previous home improvement project. Any innocent neglect to these tasks will result in a delay to sell and move.

Hire an inspector. Few homeowners do this but doing so avoids any surprises from the potential buyer’s inspector and confirms that your home follows current code.

Start packing. Off season clothing and rarely used items can be boxed, labeled and stacked in an unused interior room. Contact a mover to get an idea of moving costs. Leave the packing of heavy, fragile items to the movers. Discuss additional insurance for the highly valuable items you have to move and/or store. Moving is another topic we can address later.

Listing your home for sale

Contract with a realtor. Your realtor will be SO IMPRESSED that you already prepared your cost basis spreadsheet, contacted your local building department and got your home inspected!! Your realtor probably already has a good idea of potential buyers. A flurry of activities are about to begin so you will be so happy that you accomplished all of the above in advance.

Your realtor will arrange for a photographer so your home must be repaired, de-cluttered, clean and appear spacious. Protect your valuables and prescriptions when potential buyers arrive. Arrange for pets to be relocated during viewing. While your home is listed, keep your home clean, neat, and organized.

Last but not least, be kind to your buyer. Prepare documentation of repairs and contractors you hired, garage door openers and codes, warranties for home appliances and instructions for operating smart home or security systems. Be sure you shut off the utilities and Wi-Fi, and cancel any subscriptions. Complete a change of address form at your local post office.

Thanks to Nicole Pyles, Lauren Wellbank and Apartment Therapy for featuring Under Control Organizing on this topic.

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