How to Get Ready for an Agent to List Your Home
Tips for Preparing to Put Your Home Up for Sale
Regardless of the time of year you plan to sell your home, you need to get ready for your agent to list. Most listing agents prefer your home to be in tip-top condition, worthy of photographs.
The best time to schedule an agent to come over to list your home is right after your lawn has been mowed. If your gardener’s day is Tuesday, do not ask your agent to take photos on a Monday. Schedule your agent instead for Wednesday.
Create Curb Appeal Before Listing Your Home
Clean up the landscaping. You might have projects that you’ve been meaning to get around to doing but simply have not had the time. Now you need to make the time. Here are bare basics you should do:
- Trim trees and bushes in front of windows (can you see the house?).
- Weed, rake and mulch garden beds.
- Cut dead branches from trees.
- Sweep and clean sidewalks and driveway.
- Park in the garage or down the street (not in the driveway or in front of the house.
- Remove trash cans and store them in the side yard.
- Close the garage door.
- Thoroughly eliminate cobwebs and dirt near the front door.
Bonus points: Set out a few pots of yellow flowers near the front door to add color.
Absolutely imperative: DO NOT PARK IN THE DRIVEWAY.
Now, when your agent pulls up in front of your house, your agent will feel as though you were expecting him or her and that you are prepared to sell.
If you don’t do these things, your agent might not say anything to you about it, but it will be noticed. Your agent might think that you don’t really care when you do. Remember, if you don’t care, your agent is less likely to care. You want your agent to care.
Getting Ready for Your Agent to List Inside the Home
You would think it goes without saying that your home should be clean.
But everybody’s idea of clean is different. Don’t force your agent to put towels over dishes in the sink, pick up pet dishes from the floor or make your beds. Here are your bare minimum requirements to get ready to list:
- Clean everything off the kitchen counters. Yes, everything.
- Remove the magnets from the refrigerator, your children’s artwork, everything.
- Put away all personal photographs and photos on the walls.
- Make the beds, tuck in sheets.
- Vacuum / sweep the floors.
- Sequester children, pets and cover up any dead relatives lying around.
Bonus points: Pick up clothing, toys and other items from the floor and shuffle them into a closet or the bathtub.
If you have too much stuff or are packing, trying storing all of your extra items in one room -- the agent will then avoid taking photos of that room. You can also store items in the garage.
Almost every home will show better with half of the furniture removed. You might want to consider moving out some of your furniture, especially if it blocks pathways. But don’t schedule your agent to arrive on the day you are moving. Your agent will not want to take photographs of rooms filled with boxes or of movers carting sofas out the door.
Designate a Spot for You and Your Agent to Sign Listing Paperwork
While most agents I know are happy to sign a listing agreement on the roof of a car, it is much more pleasant and comfortable to sit at a dining room table.
Many agents prefer the dining room over the kitchen or living room. It’s a neutral, less personal, area.
Some agents use a digital signing service and never sign papers in person. If your agent brings the paperwork with her, here are some tips:
- Try to keep the cat off the table and from walking on the listing paperwork.
- Don’t feed the children while you’re trying to sign papers.
- Offer your agent something to drink.
- Consider a shot of something stronger for yourself when you see how much your agent is charging you for a real estate commission.
- If you don’t understand a form, ask your agent to explain it to you. This is how mistrust develops and communication breaks down, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t trust your agent enough to answer a question for you, don’t hire the agent.
- Ask for a copy of everything you sign.
When I leave a listing appointment, I give sellers a few of my business cards and ask them a trick question. I advise them that when the sign goes into the yard, passersby might be tempted to stop and knock on the door. If a buyer knocks, what should sellers do?
Nine times out of ten a seller will say they would invite them in. No, no, no. Don’t let strangers in your house. Agents who come to show will produce a business card. If a passerby rings your doorbell, give that person your agent’s business card and ask them to call your agent.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.