Home Closing Checklist Tips for Sellers

How to Ensure a Smooth Sailing Home Closing

man closing curtains in empty home
••• paul mansfield photography/Moment Open/Getty Images

It doesn't matter whether you are selling your home as a short sale or as a traditional seller, your checklist for home selling is identical. There are certain things on a home selling checklist that every responsible seller should do.

You would utilize your home closing checklist after all of your personal belongings and furniture have been moved. Although, not every seller is required to prior to or on the day of closing, most home sellers find that they can't begin to wrap up the process until everything is removed from the home.


Closing Checklist Tip #1:

Retain executed seller disclosures, purchase contract and closing statement. Ideally, you will be handled a complete closing package by your escrow officer or closing agent. But you could also find some of these documents scattered about in your car or at your office. Keep all of these documents in a safe place. It's conceivable you could need them again, especially if a bill was unpaid or the buyer gets ticked off for some reason and hires a lawyer.


Closing Checklist Tip #2:

Clean the house. If you don't have time to clean, then at least hire a professional cleaning service. How clean to leave a house is often personal preference. It's not always necessary to shampoo the carpets, but that's a nice touch. This also means wipe down cabinets, inside and out. It doesn't hurt to make your last impression on the buyer a good one by polishing sink fixtures. Leave your home the way you, as a buyer, would like to find it.


Closing Checklist Tip #3:

Turn off shut-off valves. If you have disconnected a washer, for example, make sure the shut-off value is completely turned off because a small drip, drip, can eventually flood a home. Some sellers shut off the valves to all water sources such as sinks, toilets and dishwashers, too.

Leave a note for the buyers so they won't call a plumber when the water won't turn on.

Closing Checklist Tip #4:

Attend the final walkthrough. There are so many quirks that only a home seller knows, and you could pass on these tips to a new home buyer during the final walk-through. Things like which light switch operates the lights, whether a door sticks, or how to clean a swimming pool. I like to ask sellers what they always wanted to do for a home improvement project but never got around to doing.

Closing Checklist Tip #5:

Cancel your insurance policies. Wait until you know the deed has recorded or title transfer has formally occurred before you call your insurance agent. You should receive a refund from a prepaid premium for your homeowner's insurance.

Closing Checklist Tip #6:

Cancel utilities and stop the newspaper. Make up a list of phone numbers in advance of each of your utility companies. Not every utility is always paid monthly, some are quarterly. If you subscribe to the newspaper, you might have to order your cancellation a week or more in advance to stop newspapers from piling up in the front yard.

Closing Checklist Tip #7:

Leave house keys, remotes, gate keys, pool keys, mailbox keys.

Even though the buyers will probably change the locks, find every house key, remotes for the garage or ceiling fans, keys to the gate and mailbox, if any, and put them in a kitchen drawer.

Closing Checklist Tip #8: 

Assemble applicance manuals, gather receipts and warranties. As you were packing, you may have come across manuals for the HVAC, security or sprinkler system or appliances, and set them aside. If you have receipts from contractors or warranties, put them into an envelope and leave them in a drawer with the manuals, along with the code for the security alarm.

Closing Checklist Tip #9:

Check cabinets, drawers and storage for forgotten items. If your spouse or friend says she has gone through every room with a fine tooth comb looking for anything left behind, run one more check. You may find nothing more than a razor in the shower, but at least you'll be able to shave in the morning.

It will give you peace of mind. I once forgot a black felt hat I loved, which was adorned with long peacock feathers, on the top shelf of a closet and never got over that loss.


Closing Checklist Tip #10:

Close window coverings, turn off lights and lock the door. You would think this would be a given, but you'd be amazed at how many people forget to close up the house. If nobody can see inside, the odds of a break-in decline. If the home will be vacant for a long time, consider leaving behind an inexpensive lamp on a timer.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.