Aside from “location, location, location,” a popular mantra among real estate professionals is that “time is of the essence.”
Sure, a nasty home inspection report or low appraisal can majorly slow down a deal, but don’t neglect the small stuff – all those little details that, when combined, can cause us to lose essential time in the sale of your home.
Dig out your paperwork
Depending on how long you’ve lived in the home, and how organized you are, getting your hands on your current mortgage paperwork and other documents you need may take some time.
Concentrate on the former first. When you closed on the home you were given either a folder or envelope stuffed with every document you signed at closing. Go through all of it and set aside the following:
- The Closing Disclosure form
- The title report
- A copy of the deed
- Survey reports (if you have them)
- Property tax information (including the most recent bill, if the lender sent you one)
- HOA documents
- Homeowners insurance documents
You’ll also need your most recent mortgage statement. Another handy document to have is the Annual Escrow Account Disclosure Statement and/or the IRS form 1098 that your mortgage company sends at the end of the year
If you’re a landlord, grab a copy of your tenant’s rental agreement and proof of his or her security deposit.
Then, concentrate on the documents you’ll need to give your eventual buyer. These may include the following:
- Instruction guides and warranties for the security system, appliances, irrigation systems, pool, spa, well, septic, cistern and any others that pertain to property being sold with the home.
- Receipts from contractors for work performed on the home.
- Permits that contractors pulled to perform the work.
- Utility bills (many buyers want to know, on average, what they can expect to pay for heating and cooling the home and irrigating the landscaping).
Finally, if you’ll be pursuing a mortgage for your next home, you’ll need your financial documents for the lender.
- W2 statements or, for the self-employed, a profit and loss statement.
- Your last two years’ tax returns. The self-employed need to include all schedules.
- Recent pay stubs (keep a few months’ worth, as lenders vary in this requirement).
- To be safe, set aside your last six bank statements, including all blank pages.
- Investment records, including retirement accounts.
- Proof of additional income, such as child support, alimony, tips.
- Bankruptcy discharge paperwork (if applicable).
Finally, make a list of all of your debts, including personal loans, child support, credit cards, auto and student loans. Beside each debt, make note of the current balance and the minimum payment required each month.
Get ready for the traffic
While you’re considering paperwork, go through the home, looking for paperwork and other items that contain highly personal and private information.
Gather it all together along with valuables and other items that are easy to pocket. This includes jewelry, collectibles (such as coin collections) expensive décor items, firearms and other weapons and prescription medications.
Box everything up and find a place to hide it from prying eyes, either off- or on-site.
Speaking of boxes, the best time to stock up on them is now, before the home is staged. You’ll be glad you have them as you start the clutter-removal process.
While you’re out picking up boxes, consider how much you’ll need to remove from the home and whether or not you should rent a storage facility to hold it until you move to the new home.
We’ll need a key to put in the lockbox and, yes, it sounds like a tiny detail, but many of our listing clients completely forget this step. Get an extra key made before listing the home.
Decide what you’ll do with the pets during showings. You may need to run out and purchase a kennel, make arrangements with a neighbor or family member or come to another decision. This one is often left until the last minute and it can significantly impact home showings.
Make a list of all improvements you’ve made to the home. Even something as simple as fresh paint should go on the list.
How’s the lighting in the home? Switch out low-wattage bulbs for higher ones and, if it’s in the budget, consider replacing dated fixtures and adding more lighting.
Obviously, there are a lot of little honey-do’s to accomplish before putting a home on the market, and, yes, they’re tedious. But getting them out of the way ahead of time will save time down the line.