Selling your home in Toronto or The GTA requires planning, organization, and more work than many people realize. This home seller’s checklist will help you keep track of all the tasks that need to be done when selling your home in Toronto or The GTA.
To deal with the workload and ensure everything runs smoothly for the buyer, seller, and any intermediaries, many people chose to hire a real estate professional – but whether you are working with a real estate agent or not, our home seller’s checklist will help you get acquainted with what needs to be done.
If you’re selling with an agent, it still helps to know what needs to be done and when. Although a good real estate agent has processes in place and covers all of the necessary tasks for you, being aware of what’s going on can only help.
This checklist will help you maximize your chances of getting the best value when selling your home. Understanding the checklist will allow you to help your real estate agent highlight your home’s strengths on the market.
Your knowledge of the house combined with your agent’s understanding of real estate markets, preparing your home for sale, and marketing is a combination for success.
We break our checklist down into several sections. Segmenting everything helps keep your process organized, although there may be some overlap between the sections.
The primary categories on this list are:
You may already have a firm handle on many of the sections on this list. If so, you can still skip through the different sections to find the information you haven’t considered or haven’t done yet.
At the very least you’ll have double checked all of the consideration you should take into account when selling your home in Toronto or The GTA.
Selling a home takes paperwork. Having these documents identified and organized, whether that’s in hard copy or digital form, will get you through the home selling process much faster.
Keep a list detailing each document and its status. Since some of these documents might be with your attorney or real estate agent for security, it can be helpful to make notes about where each document is kept. In the event you can’t locate a document this list will be indispensable.
For hard copies, create folders and label them accordingly. Keep them in a secure place. Below you’ll find the main real estate documents you’ll need to sell a house:
◽ Do you have your home’s original sales contract complete with the purchase price?
◽ The deed to your home
◽ Any home surveys you’ve had done (professional inspection reports)
◽ Your professional home appraisal (when you bought the house and the current home evaluation)
◽ Receipts from your property tax
◽ Completed renovation contracts or documentation of home improvements
◽ Warranties (only if they are transferable)
◽ Insurance records
◽ Any warranty information or manuals relating to appliances which are part of the sale
Once you’ve got the documentation regarding the home sale in place and you have found an agent, together you’ll need to assemble various documents for different points in the home selling process. They will include:
◽ The agreement with your real estate agent and a collection of your written communications
◽ A list of all the professional service providers you deal with during the course of your home sale. These include contractors, movers, plumbers, etc.
◽ Any documents your lawyer will need
◽ Documents for your tax accountant
Getting all the facts recorded and organized before listing your home for sale is crucial to a smooth home sale. It’s best to have all information before you get into listing or negotiation. If there are problems the must be addressed, you can deal with them before they are a disruption.
Your real estate agent will be in a better position to negotiate in possession of all the facts. In order to make an accurate home evaluation and have a solid foundation for the asking price.
Major repairs should all be completed before putting it on the market. Being proactive also sends a good message to buyers and agents and makes it easier to work with them.
If you want a recommendation for a home inspector, your real estate agent is the best place to start. Here are some of the points to consider before you list your house for sale in Toronto or The GTA.
◽ When was your house built?
◽ Is your home’s electrical wiring in good order? (e.g. lights don’t flicker, breakers and fuses don’t blow)
◽ What type of wiring do you have? (e.g. aluminum or knob and tube)
◽ Is there a fusebox/electrical panel?
◽ Is the plumbing in good order?
◽ When was the furnace last replaced/installed?
◽ Are the furnace filters often replaced?
◽ Is the home equipped with a water softener?
◽ Is the roof well maintained?
◽ Are the windows energy-efficient and well maintained?
◽ Are there any defects in the foundation?
◽ Are there water problems of any sort (including mold and/or mildew)?
There’s always room for improvement. Your home inspection and realtor may give you an idea of where it’s a good idea to invest resources when it comes to home updates or repairs.
Remember that while repairs are typically important to do to maximize your chance of getting top dollar for your home, not all updates will provide an equal return on investment. Upgrades don’t have to be major overhauls, and a little update can go a long way.
Work with your real estate agent to prioritize what needs to be done within your budget in order to improve your home. From the buyer’s perspective, the less work they have to put in after they buy a home the better. Make sure your home is in turn-key condition and move-in ready and you’ll be more likely to find a buyer.
◽ Here are some points to consider regarding home upgrades and repairs:
◽ Have you established a timeline?
◽ Do you have a budget set aside for essential repairs and potential upgrades?
◽ Are there any updates or repairs you have been putting off? It may be sensible to take care of these first.
◽ Are there any essential repairs?
◽ Are the windows and doors in good condition?
◽ Are permanent light fixtures in showing condition?
◽ Do your doors and trim appear new?
◽ Are there any holes or cracks in the walls?
Catch our article about cost-effect energy saving updates that you can expect a return on when selling your home in Toronto or The GTA.
After you’ve found the best real estate agent for you, had your home inspected, and completed the first part of the checklist, it’s time to move on to getting your home’s interior organized.
Preparing a home to sale is likely to increase the odds it will sell in a good timeframe for a great value that you will be happy with.
Here’s what you should think about when you and your agent are preparing to stage the home:
◽ Is there clutter in any part of your home?
◽ Does the house look immaculate and clean all throughout?
◽ Are personal items and things you don’t need when selling your home away in storage or at your new residence?
◽ Have you stored non-essential items off the premises or in a discreet place?
◽ How does the garage and/or other storage areas look?
◽ Is the basement tidy (if it is used for storage)?
An essential part of home staging is making potential buyers who visit the property feel like they are in their future home, not someone else’s. Although we don’t believe in intrusive open houses at Frank Leo & Associates, when we bring qualified leads to a property we stage it beforehand so they can project their future lives into the space.
◽ Personal items like pictures, unique furniture, and other items can interfere with buyer experience and even cost a home sale.
◽ Here are the points you should consider when depersonalizing the property:
◽ Don’t keep any personal photographs on walls, mantles, etc.
◽ Pack away all books, music, or magazines which don’t appeal to a mainstream audience
◽ Keep memorabilia out of sight
◽ Any children’s items (toys, books, etc) should be neatly organized or stored away
◽ Any potentially offensive items should be removed from the residence
For more tips and insights about staging your home for sale in Toronto & The GTA you can refer to our Home Staging Guide. Frank Leo & Associates have gleaned these insights over 3 decades selling billions of dollars worth of real estate for 1,000’s of satisfied customers in Toronto & The GTA using our Guaranteed Home Selling System.
The first impression your home makes – whether through Toronto & GTA MLS Listings or in person – is often hard to overcome if it’s not positive.
Although the front yard and face of the home are important, make sure you don’t discount the sides of the home as well as the backyard. These are not to be overlooked, since many people will form an impression of how well the home is maintained based on its exterior.
The exterior is your opportunity to get potential buyers excited about viewing your home. It also gives your real estate agent and photographer ample material to work with for the promotional photography.
Here are the main points regarding your home’s exterior you should think about before selling:
◽ Does the exterior need any major repairs?
◽ Does the exterior need any minor repairs?
◽ Are there any festive or seasonal lights or decorations which need to be taken down?
◽ Are the front, side, and back yards neat and tidy?
◽ If it’s winter, are walkways and paths free of snow and ice?
◽ Have you made a list of everything that needs to be addressed in order of priority?
So far we’ve covered depersonalizing your home’s interior spaces and thought about curb appeal, but now you need to make sure every room and element of your house is arrange in a way that maximize appeal to interested buyers.
From flooring, to paint, to the way each room is arranged, each element of your home will be under scrutiny. Here are the things to consider before your agent shows the property to potential buyers. We’ll break them down into individual sections relating to the major parts of your home to evaluate.
Nobody’s home will be perfect, but there are many things you can do to keep buyers interested when they’re touring your property. The general idea is to show buyer’s what they are looking for, not what they will have to do in order to make the property suitable for themselves.
The small details can often make a big difference, and together they could be more significant than one single but more glaring issue. It’s easier for a buyer to see one thing they want to change and think it will be easy to take care of than for them to be overwhelmed by countless small details they’ll have to alter after the sale.
The longer the potential buyer’s to-do list of things the want to change, the further down the list of homes they’re considering buying your home will sink. Home buyers are happiest with turn-key, move-in ready homes.
Here’s what you should consider to give your prospective home buyers a home they can move right into and feel at home:
◽ Does the home’s entryway feel inviting?
◽ Is the entry spacious and well organized?
◽ Does it reflect the character and appeal of the home?
◽ How does the rest of the home look from the perspective of the entryway?
◽ Are personal items such as shoes, coats, etc. packed away?
◽ Does the kitchen look appealing when you walk in?
◽ Are there too many appliances/accessories like blenders, microwaves, or other gadgets?
◽ Has clutter been removed from the countertops/island?
◽ Are all of the surfaces sparkling?
◽ Is the fridge spotless (exterior and interior)
◽ Is the stove clean (exterior and interior)
◽ Do the appliances match and create a sense of consistency?
◽ Are the cupboards functional and looking tidy?
◽ Is there anything that could use some updating?
◽ Are the floors well-maintained?
◽ Are the sinks sparkling?
◽ Is the living area inviting and comfortable in appearance?
◽ Is the furniture arranged nicely and in good repair?
◽ Has any excess furniture been removed and stored away?
◽ Is the room’s decor neutral?
◽ Are pet and children’s toys put away?
◽ Are entertainment consoles and wires all arranged neatly?
◽ Is the room open and full of natural light?
◽ Is the shelving clean and well-ordered?
◽ Are window coverings open to let in sunlight?
◽ If you have a fireplace, is it arranged neatly and cleaned?
◽ Has everything been thoroughly vacuumed and dusted?
◽ Is it clear the space is meant for dining?
◽ Is the centrepiece furniture elegant and matching the rooms decor?
◽ Are all of the components of furniture arranged properly?
◽ Is an upgrade or repair in order?
◽ Does the master bedroom evoke a sense of relaxation and comfort?
◽ Is the colour palette consistent and neutral?
◽ Are the pieces of furniture arrange well?
◽ Is there anything that could use an update?
◽ Does the basement have a specific purpose or use other than storage?
◽ Is that evident when you enter the space?
◽ If the basement is finished does it have the appropriate furniture for its purpose?
◽ Are all surfaces clean?
◽ Is the counter neat and free of clutter and personal items?
◽ Are faucets clean and working properly?
◽ Have all tub and shower surfaces been cleaned?
◽ Are the towels fresh and neatly arranged?
◽ Are any storage areas clean?
The paint on the walls of your home takes up a great surface area and can have a big impact on buyers. Painting a room is a big enough job on its own, so painting a whole tasks is a mammoth undertaking in the minds of potential buyers.
If buyers don’t like it for whatever reason it alone can cause them to form a negative association and pass on buying your property. Fresh, neutral-toned paint is the best way to go. It allows buyers to easily project their vision of how it will look as their space and it’s easy to paint over.
With a neutral palette your buyers will be able to comfortably live in the house before deciding if they want to redo the paint jobs.
◽ Have you recently painted the house?
◽ Is the paint chipping, discoloured, or otherwise in decay?
◽ Do the walls have loud colours which need to be painted to more neutral tones?
◽ Although the walls have neutral colours do they need a fresh coat?
◽ Do the rooms have a consistent colour scheme throughout? (e.g. cool or warm)
◽ Are any of the walls covered in wallpaper? If so it should be removed and replaced with a neutral paint colour.
◽ Do any finishes (e.g. doors, trim, wainscotting) need a new coat of paint or new colour?
◽ Do any of the ceilings need fresh paint?
◽ Are any of the surfaces covered in dirt or fingerprints?
◽ Any residue from tape, thumb tacks, or nails?
A home’s floors can be a good indicator of how well the previous owners have maintained the property. Scuffed, poorly kept floors can give buyer’s the impression that other parts of the house aren’t in great condition either.
Having nice flooring all throughout is a good indicator that a home is move-in ready. With that in mind, here are the key points you should knock of your to-do list when it comes to your home’s flooring.
◽ Does your home have carpeting? If so, what condition is it in?
◽ What colour is the carpeting in your home?
◽ What is the carpet’s style (e.g. cut pile berber)?
◽ Do any of the rooms that don’t have carpeting need it?
◽ Which carpets need to be replaced – All rooms of just a few? (if only a few rooms need new carpeting make sure you chose something that works with the rest of the carpets)
◽ Does any of the carpeting have hardwood underneath?
◽ Is there vinyl flooring?
◽ Does any vinyl flooring need to be replaced?
◽ Do you have hardwood floors?
◽ Do the hardwood floors need to be refinished?
◽ Any places with excessive wear or water damage?
◽ Are all area rugs strain free?
Removing too much furniture makes a house feel empty and not livable while leaving too much or not arranging it properly create clutter. The happy medium is having the right number and type of furniture in each room arranged in such a way that brings out the rooms strengths and favourable qualities.
Keep in mind that the furniture should be arranged with the showing in mind. Arrange things according to the flow of how buyers will move through the house, not necessarily what is most comfortable or convenient for residents.
◽ Don’t forget to light everything properly to place emphasis on each room’s most attractive features.
◽ Here’s what you should consider what arranging and placing furniture in the house your selling:
◽ How much furniture does each room have in it?
◽ What is the placement of each piece of furniture in the respective room?
◽ Is your furniture in good, showing condition?
◽ Do you think you need to replace or rent furniture to replace furniture with wear and tear?
◽ Is there enough light in each room and are the bulbs appropriate wattage?
◽ Are all of the bulbs working properly?
◽ Do all switches work correctly?
Elements like windows, doors, and finishes are elements of your home which can serve as accents that really accentuate a room’s charm. If they’re in disrepair or mismatched, they can unfortunately have the opposite effect.
Here’s what to consider when evaluating whether any of your home’s finishes need a once-over or replacement:
◽ Do any doors have chipping paint or need new paint or replacing?
◽ Do all the doors open and close smoothly?
◽ Are the handles and locks moving smoothly?
◽ Do any of the doors creak?
◽ Do any frames or doors have smudges?
◽ Do any screens have holes?
◽ Are all of the windows clean and streak free?
◽ Is there any damage to any of the windows?
◽ Are all of the window latches and other hardware working?
◽ Are all of the seals in place?
◽ Are the curtains, drapes, and/or blinds all clean and elegant?
◽ Do any of the homes finishes (e.g. wainscoting, crown moulding) need attention?
Your home’s air quality can have a big impact on your home sale. Even with new HVAC your home could have an atmosphere which is normal to you but not what most buyers are used to. It’s particularly common for properties which are home to pets to have this problem.
It is important to ensure your home has a neutral atmosphere to maximize its appeal to buyers. Odours can get trapped in carpets and furniture, mean it might be necessary to rent or buy new furniture or do some minor renovations.
◽ Is your homes HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, & Cooling) running smoothly?
◽ Have you inspected your smoke & carbon monoxide detectors and confirmed they are in good working order?
◽ Are there any lingering smells or odours permeating your home that you could eliminate?
◽ Do you often cook with strong seasoning or foods with strong odours?
◽ If you have pets around keep them somewhere else while showing the house. If not try to keep them and their items out of sight during showings.
◽ Remove signs of your pet including food, toys, accessories, etc.
Although you shouldn’t let the sale of your home stand in the way of holiday celebrations you should celebrate in a manner which won’t adversely affect your chances of attracting buyers.
For example holiday decorations and religious items should be stored away immediately following your celebration and not kept out in the open. Although some home sellers think adding a festive touch makes a home more inviting, it’s best to leave these items out of site at all times.
◽ Here’s what you should consider regarding holidays, celebrations, and your home sale:
◽ Are you selling your home around the holidays?
◽ Is it a festive time of year/ are there holidays taking place?
◽ Do you have decorations hanging around/inside your home? If so take them down for showings/photography.
◽ Keep the decor only for the celebration and remove everything after your festivities are done
There you have it – the checklist for selling your home in Toronto or The GTA. The list may seem daunting, but keep your list current by checking items off the list and you’ll get peace of mind that your sales process will run smoother.
Thinking of selling your home in Toronto or The GTA?
Consider working with Frank Leo & Associates. Led by the #1 Individual RE/MAX Agent in the World, our Team has helped 1,000’s of Torontonians get top dollar value for their homes over 30 years. We’ve sold billions of dollars worth of real estate and are proud to serve the region.