A Seller's Timeline: What to Expect



Selling your home can seem overwhelming if you don't know what to expect.  Getting prepared and knowing the timeline can make a huge difference bringing in buyers, avoiding delays and ultimately, getting your home sold.

Before you list

As soon as you decide it’s time to put your home on the market, it’s also time to start sprucing up the place.  Make necessary repairs, paint walls, start packing and purge.  A good agent can coach you through this process.

And CLEAN.  Clean, clean, clean.  You always want to make the best first impression possible, and you only have one shot at it.  Don’t distract with clutter. 

You also might want to consider staging.  This is really helpful if your home is going to be vacant when it goes on the market, or if you want to maximize the potential use for a particular room.  It shows a buyer how the space can be used.  This is also where your agent comes in handy – for both advice and for coordination.

Aside from the hands-on work you can do with your home, you should also get your financial ducks in a row.  If you have a mortgage, contact your lender for a payoff letter.  Clear up any debts relating to the property, like assessments, if needed.  If you’re going to be buying a new property, you should also get pre-qualified or pre-approved so you know where you stand budget-wise.

Finally, start talking.  Tell everyone about your plans to sell.  Your family and friends will probably know you’ll be moving, but tell your neighbors and co-workers also.  Your agent should have a comprehensive marketing plan in place, and nothing can replace that, but telling people about your upcoming listing is the earliest marketing opportunity for your home.  Your never know who might refer a buyer.


Once your home is in tip-top shape, it’s time for some glamour shots.  A professional photographer will make sure to capture your home in the best light and at the right angles.  Good photos bring the buyers to the door. 

Once your home goes on the market, you want it to look like a model home, and you want prospective buyers to be able to picture themselves living in it.  Live in a perpetual state of cleanliness.  It's an adjustment, but it won’t last forever, and it’s worth it.

Once under contract

First 1-2 weeks:  Once you have accepted an offer, the contract should go to your attorney for review, and any additional negotiations should be hashed out.  The buyer will likely coordinate an inspection, and any issues that arise would also be negotiated and hopefully resolved.  If you're selling a single family home, it would be your responsibility to provide the buyer with a current survey of the property.

Next 3-4 weeks:  If you agreed to any repairs as a result of the inspection report, now is the time to get them done.   Call a moving company to lock down your move date.  And pack!

More time?  Unfortunately, sometimes there are delays.  It might be in the negotiations, the repairs or the lending process.  Staying organized and keeping the lines of communication open can help.


Within 1-2 days of the closing, after moving out, conduct a walk-through.  This gets everyone on the same page that the home is being delivered as promised - like with working appliances and completed repairs, and without major damage.  Pre-closing walk-throughs are usually thought of in terms of protecting the buyer, but they can be just as vital for a seller.

Closings take time, but once you hear the three magic words – “Clear to close!” - you can breathe a sigh of relief.  And move onward to your next chapter!