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Preparing for Closing Day After Selling Your House

A lot of real estate blogs focus on first time home buyers, and though first time buyers are some of my favorite clients to work with, today I wanted to talk about a topic relevant to clients who are selling their first house.

Cleaning and preparing for closing day can be stressful, and there are a lot of misconceptions about what is expected in the final walkthrough

I sold my house, now what? What can I leave behind for the folks who bought my place? How clean does the house need to be? These are a few questions first time sellers wonder as they get ready to close.

Let’s be honest here: moving is a big pain in the you-know-what. Furthermore, cleaning your house is just as big of a pain. Now let’s combine the two and make ourselves really regret ever selling in the first place!

I kid, of course. Selling your house can be a wise — even if necessary — life decision. Perhaps your family has outgrown your current home, or perhaps a lovely house in your dream town became available and you couldn’t say no.

Whatever your reason for selling, I’m sure it wasn’t out of love for dusting and lifting heavy, bulky armoires. And yet, you’ve sold your house and are left with these necessary evils. So, with that, let me spend a little time making these evil chores a little more bearable…

There are very important things to know about selling your house and making sure you’re ready by closing day. Any discrepancies at the final walkthrough could jeopardize the sale of your house.

Not to worry, though. A few simple tips will make preparing for closing easy and as stress-free as possible.

Firstly, I’d like to go over your obligations as a seller and what is expected of you and the condition of the house on the final walkthrough. Obviously, real estate laws vary by state, but the standards are similar.

The standard expectation for the final walkthrough is that your soon-to-be former home is empty and in “broom clean condition.” This means that the house is clear of all your belongings and has at least been swept clean.

The good news here is that you’re not obligated to go into every nook and corner of the house with a toothbrush in hand, scrubbing off every smudge on the wall and exterminating the very last mote of dust in the coat closet.

The bad news is that the ugly, leaning TV set collecting dust in the basement needs to go! The broken acoustic guitar and totes of old toys in the garage need to go too! That’s not to say that every piece of furniture must go. You are always able to offer items beforehand for the buyers to keep, but, ultimately, it is up to the folks buying your home to decide to keep whatever furniture or décor you don’t want to take with you to your new place.

 Any items they don’t want, must be removed by final walkthrough.

I’ll start by simply naming the easy, no-brainer tips for a smooth transition: start cleaning and decluttering early; hire a moving company if you can afford one; rent a dumpster or hire a junk-removal company to take away all the stuff you don’t want to take with you, and/or have a yard sale: why not let your neighbors pay you to remove your unwanted junk!?

The biggest logistical concern is knowing when your new place is available for moving in. Packing up all your stuff and loading it up in a truck is a chore but having nowhere to go with it is a nightmare. If you’ve bought a new home, matching the closings back-to-back can be helpful.

This isn’t always the case, though. I’ve had clients who have had to rent storage units or hold on to rental trucks for multiple days. These measures, even if not ideal, might be necessary. Having a plan well ahead of time is essential.

Some moving companies will hold on to your possessions for weeks or even months. This might be an easier option.

Lastly, but most importantly, plan on having all your possessions out – at the very least – by the day BEFORE the final walkthrough. Leave nothing to chance. Plan on using your last day to sweep and dust the house.

Avoid being the client waiting on his or her stoner cousin and their three buddies to come help move the sectional into a pick-up truck as the buyer agent and their client stand on the front lawn watching!

Preparing to sell your house for the first time can be just as stressful as buying a home for the first time. As an experienced agent, I’m constantly checking in on my sellers after their listing has gone under agreement to help them prepare for closing day. Heavy armoires and dust older than the Carter administration don’t readily come to mind when it comes to real estate, but taking care of every little detail is the key to a successful home sale!

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Melanie Graham

Melanie Graham