You’re excited to get your next listing on the market, but now you’re feeling the pressure to do an amazing job for your sellers, who have put their trust in you and are excited about making a move.

All sellers expect the same things from you, whether they’re a repeat client, a referral, relocating executive, a luxury home owner or a first-time seller. What they want is the most money for their home in the least amount of time with the fewest hassles and stress to them. So how can you deliver?

Preparing your next listing so it shows like a model home is the goal. Even if you have little competition from other homes for sale, it’s your job (and the seller’s expectation) to market, advertise, show and sell their home in its best light. And the more competition you do have, it becomes critical to show the best versus the other homes.

Start by discussing with your seller clients that the way they live in their home when it’s for sale is different than how they live in it when it’s not.

Then create your checklist based on these top 10 action items to do before you approve the first showing:

1. Make sure the curb appeal and foyer are on point. Buyers make their decision on a home in two places: first, from the street, based on curb appeal, and second, in the foyer as soon as they enter the home. Make sure both places shine. It can net your seller thousands or tens of thousands more when you do this right!

Landscaping may need to be upgraded, spruced up, re-mulched or weeded.

Does the front door look inviting? Add a wreath, paint it, remove a screen door or whatever will make it look more like the front door of a Hallmark movie! Add a welcoming doormat, some potted plants on the porch or a new doorknocker for example.

In the foyer, the goal is to have a bright, spacious feel. No coat trees, no furniture, no clutter. Remember, you’ll have an agent, one or two buyer clients and maybe their kids walking in for the showing. It can’t feel cluttered or congested. They’re imagining having friends over and being proud of their home.

2. Remove excessive furniture so the floor plan makes sense and it’s not hard to get around. Imagine 3 adults wearing coats and purses walking through each room. Are they dodging too many chairs and ottomans?

Use a Home Consignment Center or a similar store to consign furniture the clients don’t want anymore, or donate to a homeless shelter, military base or fire station. Workout equipment, pool tables and big-screen TVs are all fair game for the decluttering project. Dog kennels, cat trees and things like this can all find good homes through donations or posting online.

3. Have a pet plan. Not everyone loves pets, and some are allergic. Both will ruin an otherwise good showing. Doggie daycare or finding a pet sitter for showings may be a good move.

4. Eliminate any odors. Smells, both identifiable and not, are not good for showings. Cat pee, smoke, strong spices of cooking, mustiness — it’s all bad.

Remove carpet, drapery and furniture that may be emanating these odors.

Invest in an air ionizer and run it in between showings to eliminate lingering smells. Add this to your toolkit for any listing with these issues.

5. Get the home pre-inspected and remedy any items that could wreck the deal later on. HVAC, plumbing, electric and safety items are the most important.

Change all furnace filters, knock the dust off the hot water tank and check for mold in the basement and crawl spaces.

Offer a copy of the inspection along with receipts of any recent repairs when you start showing the home. Mention it in the agent-to-agent comments in the MLS.

6. Create an amazing home brochure with professional photos. If you can’t personally create these using Canva or another method, find out who the top luxury agents in your market use and consider hiring them. It matters!

7. Preview the competition the day before you launch your new listing. Make sure your pricing is still accurate and know what the potential buyer for your listing is also considering. Your price has to make sense! In some cases, you may want to take your seller client along for these showings so you’re all on the same page regarding pricing.

Are other listings (or new construction) offering seller incentives? You may need to meet or beat them depending on what you’re up against.

8. Remove scuffs and smudges from the walls and painted railings in the home. Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge to get rid of shoe marks and other minor things. If that doesn’t spruce it up, painting may be in order.

9. Review the exterior home including the backyard, porches, decks and fences. Repair anything that will come out on an inspection and just like the front, make it more inviting. Think about kids and pets and summertime activities. Does the back or side yard look inviting or does it look sketchy?

Add trees or other screening if the house has questionable views. This could kill the deal even if the potential buyer loves the home. Anticipate objections and mitigate them before they cause the home to sit or need price reductions.

10. Make sure your description in the MLS and all sites is compelling and makes an agent or buyer need to see your listing first (or next)! “Open and airy floor plan” or “neutral decor” says absolutely nothing.

Ask ChatGPT for help on your descriptions.

Borrow language from other sources that are more descriptive than you may be until you get the hang of it. Would you want to show it based on your description?

Tim and Julie Harris host a podcast for real estate professionals. Tim and Julie have been real estate coaches for more than two decades, coaching the top agents in the country through different types of markets.

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