15 Things To Do Now if You Want To Sell Your Home by the End of the Year

Taking proactive steps today means avoiding the pre-listing rush.

Home buyer taking keys from sellers
Updated June 6, 2024
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Is selling your house on your 2024 to-do list? Maybe you’re planning to list it next month or maybe you have a loose idea that you want it on the market before year’s end. 

In addition to researching your local market and avoiding costly repairs before you list it, there are cosmetic and practical things you can do to help your sale and feel confident your house will attract buyers and garner top dollar.

Here are 15 steps you can take today to make sure you’re ready to sell your house by the end of the year.

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Start decluttering now

Halfpoint/Adobe woman sorting wardrobe indoors at home

Decluttering always takes longer than you expect it to, and you always need to declutter more than you initially think is necessary. Don’t leave it until the final weeks before you list your home.

It may be difficult to find organizations that will take your unwanted stuff, and doing that research can add to your timeline.

For these reasons, you’ll want to start decluttering as soon as possible. Go through one closet or one room at a time, purging items you don’t need or putting them in a storage unit, packed safely away until you’re in your new home.

Find the right agent

New Africa/Adobe real estate agent giving keys

Not every real estate agent is right for every property. Find an agent who specializes in your region or even your neighborhood. You’ll also want to find out how many homes the agent has listed and sold in the past year.

If you have a condo, try to find an agent known for being tapped into the condo market.

Get a professional opinion on the price

Drazen/Adobe happy female real estate agent.

When potential sellers start thinking about a price, they often pull up Zillow or Redfin and get excited about the number staring back at them. But that doesn’t necessarily line up with reality (though sometimes it does).

To get a realistic price, enlist a Realtor’s expertise. They’ll pull comps and give you an idea of what the house can actually sell for in the current market.

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Consider getting an appraisal, too

Andrey Popov/Adobe hand filling real estate appraisal form

In addition to asking a Realtor for their professional expertise on pricing, consider getting an appraisal. A home appraisal costs an average of $356, according to HomeAdvisor.

An appraisal will let you know how much your home may appraise for when a lender conducts one for a potential buyer. That’s critical to make sure your buyer’s loan is approved.

It’s also a good idea to know that number going into negotiations so you aren’t tempted to push the price higher than the market dictates.

Have your agent do an initial walkthrough

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe estate agent showing house to couple

When you’re living in your house every day, it’s hard to have an unbiased opinion on what it looks like and how it appears to newcomers.

Ask your agent to do an initial walkthrough to point out renovations that need to be made, imperfections that need to be fixed, and to suggest where you can spend a little bit of money to make a big impact.

Bring in an inspector

Louis-Photo/Adobe male architect inspection house exterior

If you bring in an inspector before you list your house, they’ll locate any issues that need to be addressed or fixes that need to be made. They’ll make a list of everything from leaks to doors that don’t close to HVAC systems in need of repair.

You don’t necessarily need to make every repair, but often it’s better to address them before you list the home. You don’t want to have a buyer discover issues during their inspection and then try to negotiate the price down.

Make necessary repairs

Louis-Photo/Adobe man installing Double Sliding Patio Door

Looking at the inspection list, make the necessary repairs that may send up red flags for buyers.

Replace broken windows, address missing roof shingles, fix mislabeled electrical panels, and address any plumbing issues.

These may seem like small things, but buyers will read them as an indication of the overall condition of the house.

Think about nice-to-have and must-have

Andy Dean/Adobe Home For Sale Sign outdoors

You probably won’t want to spend the time and money on every possible repair and renovation — and they won’t all make sense financially. To help prioritize, think about your nice-to-have list and your must-have list.

Refinishing the hardwood floors on the first level may be a must-have to get your house market-ready. Installing new countertops can wait for the new owner to make their own kitchen upgrades.

Put a fresh coat of paint on the walls

Milan/Adobe Painter painting wall with roller

It cannot be overstated what a powerful impact a fresh coat of paint on the walls can make. Go with a light neutral so buyers will see it as a blank slate rather than a color that only you love.

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Look at the ROI on various renovations

Andy Dean/Adobe construction frames inside kitchen

As you’re considering which changes to make and which to skip, look at the data on the return on investment for renovations like kitchens or bathrooms.

While a big project may offer a wow factor to you, it may not move the needle. Kitchens, for example, only see a 31.7% return on investment when the house sells.

Start working on your curb appeal

Iriana Shiyan/Adobe American house with flower pots

You’ve probably been to an open house where you can tell the homeowners did the landscaping that week. Small, fresh plants float like tiny islands in a sea of mulch — and that’s not what you want.

Instead, start working on the curb appeal and gardening several months out. Your plants and flowers will fill in by the time you list.

Schedule a cleaning crew

rh2010/Adobe Professional cleaners cleaning house

A deep clean before an open house will make your house sparkle for potential buyers. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore cleaning throughout the entire period that it’s listed.

You never know when the perfect buyer might want to take an impromptu look, so schedule a cleaning crew regularly as soon as the home is listed.

Ask a friend how your house smells

Krakenimages.com/Adobe woman smelling aromatic candle at home

It’s easy to become nose blind to your own home, so ask a friend to come over and take a whiff. If they report back that they’re hit with the smell of your golden retriever, then it’s time to come up with a plan for fighting odors and making sure the source of the smell isn’t there on open-house day.

Hire a stager

bmak/Adobe modern style cozy living room

There’s a reason professional stagers exist: They’re great at making your home look buyer-ready. If you’ve made it to the final stages before listing, but you feel like your home isn’t quite ready for its big debut, hire a stager. 

They can rearrange your furniture and use your own decorative items to make a showstopping first impression. And if you feel your own furniture won’t appeal to buyers, a stager can bring in furniture and transform a home.

Splurge on professional photos

Cody/Adobe male Photographer filming real estate video

After you’ve spent the money on professional opinions and staging, don’t lose momentum when it comes to showing off your house in its best light. Hire a professional photographer to take the photos for the listing.

If your Realtor leans on social media to promote properties, this is key. Want video content? That’s another area where you can hire a videographer who knows all the tricks of the trade.

Bottom line

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe sold sign board outside house

No matter how long you’ve prepared to list your house, there will still be a mile-long list of things you need or want to do to get it ready. You may keep more money in your pocket by skipping a bathroom renovation, but installing new light fixtures or painting the interior inspires buyers to make a higher offer.

Overall, the key is understanding what actually matters to buyers, knowing how to prioritize projects, and deciding where to spend your pre-listing renovation money.

Lean on your Realtor’s knowledge and your stager’s expertise to help determine where you should spend your time and money if you want to sell your house this year.

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Author Details

Heather Bien

Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.