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Perhaps you've outgrown your starter home and you're ready for an upgrade. Or you're ready to help an aging parent ease into retirement by providing them with an in-law suite.

Whatever your reason, selling your home might be an important move for you to make in the future. If this is the case, you need to know which steps to take before listing your home on the market.

Here are five things to think about and plan for now. Doing so will help you keep pace with the hectic process of selling, while also giving your property the best chance of securing a great offer from a hopeful buyer.

1. Do Some Basic Research on Your Next Home

Don't start the process of listing your home for sale if you're not clear on what you'd like to buy first. Do you know where you'd like to move and what kind of house you want to have this time around? Have you scoped out the area and the surrounding community? Take time to differentiate your lists of must-haves and nice-to-haves and take an honest look at your finances to set your budget for your next home purchase.

It's easy to get caught up in the selling process and forget all about the planning you did to buy your first home. Consider some of the questions above, especially if you're in a seller's market — things can move fast, which is a good thing, but you don't want to be completely unprepared for your next purchase because you were focused on the sale of your current home.

2. Clean up

Before you start worrying about real estate agents, listing your home, or marketing the property to potential buyers, focus on what's right in front of you. For many homeowners, that's some of the clutter that's built up over the years since they've lived in the house.

If you want buyers to be able to imagine themselves living in the space, it's time to declutter and deep clean. This might seem overwhelming, but it's a doable task if you tackle one room at a time. Get rid of what you can first (either by giving it away, holding a yard sale, working with your local consignment shop to sell valuable items, or throwing items away).

Then, get to cleaning. This might be a great time to hire a cleaning service who can do a professional job from top to bottom. The price for the service is likely well worth the time and energy you'll save by trying to do it yourself.

3. Make a List of What to Fix

As you clean and declutter your home room by room, pay attention to the little repairs and fixes that you might have learned to live with, buyers may notice when considering your home for purchase.

The door that doesn't quite close right? The unsightly stain on the spare bedroom carpet? These are all things that should be addressed before your home goes on the market.

You should also consider small tweaks, like updating light bulbs (or buying extra lamps for especially dim rooms) or repainting baseboards so they look clean and fresh. Bigger jobs — like painting whole rooms or upgrading flooring — might be something to consider as well if you want to get as close to your asking price as possible.

4. Interview (and Choose) Your Real Estate Agent

One of the last steps to take before listing your home? Finding the right agent. Choosing your real estate agent is a critical part of the selling process, and you want to make sure you find someone who:

  • Understands the local area and housing market
  • Has a proven track record of strong sales and happy clients
  • Puts your interests first, and communicates well (including showing that they're willing to take the time to truly listen to you)

This is an important relationship to get right, so take your time to interview multiple agents. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and remember that you're going to work closely with this person in a high-pressure situation. You should not only trust their professional judgment but you should also feel comfortable working with them. A strong personality fit matters!

5. Bring in the Pros to Make Your Home Look Its Best

Finally, you might want to consider working with your agent or hiring a third party to come in and stage your home. These professionals know all of the tips and tricks to make homes look their best, and the right real estate agent can work with you to make sure you get the highest offer once you list your home on the market.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

By selecting any external link on, you will leave the KeyBank website and jump to an unaffiliated third party website that may offer a different privacy policy and level of security. The third party is responsible for website content and system availability. KeyBank does not offer, endorse, recommend, or guarantee any product or service available on that entity's website.

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