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Planning Your Move

An article from the Chronicle Herald by Vanessa Roman

I love timelines — they’re the dummy’s guide to planning ahead … or trying to find where you left your keys. At this time of year, timelines for buying and selling properties can be useful in getting yourself organized for the changes ahead.

As a real estate agent, I find the most successful moves are those that are strategically scheduled. So here is the six-month timeline I like to share with my clients when getting their home read to sell.

Six months to go

You have made the big decision — it’s time to move. If there are no employment or personal reasons pressing for a swift move, set yourself a target date to move and work backwards. You should hire a real estate agent early in the process so you can plan for your future home, while getting your current one ready to sell. Your agent will give you advice on what needs to be upgraded, organized and repaired to help sell the property quickly and for top dollar.

It’s time for lists within lists. Go around your home and leave a list in each room of what needs to be cleaned, upgraded, de-cluttered or repaired and a deadline. You might notice new things over time so don’t feel you need to finalize this list immediately. But aim to finish one room each week and then set firm dates for any work you need to hire a professional to complete such as painting, repairs or construction upgrades. Be sure to have a budget to cover the costs of preparing to sell your home. A good average would be to save one to three per cent of the value of the home, which will be spent on getting it ready to sell.

Three months to go

You’ve already de-cluttered by this point and boxed some non-essentials to allow space for the home improvements and finding surprise problems you didn’t see immediately. You might not have found your perfect dream new home yet, but stick to your target date regardless, and keep an open mind. Stay positive above all else — it is a stressful time and you don’t want to pass that on to your family, especially children. If you’re planning effectively, you will be ready to move.

Have all essential documents such as a current property tax bill, a record of the last 12 months heating and power costs, plot plan and any well or septic information set aside in a secure file to provide to your real estate agent when your home is listed for sale.

Two months to go

Let’s put your new home on the back burner for the moment and just focus on preparing to list your current property. Major home improvements should be finished by this point to allow time for surface improvements, regardless of whether you’ve got professionals coming in or are doing work yourself.

One month to go

Unless there are major yard issues to address, this is the time to start trimming and tidying everything outdoors. Meanwhile, your indoor improvements should be almost done and all non-essentials should be boxed and stored. That doesn’t mean you need to be 100 per cent packed, but you want your home to feel clutter free, clean and tidy. You will be pleasantly surprised how much easier it is living with less ‘stuff’ around the house.

Around this time your real estate agent will perform a market analysis of your home to help you set the list price for your property.

Two weeks to go

Time to bring in the professional photographer to take stunning photos of your property for all of the marketing materials.

Have plans in mind for what to do when viewers are coming — because you shouldn’t be home. What activities will you do as a family to get you out of the house?

One week to go

Sit back and relax! You’ve finished everything because you followed my advice and are super organized. Well done you.


Ah, but you forgot something. We always do. Don’t panic, just focus on what needs to be done and who can help. Then it’s your real estate agent’s turn to work hard and get your home sold!