Listing Checklist for Selling Your Home in Seattle

We’ll work hard to match the time and effort it takes to prepare your home for market with the current pace of buyer activity so you can achieve the best results from your sale. Below is a detailed checklist which may vary for your property based on a number of factors.

Listing Agreement

A listing agreement is a legally binding contract between a real estate agent or brokerage firm and a property owner (often referred to as the seller or homeowner) that outlines the terms and conditions for the sale of a property. This agreement serves as the foundation for the real estate agent's responsibilities and the seller's expectations during the process of selling a property. Here is an overview of what a listing agreement typically entails:

1. Identification of Parties: The agreement starts by identifying the parties involved, including the seller(s) and the real estate agent or brokerage firm.

2. Property Description: A detailed description of the property being sold, including its address, legal description, and any unique features or attributes.

3. Listing Price: The agreed-upon listing price for the property. This price is determined through a comparative market analysis (CMA) conducted by the real estate agent, taking into account market conditions, comparable properties, and the seller's expectations.

4. Duration of Agreement: The listing agreement specifies the length of time the property will be listed for sale. Common durations are 3, 6, or 12 months, but it can vary based on negotiation.

5. Commission: The commission rate or fee that the seller will pay to the real estate agent upon the successful sale of the property. This is typically a percentage of the final sale price and is negotiable.

6. Terms and Conditions: The agreement outlines the specific terms and conditions that both parties must adhere to during the listing period. This may include details on how the property will be marketed, the responsibilities of the agent, and the seller's obligations, such as maintaining the property in a marketable condition.

7. Exclusive Right to Sell: Most listing agreements grant the real estate agent an exclusive right to sell the property. This means that the seller cannot work with another agent to sell the property during the agreement's duration. However, there are variations, such as open listings or exclusive agency listings, which offer different levels of exclusivity.

8. Marketing Plan: The agreement may include a marketing plan outlining how the real estate agent intends to promote the property, including online listings, traditional advertising, open houses, and more.

9. Dispute Resolution: Procedures for resolving disputes between the parties, such as mediation or arbitration, may be specified in the agreement.

10. Termination Clause: Conditions under which either party can terminate the agreement before its expiration date, including reasons for termination and any associated penalties or fees.

13. Legal Requirements: Compliance with all applicable real estate laws, regulations, and ethical standards is typically included in the agreement.

Once both parties agree to the terms and sign the listing agreement, the real estate agent can begin marketing the property and working to find a buyer. If the property is successfully sold during the listing period, the agent receives their commission as specified in the agreement. Listing agreements are crucial documents in real estate transactions, as they establish the framework for the relationship between the seller and the real estate agent, helping to protect the interests of both parties.


A pre-inspection, often referred to as a pre-listing inspection or seller's inspection, is a thorough examination of a residential property conducted by a licensed home inspector before the property is listed for sale. The primary purpose of a pre-inspection is to identify and assess the condition of various components and systems within the house. Here's why you might want to consider having a pre-inspection done when selling a house:

1. Understanding the Property's Condition: A pre-inspection provides the seller with a comprehensive understanding of the current condition of their property. It helps uncover any hidden issues or needed repairs that may not be immediately obvious.

2. Setting Realistic Expectations: Armed with the inspection report, the seller can set realistic expectations for potential buyers. They can disclose known issues upfront, which can build trust and transparency in the transaction.

3. Pricing the Property Accurately: Knowing the property's true condition allows the seller to price it more accurately. It helps prevent overpricing due to misunderstandings about the property's condition or underpricing due to fear of hidden problems.

4. Avoiding Surprises: A pre-inspection can help avoid last-minute surprises during the negotiation or escrow process. If issues are discovered and addressed before listing, there is less likelihood of a deal falling apart due to unexpected repair demands or buyer concerns.

5. Facilitating Faster Sales: A well-maintained and issue-free property is more attractive to potential buyers. Addressing problems in advance can make the property more marketable and potentially lead to a faster sale.

6. Negotiation Leverage: If the seller is willing to repair or address issues found during the pre-inspection, they can do so proactively. This can give them more control over the negotiation process and potentially result in a smoother transaction.

7. Avoiding Renegotiations: Pre-inspections can help reduce the likelihood of buyers conducting their inspections and then asking for concessions or price reductions based on their findings. This can help streamline the closing process.

8. Legal Protection: In some cases, a pre-inspection may provide some legal protection to the seller. By disclosing known issues, the seller may be less vulnerable to post-sale claims from buyers who later discover problems.

9. Marketing Advantage: A seller can use the pre-inspection report as a marketing tool to attract buyers. It demonstrates the property's condition and shows that the seller is committed to transparency.

10. Peace of Mind: Sellers can have peace of mind knowing they've taken proactive steps to ensure their property is in the best possible condition for sale. This can reduce stress during the selling process.

It's important to note that while a pre-inspection can be highly beneficial, it does not replace the need for a buyer's own inspection. Buyers often prefer to have their own inspection done to ensure an unbiased assessment of the property's condition. However, a pre-inspection can help create a smoother, more transparent, and less contentious selling process by addressing issues upfront and allowing for informed decision-making by both parties.

Staging Your House

Staging a house for sale involves preparing and decorating a property in a way that makes it more appealing to potential buyers. The primary goal is to create an inviting and visually appealing environment that allows buyers to envision themselves living in the home. Here's why someone would want to stage their house for sale and an overview of the staging process:

1. Enhance Visual Appeal: Staged homes tend to look more attractive and well-maintained, which can immediately capture a buyer's attention. This first impression is critical in real estate.

2. Highlight the Property's Features: Staging can draw attention to the property's best features, such as architectural details, spacious rooms, or beautiful views, helping buyers see the full potential of the home.

3. Create a Neutral Canvas: Staging often involves depersonalizing the space by removing personal photos and unique decor. This allows potential buyers to imagine their own belongings and style in the home.

4. Optimize Layout and Flow: Professional stagers can arrange furniture and decor to maximize the flow of the house, making it easier for buyers to navigate and understand the layout.

5. Showcase Space and Functionality: Staging can help buyers visualize how rooms can be used. For example, a spare bedroom might be staged as an office or guest room, demonstrating its potential utility.

6. Improve Online Listings: Staged homes typically photograph better, which is essential for online listings. High-quality photos attract more potential buyers to view the property in person.

The Staging Process:

1. Consultation: The process usually begins with a consultation with a professional stager. During this meeting, the stager assesses the property, discusses the seller's goals and budget, and outlines a staging plan.

2. Declutter and Depersonalize: The first step is often decluttering and depersonalizing the space. This involves removing personal items, excess furniture, and clutter to create a clean and open canvas.

3. Repairs and Maintenance: Any necessary repairs or maintenance issues should be addressed, such as fixing leaky faucets, replacing burned-out light bulbs, or touching up paint.

4. Furniture Arrangement: Furniture is arranged to create a functional and appealing layout. Stagers often use a mix of the seller's existing furniture and rented pieces to achieve the desired look.

5. Color and Decor: Stagers may use neutral color palettes and tasteful decor to make the space feel welcoming and neutral. They may also add decorative touches like artwork, rugs, and cushions.

6. Curb Appeal: The exterior of the house is not overlooked. Staging may involve enhancing curb appeal by trimming landscaping, repainting the front door, or adding potted plants.

Professional home staging can be an effective strategy to attract potential buyers, create a memorable impression, and potentially increase the selling price or speed of sale. It's an investment that many sellers find worthwhile when selling their homes in a competitive real estate market.

Having an open house

Having an open house can be a valuable marketing strategy when selling a house, as it offers several benefits that can help attract potential buyers and increase the likelihood of a successful sale. Here are some reasons why someone selling their house should consider having an open house:

1. Exposure to a Larger Audience: Open houses are advertised to a broad audience of potential buyers, including those who may not have initially considered the property. This exposure can attract a diverse group of interested parties.

2. Convenience for Buyers: Open houses provide an opportunity for buyers to view the property without the need for an appointment. This convenience can encourage more people to attend and explore the house.

3. Competition Among Buyers: When multiple potential buyers visit the property during an open house, it can create a sense of competition. Buyers may be more motivated to make offers, potentially driving up the selling price.

4. First Impressions: A well-staged and well-presented open house can create a positive first impression. Buyers who are impressed during the open house may be more likely to seriously consider the property.

5. Face-to-Face Interaction: Sellers and their real estate agents can interact directly with prospective buyers during open houses. This allows them to answer questions, provide information, and address concerns in real-time, potentially building rapport and trust.

6. Feedback and Market Insights: Open houses can yield valuable feedback from potential buyers. This feedback can help sellers and agents adjust their marketing strategy or make necessary improvements to the property to make it more appealing.

7. Generate Buzz and Interest: Open houses can generate buzz and excitement about a property, especially in competitive markets. Word-of-mouth can spread among attendees, potentially attracting more interested buyers.

8. Maximize Marketing Efforts: An open house can be part of a broader marketing strategy that includes online listings, flyers, and advertisements. It serves as an opportunity to showcase the property in person, complementing online and print marketing efforts.

9. Showcasing Property Features: During an open house, sellers can highlight the unique features and benefits of the property. They can also provide information about the neighborhood and local amenities.

10. Flexible Scheduling: Some buyers may have busy schedules that make it difficult to view properties during regular business hours. Open houses often occur on weekends or evenings, offering flexibility for potential buyers.

11. Networking Opportunities: Real estate agents may use open houses as networking opportunities to connect with other agents who have clients looking for similar properties.

It's important to note that while open houses can be effective, they are not suitable for every property or situation. Some sellers and real estate markets may benefit more from private showings or other marketing strategies. Additionally, open houses require careful planning and safety measures, including safeguarding valuables and personal information, as the property is open to the public.

Accepting offers on your house

Reviewing offers on a house and negotiating the terms of the sale is a critical part of the home selling process. Here's a step-by-step overview of how this process typically unfolds and some possible negotiations that may occur:

1. Receiving Offers:
- Once your house is listed on the market, potential buyers or their agents will submit purchase offers. These offers will include details such as the proposed purchase price, the requested closing date, contingencies, and any additional terms or conditions.

2. Evaluation of Offers:

You and your real estate agent will review each offer carefully. Consider the following elements:

  • Purchase Price: The offered price is a significant factor. You'll assess whether it meets your expectations and aligns with current market conditions.
  • Contingencies: Examine any contingencies, such as financing, inspection, or appraisal, to understand the buyer's conditions for the sale.
  • Closing Date: Review the proposed closing date to ensure it works for your timeline.
  • Earnest Money: Check the amount of earnest money included with the offer. This is a deposit that demonstrates the buyer's commitment to the purchase.
  • Additional Terms: Pay attention to any special requests or conditions included in the offer.

3. Counteroffers:
If you receive offers that don't meet your desired terms, you have the option to issue counteroffers. A counteroffer proposes modifications to the terms of the buyer's offer. Common areas for negotiation include:

    • Purchase Price: You may counter with a higher price.
    • Contingencies: You can request that certain contingencies be removed or altered.
    • Closing Date: Negotiate a different closing date if the proposed one doesn't work for you.
    • Repairs or Credits: If a home inspection identifies issues, you may offer to make repairs or provide a credit toward the buyer's closing costs.
    • Inclusion/Exclusion of Personal Property: Negotiate which items (e.g., appliances, fixtures) are included in the sale.

4. Multiple Offers:

In competitive markets, you may receive multiple offers. In such cases, you can choose to accept the best offer or engage in a "multiple offer situation" where you request all buyers to submit their highest and best offers by a specified deadline.

5. Acceptance or Continued Negotiation:

If the buyer accepts your counteroffer, you move closer to finalizing the sale. However, negotiations can continue until both parties agree on all terms. If you can't reach an agreement, the deal may fall through, and you can consider other offers.

6. Escrow and Due Diligence:

Once the offer is accepted, the buyer typically enters an escrow period. During this time, they complete due diligence, which may include inspections, appraisals, and securing financing. Negotiations can continue if issues arise during this phase.

7. Finalizing the Sale:

If all contingencies are met, and the buyer secures financing, you proceed to the closing process. At closing, ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer, and you receive the agreed-upon sale proceeds.

Throughout the negotiation process, effective communication between you and your real estate agent is essential. They will guide you through the process, offer advice, and help you make informed decisions. Negotiations can be complex, and it's crucial to strike a balance between your goals as the seller and the buyer's needs to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.