Punch List & Preparing to Sell (or Rent)

When your contractor says, “the work is finished,” the project is not yet complete!  Instead, that statement means it is time for you to thoroughly inspect all work done by your contractor and compare it to your agreed Detailed Scope of Work.  This is a critical step in the process of your rehab.  Take your time and inspect with a critical eye and from a buyer’s perspective.  Anything and everything missed or incomplete, be sure to write down.  Do not cut corners or attempt to trust your memory.

Start your inspection with the exterior of the property.  Walk around the entire property.  Then, go through every room of the interior.  Check the paint job, including the walls, trim, molding, ceiling, etc.  Run all water lines and check for any leaks.  Check all mechanical systems and all appliances to ensure they work properly.  Open & close all cabinets, including those in the kitchen, bath, laundry, etc.  Check all windows & doors to ensure they open & close properly.  Also, take notice of any funky smells.  

Once you’ve completed your inspection of the work done, review and finalize your list of rehab items missed or incomplete. This is your Punch List.  Share a written copy of the Punch List with your contractor so they have a clear understanding of all remaining work they must complete before getting paid.  Keep a copy of the Punch List for yourself, as you will need to reference it when you do a final inspection of the work done.

When your contractor says, “the work is finished on the Punch List,” it again means it is time to do a walkthrough.  This time, to inspect if all items on the Punch List have been completed to your satisfaction.  Once you complete that inspection and all permits have been signed off on. The Final Certificate of Occupancy (CO) has been issued, then (and only then) it is time to wrap up the project with your contractor.

At this point, you will have your contractor sign the Final Waiver of Lien. The waiver indicates that you and the contractor agree that the project is completely based on the contract agreement. The contractor does not have any grounds to make a claim or file a lien against the property.

Now you can issue the Final Payment to your contractor.  This is done only AFTER they have signed the Final Waiver of Lien.

As much as you feel excited and eager to wrap up this project, there is still more critical work to do.  It is important to focus on the remaining details, including cleaning, Staging, Photography, Getting the Property Listed, and being Rented or Sold, depending on your exit strategy.

Cleaning:  If you are planning to SELL (or RENT), the next step in the process is to clean the property thoroughly.  This means vacuumed, cleaned, spotless, and truly move-in ready. The perfect-condition home makes an excellent first impression.  We suggest you hire a professional cleaner.  

Staging:  If you are SELLING, consider staging the house once it has been cleaned, depending on the market and price point.  There are many reasons to stage.

  • Staged homes sell FASTER and for MORE MONEY on average than vacant homes.
  • Buyers assess if they like a home in seconds.
  • Staging makes a house feel like a home (appeal to emotions).
  • Buyers spend significantly more time looking at a staged home than a vacant home.
  • 90% of buyers cannot visualize a home’s potential without furniture (they cannot picture what it will look like as their home).
  • Staging de-emphasizes focus on any imperfections in the house.

Rooms to Stage:

  • Living Room
  • Kitchen
  • Master Bedroom
  • Dining Room
  • Finished Basement
  • Additionally, a buyer may have difficulty visualizing any room based on the unique layout or design.

Furnishing:  If you plan to RENT short-term (like Air BNB or VRBO), you will need to furnish the home appropriately.

Hire a Professional Photographer:  Whether SELLING or RENTING, hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your finished house.  Many photographers today will include photographs, video, and drone footage.

A professional photographer will have better lighting and will use angles that showcase your house!  This is a much better strategy than taking pictures with your phone.

Consumers shop online, and you want their introduction to your house to be the best possible experience!  First impressions count!