Skip To Content

Preparing your home for sale: a check list

Potential buyers are not going to take extra time and effort to fall in love with your home. Remember, the average buyer looks at dozens of homes in their search. You only have 60 seconds – at most –  to create a winning first impression. If the buyer can’t imagine themselves in your home in the first minute, they might walk out – or simply start making a list of things they will use to try and negotiate your price down.

Here are some simple to significant ways to maximize your home’s appeal – from the very start:

Curb appeal:

  • Cut the grass and remove all yard clutter. If you don’t have a service, hire one so this is done regularly.
  • Weed and apply fresh mulch to flower beds. Replace any dead or dying plants.
  • Apply fresh paint to wooden fences, and fix any broken boards.
  • Tighten and clean all door handles.
  • Clean windows inside and out. Repair any screens.
  • Power wash your home’s exterior.
  • Ensure all gutters and downspouts are firmly attached and functioning.
  • Paint the front door. Consult your realtor, and maybe a decorator, but the right color on your front door can make your home memorable and express some personality. It can also distract from other lesser amenities.
  • Buy a new welcome mat. Avoid kooky messages – just make sure it’s simple and clean.
  • Place potted flowers near the front door. Remove any other clutter from the entry.

Step inside:

  • Walk through your front door as if for the very first time. What do you notice? Where does your eye go? Is the function of this first room clear? Is the flow to other rooms obvious?
  • Evaluate the furniture in each room and remove anything that interrupts “the flow” or makes the room appear smaller. Consider renting a storage unit to move items off-site.
  • Clean and organize cabinets, closets, and bookshelves. Buyers will open every door! If the shelving is open, eliminate as many knick-knacks as you can.
  • Remove excess wall hangings and personal photos.
  • If you’ve already moved out of your home, consider hiring a professional stager who can bring in furniture to help your home feel warm and lead the buyers’ eye.

Room transformations:

  • Don’t be afraid to completely repurpose rooms or move furniture from one room to another.
  • If one of your rooms just gathers junk, clear it out and make it into a room that offers value. Add a bookcase and a cozy chair – now you have a reading nook. Clear it out for some exercise equipment and soft lighting – now you have an exercise or meditation studio.
  • If a room could serve several purposes, or if a special feature like a stained-glass window or antique chandelier conveys, create a tasteful printed sign to explain the information to buyers.

Clean and Repair:

  • Clean all light fixtures and ceiling fans, and shampoo carpets. Replace old lamps or lampshades.
  • Pay special attention to kitchens and bathrooms, where buyers will be quickest to judge.
  • Repair all plumbing leaks, including faucets and drain traps.
  • Make minor repairs (torn screens, sticking doors, cracked caulking).
  • Paint walls and ceilings a neutral color. Bold and dark colors can put buyers off – light colors are both easier to live with and easier to paint over.
  • Replace worn cabinet doors and door knobs.
  • Fix or replace discolored grout.
  • Replace broken tiles.
  • Replace worn countertops.

Special details for showings:

  • Let the light in: Turn on all the lights and open drapes and shutters in the daytime.
  • Keep pets secured outdoors.
  • Think like a hotel: Buy new towels for bathrooms and new bedding for bedrooms.
  • Play quiet background music.
  • Light the fireplace, or clean out the ashes and light some candles.
  • Infuse home with a comforting scent, such as vanilla. (Be aware that if you make the house smell like baking, guests will be disappointed if aren’t any cookies!)
  • Set the dining room table for a fancy dinner party.
  • Vacate the property while it is being shown.

Preparing your home can take work, but it will be worth it. Your home should woo the buyer – which means putting it in the very best light!