Preparing your Home for Sale

Preparing Your House for Sale                                                     

To make a great first impression on potential buyers, start by looking at your home, inside and out, through the eyes of a buyer. Consider what they will notice in the photographs and at a personal visit.

Before the House is Photographed and Goes on the Market

The day or two before your house goes up for sale, give your home a thorough cleaning inside and out; then do your best to keep it clean. Consider a storage unit for stuff you want to keep; sell (think garage sale!), donate or trash what you do not need. When it comes to showing your home, less is more!

Exterior of Home

  • The drive-up appeal and the front door create a lasting impression. Ensure the house number is clearly visible from the street.
  • Remove all yard clutter.  In winter, remove any snow or ice from walks and steps. 
  • Since your front door greets prospective buyers, go for the fresh, clean, and scrubbed look.  Remove any cobwebs or wasp nests in the entryway.
  • Tighten and clean all door handles.
  • Mow, trim, and water the lawn; fertilize if necessary.   In winter, seed lawn with winter rye. 
  • Prune bushes, remove weeds, and apply fresh mulch to flower beds. Add color to the yard by planting seasonal bedding flowers (mums, pansies, and petunias are good choices).
  • Clean all windows (and screens) inside and out.
  • Ensure gutters and downspouts are clean and are attached securely to the house.
  • If you have a swimming pool, clean it regularly.

Interior of Home

  • Remove family photos, excess wall hangings, and knick-knacks.  De-clutter is the word for sellers!  This not only opens up the house but helps you get ready to move.  Storing boxes in the garage is an acceptable practice if that’s the only option.  You must however provide access to electrical panels, hot water heater, attic ladder, and sprinkler system controls.
  • Rearrange furniture or remove extra pieces to give the air of spaciousness.  
  • Clean walls and ceilings; repair any cracks or holes.  Get rid of dust bunnies.  Fresh paint using neutral colors is an investment that pays off. 
  • Have carpets cleaned or replaced if torn or soiled. Clean tile and wood floors.  Vacuum pet hair.
  • Clean and organize cabinets and closets.  Pack excess linens and clothing to make the closets look bigger.
  • Repair any plumbing leaks, including faucets and drain  traps.  Replace any old chalking around sinks, showers, and bathtubs.  Bathrooms help sell the house so make them sparkle.  Invest in a new shower curtain. 
  • Clean all light fixtures.  Ensure all light bulbs work.
  • Clean or replace the AC grates and if a filter is visible, replace it with a new one.
  • Remove ashes from the fireplace; if you have glass doors on the fireplace, clean them as well.
  • Eliminate the source of an unpleasant smells; a drop or two of industrial strength deodorant will sometimes do the trick. Don’t smoke in the house! Check the pet odor – don’t allow pet odors to cost you a buyer! Avoid cooking foods with strong and offensive odors. Empty the trash cans; if using trash bags place a new one in the receptacle.

The Day Of Showing and or Open House

You should plan to vacate your home during the showing or an open house; potential buyers often do not feel comfortable exploring a home with the homeowner present.  Avoid the temptation to verbally show the house yourself.  Leave that to the professional.  Give your house a last-minute walkthrough before you leave.

Exterior of Home Checklist

  • Ensure the driveway and walkways to the front door are clear and easy to navigate.
  • Keep the driveway and curb in front of the house  clear for visitor parking. 
  • Clean up pet droppings from the lawn.
  • If you have deck furniture and a pool, arrange the chairs so they face the pool.
  • Put away your empty garbage cans immediately after the garbage pickup has occurred. 

Interior of Home Checklist

  • SECURE ANY CASH, JEWELRY, FIREARMS, MAIL,TAX RETURNS, and PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS.  Lock them up or take with you when you leave.
  • If rain or snow is predicted, place a doormat and an umbrella stand at the entry for visitors.  
  • Leave the AC and heat on, even if the house is vacant. 
  • Clear the kitchen countertops and tables; make sure dishes are clean and put away.  There should be nothing in the sink or on the stove or cook top.
  • Clean and shine all metal and glass surfaces.  The refrigerator should be clear of magnets and clutter.
  • Let the sun shine in; open drapes and shades.  Turn on the lights in rooms; dark rooms have less appeal.
  • Hang fresh towels in bathrooms.  All toilet lids must be in the down position.
  • Make the beds!  Use attractive bedspreads or quilts.
  • Clear any debris or clothing from all the floors.
  • Remove all the eye distractions (toothbrushes, hair dryers, electrical cords, seasonal decorations, and pet food bowls. 
  • Turn on soft music at low volume but don’t leave the TV on because it will compete for the buyer’s attention.
  • Use a Scentsy pot (not candles) to create a pleasant smell (vanilla is best).  Consider baking bread or cookies that morning.
  • Restrain your pets when the property will be shown.  Perhaps your friendly pup could visit a neighbor’s yard.  Don’t let a barking dog scare away a potential buyer.  Remove litter boxes when possible, or at the very least, clean them daily.

Only show your home by an agent making an appointment through the showing service or by your agent scheduling an open house.  A final word to the wise:  Let your Realtor discuss price, terms of the sale, possession of the house, and other factors with a customer and his agent.  Your Realtor and a buyer’s agent are eminently qualified to bring negotiations to a favorable conclusion.