Preparing Your Home For Sale

  • Step 1
    Remove clutter and clear off counters
    • Throw out stacks of newspapers and magazines and stow away most of your small decorative items.
    • Put excess furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season clothing items that are cramping closet space.
    • Don’t forget to clean out the garage, too.
  • Step 2
    Wash your windows and screens
    • This will help get more light into the interior of the home.
  • Step 3
    Keep everything extra clean.
    • A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well-cared for.
    • Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, mop and wax floors, and clean the stove and refrigerator.
    • Polish your doorknobs and address numbers.
    • It’s worth hiring a cleaning service if you can afford it.
  • Step 4
    Get rid of smells
    • Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells.
    • Open the windows to air out the house.
    • Potpourri or scented candles will help.
  • Step 5
    Brighten your rooms
    • Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements.
    • Replace any burned-out bulbs in closets.
    • Clean the walls, or better yet, brush on a fresh coat of neutral color paint.
  • Step 6
    Don’t disregard minor repairs
    • Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well-maintained.
  • Step 7
    Tidy your yard
    • Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters.
    • For added curb appeal, place a pot of bright flowers near the entryway.
  • Step 8
    Patch holes
    • Repair any holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.
  • Step 9
    Add a touch of color in the living room
    • A colored afghan or throw on the couch will jazz up a dull room.
    • Buy new accent pillows for the sofa.
  • Step 10
    Make centerpieces for your tables
    • Use brightly colored fruit or flowers.
  • Step 11
    Set the scene
    • Set the table with fancy dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture living there.
    • For example, in the basement you might display a chess game in progress.
  • Step 12
    Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light
    • Show off the view if you have one.
  • Step 13
    Accentuate the fireplace
    • Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or put a basket of flowers there if it’s not in use.
  • Step 14
    Make the bathrooms feel luxurious
    • Put away those old towels and toothbrushes.
    • When buyers enter your bathroom, they should feel pampered.
    • Add a new shower curtain, new towels, and fancy guest soaps.
    • Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight.
  • Step 15
    Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside
    • If that’s not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (ideally in the basement), and let the real estate practitioner know where they’ll be to eliminate surprises.
  • Step 16
    Lock up valuables, jewelry, and money
    • While a real estate salesperson will be on site during the showing or open house, it’s impossible to watch everyone all the time.
  • Step 17
    Leave the home
    • It’s usually best if the sellers are not at home.
    • It’s awkward for prospective buyers to look in your closets and express their opinions of your home with you there.