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23 Must-Read Tips on Preparing Your Home for Its Sale

23 Must-Read Tips on Preparing Your Home for Its Sale

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I was getting ready to sell my home. Life circumstances changed, but I had it on the market for four days and received 2 good and one excellent offers. So the following steps did work!

I’ve taken multiple real estate courses. I’ve also been doing a lot of research and asking trusted experts for tips on preparing and staging a home to sell. Here is what I’ve learned over the years:

Things I Already Knew

1- Declutter, declutter, declutter!

I have been packing anything that I plan to put in storage at a new home in 27 gallon totes like these. Before I list my home, I will pack almost everything else (that I plan to unpack) into regular moving boxes.  I’ll leave just the daily living essentials in the house. More space and less stuff results in a much more roomy, airy, and inviting home. Also, get rid of those decorative collections that cause the eye to have spasms.  You know those shelves with 50+ figurines on them? Those. Get rid of those figurines and replace them with just a few well-placed modern decor items.

2-  Each room should have a purpose.

If you don’t have the money to buy a new bed, just get an inexpensive frame, and use an inexpensive air mattress to dress it up with neutral-patterned bedding. UPDATE– My air mattress had a slow leak and looked horrible for the photo shoot. So now I would highly recommend NOT using an air mattress. I just bought inexpensive beds. Try to stage every space. You can also borrow furniture, look on online classifieds, go garage saling, or use a home staging company.

3- Depersonalize.

You don’t want your buyer coming into the home and seeing your family, parents, religious emblems, and extended family strewn all around the house. They need to feel like it could be their space. Remove family photos and replace them with generic artwork that is pleasing to the eye—nothing too extreme or personal. A great way to find this kind of artwork is to go to Target, TJMaxx, Ross, or Amazon. Like this Starry Night by Van Gogh print, or Ansel Adams photography prints.

4- Clean, clean, clean.

Just start in one room and make sure everything is nice and clean. If you haven’t repainted this means washing down the walls as well. Use a toothbrush on the baseboards and in the window sill cracks. Do a deep clean so when potential buyers are looking around they get the feeling you took great care of the place.

5- Clear off countertops—esp. kitchen countertops.

You’ll want to have almost everything off the kitchen and bathroom countertops, except maybe a soap dispenser and a well placed vase or plant. Go for a clean, streamline look with big spaces.

6- Use lots of lighting.

Have all of the recently-cleaned windows uncovered and switch out light bulbs with higher wattages if needed. You want a lot of bright light pouring into every part of the home. I read to have 100 watts of light for every 50 square feet.

7- Layout each room functionally.

When deciding what to leave in a room as far as furniture goes, you will want to show that the space is functional. You’ll also want the buyer to feel like there is plenty of room to walk and maneuver. Don’t place furniture in walking paths, keep the smaller furniture (smaller dressers, desks, beds, couches, etc.) to make the rooms look larger, and move out the rest.

8- Make sure your home always smells nice.

Smell is very important. If you are living in the space, make sure the trash is taken out often, the disposal is clean, the diapers are outside, and laundry is turned over quickly so that no unpleasant smells are sitting. Open the windows for fresh air daily. Have a few air freshener plugins or something that can last weeks at a time.

9- Repaint.

Repainting really helps a space look new and clean. Paint a light or neutral color throughout the entire house rather than having accent walls of color. The eye opens when there is more light. Thus, a light color painted throughout the home will make the space feel bigger and more continuous. A darker colored accent wall makes the space stop, close off, and feel smaller to the eye.

10- Take care of little dings, holes in the walls, cracks, etc. Refinish or reface surfaces.

My plan is to patch up everything I need to using spackle. Then I will sand the area, spray a spackle texture spray if necessary, and wash the wall, then paint a fresh coat of paint over it. Consider refinishing wood floors, cabinets, wood accents that don’t match the wood in the room, etc. I used a Rustoleum dark brown kit to turn all my oak vanities and wood accents into more of a dark walnut color.

11- Spruce up your yard.

Weed, mow, install a weed barrier and cover it with mulch. Also having pots full of flowers or planting fresh flowers helps with curb appeal. Don’t forget to repaint a front door, wood trimming, a deck, etc.

Things I Have Recently Learned

12- Area rugs make spaces look smaller.

Take out area rugs—unless you need to cover up old hardwood or something you aren’t going to refinish, or if the rug really adds to the area.

13- Show how you can utilize awkward areas.

If you’ve figured out how to stage a weird shelf, or what to do with some space under the stairs keep that utilized so onlookers see how they can use the space too. Consult an agent on these types of decisions.

14- Do your best to make the space feel ‘magazine quality.’

If you are living in it, put all kitchen items that would be on your counter in your kitchen cupboards. Keep the trashes empty. Put personal hygiene items: tampons, condoms, etc. in more discrete areas. Have fresh flowers in vases. Maybe put a puffy white bath robe in the bathroom, etc. Spend some time online or looking through printed home magazines to get an idea of the details they use to make each home have that “magazine-quality” feeling.

15- A cleaned out pristine garage doesn’t really matter.

My experienced agent said you can put things in the garage if necessary. She said people understand that you are moving, and they typically don’t care about the garage more than how many cars they will be able to fit and storage options.

16- Leave lights on until late night.

Boost the curb appeal by leaving lights on during the evening just incase potential buyers drive by at night.

17- Use nice furniture.

Use furniture that is up-to-date and appealing to the eye when staging your home.

18- The master bedroom should appeal to both sexes.

Think neutral colors, paint, decor, etc.

19- Storage space sales!

All closets should be 50% empty to show spaciousness. Drawers should be 30% empty. Utilize boxes, your garage (within reason), and/or a storage unit to clear out enough room to showcase lots of storage space.

20- Fix old caulking and caulk any edges or cracks.

This is something I’m not sure I would have thought of. My real estate agent really recommended that we go around the outside and inside of my home and caulk any old caulk or cracks that need filling.

21- Replace outdated hardware and small items.

Replace old hardware, door knobs, light switch covers, etc. anything outdated should go. Old tile can be repainted for an inexpensive up-to-date look.

22- Get others’ opinions.

After getting your agent’s feedback, take some friends and family through your house before having an agent show it and see what they say. Ask them to point out anything negative they see.

23- Consider massive updates.

Updates are very important but they should return on your investment. If you are wanting to sell at the top of you home’s market,  you will want to see how those houses compare with yours. The homes at the top in my market all have stainless steel appliances, new lighting, and granite countertops. So we’ve put in stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, and new lighting. We may also plan to re-carpet the areas with carpet. Check with an agent for advice on this before pouring thousands into your home. It is not always a good ROI (return on investment) to make major updates, but for us we believe it is.

Good luck preparing, staging, and selling your home!

Do you have any additional tips I’ve missed? Please comment below.

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23 Must-Read Tips on Preparing Your Home for Its Sale


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