Preparing Your Home for Sale

First Impressions – Make a Difference


Experience shows that taking time to prepare your home results in:

  • increased desirability
  • shorter market time
  • highest sales price



  • Potential buyers are seeing your home for the first time. The impact made when they drive up to the house is called “curb appeal” and it is of critical importance. Remember, there is never a second chance to make a first impression.


  • Light has a magical effect on space. A bright space feels bigger, and warmer, more inviting.


  • Deodorize! Buyer’s impressions can be determined by a sense of smell. Fresh flowers or baking bread can be as memorable as the in the extra bedroom basement.


  • Spacious closets, empty shelves, & uncluttered surfaces portray an abundance of space. Get ready to move … Start packing!

Preparing Your Home (Inside)


  • Unclutter! You can live with yesterday’s newspaper by the comfy chair, mail on the table, laundry on the floor, and the cans waiting for recycle – buyers won’t!
    Keep surfaces clean and clear.
    Decorative baskets are perfect to hold clutter, and brightly colored laundry baskets are an inexpensive and easy way to keep toys in order.


  • Pack off-season clothes & remove all items from closet floors.


  • Paint any room if needed.  (White & off-white walls are preferred throughout the house).


  • Rearrange or remove some furniture to make rooms appear larger.


  • Take down or rearrange certain pictures (remove family/religious wall decoration).


  • Patch & paint if necessary.


  • Professionally clean carpets.


  • Wash mini blinds. Clean curtains & draperies as needed.


  • Clear the kitchen countertops.  Straighten the kitchen drawers.


  • Clean the refrigerator front of messages, pictures, etc. Wipe top & clean inside.


  • Replace cook top drip pans & rims, scour the sink, and shine chrome faucets.


  • Oil door hinges, tighten door knobs & drawer pulls.


  • In the bathroom: clear countertops, tub, ledges, shower floors, commode tops except for a few decorative items.


  • Remove water spots from shower doors and scrub tracks.


  • Re-caulk and grout, add a new shower curtain, maybe a toilet seat.


  • Repair dripping faucets and leaky toilets.


  • Wipe the furnace and hot water heater.


  • Vacuum cobwebs from basement ceilings. Leave walls exposed (for inspection purposes).


  • Replace all burned out light bulbs and don’t be afraid to add a few watts to brighten up a room.


  • Call the City’s contractor, Curbside, Inc. for household hazardous waste pickup (paints, pesticides, solvents, motor oil, batteries, and cleaning products).


  • Special Touches!  Set out a vase of fresh flowers, add some carefully folded, coordinating towels to the bathroom for color, lay out pictures of before and after renovations, boil cinnamon sticks in water before you leave in the morning.

Preparing Your Home (Outside)


  • Replace old & faded house numbers with shiny new ones. Consider a couple new “Welcome” mats.


  • Check paint condition of the house – especially the front door & trim.


  • Remove clutter from the yard & patio.  (All small items such as small planters, flower pots, charcoal, barbeques, toys.)


  • Water, cut & edge grass.


  • Trim hedges & weed gardens.


  • Add flowering plants in the summer.


  • Make sure porch lights & doorbell work.


  • Check gutters & roof for damage.


  • Clean gutters.


  • Paint, fix or wash railings, steps, storm windows, screens & doors.


  • Wash windows inside and out. Don’t forget the basement windows.


  • Trim ivy & other plants from blocking windows (basement included).


  • Attach downspout extensions.


  • Straighten up & sweep the garage.


  • Paint, wash & fix garage doors & windows.


  • Clean stains on garage & driveway floors.

Showing Off


  • Clean!  Every week you’ll need to do a thorough cleaning.  Many people find it helpful to hire a maid service for this period of time.


  • Before you leave in the morning, make the beds, be sure the kitchen and bathrooms are sparkling, and do away with obvious messes – dishes in the living room, yesterday’s newspaper, the muddy boots by the front door.


  • Turn on all the inside lights, even during the day. In winter, lamp light is especially nice.


  • At night, turn on outside lights.


  • Keep draperies & shades open during the day.


  • Open all doors inside the home, except closets.


  • Put money & other valuables away & out of sight.


  • Shine the kitchen sink; fluff the pillows on the sofa.


  • Keep pets in a separate are; change litter boxes daily.


  • Open windows often to circulate fresh air through the house.


  • Turn on soft music.


  • Keep heat at a comfortable temperature.


  • Shovel the walks in the winter.


Steer Clear


A buyer will likely spend more time previewing your home if you are not there.  Buyers feel more comfortable looking at a home and asking questions if they don’t feel they are being intrusive.

If you must be home:

Don’t precede or follow the buyer through your home.