The Guide to Preparing
a House for Sale
Listing a home isn't like putting an item
on eBay. Though a few clicks of a button could put your home live on
listing sites like Zillow and Realtor.com, it won't position you for
success by any means.
The truth is that the sales process starts
much earlier than that -- with careful preparation and some good, old-fashioned
should you prep your home for sale?
Selling a house is already a lot of work. You
have showings to deal with, you have to keep the place clean, and the
and negotiations are
a hassle. Why should you put in more effort before your home's even on the
For one, it helps you command a higher sale
price. Homes that are clean, appealing, and in top shape simply sell for more
than properties in less desirable conditions. Buyers know the home won't
require a ton of work upon move-in, and for that, they're willing to pay a
A prepped home is also just more marketable.
That usually means a faster sale, and maybe even a bidding war -- which equals
more profits at the closing table.
basic rules of prepping your house for sale
Before we dive into the steps of prepping your
home for sale, let's go over the general rules first -- the guidelines you'll
want to adhere to as you go about your preparations.
In general, the goal of prepping your house
should be to:
Create a clean,
clutter-free environment. Nothing makes a home
look more poorly maintained than dirt, clutter, and overall messiness. A clean
environment gives buyers confidence in the property and its condition.
Offer a neutral color
palette. Prospective buyers need to be able to envision themselves in
the home, and that's hard to do if there's a bright green wall and crazy,
patterned wallpaper staring them in the face.
Put yourself in a buyer
mindset. Think like a buyer when prepping your home. What would they like?
What would give them pause? Let that drive your preparations.
Minimize where possible. The less furniture, decor, and personal items you have out,
the better. In fact, it might even make your home look larger.
Emphasize curb appeal. First impressions are everything. Make sure your home's curb appeal makes a good one.
Ensure your home is
photogenic. A picture's worth a thousand words, and in real estate, maybe
even a little more. Make sure your home lends itself to high-quality photos that will really make
your listing shine.
Address obvious repairs. If there's a broken window, dent in the door, or nonworking
faucet, fix it -- before you list the home. You can bet it will show up on the
buyer's inspection and need fixing anyway.
Add little details and
touches that matter. At the end of the day, the property needs to feel like a
potential home to buyers. Small touches like fresh flowers or the smell of warm
cookies can make all the difference.
Prep yourself and your
family -- particularly for the showing aspect of selling a house.
What's your exit strategy? Where will you go during showings, and how will you
keep the place clean? Having a plan in place is vital before you open your
doors to prospective buyers.
When in doubt, rely on your real estate agent. They're the expert, and they'll have
a good pulse on what local buyers are looking for and how to get your home up
to speed for the current market.
to sell your house in 6 steps
Now, it's time to put in the work. Give
yourself at least a few weeks to prep your home -- more if you know it needs a
good amount of repairs.
Use this checklist to guide the way:
1. Make necessary repairs
Your first step is to make any obvious or
large-scale repairs that
are necessary -- think roof
repairs, problems with the floor, doors, and windows,
or issues with any fixtures or plumbing. If you're not sure what needs
repairing, or you just want to be thorough, you can also consider a
pre-listing home inspection.
This is a full-scale, comprehensive inspection of your property that will
detail any defects or issues found.
Declutter, donate, and minimize
go through your closets, cabinets, and drawers, and donate anything you
don't need or no longer use. Then depersonalized the house. Remove any personal
photos and artwork, put any bold decor items away, and think about putting some
furniture and unnecessary items into storage until you're ready to move. The
more spacious your home looks, the better.
Touch up and repaint
Time to freshen up those walls next. Go room
by room, and if you have any bold or bright colors, go buy some white or
eggshell and paint completely over it (you might need primer, too, depending on
how dark the original hue is). You should also touch up any areas that are
smudged or dirty, including on doors, baseboards, door frames, and windowsills.
A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in making a home look clean and full of
Upgrade your curb appeal
Take a walk outside and assess your home's
exterior. If it's looking messy, or just plain boring, you'll probably want to
invest a little into sprucing it up before listing. To start, mow, edge, and
trim the whole property, and weed the garden as well.
You also might want to:
- Repaint your front door.
- Replace your welcome mat.
- Plant some flowers.
- Add some hanging plants.
- Install a kickplate or new doorknob.
- Upgrade your garage door.
- Update your mailbox.
- Add address numbers to your house or
5. Clean it from top to bottom
Once the heavy lifting is done inside, it's
time to deep clean the place. If you can afford it, swing for a professional
cleaning, as they'll get super detailed with it -- down to scrubbing the grout
and hand-wiping the baseboards.
If you do it yourself, just make sure to be
thorough. Don't forget to clean the appliances (inside and out), as well as
inside the cabinets, drawers, and closets. They might not be on full display at
all times, but buyers will definitely take a peek in these areas when touring
the final touches
Finally, it's time for the little details:
fresh flowers in the bathrooms, a wreath on the door, and a cute welcome mat on
the front stoop to make buyers feel welcome. Setting the table with a runner,
cloth napkins, and a full set of dishes is also nice, though you might want to
save this until just before a showing.
this sounds a little overwhelming, feel free to bring in some professionals to
help. A contractor or
handyman can help with the repairs and exterior updates, and you can even
consider a professional stager to get your home in tip-top shape for
bear to part with the cash? Think of it as an investment in your eventual sales
profits. According to a survey from the National Association of Realtors, more
than a third of buyer's agents said staging increased a home's dollar value
anywhere from 1% to 10%. On a $200,000 home, that could mean an additional
$2,000 to $20,000 more in returns.
The bottom line
Properly prepping your home is critical if you
want your home to sell fast and at the maximum possible price point. And if
you're not sure where to start, ask your real estate agent. They're well-versed
in both the local market and the listing process. They can point you in the
right direction preparation-wise.