Prepare your Home for Sale


Best Ways to Prepare Your Home For Sale

Making your house appears as attractive and friendly as possible from the street is imperative.  Without it, you will be hard put to get buyers interested in recognizing your home’s other attributes or potential.  Start with the MAILBOX, if you have one on the street.

  1. Remove all signs of deterioration.
  2. Remove rust from the box itself, and apply a new coat of paint.
  3. Replace tattered house numbers.

 The Yard

  • Mow it often enough to keep it looking neat.
  • Keep flower beds weed-free
  • Cut back overzealous shrubs that obscure windows.
  • Vines growing on the side of the house are a gray area.  Some people find them charming; others allow them to remain, keep them looking cultivated, not jungle-wild.  Most certainly, pull them off windows to avoid a decrepit atmosphere.
  • Pick up dead tree branches. Remove piles of anything from the yard that are unsightly, such as limbs, concrete blocks, flowerpots, or that stack of old bricks.
  • Trim shrubbery if it has started to get out of hand.
  • Clean out the fish pond.
  • Clean out fountains and bird baths.  (When showing your home, turn on fountains)
    • Buyers can concentrate on the yard only
    • Buyers don’t assume that your yard ornaments stay with the house.
  • Straighten up the woodpile.
  • If there is a swing that stays with the house, get it in good repair.  Oil squeaks, paint it, and replace missing parts.
  • Remove inoperable vehicles from the yard or drive.
  • Outbuildings need to be in good shape, paint them if needed.
  • See that all yard lights work.
  • Make dog pens or runs as clean and attractive as possible.  Pick up any animal excrement from the yard.
  • Spruce up the grill.
  • Pool must look inviting.
  • Arrange your patio furniture in an attractive way.  Place a book on a chair in a shady corner.  Leaving up the table umbrella lends a festive touch.  Flowers in containers will add lively color.
The Driveway

  • If your drive has exposed spots, and especially is prone to mud, spread a new layer of gravel.
  • If your asphalt or concrete drive has cracks, repair them with crack-filling compound.
  • If a basketball goal is fixed to or around your drive, make sure it looks good and is in useable condition.
  • Attend to those flower beds bordering the drive.
  • Prune any hanging tree limbs that may scratch the tops of cars or obstruct a desirable view.
The Fence

  • Make any repairs to the fences that make the property appear run down, such as sagging or squeaking gates, missing pickets, rusty latches, or peeling paint.
  • Fill in holes.
The Walkways 

  • Fill cracks in concrete or asphalt.
  • Pull or spray weeds from between stones or bricks.
  • Fill in missing mortar between stones or bricks.
  • Trim shrubbery to clear the path.
  • Attend to flower beds lining the walk.
  • Make sure any lighting is working that lines or illuminates the walks.
The Outside of your Home

Agents say thatshort of painting, simply making sure the exterior of the house is clean and looks maintained is important.

  • Repair shutters, spindles, posts or columns.   Paint, if necessary.  Remove rust from ironwork.
  • Paint peeling trim around doors and windows.
  • Replace or paint rusted or broken light fixtures on porches or beside doors.
  • Replace cracked plastic bubbles over basement window wells.
  • Make the front entry as inviting as possible.  Polish the brass knocker and kick plate.  Hang a colorful wreath on or near the door.
  • Potted or hanging plants can do so much to make a porch or entry feel cheerful.
  • Clean gutters.
  • Replace the screen on the storm door.
  • Do wash the windows inside and out.
  • If the lock is difficult to work – fix or replace it.
Some General Guidelines Applicable to the Entire House Interior

  • Look at the carpet.  Is it worn or matted, and dirty?  Is it reasonably up to date?  Is it a color others could live with?  Dirty carpet can be cleaned, but worn or outdated carpet needs to be replaced.  You will get your money back on this one.  People look more favorably on a house that has carpet they don’t have to replace right away.  Also, new carpet prevents them from using it as a reason to offer you less money than you want.
  • Clean every room.  A house must have that “ready to move into” look. Dirty, scuffed, finger-printed walls are a major turn-off for most people.  The quickest and cheapest way to fix that is to paint.
    You like those purple walls in your bedroom, but it’s unlikely that anybody else will.  To cover undesirable color, neutral colored carpeting and paint to be boring, but it is one of the major concerns of home buyers.
    Clean all light fixtures, revive tarnished metals.
  • To make rooms look more commodious for any type of furniture, remove the pieces you can store elsewhere.
    Are there any occasional tables or arm chairs you can do without?  How about multiple plant stands that make the corners appear cluttered?  Can you live without foot stools that impede the easy flow of traffic?
  • Straighten out closets and other storage areas.  The idea here is to make them seem as capacious as possible.
    Remove some of your hanging clothes to eliminate that sardine look.  Stack items neatly on shelves.  Line up shoes.  Stack boxes in an orderly fashion.
  • If you have house pets, it is absolutely essential that your house does not smell like you have them.  Smells trigger instant and strong responses that are extremely difficult to change.  You want a buyer’s first response to your home to be one of pleasure, not revulsion. It wouldn’t hurt to set around unobtrusive dishes or baskets of potpourri.  You may want to do this anyway, just to evoke a pleasant sensation when people step in the door.  This goes double for the households with smokers.
  • If you have taken down pictures from the walls, be sure to fill in the nail holes, and paint.  Filling compound can be purchased at the hardware stores or lumber yards.  The best results are obtained by applying it with a putty knife.  Let it dry.  Sand the wall unit the surface of the compound is smooth and flush with the wall surface.
    It’s now ready to paint over.


  • If your entry is made remarkable by a unique floor, make it the center of attention.  Roll up rugs.  Keep furniture to a minimum.
  • Staircases are very often the most interesting feature of an entry.  Clean the carpet, paint worn spots, polish or wax woods and metals, paint dirty walls, and glue back the corner of the wallpaper that peeled last year.
  • Quiet annoying squeaks on the stairs.
  • Stained or leaded glass above a staircase can be breath-taking.  Make sure it’s wiped clean.


  • Clean the fireplace.
  • Is your magazine rack overflowing?  Trash what you don’t need.
  • When showing your home, turn on the lights, open drapes, light a fire (if practical), or play music softly in the background.


  • When showing, turn on all light fixtures.
  • When showing the house, ask your agent to point out the convenience of any built-in cabinetry in the dining room.  Direct attention to anything special about the room, such as crown moldings, a chandelier, walls sconces, or a beautifully carved or tiled fire place.


  • Leave a lamp on by a comfortable chair with an open book, upside down, on the cushion.  If it’s daylight, a window seat.
  • Clear your desk or work area of all clutter.  Turn on relevant lighting.
  • Point out anything in the room that will facilitate a business purpose, such as separate wiring.


  • The kitchen absolutely must be spotless.  Place your trash container in the garage.  You don’t want an unpleasant smell.  Since garbage disposals stubbornly retain smells, run a lemon half through it daily to eliminate odors.
  • How’s the floor look?
  • When showing the kitchen, open all blinds and curtains, and turn on all lights.  Most people want a bright kitchen.  Point out any extra conveniences such as sliding shelves, turntables, a convection oven, or trash compactor.
  • Remove clutter from the countertops.  The idea is to make the kitchen look like it has ample counter space and cabinets for anyone’s needs.
  • Fix dripping faucets.
  • Agents say many buyers judge overall housekeeping by how clean the oven and range are.
  • Clean the inside of the dishwasher door.


  • Remove all the clutter from the floor or from the top of the dryer.  Wipe dust and lint from appliances.


  • This room, also, must be kept spotless and odor free.
  • Fix or replace leaking faucets or drain plugs that won’t function properly.
  • Make sure towel racks and toilet paper dispensers are fine.
  • Neaten the items stored in vanities, medicine cabinets, and linen closets.  (People aregoing to open then.)
  • Remove every bit of that soap scum from glass shower doors.
  • Re-apply caulk that is peeling or won’t come clean of mildew.
  • Look at an angle at the wall facing the sink.  See thousands of spots?  Be sure to give a wipe when cleaning.
  • Pretty towels hanging from the racks will distract attention from your bathroom’s less attractive features.


  • Eliminate any extra furniture that appears to make the room seem smaller.
  • A colorful throw rug will disguise flooring that may not be in the best of shape.
  • Make the beds every day.


  • Here and in the basement is where clutter seems to multiply!  This is a good time to eliminate all that stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of.  As for the rest, just make sure it’s neatly stacked or hung.
  • Try to clean off the oil drips from the floor.  Oil can be easily absorbed by spreading kitty litter over it.  Leave on 24 hours, then sweep away.  Most of the stain can be scrubbed off with any degreaser.


  • Clean the basement as best as the surfaces allow.  Stack, hang or stand items as neatly as possible.  Mostly, people don’t expect too much from the basement, only that it is dry.
    A note about basements and foundations: If your house falls into the price range most attractive to first-time buyers or singles, it’s very likely that the buyers will want to get financing from a government agency, like the Federal Housing Authority (FHA).  (These loans require less of a percentage down instead of the usual ten.)  In that case, your home will be more closely scrutinized by FHA inspectors during the mechanical and general inspections.  In particular, the foundation and roof are most vulnerable to criticism.  If the condition of either of these is questionable, the inspector more than likely won’t approve the loan to the buyers until you have fixed the problem.
  • If the hot water heater or furnace works great but shows its age, a coat of spray paint can provide a quick face lift.