Preparing Your Home for Sale

Preparing your home for sale is extremely important step in getting the best offer on your home.  Preparing the home for sale and ‘staging’ is a key part of making your house and property look as appealing as possible to potential buyers.  Having your home properly staged can play a major role in selling it quickly and can even add a significant amount of extra value to the sale.

Below is an overview of what it takes when a Realtor takes on the role to help you prepare your home for sale. When I come to do an evaluation of your home I take note of a variety items in and around your home, some of the good points to accent and others that may need minor or major repairs prior to bring in the home on the market.  It is important to have the right players on your team to prepare the home and present it correctly for the market. Below is what I look at when I take on a team member if you leave items unattended or not repaired the buyers will see these items and then wonder what else is worrying with the house.

Before taking any action, you should think carefully about what kinds of people are likely to be interested in your residence. Is your home best suited to a family of four, a single person, or a couple? Is it likely to be purchased by a first time buyer, a seasoned buyer, or a contractor?  If you’re unsure, ask your real estate agent to provide you with your target demographic.

Once you have decided what kind of buyers you are likely to deal with, you should think about how you can make your home more appealing to them.  Put yourself in a potential buyer’s shoes and look around – what about your house would you notice? What would you wish was different?  Consider making a list of the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of your home.  Then you can try to eliminate as many of the cons as possible, and ask your real estate agent to place extra emphasis on the pros when showing your house.

If there is anything in or around your house that needs maintenance or repair, it is generally a good idea to fix it as soon as possible.  It is most important that the exterior of the home is in optimal shape because potential buyers might conduct a ‘drive-by’ to check out the home before arranging to formally view it.  For this reason, you should start get the exterior of your house in shape and make you maintain it during the time your home is up for sale.  If you are unable to perform repairs yourself, you should obtain reports with bids and estimates for the repair so that buyers are exactly aware of what they are undertaking. 

Here are a few ways you can prepare the exterior of your home for sale:

  • Inspect your roof for necessary repairs.
  • Replace or clean any shutters, gutters, and downspouts.
  • Fix any broken fencing, damaged woodwork, cracks in the driveway.
  • Clean all of the windows, inside and out. 
  • Trim back overgrown shrubs, weed the garden, and consider adding some fresh dirt and new plants to add color to the exterior.
  • Replace all torn screens.
  • Add a fresh lick of paint where necessary, especially on the front door.

When it comes to the interior of the home, you want to make sure it is squeaky clean and completely clutter free.  Sadly, this requires somewhat de-personalizing your home.  Think about it – the idea of showing off the home is to help viewers envision it as their home, not yours.  You should take down family photos, fridge magnets, visible books and DVDs, extra decorations, and posters.  The key is to make your home look very neutral, fresh, and spacious.

Here are a few ways you can prepare the interior of your home for sale:

  • Store your out of season clothes and other small belongings so that closets do not look cluttered.
  • Get any carpet stains removed.
  • Consider refacing kitchen cabinets so they appear newer.
  • Scrub the inside of the oven, wipe down and deodorize the fridge, and clean all drawers and cupboards.
  • Repaint any walls or doors that are stained scuffed.
  • Lubricate any squeaky doors or windows.
  • Consider removing bulky or outdated pieces of furniture so that the rooms appear more spacious.
  • Be mindful of the smell of the house, as this can be one of the biggest turn offs for potential buyers.

Before opening the home, turn on some low music, store away any clutter, ensure there are fresh towels in the bathroom, wipe down all surfaces, vacuum/sweep all the floors, and open up the curtains to let as much natural light in as possible.  Be sure there is no odor in any of the rooms, and fill the house with a light, neutral scent like candles or freshly baked cookies.  If you have pets, it is a good idea to have your pet stay at a friend’s house while your house is being viewed.  Most people prefer to stay out of the house while it is being shown, as this generally makes potential buyers more comfortable.  Your real estate agent will be there to show the buyer around, and is knowledgeable about how to address tricky questions.

If this sounds like a bit much and you’re not sure where to start, ask your Realtor for advice.  He or she will be able to provide you with an analysis of your likely demographic for buyers, advise you on how to optimize your home for staging, and refer you services that can help you with repairs. With a good Realtor on your side, you won’t have a thing to worry about.