Wondering what you need to do to get your house ready to sell? I’ve got 35 tips to share. So, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and clueless about what needs to be done, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll share what I’ve learned to do before listing your home, and how to get your house market ready.
35 tips to get your home ready for sale
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Moving Prep Checklist
Getting ready to sell? Download my FREE checklist that tells you exactly what you need to do to get your house ready to sell..
To get your house ready for sale, it needs to be marketable. Below are the things you need to do before listing your house.
- Catch up on maintenance – are there any maintenance items you’ve neglected over the last few months or years? If you don’t fix and replace them now, the buyer’s inspector will most likely find them. Then you’ll have a short time frame to repair, replace or offer financial concessions.
- Professional Staging – I don’t know why some people still don’t see the need for a good stager. Sure, houses sell every day without one, but it’s been proven that home value is positively impacted by staging. Staging highlights the best in a property while minimizing its downsides. A good stager will create a visual that appeals to the target client. They will ensure all rooms have a defined purpose and highlight the key attributes. If you happen to have any areas where it’s hard to define a particular space, a good stager will help with that too.
- Understand the market – you should have a good understanding about what’s going on in the housing market. How you approach selling in a buyer’s market is different than in a seller’s market. You should also become educated on the features that are important in your local market. Home features are important, and so are contract trends. Talk to your local agent about the types of contracts, stipulations, and amendments that are trending in your area. It’ll go a long way in understanding what to expect during the sales process. Understanding your local areas average DOM (days on market) will help you understand your agent better when he or she talks pricing strategy.
- Understand your numbers – this goes a step beyond pricing. You need to understand your personal numbers. First, get a payoff quote for your home. Then add up seller closing costs, realtor fees and estimate potential repair costs so you have an idea as to how much equity you’ll walk away with at closing. Or how much you’ll need to bring to the closing table. Understanding your numbers will help you decide if now if it’s really the right time to sell.
- Remove the clutter – everything should have a place, and that place should not look crowded. The goal is to have the house feel spacious with plenty of storage. With that said, the closets should be as clear as possible and what’s left should be organized. The kitchen drawers, cabinets and pantry should be organized as well. If you need to have a yard sale, or donate items, then do that. If you have items you plan to take to the next house, then rent a storage pod until you move.
- Depersonalize – the house should feel like a home to the buyer, not to you. You want each and every buyer that looks at photographs and steps inside your house, to feel like that it’s their home. The more emotionally attached the buyer gets, the better things are for you. You secure a higher price, have a more committed buyer, and the negotiation process can go smoother. The more a house feels like it belongs to someone else (you), the longer it will belong to you. Depersonalize and sell.
- Plan – during this phase, you’ll create lists of projects and tasks that need to occur over the next few weeks. Use the Better Buyer Savvy Seller Getting Ready to Sell checklist to create a schedule of what you’ll do and when.
- Play project manager – playing project manager means that you oversee all the items that will be improved, cleaned, repaired or replaced over the next few days and weeks. Keep track of quotes and contractor information. This includes dates and a schedule of who will do what and when.
- Get boxes – of course you’ll need boxes to help move, but you can use boxes before you even put your home on the market. Plan to store anything that’s out of season so your closets, garage and storage areas don’t look jammed packed with stuff. And if you take the time to create a good packing plan, you’ll actually be able to unpack in a day once you move.
- Improve first impressions –first impressions are important with how your home presents itself the first-time potential buyers see it in person. Most people know that. First impressions also matter with how your house present online. With professional photos and enticing staging. We’ll talk more about those later. But what most people fail to realize is that first impressions start once the buyer, or their agent tries to schedule a showing appointment. Do everything you can to prepare yourself to be easy to work with. Easily scheduled showings, a responsive agent and a realistic list price count for more than you realize.
- Have an extra set of keys for the lock box – this is such an easy thing to do. Go to the kiosk at your local hardware store and get an extra set of house keys made. You want to keep a set of key handy yourself in case the lockbox ever becomes jammed or anything else unexpected happens.
- Deep clean carpets or replace if needed – having your carpets cleaned can go a long way and making your space look like it’s cared for. When potential buyers start walking around houses and noticing “little” things around the house that need to be repaired, they start a mental checklist. And this checklist includes all the deductions from your asking price. Don’t get the buyer in the frame of mind where they’re starting to look for a deal.
- Research real estate agents in your area – finding the right agent to help you get your home sold will go a long way. You’ll want an agent that you can get along with. Once that’s knowledgeable and understands your goals and how to best help you meet them and protect your interests.
- repaint (neutral color or touch up areas) as needed – remember that you’re competing with all the HGTV shows and model homes people see day after day. And most people want a move in ready house. When buyers see paint color that isn’t neutral, they think about the time and money it will take to repaint. And this cost will impact the offer you receive. Because no one wants to move into a house where the walls don’t match their furniture.
- Add more light – purchasing new light bulbs is important. You won’t realize how much of a difference daylight bulbs make in brightening up your space until you use them. Opening up the curtain and blinds and relying on natural light will also make your space feel bigger and brighter
- organize your paperwork – by putting important papers in an easy to reach space. These papers include utility bills, tax bills, warranty and mortgage loan information. If you can find the contract used to purchase the house, this may come in handy too.
- organize the house – it’s tempting to take extra papers, trinkets and throw them into closets and cabinets. But don’t do it. Potential buyers look in cabinets, drawers and closets. So, keep these spaces tidy.
- House professionally cleaned – having a clean will help get your house show ready. And I recommend using a professional so they can do a detailed deep cleaning and catch the area that you might miss.
- Professional photography – don’t skimp on things now, with all the hard work you’ve put in! With decluttering, staging, organizing and cleaning, don’t let it all go to waist with mediocre pictures.
- Finish any projects that aren’t complete – if there are projects around that house that you just haven’t finished, it’s time to wrap them up. It might also be time to admit to yourself that it’s time to get help. Your time would be better spent doing other things while you hire a handy man to wrap things up
- Landscape outdoors – Your landscaping should also look well-cared for. You want your entire house to look like it was taken care of. First impressions matter. So, remove weeds, and fill in any empty spaces with plants, bushes and flowers
- Remove medicine and valuables – you’ll want to protect your valuables and personal medical history while your home is on the market. Remember that buyers look in closets, drawers, cabinets and closets to get a feel for a property. They’re trying to picture themselves living there and visualize how their items will fit. If you can find a locked bin or keep your medicine in your purse or car while your home is on the market, the less others will know about your personal business. For valuables, you might consider getting a safe deposit box at the bank or having a trusted friend hold onto them.
- Keep your beds made and countertops clear – this should become part of your daily routine. You never know when you’ll get a call about a last-minute showing. So, as soon as you wake up for the day, make it a habit of making your bed and wiping down all counter tops.
- Create a plan for daily showings – once you do get notice about a showing, you’ll need to get ready. So, creating a “show ready” plan ahead of time will help you quickly get ready. If you work to always have your dishes and laundry put away, then all you need to do is a quick vacuum or sweep.
- Create a plan for daily showings – kids, food and last-minute showing requests
- Remove pets – this includes pet odors. Unfortunately, not everyone loves or can tolerate pets (allergies) like you do. You don’t want to turn off potential buyers because you have a dog barking in the house during the tour. And sometimes removing your dog isn’t enough. Pet bowls and pet dander leave odors that you might have gotten use to. I can’t tell you how many homes quickly get eliminated because the buyer can’t tolerate the smell. So, consider having your pet boarded or stay at a relatives or friends house while your home is on the market.
- Deodorize – even if you don’t think you need to deodorize your home, I want you to at least consider it. You can purchase scented air vents or just use Febreze. My word of caution here is to choose fresh and light scents that neutralize odors, not mask them.
- View the competition – get out and take a look at model homes or open houses in your price range. This is a great way to see how your house stacks up against them competition. Not only will you be able to see what your buyers will see, but it’s a lot easier to look at what another seller needs to fix in their home. Take notes, because if you can make sure your home shows better, it will be seen as more valuable in the buyer’s eye.
- Reserve a storage facility – after you’ve removed the clutter, you’ll want a place to move the extra items. Remember I mentioned that buyers will look in your garage, closets and storage space. And if those spaces look overcrowded, it will look like your home doesn’t have enough storage. Don’t let this be a major turn off.
- Research contractors – having a list of recommended service providers handy will help for any last-minute repairs. Keep in mind that after a buyer has put an offer on your home, they will have a due diligence period. This is where they’ll most likely hire an inspector. And once you negotiate for repairs, you’ll have a limited amount of time to get them done and confirmed before closing.
- Create a budget – yes, it takes money to move. Decide how much you’re willing to spend. Moving trucks, storage facilities, stagers, painters, handy man – they all take money. But let’s get this straight – it also takes money to keep your home on the market too. All of those extra mortgage payments and inconveniences of keeping your home show ready at a moments notice has a cost. So carefully consider how much you’re willing and able to spend so you can reach your goal – whether it’s short time on the market or high price.
- Determine your goal – yes, what’s your goal in selling your home? Everybody doesn’t necessarily want to sell their home for top dollar. A lot of people just want a quick and stress-free process. If that’s the case, you may want to consider companies that will buy your home and fix it up, at no cost to you. That’s about as quick and easy as you can get. But if you’d rather get the most amount of equity, be prepared to get your home show-worthy. And if you’re more concerned with the home selling quickly, you’ll most likely want to set the price aggressively while balancing value. But the right home selling strategy all starts with your end goal in mind.
- Light remodel – a light remodel includes things that will draw people’s attention. And since kitchens and bathrooms have the highest resale value, I say start there. If it’s needed and your able, get new appliances. But at the very least, your appliances should look clean and well-maintained. Consider replacing your old fridge, dishwasher and oven/stove with new stainless steel. Going into the bathroom – you can add trim around your bathroom mirrors as a DIY or handyman project. And depending on the amount of money you have to spend; free standing tubs are all the new rage.
- Consider quick wins – use the Get Ready to Sell checklist to help you determine what needs to be repaired, replaced or removed. From this list, what’s a quick win? You can quickly update and change the door handles, cabinet pulls and light fixtures in the home to bring it up to date. Removing wall paper or adding custom closets might be a quick win too.
- Make a list of home upgrades – everyone wants value, right? Having a list of all of the upgrades you made to your home will go a long way in justifying the list price. If you purchased your home new, what did you upgrade? Is the carpet padding upgraded, did you choose solid core interior doors or extra trim? Detail what makes your home special. And since you’ve moved in, do you have professional landscaping or designer paint colors? My word of caution is that buyers may not see the extra money you put towards upgrading your kitchen cabinet pulls as worth the extra cost. But at least they’ll be able to see how you came up with the price.
Moving Prep Checklist
Getting ready to sell? Download my FREE checklist that tells you exactly what you need to do to get your house ready to sell..
How to get your house ready to sell quickly
As you can see, it takes a lot to get a house ready to sell. But knowing what’s ahead and creating a plan makes it less stressful. We reviewed 35 things you need to do before listing your home, how to get your house ready, and things to do before putting your house on the market. If you’d like to print out the list, sign up for the Getting Ready to Sell Checklist and get access to my entire library of guides.