How to Get Your Home Ready to Sell

by Kay Bosworth ; Updated July 27, 2017
Clear out your personal items.

Once you’ve decided to put your home up for sale, it stops being just your “home” and turns into a product to be sold. A real estate agent will offer you guidelines and suggestions for prepping your dwelling for sale, but in general, it must become a clean, neat, quiet and comfortable place where prospective buyers can see themselves living happily ever after.

Move Your Stuff

Comedian George Carlin described a home as a place to store our stuff while we go out and buy -- more stuff. The things people collect through the years stamp the place as theirs, and those are the things that must be removed so that prospective buyers can see their own stuff living there. The place will have to be cleaned out anyway, before you move, so you might as well start now. Hold a garage sale or rent a storage facility, if necessary. Sort out, box up, and store or discard memorabilia, personal photographs and artwork, and as much clutter as possible to give the place a spacious appearance. Remove all out-of-season garments from closets and arrange clothes neatly to show off plenty of storage space.

Stage Show

Hire a professional home stager to get your place ready for sale, or do it yourself. Go room to room with an objective eye, looking at it through the eyes of a prospective buyer. Arrange a thorough professional cleaning of carpets, draperies and furniture. Wash windows inside and out. Get rid of pet odors. Clean doors and light switches, ceiling light fixtures, inside the refrigerator and behind kitchen appliances. Fix dripping faucets or running toilets and organize kitchen cupboards. Clear kitchen and bathroom countertops of all but essential items, and group those closely together.

Quick Fixes

Major renovations are not necessary to ready your house for sale. They seldom recover expenses, and not all changes appeal to all prospective buyers. A fresh coat of paint in a light, neutral color or new kitchen cabinet hardware may be enough to brighten the look of a room. On the other hand, you must repair anything that is broken, including plumbing and electrical systems.

First Impressions

Give your house the curb appeal necessary to attract buyers even before they go inside. Remove garbage cans and children’s toys. Be sure roof and gutters are clean and in good repair. Prune bushes and trees that block the view of the house or keep sunlight from entering. Remove weeds and dead plants and, in season, plant new blooming plants. Arrange to have the lawn mowed regularly. Repair or replace any damaged fences or walls.

Make Yourself Scarce

When prospective buyers are coming, or during open houses, take your children and pets and depart. Buyers will not feel comfortable peeking in your closets or criticizing your taste in wallpaper if you are there. Children are distracting and pets may scare some buyers. Leave a plate of fresh-baked cookies for your visitors.

About the Author

As a long-time newspaper reporter and staff writer, Kay Bosworth covered real estate development and business for publications in northern New Jersey. Her extensive career included serving as editor of a business education magazine for the McGraw-Hill Book Company. The Kentucky native earned a BA from Transylvania University in Lexington.

Photo Credits

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