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Preparing a home for sale



Of all the things homeowners control when selling their home, the condition of the property is one of the most important.


A crucial part of marketing any product is the presentation of the product. Corporations and retail businesses understand this concept and pay millions of dollars each year to advertising and marketing consultants to get the best advice possible.


Think Like a Buyer

You are not just selling a house. You are selling shelter, lifestyle, and dreams. People always want the best for themselves, and your home should represent the buyer’s answer to this goal. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes! Remember, they arrive at your front door wanting to find the right home. Don’t make them search somewhere else for it. If you have done your homework, every room in your home will create a desire for the buyer to stay.


Start Making a List

Walk outside and take a look at the property through the critical eyes of a buyer. Is there anything that needs repairing, looks worn, or is outdated? Start writing these items down on your list. Walk through the interior and do the same things. Ask for the assistance of everyone in your family. After all, a shorter sales time will benefit everybody in the family.


Do Everything Before Putting Your Home on the Market!

Complete all of your repairs, improvements, and enhancements prior to your first showing. Remember, your best showings come early in the listing period. Be ready!




  • The rule of thumb is, if something needs repair,  fix it!   There are probably many things in your home that you have simply become used to over time.  Things that you have been promising yourself that you will attend to. Well, now is the time. The buyer will mentally add up the cost of repairing all those minor flaws and end up with an amount that is generally much higher than what it would cost you to do the repairs.


  • You might be saying to yourself, “these repairs aren’t any big deal.”  But the buyer is thinking, “If the owners didn’t care for these little items, then what about the roof and the furnace?”  Needed small repairs and perceived owner neglect will either lower the purchase price or lengthen the time required to sell.


  • Check all walls for peeling paint and loose wallpaper.


  • Large repairs:   In today’s climate of open disclosure and vigilant professional home inspections, the rule is “Treat a buyer as you would yourself.”  Repair any problems with major systems or offer an allowance for the buyer to make repairs after closing. Always disclose anything that you know about the property. Having been a consumer yourself, you know that buyers will more readily make a purchase decision with someone whom they can trust.




  • Every area of the home must sparkle and shine!  Each hour spent will be well worth it. Would you rather buy a clean car, or a dirty one? Would you hurry to buy a pair of shoes with mud on them?

  • Clean all windows, inside and out.  This helps make the house sparkle.

  • Clean all wall-to-wall carpeting and area rugs.   Clean and polish linoleum, tile and wooden floors.

  • Clean and polish all woodwork if necessary.  Pay particular attention to the kitchen and bath cabinets.

  • Clean and polish all light fixtures.


Space management – DECLUTTERING!


This involves creating the illusion of more space.


  • Arrange furniture to give the rooms as spacious a feeling as possible. Consider removing furniture from rooms that are crowded. If necessary, store large items.


  • Pack up collectibles ... both to protect them and to give the room a more spacious feel.  Leave just enough accessories to give the home a personal touch.  Dispose of unneeded items.


  • Remove all clutter and make it a habit to pick up clothing, shoes, and personal possessions each day for possible showings.


  • Empty closets of off-season clothing and pack for the move.   Organize them to demonstrate the most efficient use of space.  Leave as few items on the floor or shelves as possible.


  • Use light to create a sense of space.  All drapes should be open. Turn on all of the lights throughout the home before a showing, and be sure to replace any burned out light bulbs!


The Exterior


Check your home for any needed maintenance just as a buyer would. Repaint or touch up as necessary. You can’t make a better investment when you are selling your house! Don’t let the outside turn buyers off before the inside turns them on.


  • Color has the power to attract. A tub of geraniums, a pot of petunias, or a basket of impatiens on the front steps is a welcoming touch.

  • If you are selling during the winter months, consider using a wreath of dried flowers on the front door.

  • If you have porch or deck, set the stage with pots of flowers and attractively arranged furniture.

  • Check to see that all doors and windows are in good working order. Give special attention to your home’s exterior doors and front entry. Clean and paint doors if necessary. Remember, first impressions are likely to color the remainder of the house tour.

  • Wash all windows and replace any broken and cracked windowpanes.

  • Screens should be free of any tears or holes.

  • Inspect all locks to ensure that they are functioning properly.

  • Check for loose or missing shingles.

  • Invest in a new doormat that says “Welcome”.


The Yard


  • Make sure the yard is neatly mowed, raked and edged.

  • Prune and shape shrubbery and trees to compliment your house.

  • Consider adding seasonal flowers along the walks or in the planting areas. Plop the plants into a well-placed wheelbarrow, an old-fashioned washtub, or what have you. Such standbys as nasturtiums, petunias, impatiens, and verbena are easy to maintain if you only remember to water them regularly. Try a row of sweet smelling alyssum to line a short sidewalk or pop in some perky dwarf marigolds to form a cheerful oasis of color in your yard.

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