Preparing Your Home For Sale

Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart Realty West, Carlsbad, CA 01335928

Are you getting ready to put your home on the market and want to know what you can do to help your Realtor sell your home?  Below are some ideas that will get your house looking neat and ready for potential buyers to walk through.

1.  Reduce the amount of furniture you have in a room.  You want the home to have a large floor area and all doorways and halls to be open and clear. 

2.  Get rid of clutter.  The photos that you cherish and are hung throughout your home are a distraction to future buyers.  They want to imagine themselves in the house and not what kind of family currently lives there.  Remove knick knacks from counters and shelves and throw away or hide magazines.  Begin packing and store boxes in a storage unit or in your attic or donate to a good cause.

3.  Repaint those colorful walls.  Create a neutral canvas for buyers, paint walls an off white or light beige color.  You may have loved that bright orange in your kitchen and adorable pink in your little girls room, however, it's time to paint and create a generic look for future buyers.  Paint is cheap and will make a huge difference when your home is on the market.  It will look fresh and clean with a good coat of paint.

4.  Organize closets.  Buyers want to look in every door and sometimes the cabinets as well.  Take a day or two to throw away, donate or pack items that you aren't using.  Closets can get very cluttered and you want to show off your storage space as it is a great asset to your home.

5.  Put valuables in a safe deposit box or in a hidden safe.  Remember that strangers will be coming into your home to view.  Don't put your grandma's wedding ring or your rare baseball cards in drawers or counters where people can take them. 

6.  Make your home sparkle. Keep your home as tidy as possible by vacuuming, dusting, keeping dishes out of the sink, hang fresh towels in the bathroom, get your windows washed, dust fan blades, replace worn out rugs, remove cobwebs.

7.  Do the sniff test.  If you made fish the night before you may want to open some windows and boil a pot of water with some cinnamon sticks, light a candle or bake some cookies. 

8.  Do some minor repairs.  Fix leaky faucets, replace old grout, put some W2 on squeeky hinges, replace any burnt out bulbs, repair holes in drywall, remove wallpaper, etc.  Walk into each room and really look around to see what you can do to repair anything that is visible.

9.  Check your curb appeal.  The first impression your buyers will have begins before they ever enter your front door.  Lure them in with fresh planted flowers, neatly trimmed bushes, green and well manicured lawns, clean sidewalks and patios and clean exterior paint.  Make sure your address is easy to read from a car.

10.  Recruit your Realtor or best friend to do a walk through and give any advice after you have completed the previous 9 items.  Everyone sees things differently and they may have some great advice on something that was overlooked. 

Doing these 10 things will be the best things you can do to get your home sold quickly after you have decided on a competitive listing price. 

Posted by

Visit my website at to access the San Diego MLS and sign up for email alerts on new properties.

Comments (29)

Marian Pierre-Louis
Fieldstone Historic Research - Medway, MA
Metrowest Boston

Great tips for home sellers.  If they act on what you have written it will make our job easier.

Nov 03, 2009 01:33 AM
Beth Lester
Beth Lester Designs - Torrance, CA
Home Staging & Interior Decorating

Even with such clear, simple instructions, many home sellers are at a loss on what to do with their homes.  They simply don't have the knowledge to position furniture properly, use focal points to their advantage, and make the best of the home that they have.  A simple, inexpensive consultation with a professional home stager can make an unbelievable difference.  Many realtors find that sellers sometimes take advice much better from a professional decorator.  Stagers & realtors make great teams!


P.S.  I love your graphics! 

Nov 03, 2009 01:50 AM
Debbie Rumsey
HomeSmart Realty West, Carlsbad, CA - Encinitas, CA
Realtor, Green, SFR

Dan - I agree, I can't tell you how many homes I have shown where the first impression we got was last night cauliflower....or was it cabbage?  Whatever it stunk!

Andrew - Great point.  I was targeting the "last nights food" smells, however, you are so right when you mention that if it is mold, mildew, etc that the problem needs to be FIXED and NOT covered up!

Sara - I have lived in my home for 15 yrs with 2 kids and the day I have to move is going to be a big eye opener! 

Rosalie - I hear you!  Isn't it funny how the simplest thing, like keeping your house CLEAN when selling, can make such a huge difference in the way it shows. 

Jody - That is a GREAT saying.....can I borrow it???  I love it!

Marian - Thank you!

Beth - I agree completely, however, with the amount of short sales it is difficult to get most people to spend a dime to hire someone to decorate.  I highly encourage "equity" sellers to consult with a stager unless they have some amazing decorating skills already. 

Nov 03, 2009 02:12 AM
Jerry Gray
Wilkinson ERA Real Estate - Winston-Salem, NC
Serving the Triad Since 1980

Debbie....Great suggestions. I will hand the list over to my sellers and ask them to do their homework.



Jerry Gray CRB,CRS,GRI / Prudential Carolinas Realty / Winston Salem, NC

Nov 03, 2009 02:18 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Good advise on how to handle this issue.  I client asked me is staging really worked.  I pointed out to him how much money Coke Spends to get us to grab the Red can rather than the Blue Can.

Nov 03, 2009 03:02 AM
Kathy Knight
Intracoastal Realty Corp - Wilmington, NC

Great ideas Debbie...

Nov 03, 2009 03:10 AM
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Debbie,  It seems so common sense to cover the items in your list but if I had a dollar...

Nov 03, 2009 03:27 AM
Martin E. Kalisker, Esq.
Natick, MA
Real Estate Law From A Practical Perspective

The other thing that we recommend to sellers is to put away all prescription drugs.  Not only does this have your personal information on it, but believe it or not, kids are going around open houses stealing pills for "prescription parties" with their friends.  Haven't heard about this?  Ask your teenagers.  Its a nationwide "fad".

Nov 03, 2009 07:04 AM
Ryan Schaffer

Great read...I think the "decluttering" part is most important. Just as people want to envision themselves hanging on the wall, they want to envision their furniture in the place. Has anyone ever shown a vacant house where your client did NOT say something along the lines of "our couch would fit perfect here..."

Nov 03, 2009 08:41 AM
Debbie Rumsey
HomeSmart Realty West, Carlsbad, CA - Encinitas, CA
Realtor, Green, SFR

Jerry - Good luck with the buyers!

Gene - Good analogy!

Kathy - Thanks, glad you liked it!

Bill - We'd all be rich!  Ha Ha :)

Larry - Thank you.

Weichert - Funny, our MLS just had an alert for that exact reason.  Seems open houses are becoming a great source of theft for prescription drugs!  Scary that the teenagers are doing it!

Ryan - Some people just can't get over the idea of living without being surrounded by their "stuff".  I think one commenter said it perfectly, "We don't live in a house the way that we want to sell a house."

Nov 03, 2009 09:05 AM
Al Dobbs
ADD Real Estate - North Chicago, IL

Nice to do list.

Nov 03, 2009 09:53 AM
Sandra Muis

Stagers and Realtors work very well together. As a professional home stager I have seen it many times where a good 'workover' of a client's  house - inside and out - has made a dramatic difference in the amount of time a listing has stayed on the market. Quite often the difference is such that the home owner had to agree they should have done it at the beginning of the listing.

I also have a couple of realtors who are totaly converted to the point where they are insistant on staging a vacant that they put out their own money for this purpose. Working with them is a delight - they appreciate the added value a stager has for their team. There should be more realtors that feel like they do!


Nov 03, 2009 12:27 PM
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

All of your points ring very true.  Very well written.

Nov 03, 2009 06:52 PM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

Too many people overlook these tips which are vitally important to their home sale. I don't know how many sellers say 'but I have to live here'.  Well, people don't want to see how YOU live, they want to know what is possible for themselves with their stuff.  It's a crucial step.

Nov 04, 2009 08:28 AM
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas

Well done Debbie.  Those first impressions are so important and I'm amazed how many people are either unaware or simply don't believe it.  Thanks!

Nov 04, 2009 09:54 AM
Steve Andrascik
Lake Mead Area Realty - Boulder City, NV

Now if we could just get buyers to see it from all of the above points of view.

Boulder City Steve

Nov 04, 2009 10:11 AM
Mark Velasco
West Shores Realty - Whittier, CA
Top Producing Broker Associate

Great little prep Blog for Sellers. It is a great place to start.

Nov 04, 2009 04:57 PM
Harcourt Bethel - REALTOR®,CDPE,ABR®,SFR,ePro®,TRC,
Orlando, FL
Harcourt Bethel, CDPE,SFR®, ABR®,ePro®, TRC, NCHSE

I've seen many list before, but the above is the best detailed one todate, thanks Debbie.

May I have your permission to use as a hand out to my future sellers? 

Nov 05, 2009 06:19 AM
Debbie Rumsey
HomeSmart Realty West, Carlsbad, CA - Encinitas, CA
Realtor, Green, SFR

Al - Just what everyone needs, right?  More to do!

Sandra - I agree, stagers are worth a million bucks.  Not sure I would pay out of my pocket because there are no guarantees of a paycheck in the end.  I guess it would be a case to case decision.

Mike - Thank you for your kindness.

Lyn - Yes, and some buyers can't see beyond other peoples personal stuff so it is best to leave it "vanilla" so buyers can picture there own tastes.

DeeDee - It's like the home with dead grass and spiderwebs in the front yard but no one knows that once they get out of the car the inside is a knock out!  The buyer's impression starts when you drive up to the door so clean up that lawn!

Steve - When you find a way to make all sellers listen, please POST IT IMMEDIATELY! :)

Mark - Thank you.

Charles - You are very kind to say that.  Just for that, feel free to use it anytime!

Nov 05, 2009 09:15 AM
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

This is very good advice Debbie. The hard part is to get Sellers to make changes!

Nov 10, 2009 03:09 PM