30 Items for Sellers to Prepare Their Home for Sale

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty CalBRE #01492138


30 Items for Sellers to Prepare Their Home for Sale




#1 Loma Linda  Realtor Kristin Hamilton


1.     De-Clutter you house. This is #1. Pack away all your videos, (you know the 300 sitting on a  book shelf that you have been buying for 10 years now), Books (all the books you have bought and read for the past 20 years), Antique Dolls or Plates, Hummel’s, Souvenir Planes, etc. You get the idea as you need to pack this all up.


2.     Remove Unnecessary Furniture- Put any excess furniture in storage. If you have 5 TVs in your house, get rid of most of them and I bet some of them do not work. Take the TV out of the living room and put it in the family room. Take the TV out of the Master Bedroom too. Make it more romantic. This is a room that usually has a lot of clutter in the corners. Clean it up and move it out.


3.     Spare Bedrooms- If you have a junk bedroom, get rid of all the junk and pack it up. Turn this room back into a bedroom; small bed, night table, lamp and maybe a small chest or desk. You want the buyer to see this as a bedroom/office as they are probably looking for a large house with lots of bedrooms. Give the impression this home has a lot of usable space.


4.     Children’s Bedrooms- I know this is hard, but bribe your kids to clean up their room and you will take them to the park or video arcade. This will work perfect when the agent plans an open house on Saturday afternoon.


5.     Lighting/ Fixtures- This is so Important so make sure all the fixtures have working bulbs. If you can afford a few new light fixtures, it makes a big difference. Perhaps new light fixtures in the bathrooms and a new hanging fixture over the dining room table.


6.     Dust and Polish- Clean the furniture and remove all doilies of the tables.


7.     Closet Clutter- Remove all the clutter in the closets too. You want the buyers to see how much room they will have to put their clothes and possessions in.


8.     Clean House- Make sure inside of house is spotlessly clean and smells nice too. This is one of the strongest senses we have. Buyers will be sure to remember your house if it smells good or bad…… Put some plug-ins in the bathrooms and kitchen. Usually a nice fruity odor (vanilla, apple, melon, grapefruit, and pumpkin) and not something real flowery that might make a buyer sick.


9.     Clean the Windows- Wash them “Inside and Out” and the trim on the doors where fingerprints are left.


10.  Flooring_ Shampoo the carpets if needed, if you have tile or wood floors covered up with rugs then you should remove the rugs and show off the nice floors. If you have a lot of little rugs all over the house, remove all but one by the front door and in front of the sink. You want the rooms to look spacious and little rugs just cut off the room.


11.  Repairs-Make sure you complete any small repairs needed; broken switch covers, chipped tile, missing grout, missing knobs on the cabinets. You know, the things you have been meaning to take care of for the past year or so. You want the buyer to know that you have kept the house up in tip top condition.


12.  New Knobs- If your cabinet knobs are old and dated, replacing them with new ones from your Home Improvement store can make a world of difference.


13.  Paint -Paint the interior if it looks dull or dirty or the colors are bright. This is the least expensive way to spruce up the house. Choose a neutral color that will appeal to all who visit.


14.  Wallpaper- Sometimes wallpaper can make or break a sale. If your wallpaper is busy, I say remove it. Spray it and scrape it off to give the room a clean look.


15.  Fresh Bedroom Comforter and Bath Linens- This is a good way to spruce up the bath and bedrooms. Use neutral colors and some contrasting flowers or pillows but make it free of clutter.


16.  Window Coverings- If you have heavy, outdated printed, faded or dirty drapes/curtains then I would suggest removing them to give the house open and airy. If the mini blinds are bent, remove them. Replace the minis and verticals or buy some airy neutral thin drapes and hang on a new bronze rod. You can find these at Wal-Mart, Big Lots, Target, Penney’s and shop in the Clearance area for some bargains but not ugly bargains! Neutral Colors! A fresh and airy look will give the buyers a good experience instead of frowning and saying this could be a nice room if not for those ugly drapes. Oh yes, Remove any ugly headers with flowers on them as they were popular in the 90’s but outdated now. Remove and fill in the holes for a new updated look.


17.  HVAC- Make sure the heater and Air Conditioner work properly. If needed, have it serviced as it usually only runs $50-$100. You want to keep the invoice to show the buyers during escrow as this is a real big selling point. Leave the A/C on in the summer about 75-78 degrees. You want them to walk in and remember how cool it is. If they think the AC is not working, they will probably not put in an offer. Do not give them that idea. Your agent can put in MLS that the AC was serviced recently.


18.  #1 Most Important/ Curb Appeal-So Important as you want the Buyers that are driving by to be interested enough to stop, to call the phone number on the sign or to jot the address down to give to their agent.


19.  #2 Most Important / Front Door & Porch- Clean up the porch; sweep, remove cob webs, bird droppings and put a new WELCOME mat at the door.


20.  Paint Exterior- Paint Doors and Trim if chipped or faded. It is usually really expensive to paint the entire exterior but the trim and doors are usually affordable if needed.


21.  Garage Area- Clean up the Garage as you want it to look as spacious as possible. If you have a work bench, clean it off so perspective buyers can see it. This is usually a big selling point for the men.


22.  Washer & Dryer area- If the washer and dryer are out in the garage, clean up this area too. Sweep up any spilled soap and lint lying around. Sometimes a nice inexpensive shelf is good above the washer to put your soap and dryer sheets.


23.  New Flowers/ Weed the Yard- Remove any weeds in the flower beds and the ones that come up in the cracks of the driveway, sidewalks and curbs. Water the grass and sprinkle some grass seed if you have any holes in the lawn. Plus the seeds will sprout and make the lawn greener.


24.  Clean Exterior- So important to clean the outside of house too. Remove any cob webs, sweep, edge the lawn, trim bushes and trees and plant some little bedding plants or put a bowl of color on the front porch. Remove any dead plants. Make sure all gardening utensils are put away, throw all trash piled up on the side of the house, any old patio furniture, old potted plant containers, or wood piled up in the yard.


25.  Patio Furniture- Remove excess but leave a table and chairs, a rocker or sun lounger. You want the buyer to say “Oh, I would enjoy sitting on the patio and entertaining family”.


26.  Outside Mold- Remove any mold growing up side of house or fence. Spray bleach on the mold and it will be gone in a week or less.


27.  Excess Cars or RV’s- Clean up your driveway. Remove the old car in your driveway that has a flat tire or cob webs underneath. Take it to a storage yard, sell it or even donate it for a tax write off this year. Park the boat or RV in a storage yard. You won’t have to pay storage but a few months as you will make your house look so clean and spacious. That will help sell it fast!


28.  No Expensive Repairs- You want the house to look nice but do not replace the fence, build a patio cover, put all new sod in lawn, have the entire backyard cemented in…just some minor repairs to make it look like a buyer would want to live here.


29.  Make a List- Keep a list of all upgrades and repairs you have done to your home in the past year or two. This list is also good to give the appraiser when they come to inspect. Also the Home Inspector would enjoy a copy. This list can be given to your agent and he/she will pass it on.


30.  One Last Thing/ Give the Buyers Some Space- Make your house available to buyers and their agents. Yes, it is inconvenient when they call at 4:30 pm and want to show up at 5:00 p.m. and you are in the middle of cooking dinner. But these buyers have worked all day and they want to look at the houses after work. Be understanding and be glad they want to see your house. Put the food in the frig, load up the kids and dogs and leave before the buyers get there. Be flexible and go to the local drive-in; give the buyers a few minutes of space. Buyers cannot feel comfortable talking and looking if the homeowners are there staring at them. If your agent has an Open House planned, go to the mall or park. Do not stay at the house. It is easier for your agent to sell your home without you there.

**I remember when my husband and I were selling our house; we would mop the kitchen floor, and put up the food and leave after receiving that 5:00 p.m. call “Can I show your house in 15 Minutes?”. One time we just threw the frying pan and sauce pan in the cold oven and lit a candle to make the house smell nice. We were backing out of the garage as the agent was pulling up with the buyers. We would always be so happy that we had made it; yeah where should we go for dinner? My husband and I had it down to a 15 minute clean, mop and go. These particular buyers ended up buying the house too so it was well worth our extra work.


Redlands Kristin Hamilton realtorThis is what your seller wants, right? They want to sell.

If you are looking for a professional agent, I am just a click away. Google me at Kristin Hamilton-Real Estate. Homeowners and Buyers both will find my services top notch and successful.




#1 Loma Linda  Realtor Kristin Hamilton



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Rich Ranft
United Country - Beloit Auction & Realty Inc. - Beloit, WI

Kristin...It still amazes me that seller's actually think they have to do something more than list there home to get it sold ...great article.

Apr 01, 2012 10:16 AM #1
Emily Medvec Qualifying Broker
Hello Realty Partners - Santa Fe, NM
Realtor | Serving Santa Fe & Northern NM

This is a very important list about what sellers can do to prepare their homes for sale. I would add a pre-listing home inspection to help in taking care of some needed repairs. Then of course the home must be priced correctly for the local real estate market otherwise it may not appraise if financing is required. Then everyone would be wasting a lot of effort and time. Selling a home means work for the Seller too!

Apr 01, 2012 10:25 AM #2
Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Keller Williams Realty - Redlands, CA
(909) 557-6966, GREEN, SFR, CHS-Redlands/Loma Lind

Hi Rich,

I stilll have to tell them what to do sometimes so I just give them this list except for my comment at the bottom. It spells it out for them. But not all sellers think clean means the same thing I do! You understand.

Apr 01, 2012 10:28 AM #3
Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Keller Williams Realty - Redlands, CA
(909) 557-6966, GREEN, SFR, CHS-Redlands/Loma Lind

Hi Emily,

I have been chasing the market for 5 months thinking he would go along with me as he finally did but 5 months later and now it did not appraiser for the price including stacking the buyers CC so he is upset and wants to cancel. We are two weeks from closing. His idea of clean and in working order was also not the same language as mine. Sometimes they just don't think we know what we are talking about....but I must say I have only had 2 sellers that did not listen and refused to heed my advise and they ended up expiring.

Apr 01, 2012 10:31 AM #4
Michele Cadogan-Cell 917-861-9166
Fillmore Real Estate 2926 Ave J Brooklyn NY 11210 - Brooklyn, NY
Licensed Real Estate Associate Broker -


Thanks for sharing the list of things that sellers should do to prepare their homes for sale.  I find that decluttering makes a world of difference in presentation.  Thanks again and have a great week.

Apr 01, 2012 11:39 AM #5
Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Keller Williams Realty - Redlands, CA
(909) 557-6966, GREEN, SFR, CHS-Redlands/Loma Lind

Hi Michele,

Thanks so much for stopping. I think de-cluttering and cleaning are probably the two top items if you had to pick just two items. Have a great week ahead.

Apr 01, 2012 12:19 PM #6
Ann Hayden
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties-St. Louis Missouri - Chesterfield, MO


Very nice list.  All inclusive!

Ann Hayden in Wildwood, MO

Apr 01, 2012 02:43 PM #7
Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Keller Williams Realty - Redlands, CA
(909) 557-6966, GREEN, SFR, CHS-Redlands/Loma Lind

Hi Ann,

Thanks for stopping and commenting. Have a great week.

Apr 01, 2012 03:59 PM #8
Kwee Huset
Kwee Huset Realty - Venice, FL
Venice Florida Homes For Sale

Kristin,all the items mentioned in your post will improve the 1st impression when buyers walk into the house, and fall in love with it and want to buy.

Apr 01, 2012 11:24 PM #9
Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Keller Williams Realty - Redlands, CA
(909) 557-6966, GREEN, SFR, CHS-Redlands/Loma Lind

Thanks so much Kwee for your vote of confidence on my list. Preparing the list is one thing, but getting the seller to do these items is sometimes more difficult. Usually the sellers want to get the house sold but once in a great while, one will feel they can do nothing and it will sell. Not the case in this market as buyers want properties in move in condition now.

Apr 02, 2012 01:07 AM #10
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