How long does it take to prepare a home for sale?

Real Estate Agent with Alain Pinel BRE 01367196

Someone asked me how long it takes to prepare a property for sale. The usual answer is “It depends”. For the benefit of potential sellers, this should give you an idea of the process.



The shortest period of time I enjoyed from start to finish was just one day.


I was lucky enough to get a call from a couple who said they wanted to talk with me about selling their home in Alameda CA. We set up a meeting that very afternoon. And when I arrived, they said they were ready to sign the listing agreement (this was before Docusign, so thank goodness I had the listing agreement and other documents printed ahead of time). Even better, the house was pristine, and show-ready. And they wanted to get it on the market as soon as possible..meaning, that same day!


While they were filling out their disclosures, I took several pictures. Thankfully, there was enough light and my pictures came out great. By that evening, I had uploaded the listing on the MLS, complete with pictures. Set up the photos on other sites like Craigslist, and scheduled the brokers tour and open house the same week.




A new client was in town. We chatted in the morning, set up an appointment that afternoon. Thankfully, I had enough time to prepare a CMA (comparable market analysis) and listing presentation to give to him. The next day, on New Year’s Eve, we had a signed listing agreement.


But this one took a little longer….here are some of the things we needed to do


  • First, the house was chockful of furnishings. It was also dated and very dirty. It had to be packed up and emptied. Off to the liquidators, Goodwill, Salvation Army.

  • Then the house was inspected. We identified, repaired and resolved many things per the reports.

  • The cleaners and maintenance crew came. To save time and money, it wasn’t practical to recarpet the house, so the simple solution was to stretch then shampoo the carpet. Kitchen cabinets were repainted. Touch-ups. Deep-cleaning inside and out. Pressure washing patio and deck.

  • We had to wait for the carpets to dry before staging the property. By the way, I like what my stager said about preparing a house -- it's like a choice between a plain cake and one decorated cake. Which one is eye-candy and will appeal more?

  • Gardener planted new flowers

  • Professional photographer (TourFactory) also prepared the property-specific website. Although I had the photos by the following day, it still took time to get the photos set up for a printed brochure. Thank goodness for Print Creations for the exceptionally good and fast service.

  • Printers needed 2-3 days to create, have proofs approved, print and deliver the brochures

  • VOILA! See for the finished product.



TWO MONTHS or longer

And then there are those who have schedules that couldn’t be rushed. Major repairs. Major cleaning. Scheduling conflicts, etc. Holidays with family coming in town. So although the listing agreement was signed in November, they’re not ready until February to show the house.


So when someone asks, how long does it take to get a house ready? The only sure answer is, “It depends on the people and the property.”


Related Posts


Comments (7)

Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

You are so right, Pacita. but ONE DAY??? You rock!!

Jan 18, 2014 11:06 AM
Mike Baltierra
Rise Realty - Eastvale, CA
Full Service at Your Service Realtor-Eastvale CA

Excellent post. Yes it definitely depends. 

Jan 18, 2014 03:04 PM
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

This makes sense Pacita, every property and client is different. I bet you see a wide variety of home preparation schedules.  :)

Jan 18, 2014 03:18 PM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

"It depends..." is the very best answer to this question...another set of eyes is likely to see far more than the Seller can see.

Jan 18, 2014 07:55 PM
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Lottie --- yes, that was the first and only time that I had I met, signed, photographed, and activated a listing in one day. That was an exception since the sellers kept their home in show condition.

Mike --- some sellers get it....makes it easier on us.

Tom --- I have a client that it's taking longer than two months. And he just asked for another week extension. 

Sally and David --- you are absolutely correct.

Jan 20, 2014 11:51 AM
Monica Hill
RE/Max Associates - Wilmington, DE
the REALTOR to help you discover Delaware

Pacita, You've got a good handle on what it takes to get a property truly ready for the market. Kudos!

Jan 20, 2014 12:58 PM
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Monica --- thanks for the compliment. I do my best :)


Jan 23, 2014 05:11 AM