Prep Your Home for Sale

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams

There is so much more to selling your Northern Virginia or DC Metro home than simply finding the right realtor and deciding on an asking price.  According to the National Association of Realtors 2017 Profile of Home Staging, 47% of buyer’s agents surveyed agreed that effective home staging can have a positive impact on the amount buyers are willing to offer for a property. Among buyer’s agents, 77% agreed that effective home staging helps buyers visualize themselves living in the home. Home staging can also have an impact on how long a home is on the market before getting an accepted offer.

Source: National Association of Realtors


Both buyers’ agents and sellers’ agents agree that the three most important rooms to stage are the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom. From my own personal experience, I would also add that “curb appeal” of the front entryway and front yard landscaping will go a long way to get potential buyers through the front door. Here are some tips to get your home show-ready:

Living Room

This is likely the first room potential buyers will see upon entering your home. The key is to make it warm and inviting.

  • Chase away the shadows. Lighting is key to setting the stage. Bright rooms feel bigger. So turn on the lights, and strategically add additional lighting if needed to make the room feel warm and bright.
  • Choose neutral furniture or slip covers, but bring in pops of color with bright accent pillows, artwork, or flowers.
  • Remove unnecessary furniture. While you may need the sofa, loveseat and additional chairs for your personal needs, too much furniture makes the room look cluttered. Buyers can see their own furnishings in the home if yours don’t get in the way. Plus, removing furniture makes the room feel bigger.
  • A fresh coat of paint will go a long way to freshen the room.
  • Place a tea service, chess set, or well-loved book and reading glasses on a side table for a homey feel.


The kitchen is the heart of the home, and is a focal point for most buyers. The kitchen must have a fresh, updated feel in order to entice potential new owners. Here are some tips for staging the kitchen area:

  • Freshen the room. A fresh coat of paint on the walls, fresh stain on the cabinets and new hardware will make the room shine.
  • Deep clean EVERYTHING. Eliminate grime from appliances, inside cabinets, backsplashes, vent hoods, and the floors and baseboards in all corners of the room.
  • Declutter the cabinets. Yes, buyers WILL open your cabinet doors. Remove excess cookware and leave the cabinets looking organized and neat. Clear out the undersink cabinet as well, and clean it thoroughly.
  • If you can’t make your appliances look new with a little elbow grease, consider replacing them. Stainless steel is a popular choice.
  • Remove everything from the counters. Leave only a bowl of fruit or fresh flowers.
  • Don’t cook anything with strong smells in the kitchen. If you are dying for Thai food, order out. You can, however, use a lightly scented candle (don’t leave candles burning when no one is home, though!), or bake a fresh batch of cookies before a showing to entice buyers with the smells of home.
  • Don’t overlook the pantry. Pack up the clutter, and make the space look organized with stylish containers or baskets.
  • Remove the kids’ artwork and your collection of magnets from every state from the refrigerator.

Master Bedroom

While your home has multiple bedrooms, the master will command much more attention from potential buyers than the auxiliary bedrooms. All bedrooms should be decluttered, clean and bright, but here are some special tips for the master bedroom:

  • Keep it gender neutral. Opt for a stylish comforter and bolster pillows in serene, understated colors.
  • Remove posters or pictures except for some tasteful artwork.
  • Clear off the tops of dressers and bedside tables, except for lamps, and maybe a book or two for effect.
  • Declutter the closets. Only leave the clothes you are currently wearing, so that the closet doesn’t appear overstuffed. Organize the space with stylish hat boxes or baskets on the shelves.
  • Consider replacing all the mismatched plastic hangers with boutique-looking wooden hangers.

The Rest of the House

While the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom are the most important rooms to focus on, you can’t neglect the rest of the house. Make sure you:

  • Clean the house from top to bottom, and in every corner of every closet that may not have seen the light of day in years.
  • Clean all carpets and rugs or replace them.
  • Remove unnecessary furniture.
  • Remove dust-collecting knick-knacks and leave all horizontal surfaces bare, except for and lamps and a vase of flowers or the like.
  • Remove all family photographs.
  • Declutter book cases, and only leave a few books for effect.
  • Remove pet beds, kitchen trash cans, and other odor collecting items.

Curb-Side View

This could be a topic for an whole separate article. There is so much you can do to the exterior of your home to make it appealing. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Power wash the siding and clean the windows completely. Replace broken screens, and replace any foggy windows.
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on the front door, porch, and shutters. Stay away from bold color choices and opt for the more traditional door colors (black, red, blue, green).
  • Trim back bushes so the home isn’t obscured from the street.
  • Weed flowerbeds, and plant colorful annuals.
  • Use potted plants to accessorize the front porch entryway.
  • Repair wobbly railings, and make sure sidewalks and steps are in good repair.
  • Paint or replace the mailbox, and update the house numbers.

The Gresh team can help you determine what improvements and staging options would work best for your budget and your location. If you have any questions about the selling process, give me a call at 703-328-3434 or send me an email at

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