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Prepare Your Home For Sale

Updated on April 11, 2012

What do you do after listing with a real estate agent?

Making and keeping your home "showcase ready" is a critical part of all real estate marketing plans. Today's difficult real estate market means the buyer has many homes to choose from. A great home that shows poorly has little chance of winning over buyers. A home that is "showcase ready" invites buyers to make offers.

In real estate, as in life, seldom is there a second chance to make a good first impression. There are five steps you can take now to ensure that a buyer's first look at your home is positive and impressive.

Curb Appeal
Curb Appeal | Source

Curb Appeal

The first impression any buyer has of your home is from the street. You can be sure that the outside is always showcase ready by simply grooming the lawn, performing routine maintenance and making any needed repairs. It's time to get your hands dirty and get a little sun at the same time!

Grooming the lawn is likely little more than you are already doing. In the spring and summer months, and in warmer climates year round, cut and edge lawns at least weekly. Lawns need nutrition, so fertilize as necessary. If your lawn has bare spots, plant grass seed or use sod to fill in larger areas.

If you don't have flowers at the front of your home, plant some! A little color by the front door goes a long way towards making your home appealing. Baskets of flowers, hanging by the door, add interest and color to the front of the house.

Trim bushes and trees if needed, remembering that certain varieties should be cut at specific times of the year. A local lawn and garden store can help you determine the best time for each variety. Be sure to remove any dead branches from the trees and bushes.

If the weather is hot and dry, water once or twice a week to keep everything green. Be sure to use weed control and fertilizer as recommended by local experts to keep the lawn showcase ready.

In fall make sure that fallen leaves are picked up and removed. Plant fall flowers such as mums to add a little fall color to your real estate. Continue to groom the lawn as needed to keep it showcase ready.

In the winter, if you live in an area that has snow, remove it! Keep walkways and drives free of ice and snow for both the safety of buyers and the appearance of your real estate. Adding a decorative wreath to the front door for a splash of color during colorless months. If your welcome mat is sun bleached or old, replace it with a new one.

Routine maintenance starts with cleaning the windows. If a window is broken or cloudy it should be replaced. Power wash decks, sidewalks and driveways to remove dirt, grime and mold. Use a hose to clean siding and trim. Inspect the exterior paint and touch up areas if needed.

Examine your home's gutters and eves and clean and repair them if they are pulling out from the roof or are full of leaves. De-clutter the yard by removing any trash or unwanted items and disposing of them. Water features such as pools, and fountains should be cleaned and full of water, or closed and covered if out of season. Roof shingles should be replaced if they are missing or damaged .

Anything that is not working should be repaired. Fix any issues with exterior lights and the door bell. If you have a pool make sure the pump and the filter work, and if they are broken, have them replaced or repaired. A potential buyer will notice out of order equipment and factor the cost of repair into their offer.


We love our stuff! But many of us likely have too much stuff, and that stuff can distract a buyer from seeing the potential of a room. It's time to de-clutter the house!

Each room should have an open, airy feeling that makes it seem large but comfortable. Excess furniture should either be removed and sold or put it in storage. Personal photos or paintings should be removed as well to allow the buyer to envisions themselves living in the home.

Cluttered counters give the impression of a lack of counter space in your home. Clear off counters in both the kitchen and in the bathrooms. If you have built in shelves and cabinetsin your home, remove excessive knick-knacks to open up the space.

Also, it's time to clean out your closets! Cramped and clutter closets tell a potential buyer that your home lacks closet space. Take the time to tidy them up and remove excessive clothing and stored items.

Maintenance and Repair

You know, of course, that if you just jiggle the handle on the toilet a little it will stop running. But your perspective buyer are unaware of that and they expect their new home's toilets to work properly! Don't flush a prospective buyer away because of a drip. It's time to do a little general maintenance on your home to make it ready for sale.

Check all appliances and make sure that they are in good working order. Refrigerators should refrigerate, ice makers should make ice and the stove and oven should heat. All appliances, microwave, garbage disposal, furnace, air conditioners, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, pumps, fans and any other mechanical device that will convey with the home should work. And if the appliance has a filter it should be cleaned or replaced.

Make any repairs that are needed to anything broken in your home. Dripping faucets or leaking toilets and pipes should be fixed by a professional plumber, unless you are up to the task. Examine the paint on walls, base boards and molding and touch it up if it is scuffed or damaged. Broken windows or blinds should be repaired or replaced. If a door squeaks, oil it. Test all light fixtures, switches and outlets to see if they are in proper working order and replace any burnt out light bulbs. Inspect drywall, doors, molding or cabinets and repair any problems you find.


The person that said "A little dirt never hurt" never sold a home. Buyers want to know that your house is well maintained and that impression starts with a neat and clean showcase home. And while mopping, vacuuming, dusting and scrubbing haven't received many "likes" on Facebook ®, they are critical to your success in selling your home. You should clean your house thoroughly and frequently during the listing period.

The kitchen is arguably the most important room in the house, so begin there. Clean all appliances, both inside and out, whether they appear dirty to you or not. That includes shelves and bins in the refrigerator, under the rotating tray in the microwave and drip pans on the stove. Clean the oven and broiler as well. Check the cabinets and wipe down both the inside and the outside and, if the shelving paper is worn or dirty, replace it. You've already de-cluttered the counter spaces, now thoroughly clean it, paying special attention to those areas that hide dirt and grime.

Give the bathrooms a thorough cleaning as well. Scrub sinks, showers, toilets, tubs and tile. Wipe down cabinets both inside and out and, if the shelving paper is worn or dirty, replace it. Clean grout and replace caulking if stained or mildewed. Exhaust fan vents should be vacuumed as well.

Deep clean the rest of the house. Vacuum and shampoo all of the carpets and, if you have pets, use Carpet Fresh® or a similar deodorizer to remove odors. Light fixtures and ceiling fans should be cleaned and dusted, even the ones way up high. Clean molding and chair rails. Look for spider webs in corners and sweep them up. Windows should be washed and the sills cleaned.

Be Prepared!

It's 2 o'clock in the afternoon and the phone rings: Your real estate agent wants to show your house to a prospective buyer between 4 and 6 today. Is your home ready? It's better and easier to keep your home showcase ready at all times than to panic clean every time the phone rings. Clean, dust and vacuum the house frequently. Keep kitchen and bathroom counters clear of clutter. If something breaks, fix it. Keep everything in your home neat, clean and ready.

Store any valuables you have in a safe place. If you have a safety deposit box you might want to keep jewelry, cash, collectables, weapons and other valuables in them. If you leave them at home, keep them in a safe or a place that's out of view.

Make certain your house is warm and inviting to prospective buyers. Open all of the drapes and turn on all of the lights. Place fresh flowers in the entry way and scented candles in the kitchen to add to the atmosphere. Make the potential home buyer feel welcome by treating them as you would any guest in your home.

Should you stay during the showing or should you go? Prospective buyers want to see themselves in your home and if you are there that is difficult to do. Plan to leave 10 minutes before the appointment and stay out until after the appointment. If you have a pet, confine it to a safe and out of the way area. If you need to stay, it's best to stay out of the way and let your guests explore on their own with the agent.

Your "showcase ready" home is an important element in your real estate agent's marketing plan. And with a little time and a little work, you can turn your home into your best marketing and advertising tool. Remember, seldom is there a second chance to make a good first impression!


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    • geoff sills profile image

      geoff sills 6 years ago from Tulsa, Oklahoma

      Thanks ardenfr. I appreciate your comments!

    • ardenfr profile image

      ardenfr 6 years ago from Lubbock, Tx

      Nice article with some good common sense tips.

    • profile image

      Allison 6 years ago

      Great article!