Prepare Your House for Sale

General Tips


  • Clean everything thoroughly. Ask a friend to help you assess your efforts—especially in sensitive areas such as odor removal.
  • Put out clean towels, new soap, a nice tablecloth and fresh flowers.
  • Don't be at home during a showing or open house. Your absence will put buyers at ease so they'll feel free to linger and ask questions.
  • If you do stay, be polite, but let your sales associate do the talking.
  • Don't apologize for the condition of your home.
  • Make sure kids and pets are out of the house.
  • Unclutter all areas of your home to create an impression of spaciousness and plentiful storage space. A great way to clear away clutter and make money at the same time is to hold a yard or garage sale.
  • Nothing makes a home look newer faster than a fresh coat of paint. Neutral colors such as beige, white, off-white and gray have a broad appeal to prospective buyers. These colors suggest newness and cleanliness. It's a good idea to stick to neutrals when making any improvements prior to selling your home.


One of the first things a buyer looks at in a home is the storage it offers. A general rule of thumb for sellers is to take out half of what's in the closets and storage areas to make them look more spacious. Take advantage of the fact that you're preparing to move. This might be the right time to throw out, donate, sell or store things you no longer want. Remove excess furniture, even if only temporarily, to make rooms seem as spacious as possible.


Storage areas in your basement, attic, or garage often end up as catchalls. Make sure these areas are well organized and give prospective buyers the impression that there is room for all of their belongings. Don't let a perceived lack of closet and storage space become an objection for a prospective buyer.


Ask home buyers what area or room of the home they consider most important, and chances are they'll say the kitchen. When prospective buyers look at your kitchen, they will pay particular attention to its cleanliness, layout and storage capacity.


If major appliances are being sold with the home, make sure they are spotless, odor-free and in good working condition. Polish chrome surfaces. Fix any leaky faucets, loose cabinet hardware, drawer handles and outdated or inefficient light fixtures. Make efficient use of drawers and cabinets with dividers and cutlery trays.


Windows & Walls

Clean your interior and exterior windows and screens. Repair cracked panes, torn screens, broken sashes, and ropes or cords as well. When your home is being shown, open your curtains to let daylight in, especially if the view is noteworthy.


While you're at it, wash all the mirrors in the house too. Launder or dry clean curtains and drapes.


Repair any cracks or holes in the walls and ceiling, and repaint if necessary. Strip outdated wallpaper.

Floors & Lighting

Carpeting has a major impact on the look of a home. Vacuum thoroughly or have it steam cleaned. If it is badly worn, outdated or stained, consider having it replaced, despite the expense. Pull up any carpet that is outdated or worn. Check wood floors to see if they need to be refinished. Scrub and wax tile floors, and repair or replace cracked tiles.


Make sure light fixtures, switches, switchplates and outlet covers are clean and in good working order.

Exterior Touch-Ups

Paint: It's true that first impresssions are lasting. So take a good look at the paint on the outside of your house. Is it cracking, peeling or chipping?


If it is, a fresh coat for your exterior may cost you a bit of time and money but may elevate your home from "fixer-upper" to "move-in condition."


If you decide your home needs painting, choose colors that are appropriate for the style of your home and that blend in well with your neighborhood.


Roof: Buyers will pay close attention to the condition of your roof. Repatch or reshingle where necessary, and fix leaky, corroded downspouts and gutters. Inside, a watermarked ceiling is a sign to buyers that the roof has leaked—even if the damage has been repaired.