Preparing a home to sell involves great planning and preparation best carried out in tandem with an experienced realtor who is up-to-date on what buyers want. Agents know that unattended “little” things in a home can make or break a deal as buyers notice chipped paint, clutter, dust bunnies, cracks in the driveway and more. Every seller envisions their home selling quickly for top dollar. While that is certainly the goal for your realtor, it is important to remain realistic and to plan carefully in order to sell your home as quickly as possible for the highest price possible. The process by which you prepare your home can be as simple or as difficult as you’d like to make it. Ultimately, effective preparedness boils down to eight simple steps:

  1. Emotionally detach, viewing your house as a product to be sold on the market. Disassociating emotionally from your home can be difficult given all the memories that were made while living in it. However, buyers are often turned off by emotional sellers who make them feel they have no bargaining power or that the seller might back out of the deal at the last minute because they lost sight of the big picture. In the end, you will take your memories wherever you go, but if your emotions cost you a sale, you aren’t going anywhere. 
  2. Remove unnecessary personal items. Photographs, knickknacks and personal clutter interfere with a buyer’s ability to envision themselves living in your home. Donate or sell anything you can live without and pack up the pieces you must keep. Clutter causes buyers to question the cleanliness of a home which leads to further speculation regarding proper maintenance and upkeep. Your ceramic cat collection could potentially stand between you and the sale of your home. In addition, remove unnecessary and/or distracting furniture pieces from the home. Buyers might be too easily distracted by your faux bear head rug to notice your square footage. Understated pieces are best, allowing buyers to envision how their own furniture will be arranged in the house.
  3. Clean and organize cabinets and closets. The more space you have to show, the more prospective buyers you will attract. Remove items which can be stored from closets and cabinets, dust shelving and straighten drawers. Organization sends a powerful message to buyers that your home was well cared for and properly maintained, therefore it is worth more. 
  4. Rent a storage unit. As previously stated, homes with less clutter and furniture make for better showings. Excess furniture, art pieces, empty dressers, dining room table leaves and extra chairs should be placed into storage in order to make your rooms appear larger. Just the basics are necessary in each room. Don’t forget to store drapes, appliances, light fixtures or anything else attached to your house before listing photos are taken. Once the photos are taken and your listing goes “live”, it might be too late to take those things with you as telling a buyer they can’t have your drapes or garage refrigerator could cost you a sale.
  5. Check for necessary repairs and perform maintenance. Walk through your home with a notepad and a fine tooth comb.  Note any and every cosmetic issue regardless of scale, necessary repairs, condition of the home’s exterior (roof, siding, necessary brick tuck work to be performed, etc.) and be sure to observe the conditions of doors and windows. Do they close, latch and lock properly? Are doors hanging by a single hinge? Do the windows fog over with moisture? Sellers will label your house one way or another. You could be known as the home with the gorgeous landscaping or the flophouse with foggy windows and dim lighting. Speaking of which, be sure to change lightbulbs in order to avoid the appearance of dinginess and open all blinds and drapes which you don’t intend to keep as bright is always best.
  6. Nothing impresses buyers more than a professionally cleaned and detailed home. Hiring a professional housekeeping crew which specializes in detailing homes to be sold is worth every penny. Find a reputable company which will re-caulk your bathtub, power wash your driveway and sidewalks, polish chrome fixtures, wash down walls, ceilings, cabinets and closets and remove every last speck of dust beneath the furniture. Your home should smell fresh and that will take a little work on your part. Maintain your professional cleaning investment with daily vacuuming and dusting and keep your kitchen and bathrooms sparkling. Don’t forget to keep toilet lids down! 
  7. If you own pets, try to rehome them with a neighbor or relative during showings or until the house is sold. Buyers are often turned off by the presence of pets and especially by the smell of pets. In addition, litter boxes are not considered a great selling point for prospective buyers and pet allergies could cost you a sale.
  8. Curb appeal is everything. If buyers are not attracted to your exterior property, they won’t even get out of the car to check out the interior of your home. If you have cracked, empty flower pots, brown spots on the lawn and weeds as tall as pine trees, you are not going to sell your home. Take time to invest in simple landscaping with fresh planted flowers, trimmed hedges, fertilized and irrigated lawn and keep your driveway, sidewalks and porch neatly swept and tidy and your leaves raked. Consider investing in a “welcome” mat and show that you care about your product by sprucing it up a bit.

Think about your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer. What appeals most to you and what do you least appreciate? Are you proud of the way your house and lawn look? Does your living room need a fresh coat of paint? Buyers will critique your home in the same way you evaluated your last vehicle prior to purchase. A home is the largest purchase of a lifetime for most people. It stands to reason that they will check out every nook and cranny of your home, offering uninvited criticism. Sellers cannot take the feedback personally and must make adjustments which appeal to buyers to the extent that is possible. Furthermore, your experienced realtor will be with you throughout every step of the selling process and will know how to advise you in order to prepare your home to present as an impressive product for the market which stands out from the competition.