Getting Your Home Market Ready

Follow these tips to prepare your home for a quick sale.

Separate Yourself From Your Home

  • Mentally prepare. Knowing this is only your home a while longer may help sellers disconnect themselves. Remember when selling - a house is merely a property, or product to be sold.
  • Detach your feelings. Focus energy on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours.
  • Visualize. Picture yourself handing over the keys and envelopes containing home papers and warranties to the new owners!
  • Look ahead. Don't look back. Look toward the future.


Pack up those photographs and family heirlooms. A distracted buyer is no buyer at all and it is hard for buyers to see past personal artifacts. The goal is to get buyers imagining their own photos on the walls, and they can't do that if yours are there! Don't draw attention to who lives in the home, highlight the home itself!


Many people collect large quantities of junk, but chances are items won't be missed if they haven't been used in over a year. Use these tips to complete the de-cluttering process and make sure all parts of the home are tended to including the garage, the junk room, the basement, the pantry and even the attic. Buyers want to see there is plenty of valuable storage space instead of feeling like they won't be able to fit their belongings inside. Consider these steps as a head start on the packing that will attention soon enough.

  • If you don't need it, why not donate it or throw it away?
  • Remove 75 percent of books from bookcases.
  • Pack up those knickknacks.
  • Clean everything off kitchen counters.
  • Put daily essential and personal items in a small caddy that can be stored in a closet or under a sink when not in use.
  • Remove excess furniture, especially any pieces that block or hamper paths or walkways.
  • Give it away, stash it with a neighbor, rent a storage unit or move it to the new property.

Rearrange Bedroom Closets and Kitchen Cabinets

Buyers love to check things out and opening closet and cabinet doors is part of that. Think of the message it sends if items are crammed together or fall out! Now imagine what a buyer believes about a home if she sees everything organized. This nonverbal statement says the home is well maintained and has an abundance of storage space. Some examples of getting kitchens and closets ready to sell include:

  • Alphabetizing spice jars.
  • Placing silverware in divided compartments in drawer tray.
  • Facing canned goods and boxed food products.
  • Eliminating junk drawers.
  • Organizing cleaning products under the sink.
  • Neatly stacking dishes.
  • Turning coffee cup handles so they face the same way.
  • Arranging pots and pans neatly.
  • Hanging shirts together, buttoning them and facing them in the same direction.
  • Using a tie rack for ties and a belt rack for belts.
  • Folding sweaters into a hanging storage-shelving unit.
  • Lining up shoes.

Remove/Replace Favorite Item(s)

If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove and replace them now. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great-grandmother, take it down. If a buyer never sees it, she won't want it. Sellers must disclose all the items that do not come with the home, and it can be much easier to just replace everything ahead of time.

Make Minor Necessary Repairs

  • Replace cracked floor or counter tiles.
  • Patch holes in walls.
  • Fix leaky faucets.
  • Tighten loose hinges.
  • Eliminate squeaky doors with lubricating oil.
  • Fix doors and drawers that don't close properly.
  • Paint walls neutral colors, especially if you are accustomed to bold shades. (Don't be remembered as "the house with the orange bathroom.")
  • Update old flooring, countertops, lighting, hardware, cabinets or items that will make a lasting impression.
  • Replace burned-out light bulbs.
  • Tend to any other repairs as needed.

Make the House Sparkle

  • Wash windows inside and out.
  • Have walkways and exterior professionally pressure washed.
  • Clean out cobwebs, eliminate creepy crawlies of any kind.
  • Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
  • Get rid of pet paraphernalia. If possible, have pets stay with family during selling period to eliminate any traces of them.
  • Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
  • Clean out kitchen appliances.
  • Vacuum.
  • Sweep, mop and possibly wax floors.
  • Dust furniture, ceiling fans, molding, vents, registers and light fixtures.
  • Bleach dingy grout.
  • Clean and air out any musty smelling areas.


  • Go outside and open the front door. Stand there. Do you want to go inside?
  • Ask yourself, "Does the house seem welcoming?"
  • Linger in the doorway of every single room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer.
  • Carefully examine how furniture is arranged and move pieces around until it makes sense.
  • Make sure art and window coverings are hung properly and appear level with the floor and ceiling.

Check Curb Appeal

If a buyer won't get out of the car because he doesn't like the exterior of a home, he'll never go inside.

  • Keep sidewalks cleared.
  • Keep lawn manicured.
  • Paint faded trim.
  • Plant yellow flowers and/or group pots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion. Marigolds are inexpensive and pansies are nice for winter sellers.
  • Trim larger bushes and hedges.
  • Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.

Add Final Touches

Before showings begin or an open house is scheduled, take time to add special touches. These details may not seem like much at the time, but they can make your house stand out from the competition. Be sure to add:

  • Simple canisters, decorative oils or vinegars, a spoon rest, a book stand with a cookbook opened, tea pot or a clean coffee maker on kitchen countertop (Choose up to three)
  • New, fluffy towels hung or displayed in bathrooms and kitchen
  • Fresh flowers or potted orchids placed in entryway and bathrooms, as well as on master bedside tables
  • Fruit bowl or flower arrangement for dining room table
  • Modern, gender-neutral bed covers for all beds
  • New kitchen, bath and entryway rugs
  • New doormats
  • Large dish of tasty, nicely wrapped candy
  • A detailed list of repairs and maintenance done to the home compiled in a binder- this looks even better when combined with receipts, warranties, dates and contractor information