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8 Steps to Prepare Your House for a Quick Sale

If you’re selling your home in a seller’s market, you automatically have an advantage. But that doesn’t mean you can throw a sign in the front yard and hope buyers will start flocking to your door. Your goal as a homeowner is to sell your house quickly and for the best possible price. To do so, you have to show off your home’s best features and make it appealing and attractive to buyers.

Think of it like signing up for a dating app. How can you get prospective buyers to swipe right on your house? It’s all in the preparation.

Many of us develop an emotional attachment to our homes, making it difficult to let go and imagine someone else occupying it. But this is a crucial first step in order to remain objective throughout the process. Remain too attached, and not only will it be difficult to complete the below steps, but also you could end up overvaluing the home and pricing it too high. Remember that a house is just a building. A home is the people and memories that fill it — and those things aren’t limited to a specific place.

When a buyer walks through your home, they want to envision themselves living there. Seeing too much of your personality can prevent that from happening and hurt the sale. Create a neutral environment by removing personal belongings such as family photos, pet bowls and toys, sports memorabilia, and flashy furniture. In the bathroom, store medications, toothbrushes, and other personal care items out of sight. If you have bold paint colors on the walls, it’s a good idea to repaint them in a neutral color (but you can save this step for when you make repairs).

Organizing can only take you so far. First, you have to get rid of the junk that’s encumbering your space. Go through each room, top to bottom, and donate or discard anything that:

  • Is worn out, damaged, or expired

  • Hasn’t been used in the last year

  • You have duplicates of

Sort through clothing, kitchen items, toiletries, bed linens, electronics, the home office — literally everything. This may be the most time-consuming task, but you’ll thank yourself for completing this step when it comes time to pack.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the clutter, go back through your belongings and arrange them neatly. Use stylish baskets and storage bins to hold odds and ends. If your closet is overflowing with clothes, store some of them in a suitcase, and arrange the rest by color so it looks tidy and inviting. Don’t forget the kitchen drawers and cabinets, bathroom cabinets and linen closets, and any overflow storage areas — buyers will be looking in every nook and cranny! If you’ve reached this step and still don’t have room to organize your belongings, rent out a storage unit.

Most buyers will complete some minor repairs before moving in, so a little bit of wear and tear is acceptable. But you should fix any glaring issues that would come off as an eyesore or an added headache for the buyer, such as holes in walls, peeling caulk around sinks and tubs, leaky faucets, damaged flooring, and torn window screens. Be sure to address the exterior of the home, since that’s where first impressions are made. Pressure wash the walkway, trim trees and shrubs, add fresh mulch and flowers, and clean the gutters. If your entrance looks dated, consider painting the front door and replacing your porch light, house numbers, and mailbox. Talk to your real estate agent to determine which repairs are essential, so you don’t offload too much cash in this step, thereby decreasing your profit.

A thorough deep clean can work wonders. In fact, a 2019 study by HomeLight found that deep cleaning the home can boost resale value by nearly $1,800.[1] Wash the windows, dust shelves and light fixtures, declutter kitchen countertops, and make appliances, faucets, and floors sparkle. This is also your chance to combat unwanted odors. Short on time? Hire professional cleaners. Once the deep clean is done, all you have to do is maintain it with some daily vacuuming, organizing, and wipe-downs. While it’s a little extra work, the feeling of having a spotless home will be a welcome relief during an otherwise stressful time.

Depending on the condition of your furniture, it may be worth your money to hire a professional staging service, which costs about $1,500.[2] According to a survey by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), 23% of agents said staging can increase the offer price by 1% to 5%.[2] If hiring a stager is not in the budget, you can do it yourself and focus on the most important rooms: living room, master bedroom, and kitchen. Rearrange your furniture to maximize the space. Move sofas and chairs away from the walls, and reposition them to face each other and create conversation areas. The idea is to highlight all of the usable square footage and make the space feel larger. Remove heavy drapes to let in natural light, and add flowers and greenery around the home for a touch of freshness.

This is where the expertise of a great real estate agent comes in, but you ultimately have the final say. Price it too high, and buyers might overlook your house. In fact, your home might not show up in online search parameters — excluding entire groups of potential buyers. An overpriced home also runs the risk of sitting on the market too long and becoming stale, forcing you to do a price cut. Price it too low, and people might think something is wrong with it — and you may end up leaving money on the table. Work with an experienced agent to look at comps (comparable sales), nearby listings, and market conditions to find the Goldilocks price-point for your property.


Getting your home ready for the market requires some time and careful planning, but that planning will pay off by helping you sell fast and for top dollar.



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