31 Tips To Prepare Your House For Sale Checklist


how to sell your house quickly

There are a lot of things to do when selling your house.

In fact, even before you think about listing your house for sale, there is work you need to complete to make sure it will sell for top dollar.

I didn’t realize any of this until we started the process ourselves.

I thought you just take a few pictures, list it with a Realtor, and magic happens.

But I was wrong.

Thanks to our amazing agent and the research I did to learn about the sale process, we were able to sell our house fast.

We listed ours between Christmas and the new year, had over 15 showings that week, and 4 offers.

We ended up selling for our asking price a few days later.

So what are the secrets to sell your house quickly?

In this post, I am going to share with you the top 31 tips for selling your home quickly.

I am confident that if you follow this checklist as you prepare your home for sale, you will not only sell your home quickly, but for top dollar as well.

31 Things To Do To Prepare Your House For Sale

prepare your house for sale

When To Sell Your Home

Many people try to figure out the best time of year to sell your home.

The old saying is to sell in the spring and summer.

This is because home buyers want to be moved into a home and ready for the new school year in September.

But the reality is, the best time to sell your home is when it makes the most sense for you.

If you have outgrown your house and are ready to move on, there is no point in waiting months until the “perfect” time of year.

For all you know, the person most interested in your house is looking now.

Look at our situation as an example.

We listed the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Most agents would have tried to talk us out of this.

But it made the most sense for us and we got close to asking price.

So when you are ready to sell your home, sell it. Don’t wait trying to find the perfect time.

#1. Make Any Major Repairs

Before you put your home on the market, you need to do a walk through and take note to any upgrades or necessary repairs that may be needed.

Some of the repairs you should consider making are on high price items, like a roof or HVAC system.

This is because many buyers will tend to offer a lower price knowing they have to make a major investment sooner rather than later.

Of course there are times when it doesn’t make sense to spend this money.

For example, if your house has been completely neglected and needs a complete overhaul, replacing just the roof isn’t going to increase the sale price enough to justify the money spent.

#2. What Not To Fix When Selling A House

When it comes to smaller repairs and upgrades, most aren’t worth your time or money.

If you have a closet door with a hole in it, by all means, replace it.

But if the carpeting in the spare bedroom or the kitchen countertop is in good condition, you don’t have to replace it.

Additionally, most people will overlook many small repairs like scuff marks as common wear and tear.

The bottom line is to not go crazy fixing everything to make your home look perfect.

#3. Paint

paint cans

The easiest and most often cheapest way to improve appearances is to simply give it a fresh coat of paint.

Stick to lighter neutral colors that will make the room look larger than it actually is.

This doesn’t mean if you have some darker color rooms you need to paint everything.

Just make sure the color scheme flows well and you should be set.

#4. Carefully Consider Major Home Improvement Projects

While taking care of costly repairs is smart, don’t start upgrading everything thinking it will add to a higher sale price.

Adding a swimming pool might increase your home’s value, but not to the point of what you paid for the pool.

The same goes for adding a shed or other structures.

Stick to the basics and you should be in good shape.

#5. Declutter

Selling your house is the perfect time to clean it out.

Over the years you’ve collected a lot of stuff and that stuff is taking up valuable space.

In many cases, you have a lot more room than you think. It’s just that all the boxes of stuff are occupying the area.

For example, you might have a nice 2 car garage. But since it is full of stuff, you never park your car in there.

Take the time to clean it out.

Do one room and then another. Make piles for trash, donate or sell.

Anything in the trash pile, throw out. Anything in the donate pile, find a worthy charity and donate the items.

As for everything else, you can try to sell for a few dollars.

For electronics and cell phones, look into Decluttr.

They give you the most money for your old tech.

Decluttr Button

The more you get rid of the better.

This is because you will see how much money you wasted on unnecessary items you rarely every use.

And this will help you to be a smarter consumer in the future.

Second, it will make the move easier.

Before you decluttered, you might have needed three trucks to haul all of your stuff. Now you only need one.

Finally, the more space you create in your house will help it sell.

Not only will rooms appear to be larger, but potential buyers will be able to envision their furnishings in the home.

#6. Clean Out Your Closets

organized closet

While this is part of organizing your house, it needed to be a separate item because most people overlook it.

They think they will hide a lot of their stuff in the closets so they can save time decluttering.

This is a good idea on paper.

But the problem is, most home buyers will open closet doors to see how big they are.

If the closets are stuffed full, it will send a bad message.

First is that the closets are small.

You could have a huge closet, but when it is packed with stuff, it looks small to the human eye.

The second issue is it tells the buyer there is not enough storage space in the house.

The bottom line is to not do a half-hearted job decluttering and organizing your home.

Do a complete job and you will be thankful in the end.

#7. Use A Storage Facility

If you find you have a lot of stuff you want to get out of your home for showings but don’t want to get rid of, what do you do?

You need to find a storage solution.

This could be renting a storage unit for the short term until you sell.

Or you could store some boxes in a friend’s basement perhaps.

Again, the less cluttered your house, the faster it will sell and for a higher price.

#8. Clean Your Home

Once you clean out and declutter your home, it is important you complete a thorough cleaning.

This includes steam cleaning carpets, dusting furniture, mopping floors, wiping down window treatments, and more.

You might even consider paying for a professional cleaning as well.

The reason for all is this to make the overall appearance as positive as possible.

Plus when you get to the part of the process where you take pictures, there will be less work to do and the photos will look even better.

#9. Increase Your Curb Appeal

While cleaning and organizing inside is important, don’t forget the outside too.

After all, the first thing buyers see is the outside of your home.

If the lawn or shrubs are not taken care of, that will send a huge negative first impression.

Do some landscaping in the front yard, like trimming your bushes, laying mulch if needed, and mow the lawn.

Also check the entryways and front porch to make sure they look presentable too.

A simple deep cleaning of your front door or painting it can have a major impact.

Even replacing the light fixtures can have a big positive first impression

#10. Deodorize

air freshener deodorizer

Adding on to the point above, make sure you get some honest opinions from friends and your real estate agent about the smell of your house.

If you have pets, smoke cigarettes, or have simply lived there for a while you will become nose blind to these smells but they can be overwhelming to others.

For example, we looked at a home that had a few dogs.

I don’t think they ever opened the windows to the home because the moment you opened the door, you were greeted with an overwhelming odor.

It was so bad, I had to leave because I started to gag.

Even the smell of cigarettes, spoiled food, old furniture, or mothballs have an impact on the impression you send to buyers.

And don’t think you can just put in some air fresheners either.

Many smart buyers will see this as a sign you are trying to hide something.

The best tip is to regularly clean and open up windows on a nice day to let fresh air in.

You might even consider buying an air purifier to help out as well.

Here is the most recommended one on Amazon.

Also, here are some more great tips to remove inside odors.

#11. Depersonalize

Make sure when cleaning your home, you pack away family photos.

As odd as it sounds, having personal items out will make it harder for buyers to imagine themselves in the home.

In fact, this is the biggest item that makes a house harder to sell.

#12. Learn The Market

A lot of people want to know how to sell your house without a Realtor.

And I understand why.

First, with technology, you can easily list your home yourself on many websites.

And then there is the cost.

Paying 6% commission is a lot of money.

On a sale of $250,000 you are paying $15,000! That is a lot of money.

But for most people, this is money well spent.

The biggest reason why is because real estate is complicated.

Have you ever read through a sales agreement?

I’m a fairly intelligent person and even I started to get confused.

There are a lot of clauses and opt outs and conditions.

One misstep and you could cost yourself the sale.

Plus, agents know the market, so they can help you price your home accurately.

If you price too low, you miss on making more money.

Price it too high and it sits. The longer it sits, the bigger the stigma that something is wrong with it.

Get over the fact that you have to pay a commission and just do it.

The peace of mind will help you to sleep at night.

#13. Vet Prospective Agents

how to ace a job interview

While it is important to hire a Realtor, don’t just hire the first one you find.

Interview them and find the right one for you.

Any qualified agent will expect to be interviewed.

Remember, this is a relationship. You are going to be spending a lot of time with and talking to them, so it is important you like them.

It is also important your values are aligned.

This means don’t just hire the guy who is the #1 seller in your area.

While this stat looks impressive, understand why they are #1.

Many times it is because they close the most deals.

This is good but it doesn’t mean they get the best deal for their clients. They simply close deals fast.

For example, you might get an offer and want to counter or wait for another offer. But this agent tells you to take it.

The sale is made quickly, ensuring he keeps moving houses, but you might have gotten a better deal if you waited.

Also, agents that do a high turnover usually have a team working with them. This means you will be dealing with multiple people, not just them.

In our case, the agent was helping us sell our homes. But another agent was showing us homes to buy.

When we called, we dealt with another person for financing.

It felt impersonal, so we ended up using someone else.

The bottom line is, put in the effort to find the right agent for you and you will be happier in the end.

#14. Hire An Attorney

While not always needed, it is important to have an attorney lined up in the event you need to speak with someone qualified about legal matters.

And if you are planning to sell your home on your own, then an attorney is a must.

They will help you through the process of selling yourself and not get into trouble.

#15. Get A Home Estimate

Most people opt for their real estate agent to provide them an idea of their homes value.

And if you are at the point of selling and have an agent, this is fine.

But sometimes you are not sure if you want to sell or you don’t plan to for another year or so.

In these cases, it is worth it to spend money on an estimate from a professional.

Not only will this help you when it comes to list it for sale, but you will also get an idea of things you can do to improve your home.

Then when you do decide to put it on the market, you can do so for a higher price.

#16. Determine How Much Selling Will Cost You

One of the biggest surprises that comes when selling your home is all the additional expenses.

This includes real estate agent fees, closing costs, and potential repairs to name a few.

As a result, it is important to sit down and run the numbers.

Take your listing price and subtract all of your additional expenses so you know what you will be making.

Do this for a few other amounts as well.

For example, if you are listing for $225,000 run the numbers for the estimate you were given as well as 10% less and 10% more.

This will provide you a range of what you can expect to make from the sale of your home.

#17. Request A Mortgage Pay Off Quote

When calculating how much money you will walk away with from the sale, you can’t forget to include the amount you owe on your property.

The catch here is you can’t just take the balance on your last statement.

This is because by the time you send in your final payment, additional interest has accrued, making your pay off balance higher.

Make sure you request a payoff quote on your current mortgage.

This will be valid for up to 20 days and you will then have a clear idea of how much cash you will have left over after all is said and done.

#18. Check Your State Tax Records

This is one area that most home sellers overlook.

And it is a costly mistake as it can destroy a sale.

You need to check to make sure all of your taxes are paid up to date. Having one missed tax payment can stop the process of selling your home.

If you use escrow to have the bank make payments for you, you cannot assume they will make the payments.

It is in your best interest to confirm all taxes are paid so there are no surprises as you finalize the sale of your home.

#19. Get Your Disclosures Ready

Filling out the disclosure policy is something that will take some time.

In addition to simply filling out a form, you need to remember any issues or repairs you made while owning the home and the approximate dates.

If you have the sellers disclosure or home inspection notes when you bought the house, this could be a big help.

This isn’t something to rush through.

Make sure you allow yourself the time to sit down and fill out the policy to the best of your knowledge.

The consequences of not disclosing something can quickly ruin any pending agreement you had.

#20. Avoid Over Pricing

It is critical that you price your house right from the start.

First, buyers base home searches on their price point. If you misprice your house too high, many potential buyers will never get an alert.

Second, if you overprice it and have to start dropping the price, prospective buyers might hold off looking at your home.

This is because they will think you will keep dropping your price further.

When you price it right, you get a lot interest and get offers close to your asking price.

From there, all that is left to do is negotiate.

And in some cases, you might get lucky and have a bidding war, driving the price up naturally.

#21. Set Realistic Deadlines

setting deadlines

One area that gets home sellers in trouble is an unrealistic timeline.

They want their house updated, on the market, and sold within 30 days.

While this can be done, it doesn’t always happen.

Make sure you set realistic goals.

It will take time to declutter and do all the work just to get it ready for pictures.

You also have to find a real estate agent and get it listed for showings.

The bottom line is, the more realistic you are about the entire process, the better results you will get.

You won’t be frustrated with how long something is taking and you won’t jump at the first offer because you need the deal done quickly.

#22. Get Your House Staged

Take advantage of your Realtor when it comes to moving furniture around in your house.

They have seen plenty of homes and can provide some valuable ideas into how to organize your furniture so your space looks great.

In the event you’ve completely moved out, spend the money to stage your house.

It might sound silly but it makes a big difference.

When a room is completely empty, buyers will have a hard time imaging what to put in the room and how it will fit.

But if you have some furniture there, it offers them some guidance and they can then better imagine how things will look.

They will also be able to use natural light to your advantage, which makes rooms look larger than they actually are.

#23. Hire A Photographer

Next to a Realtor, this is by far the most important thing you will do.

If you want to sell your house quickly and for top dollar, spend the money on a quality photographer.

If you don’t believe me, head over to your favorite real estate app and browse through the photos of random homes for sale.

A handful will have grainy, blurry pictures. And most will be dark.

This sends a bad first impression.

Most people will look at the house and unless it is priced right and in the perfect area they want to live in, they won’t be excited about it.

But have a listing with bright, beautiful pictures and you will have people excited and demanding to see your house.

When we sold our home years ago, it was listed the week between Christmas and New Year.

We didn’t think we would get a lot of interest.

Within an hour of it being listed, we had 5 showings scheduled.

I can’t say for certainty that the pictures were the only reason, but they definitely played an important role.

#24. Keep It Presentable

This might sound silly, but having a clean house for showings matters.

Make it a point to give it a quick wipe down before you leave for a showing.

By having the overall appearance of the house as beautiful as the pictures looked will keep them excited.

After all, no one wants to be duped with a dirty house after seeing stunning pictures.

I will admit it does get annoying to clean if you have a lot of showings.

Our trick was to make it a point to keep it clean as we lived there.

We would wipe things down and vacuum more often so that when it came time for a showing, all we had was a few minutes of straightening up to do.

#25. Find A Place For Your Pets

group of pets

Having pets is a part of life.

But when trying to sell a house, you want them out of the picture.

This is because when buyers see the pet, they will immediately start thinking of potential pet related damage or even pet related smells.

Interestingly, this same issue isn’t had when they see pictures of your pet in your house.

So make it a point to find a place to take your pets when showing your home.

As for the litter box, make sure you move it a location that is not out in the open.

The reason is this too can have a potential impact on buyer interest.

#26. Do A Final Walk Through

The final step in your preparation is to do a final walk through.

After you have cleaned and organized, take a break for a few days.

Then walk through with the mindset of a buyer and see if there is anything you missed like organizing certain areas or any repairs.

At this point, don’t focus on the minor repairs, like a mark on the hallway trim. Focus instead on the bigger items that will make a difference.

#27. Stay Rational

The process of selling a home is emotional.

You’ve lived there for years, made memories and upgrades.

As a result, you want top dollar and get offended when an offer comes in for less.

The trick to selling a house is to remove emotion from the equation.

You need to look at the sale of your house as a business transaction and only account for the facts without emotions clouding your decisions.

The better you can do this, the less stressful the entire process will be.

#28. Advertise Everywhere

When listing your house, make sure it is listed everywhere.

Your real estate agent will get it listed on the MLS for other agents to find.

Make sure you see it listed for sale on the major home shopping apps like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor and others.

Most home buyers start their home search this way and don’t have an agent.

So they need these listings to see what is for sale.

It also doesn’t hurt to post the sales information on Facebook and Craigslist as well.

Finally, make sure you tell everyone you know that you are selling.

You never know who is looking to buy and word of mouth might just get you a sale.

#29. Host An Open House

Be open to holding an open house.

It is a great way to get a lot of people in the door to look and fall in love with it.

Again, many buyers who don’t have agents will shop open houses first, so this is a great way to build interest.

Plus it can be the opportunity to get multiple offers, making the sale faster and potentially more profitable.

#30. Be Flexible

When you list your house for sale, you will get appointments for showings.

These can be inconvenient, but you need to stay flexible. After all, if you say no to them, then you will never sell your house.

For us, we had a few showings spread throughout the day.

Instead of coming and going multiple times, we went to a friend’s for the day.

Of course you can close a day and have no showings too. We did this on New Year’s Eve because we throw a large party.

Preparing for the party and having showings on that day would not have been possible so we told our agent to not have that date be available for showings.

#31. Adjust Your Price

Even if you did your homework and priced your house right, you might hear crickets and need to adjust it lower.

While it isn’t ideal, it isn’t the end of the world either.

You have to remember the goal is to get your home sold and lowering your asking price can help you reach that goal.

Wrapping Up

At the end of the day, listing your house for sale is a large undertaking.

From the prep work to listing and showing and then through negotiation.

It can and does take a lot of time and many people.

But if you keep in mind the tips outlined throughout this post, the better you will be at handling the process.

And you will be happier with the end result.

So take the time to understand the reasons for the items on this list and then make it a point to follow them.

1 thought on “31 Tips To Prepare Your House For Sale Checklist”

  1. Jennifer @ Money Aches

    I’d add, keep the yard perfect. You want the buyer to love it on the outside because they will already begin to judge it when they pull up.

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