Prepping Your Home for Sale

Your home is your castle—until it feels like your dungeon and you need to get the heck out of there and fast. Here’s what you need to get out and move on.

Decide what type of repairs you need.

Have you lived in your house for so long that you have no mortgage—but also no modern amenities? Did you originally pay $80,000 for your ranch-style house back in 1987? You may want to make some upgrades to improve your home’s resale value. The good news? You likely have the budget for greater improvements and will make that money back when your house sells for a 21st century price.

For any big project, consult with a contractor and a realtor to see what buyers are looking for. Determine what you want to invest and how best to showcase your home to its future owners and not to your own tastes (unless, of course, you make such great improvements that you fall back in love with your house and never want to leave).

If large-scale improvements are not for you, there are still some cosmetic touchups you’ll want to cover before you list.

Deferred maintenance? Deferral time is over.

The wobbling window that won’t open? The linoleum that’s bubbling up in the corner? The door that’s off the hinges and leaning against the wall because it swelled? These are things that will turn potential buyers away, fleeing in terror, the way that you’re attempting to flee now. If the issue is big, or if there is damage, then you will want to repair it or sell as-is for a lower asking price.

These are projects you can do within a month:

  • Minor Repairs, such as replacing broken screens, tiles, gutters.
  • If you have bubbling or peeling linoleum, rip it out in a day and install peel-and-stick flooring from a local home improvement store. The whole project can be done in under a week (three days with help and fortitude and peppy relatives who may want to work off the money you loaned them six months ago), or you can hire a company to be in and out in a couple of days.
  • Was your kitchen modeled after an episode of The Golden Girls? Consider a quick refacing project, including cabinets, counters and hardware.
  • Fix any plumbing issues.
  • Consider updating plumbing and light fixtures.
  • If your built-in microwave hasn’t worked since the Sopranos finale, replace it.
  • Do you have an avocado refrigerator, a goldenrod dishwasher, a black oven, and a stainless steel wine fridge? Replace them with appliances that have similar facing.

For the minor repairs, investing in a good handyman for all the touch-ups and small fixes makes a world of difference.
Don’t ignore your curb appeal.

  • Paint trim and railings.
  • Clean up the yard.
  • Buy a neutral entry mat.

Clean! No, really.

The obvious shortcuts are to vacuum and clean windows, making even smaller spaces seem fresh and airy (if you have carpet, invest in a shampoo treatment).

Clean water stains around the outside of your home, maybe from mud, or from roof run-off. Clean or paint over water stains on your ceiling (make sure these are not symptoms of a leak that will need to be repaired). Remove water, calcium, and rust stains in your sinks, showers, and bathtubs (notice a pattern here?).

If you have a fireplace? Clean out the soot and embers you skipped when you ran out of steam during your last spring cleaning session.

You don’t want potential buyers to know how much you hate your house; a clean house is a sign of a loved house.

A Quick Final Checklist:

  • Declutter. This means family photos off the walls, report cards and takeout menus off the refrigerator, piles of newspapers and magazines off the counters and end tables (any stack of magazines higher than one magazine is clutter). If you have kids, tell them they have to pre-pack, and box away their trophies, stuffed animals, video game collection, and any outward manifestation of their personality, and store it at a relative’s house.
  • Hide any personal items that would embarrass potential buyers. Or embarrass you if strangers came to look through your stuff.
  • Remove excess furniture that fills too much of a room. You want to give the illusion of space.
  • Don’t just hide everything in your garage. Buyers will want to look there as well.

Finally, if you are concerned about the state of your home during an inspection, you may want to have a contractor take a look at your home before it goes up on the market to avoid any surprises. Many sales fall through if buyers feel they have to invest too much work in major repairs, especially if they need to move quickly and don’t have time to wait.
Whether you are prepping to sell, revamping a new home, sizing up or down, or looking to fix up your fixer-upper, give us a call at 858-459-6865 or visit us at