6 Steps You Should Never Skip When Preparing Your Home For Sale [+ Free PDF Guide]

Joe Dickerson Group
Joe Dickerson Group
Published on May 21, 2018

Think back to a time when you, or someone you know, sold or traded in a car. There was some work to do before advertising it for sale or taking it to the car lot, right? It’s a rare car seller who’ll leave all the fast-food wrappers, empty plastic water bottles and crumbs left behind by the kids.


Because a clean car gives off an impression of being well-maintained.

It’s the same thing with houses. Sadly, cleaning and decluttering a car about to go on the market is a routine task, doing the same for homes isn’t.

Yet a home is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more than a car.

So, before you put your home on the market, be sure to do everything you can to get in tip top shape so that every buyer who sees it can visualize themselves living in your home. Let’s take a look at six steps you should never skip when you’re preparing your home for the market.

#1 – Depersonalize

In a nutshell, depersonalizing a home involves removing anything of an overly-personal nature.

Think about model homes in new-home communities. These homes are carefully staged to appeal to the broadest number of buyers and they are decidedly depersonalized.

You want buyers to be able to imagine themselves living in the home, with their furniture and their belongings.

Some of what you should remove and store includes:

  • Excess family photos
  • Framed diplomas, degrees and awards
  • Extra toys
  • Magazines and professional journals
  • Craft items
  • Anything on the refrigerator doors
  • Anything that sits on the kitchen and bathroom counters that isn’t decorative
  • Mail
  • Paperwork
  • Anything of a religious or political nature
  • Sports memorabilia

Depersonalization doesn’t just include removing overly-personal items from the home. Consider repainting walls that are currently painted in a bright or odd color and getting rid of odors from cooking, pets, babies and smokers.

Don’t go overboard in depersonalizing the home, however. Leave some traces of your personal statement so that buyers get an idea of the lifestyle the home offers.

#2 – Get rid of the clutter

Scientific studies show that clutter causes anxiety in people who view it. Not a good state for a homebuyer to be in, and reason enough to get rid of excess “stuff” in the home.

If you have a lot of it, the process may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. Remember the old advice on how to eat an elephant (one bite at a time) and apply it to getting rid of the clutter in your home.

In this case, take it one room at a time. Try to do the entire home in one day and you’ll most likely get frustrated and lose the mojo needed to complete the job, according to professional organizer Nicole Anzia.

“It’s much better to spend a few hours — 2 or 3 — on one project or space. This way you’ll feel motivated to do more, not be burned out by the process,” she tells Apartmenttherapy.com’s Catrin Morris.

For those who burn out quickly, Anzia suggests doing one room at a time, “in 30-minute bursts … work for 30 minutes, take a half-hour break, then work for another 30.”

When tackling clutter, pay close attention to any collections you may have. Too many items in a room makes it appear cluttered and distracting to buyers.

#3 – Organize

Once you’ve removed all the clutter and personal items, it’s time to organize. Buyers will be looking behind every door, so don’t just cheat by stuffing everything in your closets.

Organize clothing, accessories, and coats by color and size. Make sure the books on your shelves are neatly ordered and in line.

And don’t forget the kitchen! There’s tons to organize in there. Cutlery, pots and pans, spices, condiments. You name it, it should be organized.

#4 – Repair anything you’ve been meaning to fix

I know, I know. Why should the next person get a perfectly non-squeaky door when you’ve been living with that squeak for years?

Every buyer who’s looking at your home is shopping. And just like when you’re at a store, you’re going to pick up each item and examine it carefully to find any and all imperfections.

So if there are any imperfections in your home that you know about, it will be to your benefit to get ahead of the buyer and fix them first, before the buyer brings it up as a bargaining chip.

#5 – Clean

Now that your home is neatly organized, and all the little things have been fixed, it’s time to get every speck of dust out of your home.

Cleaning will need to be an ongoing part of your routine during the time your home is on the market. Floors and surfaces should be swept and dusted. Carpets should be steamed and vacuumed. Countertops should be wiped, and metal fixtures should be polished.

The buyer should need sunglasses to walk through your home, because it will be gleaming.

#6 – Spruce up the outside

First impressions are huge. A buyer’s first impression of your home will be its curb appeal.

Walk across the street from your home and take a look. Does it look perfect? Or are there some areas that could be improved?

Be sure to pull up any weeds, remove any outdoor clutter, and sweep the sidewalks in front of your home.

If the exterior has seen better days, it may be time to pressure wash and paint. Remember – any investment you make to improving the look of your home will contribute to maximizing buyers’ interest and thus potential offer prices as well.

You got this.

I’m guessing that your home has been good to you. Now, it’s time for you to put some elbow grease in and help your home shine.

Now is not the time to scrimp and save. You should budget a healthy amount of time, energy, and money in order to really put that “wow” into your home.

After all, you only get one first impression. So make it count.


Need help?

If you’re thinking of selling your home but don’t have the time to put into getting your home ready for market, no worries. That’s what we’re here for.

We have lots of great people we can refer you to who can help with any and all steps of getting your home ready for the market.


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