Prepping Your House For Sale (Even If You Aren’t Planning on Moving)

I recently had a conversation with one of my listing clients that inspired me. She was working through the to-do list I gave her to prepare her house to go on the market, and had just completed washing all her windows (inside and out). “My windows look amazing,” she said. “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” As I looked through her clear windows into the glorious Spring day, I thought, “Whoa, that does look great. Why haven’t I washed MY windows?”

Well, the easy answer to this is: it’s more effort, and we are all busy. But what I often see is that people putting their house on the market do all the things to their home that they have meant to do for years, and then don’t get to enjoy those things. So I say, let’s all prep our homes to sell at least once a year, even if we aren’t planning on moving. That way, we’ll get to reap the benefits. And when we are ready to sell–we’ll be that much closer. Prepping your house to sell is really about making the space look as inviting as possible to a potential buyer. That means doing everything you can so the buyer can imagine themselves in the space with the least amount of effort. And of course, that’s what we want for our homes if we are staying put as well.

Here are some of the tips I give my Nashville clients about getting their homes ready to sell:

INTERIOR

  1. Declutter. Go through your home one room at a time (in some rooms, you are going to have to tackle closets and drawers as well). I am not the one to give you advice on this but fortunately my friend and fellow blog contributor Jenna Nelson is (see her other posts here, and even more at TopShelfOrganizing.com).  I do have one suggestion to make: take all your magnets off the refrigerator. Wipe it down. Put only the ones back that you want or need. If you are selling, pack all of them away — you don’t get to put any back on.
  2. Deep Clean. You can do this yourself or hire someone to do it, but I mean dust/wipe down shelves, walls, baseboards, windowsills, fan blades, those little ledge nooks in your doors–everywhere that can catch dust. Steam clean your floors and carpets. Be sure the inside of your microwave, oven, and refrigerator are clean inside and out (don’t get me started on the number of homes I show my buyer clients where there is old food gunked on the burners–ewwww). Best-case scenario, especially in places like pantries and closets, you do this in conjunction with #1–so you pull everything out, clean the space, purge your stuff, then put half the stuff back in an organized fashion). Pay special attention to mirrors and discolored grout. Dust your furniture and vacuum your upholstery and rugs.
  3. Wash Windows Inside and Out. This is the activity that inspired this post. This step will be most rewarding if you do it in a warmer season or at least when the sun is out, so you can see what your effort has gained you. As a bonus…you will be amazed at how much it can improve your mood to look out clean windows! If you didn’t get the grime off the sills and sashes in step 2, now’s your chance.
  4. Check and Replace Light Bulbs. You’ll be amazed at how many bulbs are burned out. Look at every fixture. If there are two or more bulbs in the same area (in the bathroom, for example) — do you have one that’s a regular bulb and one that is a CFL? Make them match. You might even want to up the wattage to get more light in certain areas.
  5. Splurge on New Towels. Are your towels, shower curtains, bathmats, bedspreads, and kitchen rugs dingy/mismatched/threadbare/otherwise sad-looking? Get new ones. If you are selling, this doesn’t have to be expensive — but you’ll probably be taking this stuff with you when you move so you might as well splurge.

EXTERIOR

  1. Power Wash. You may need to touch up paint after you do this, so if you aren’t ready for painting or that isn’t in your budget, be gentle. Be sure to hit every exterior wall of your home, as well as porches,decks, sidewalks, and doors.
  2. Paint and Stain. Repainting your entire house will need to be done by a professional (and takes a bit of a budget). But if you aren’t ready to take that step, you can at least repaint your front door and window trim (especially on the front). Stain and seal wood decks and railings. Repaint metal railings.
  3. Landscaping. At the very least, add fresh mulch. In the summer, be sure and keep your lawn mowed and edged. If you don’t have the budget for lots of landscaping, then potted plants can add some color and curb appeal.
  4. Front Door / Porch Check. Many of us regularly use a side door, but potential buyers (or other visitors) probably use the front door. Even if you only have one door, you run through it so quickly you probably don’t notice what is going on there, so let me tell you what you are missing. Dirty front door or peeling paint. Dead bugs inside the porch light. More dead bugs plastered to the wall near the porch light. Cobwebs. Potted plants from two years ago which are now just sticks and dirt. One of the numbers missing from your address. You should have gotten all the grime off in the Power Wash step, but if you missed any now is your chance. Once when I was buying a home, the agent couldn’t get the lockbox to work. While we waited for her to make phone calls, we just sat on the porch and stared at the grime on the door, buggy porch light, cobwebs, and broken porch railing. The house was cute inside, but it didn’t matter – we had already checked this house off our list before we walked through the door.
  5. Buy a new Welcome Mat. This is really step 4B, but I’m giving it it’s own number because it can make such a difference. Yours is probably worn and dirty. Just get a new one.

Enjoy! Take a moment to enjoy your fresh new home. Do you love it? If not — give me a call! You’ve already done the hard work in getting your house ready to sell, and we’ll find you a new one that you love :).

Post by Leisa Wilcox, Keller Williams Realty Nashville.