Preparing Your Home for Sale

Preparing your home for sale: the biggest bang for your bucks

Preparing your home for sale is not a matter of taste, but of strategy. Making small but strategic decisions can result in selling your home for significantly more money. 

The reason for this is simple: buyers and agents often have little imagination. If a property looks appealing, they respond well. If it doesn’t, they simply walk away without even thinking of possible remedies.

In fact, regardless of current market conditions, it has been shown time and time again that a well-prepared home will sell for a higher price and with fewer days on the market than unprepared properties. Yet reaping these returns does not have to be expensive.

Many fixes cost little and still dramatically enhance market response and value. From basic cleaning to staging a home inside and out, anything that appears likely to bring a return on the investment is worth your consideration.

Our design background combined with our real estate experience gives us the knowledge to know what updates are going to make our sellers the most money. See our before and after work and case studies.


Simple fixes 

Starting to improve your home can be as simple and cost effective as removing clutter from shelves, tables, counters and desk tops, closets and cabinets. Ideally, the garage, basement and attic should be cleared out as well. Remove family photographs and other personal touches to make the home more appealing to all buyers.

Take out unneeded or outdated furniture to open up the room and make it appear larger. If you want to go a step further, replace selected pieces of furniture or area carpets. If there is hardwood flooring under carpeting, consider carpet removal and floor refinishing. 

Get a thorough, professional cleaning of the entire house, including carpets, hardwood floors and windows. The kitchen and bathrooms, in particular, should look pristine for all showings. 

Make small fixes like replacing broken windows, old light-switch plates and leaky faucets. Consider bigger bathroom updates like reglazing sinks and bathtubs, and fresh grout. New kitchen countertops and appliances can instantly update one of the most important rooms in the home without having to invest in new cabinetry.

Maximize light and enhance views whenever possible. New lamps, brighter light bulbs, adjustments to drapes and blinds, and even tree trimming can all work wonders. Minimize unpleasant views with decorative screens, window treatments or glazed windows.

Touch up scuffed paint or, even better, invest in a full paint job. It’s amazing the difference a few cans of paint can make. Freshening up interior paint with light, neutral colors, especially in main rooms, is perhaps the most cost-effective improvement a seller can make. 


Staging secrets

When staging, you want the property to feel aspirational, yet homey. Set the dining room table as if for an elegant dinner party. Stage the fireplace, bookshelves, hutches, coffee tables and end tables with minimal, chic accessories. Putting staging dollars where they have the greatest impact—typically the living room, formal dining room and master bedroom—is a less expensive alternative to staging the entire house.

You may also want to change the look of some other rooms that could be too narrowly defined to appeal to all buyers. Make a child’s bedroom less age and gender specific with new paint, artwork and bedding. Turn an exercise room into a media room or office by taking out the treadmill and putting in a desk and some seating. Transform that underutilized basement into someone’s dream workshop with a few tools and workbenches. 

Outdoor space is increasingly important to buyers. Make back patios, terraces or decks look inviting with seating areas and al fresco dining options. Power wash or restain decks. If you have green space, make sure to weed, plant flowers, mow, trim shrubs and shape hedges. If necessary, resod the lawn.

Don’t forget about curb appeal. Flower boxes for steps, walkways and/or exterior windows bring in buyers without a full-scale landscaping job. A new welcome mat is an easy touch that makes buyers feel good as soon as they walk in the door. If you want to go further, fresh exterior painting, especially of the front of house, the front door and/or front fence, will always appeal to buyers.


The last steps to a sale

Once preparations are complete, have your beautiful, inviting home photographed by a professional real estate photographer. The vast majority of potential buyers will first see your home’s photographs online, and then decide whether to come see it in person.

If there are major repairs you decide not to take on, make sure to get estimates of those repairs to disclose to buyers, along with pest and contractor inspections. An informed buyer is much more likely to make an aggressive offer than one who has wonder what’s behind the walls. 

Make pet arrangements for showing times and open houses; if possible, relocate pets for the duration of the initial marketing period. If your pet is staying, hide litter boxes and pet beds.

It doesn’t work for every family, but moving out for the first week or two of intensive showings sometimes makes the most sense. Not only will your house show beautifully every day, at a moment’s notice, but it relieves you of the pressure of trying to keep your home pristine while living there.


Work with your real estate agent about preparing your home for sale

How your home looks when on the market determines its desirability and value in the hearts and minds of home buyers; and typically, a seller only has one chance to make the most of it.

Our team manages the entire process so you don’t have to. Have questions? Reach out to us! Call us at 415-735-5867 for a no-obligation consultation. You can also email us at

March 23, 2021
Selling a Home
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