How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Close up of a "for sale/sold" sign with a house in the background.

Selling a home can be complicated if you don’t plan out your strategy. There are a lot of different aspects to selling a home, from number-crunching to staging your house for open houses and visits. But real estate professionals agree that home sale preparation is the single most important part of selling a house.

It’s pretty obvious when you think about it—it’s been your home, probably for years and maybe for decades, but that also means you don’t look at your house the same way as a potential buyer does. You can’t see that the wallpaper is outdated, that the paint is contrary to the ambience you would like the home to emit, or that the toilet that will only flush if you jiggle the handle just the right way probably should work for everyone.

Here is some basic advice on how to prepare your home for sale.

First, Don’t Get Emotional

It’s easy to get upset when you start to think about selling your home. One mental stunt that can help is to think of yourself as a businessperson rather than embracing the idea that you are leaving your home. By looking at the sale as a business deal, it will help you distance yourself from the property and help you move on. It also helps you to throw yourself into the complex process of staging and remodeling to help the house seem less familiar, not to mention giving yourself the added windfall of a higher sales price.

Start With the Exterior

House with attractive curb appeal.

Remember, the first thing that a potential buyer will see about your home is the outside, so it’s important to begin to fix things here. First of all, clean the outside, including cleaning the gutters and pressure washing the home’s siding.

Put Out the Welcome Mat

You can also make the front door more inviting with a fresh coat of paint—a color that stands out in contrast to the front of the home will also make the door stand out and appear more welcoming.

Invest If You Need To

If your home needs major repairs, such as a new roof or repairs to the foundation, make the investment. This is a make-or-break decision. Some sellers get the idea that they can just discount the cost of major repairs from a home’s price and let the new owners deal with it, but it’s just not true. Given the choice between a $90,000 home that needs a new roof and a $100,000 home that is almost identical but has a new roof, the buyer will go with the latter option every single time. The seller would be smarter to pay for a new roof and sell the home at full price in this particular scenario.

Make Smaller Repairs, Too

Close up of a man changing a light fixture and putting in a new light bulb.

Regardless of the state of the housing market, you want your home to be in the best possible condition when you start to show it. Take care of broken or leaky windows, replace the fixtures, faucets and hinges, replace cracked floor or counter tiles and patch any holes in the walls. It’s also important to eliminate any odors. A “faux” renovation can go a long way towards improving a potential buyer’s perception of your home’s aesthetics.

Consider Repainting the House in Neutral Colors

Does your kitchen look like Jimi Hendrix’s bathroom? Does your rec room give off the sense of a “man cave”? Paint is a very powerful visual indicator of a home’s aesthetics and it can completely change the attitude of a buyer. Lighter and neutral colors can give your home broader appeal.