5 Ways to Prep Your Home For Selling

By Jessica Thiefels

The time has come to sell your home. The tears have been shed and you’re officially in preparation mode so you can move onto the new house you’ll call home. Before taking photos, uploading your listing, and waiting to see what comes in, you have to do a little work. Re-visit that running to-do list, take a look at your current landscaping and much more. Not only will this allow you to sell your home faster, but you’re more likely to get the price you’ve asked for when you do the necessary prep work.

Here are five ways to get your home for selling.


Determine the Value

If your home price isn’t competitive, it will be passed over time and time again. That’s why it’s critical to get it right before putting it on the market: “A Buyer is not going to pay any more than they have to when purchasing a home. They have been watching the market closely, and are out there looking at all the inventory,” explains Kayla Ferris, Realtor.

She continues, “They know more than anyone what is available, and for how much. If your price is within the range of your competition, Buyers will come look at your home. If you’re priced too high, they probably will skip it.”

Luckily, there are two good ways to get your home price right:

  • Online tools: A tool like this home value estimator will provide you with a price based on estimates from five leading sources, ensuring you get the most accurate number possible.
  • Real estate agent: Real estate agents know the area, average home cost, and many more details—all of which play into how you price your home. Sometimes, the expertise of a professional is exactly what you need.

Make a List of Small Upgrades

You probably have a running list of side projects, right? It’s time to dig that out and start tackling the things you’ve been putting off, one-by-one, until they’re all done. If you don’t already have any upgrades in mind, start with the following:

  • Fix leaky faucets
  • Patch holes in the wall
  • Address cracks in windows
  • Fix drawers that don’t close
  • Replace light bulbs

Take a walk around your home and wrack your brain for the quarky things you’ve become used to dealing with. Find what needs to be fixed and take care of it.

Boost Curb Appeal

The 2016 curb appeal report from LawnStarter reported the top five ways to boost curb appeal:

  • Update the front door.
  • Upgrade the garage door.
  • Lighten up the exterior.
  • Liven up the landscaping.
  • Put furniture on the front porch.

Here are a few tips for tackling all five of these before selling your home.


The garage door can take up as much as 40 percent of the front of your home, making it an important feature to focus on. You can do one of two things: Refinish your garage doors, replacing materials or painting it. You can also invest in a new garage door, in which case, you may want to consider Carriage style, which will help make your home stand out.

“Carriage house garage doors look different from standard raised panel garage doors that are available. They increase the curb appeal of the homes they are installed in, while offering the same security, construction, and low maintenance elegance,” explain experts at Phoenix Garage Master.


Landscaping can be as expensive or budget-friendly as you want, making it a great way to boost curb appeal. Start with what you already have—mow the lawn, trim your hedges, rake and pull weeds, spruce up the garden, etc.

When that’s taken care of you, focus on adding new features, plants and trees. For example, build a simple stone walkway from the driveway to the front door or plant a few regional flowers and trees, which will be easy for the new owners to maintain. You can use this tool from the National Wildlife Foundation to find local plants.

Don’t forget the little touches too—like a bench in the backyard or a small seating area on the front porch. These are the details that spark that “I can imagine drinking coffee here every morning…” feelings, which lead to a sale.

Siding, Windows and Doors

Start by power washing everything, all of which is likely covered in dust and grime from the elements. You may be amazed by what a good wash can do for the look of your home. Note that you can rent a power washer starting at $60/day, which is likely all the time you’d need to get the work done.

After washing, consider what needs to be upgraded or replaced. Replacing windows and doors, for example, likely increase the security of your home, which is a great selling feature. If you’re not ready for replace the siding, but it needs a refresh, paint it instead. This is more affordable and can be done faster than a full siding project.

De-Personalize and Stage

Potential buyers need to feel at home in your house, but they can’t if they’re surrounded by photos, souvenirs and hand-crafted birthday gifts. De-personalize the space by taking down family photos and removing items that speak to your personal taste. Think: candles, art, unique lamps.

When you’ve neutralized the space, it’s time to stage your home. Here are some small staging ideas you may not think of:

  • Bring in some plants: Plants can be just what you need to dress up the space and make it feel fresh. “Potted plants or a few pretty buds in a vase can help bring energy into a space, fill in empty corners and even draw attention to features you want buyers to notice. Just make sure the plants are in good health (and bug-free!),” suggests Trulia.
  • Rent the furniture: You want the space to feel as neutral as possible. Rent furniture that’s nice, but not too loud—and then return it when the house sells. Rented furniture ranges from $10 to $500 per month, with the average rate falling closer to $10 to $50 monthly, according to CostOwl.

Organize and Store

If you’re still living in the home, you need to declutter and organize every square inch. That starts by tossing whatever you can into storage, so box the items you can go without until you move into your new home. As Elizabeth Weintraub says, “Think of this process as a head-start on the packing you will eventually need to do anyway.”

Here’s a starter list for decluttering:

  • Seasonal clothes (Including jackets and sweatshirts, which look bulky in a closet)
  • Games
  • Excessive decorative items
  • Books
  • Knick knacks
  • Seasonal/extra shoes
  • Kitchen gadgets

Don’t forget to organize what’s left behind, like items on your kitchen counter, the mudroom, the closets, bathroom cabinets, etc. Potential buyers are going to look—so be ready.

Time to Sell

When all the prep work is done, it’s time to sit back and see what offers come in. You may even be able to take some of your upgrade ideas to the new house—allowing you to get more out of this chaotic and potentially stressful time.

About the Author: Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and is now a professional freelancer and consultant. She’s worked with a variety of real estate clients, and has been featured on Forbes and Market Watch. She’s also written for Inman, House Hunt Network, Homes.com and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect on LinkedIn.

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