When you prepare your home for sale, it’s important to be able to detach from the house emotionally, so you can understand what buyers are looking for and what their potential concerns may be.
We consulted with experts and researched market conditions, buyer trends, and step-by-step guides to compile every touchpoint covered in this checklist on how to prepare your home for sale.
Purge, pack and store
When you decide to prepare your home for sale, the first order of business is to start packing and purging immediately. To avoid feeling like your entire life and home are upside down, outline a strategy to keep you organized. Here’s a checklist of the most important things to tackle during the process:
Go through every room and collect items you want to donate, throw out or sell. Do this before you start packing to save you both money and time. Since determining what you should get rid of or keep can be a painstaking task, here are some tips to help you on this.
Take an inventory of all your belongings. Taking inventory while you’re moving not only helps you keep track of everything, it’ll serve double duty as an inventory to save for homeowners insurance purposes.
Label everything. Top real estate agent Carrie Buckett, who serves Illinois and Wisconsin and is also a relocation specialist, has seen too many clients leave boxes unlabeled and stick them in the basement, thinking, “Oh, we’ll go through these later.” And they end up collecting dust never to be opened again. “Label everything,” advises Buckett.
Pack a suitcase full of items you want to hold onto during the moving process. This includes everyday necessities, valuable and sentimental items like family heirlooms and important documents.
Save time and keep your items safe and damage-free through the entire process. For tips and tricks to making sure your belongings don’t break, and other strategic packing advice, check out our guide to make moving easier.
Proper packing techniques will help you prepare your home for sale in more ways that you think. If it looks like you take good care of your possessions, buyers are likely to assume you have taken the same approach with the house.
Declutter, depersonalize and deep clean
Creating a neutral and inviting space allows potential buyers to envision themselves in your home. Start by minimizing personal items, streamlining decor, and giving every room a thorough cleaning to present your property in its best light.
When you prepare your home for sale, there needs to be enough room for buyers and agents to move around while viewing your home. Clutter can be visually unappealing and impede potential buyers from seeing themselves living in the house, so you’ll want to declutter as much as possible. For items you need to hold onto, find a few decorative boxes that can be kept out of sight yet still easily accessible. You may also consider renting a storage unit.
Depersonalizing goes a step further than decluttering, so the buyer can envision themselves and their own belongings in the home. When you prepare your home for sale, depersonalizing is important because it removes distractions that could keep the buyer from focusing on the house itself. You’ll want to make sure to remove your family photos and religious items and cover up patterned, bulky furniture that’s specific to your taste.
“A deep clean never fails to solicit buyer comments like the house feels solid, well-maintained, or meticulously cared for — even if the house is really outdated,” says Jessica Riphenburg, a top agent in Madison, Wisconsin.
You can hire a professional if you’d like, but that will cost you between $150 and $250, with most homeowners paying $221 on average for a one-time clean. This is one of those projects that you may want to take on yourself, if you’re willing to put in some effort and be thorough.
When cleaning, it’s best to take one task at a time and perform that task through the entire house before moving on to the next task, making sure you really go the extra mile. This means pulling out furniture to get rid of dust bunnies, removing carpet stains, scrubbing your appliances inside and out, and wiping down baseboards and door handles.