10 Must Dos Before Listing Your Home for Sale


Selling a house is a lot of work, just ask anyone who has done it before. The process of getting the house ready can be exhausting. The best place to start, in my opinion, is with a good, full-time Realtor® who you trust. A good Realtor® will let you know what things need to be done to help you sell your home in the shortest amount of time, for the most money possible.

The 10 ‘Must Dos’

Remove Personal Photos & Keepsakes

There will be all different kinds of people looking at your home so it’s best to create as neutral environment as possible. If a buyer who views your home can figure out your religion, your family makeup, or where your kids go to school, your house is not ready for the market. Buyers need to become emotionally attached to a home to make an offer. This is difficult to do when all they see is your life and can’t visualize their own. Your goal should be to make your house look like a model home, like nobody lives there. This may be difficult to do, especially if you have young children at home, but through the years I have seen this work time and again. This process also helps you start to start thinking of your house as someone else’s home. If a buyer has to ask their Realtor “Does anyone live here?” you’ve done a good job!

Have a Home & Wood Destroying Pest Inspectionhome-inspection

Have a Pest & Home inspection done prior to putting your home on the market. Once you have an accepted offer, the first thing a buyer normally does is have your home inspected. If you have already had these inspections and fixed the major problems you won’t be surprised by a long list of problems the buyers think you should fix. A Home Inspection usually costs around $300 & a Wood Destroying Pest Inspection costs around $125 in the Redding area. Buyer inspections are one of the main causes of most deals going sideways. You will have some upfront expenses for repairs, but that is money will most likely have to spend anyway. Buyer’s usually feel that the sellers should be responsible for issues that come up in the inspections. If you want top dollar for your home, and who doesn’t, your home needs to be in top condition.

When a home owner doesn’t have prelisting inspections they are usually surprised by the findings of the buyer’s inspections. They often make comments like, “Well, they are being paid by the buyer, so they have to find something.” On the flip side buyers can get nervous if the inspections have a long list of issues because they worry what other problems might not have been uncovered. Performing these two inspections & fixing the issues before putting your house on the market can save you the headache of negotiating with the buyer over repairs and losing the buyer if you can’t reach an agreement.

Deep Clean The Entire House

Let’s be realistic, our own dirt doesn’t bother us the way other people’s dirt does. When you’re getting ready to put your house on the market it needs to be able to pass the ‘White Glove’ test. If possible hire a professional to do a deep cleaning of the entire house. A professional house cleaner will see things from a buyer’s perspective, which is sometimes hard for homeowners. I always find it interesting what buyers focus on when I show them a house that isn’t squeaky clean and clutter free. A dirty house gives buyers the impression that they will have a lot of work to do before they can move in…when what you want them to think is, ‘Wow, we can move right in!’

Remove Any Sign of Pets

Home buyerPet odor and the damage done by them, can kill a sale before it even gets started. In order to sell your home quickly and for the highest price possible, you have to appeal to as many buyers as possible. Not everyone likes or has pets. Some people are allergic to dog or cat dander. If your house smells like animals, has pet beds full of pet hair, or a visible litter box, you can lose potential buyers right as they walk in the door. I have had clients that are so sensitive to pet smells that they won’t even finish a walk- through of the home if there is evidence of animals. As the home owner, you are used to its unique smells, but to a buyer coming in to the house for the first time, pet smells can be overwhelming.

After showing & previewing many homes for sale, over the past decade, it is apparent that pet odor in a house is one of the most common reasons for it to stay on the market for a long time.

Replace Outdated Fixtures

This is an easy and relatively inexpensive fix that can have a huge impact on selling your home. If you have outdated light fixtures, door handles, or plumbing fixtures, you should replace them. Remember you are always competing with band new homes. You may have amenities they don’t have, like mature landscaping, but buyers love homes that look up-to-date. The big box home improvement stores usually have inexpensive contractor packs of door handles for your cabinets. They also have popular styles of light and ceiling fan fixtures for reasonable prices. If you are in the higher price range then might want to spend some more money on designer fixtures. If you don’t have the rocker type lights you might want to think about replacing the old ones. These easy, DYI projects can help your home stand up to your competition.

Have Carpets Professionally Cleaned

Carpets are the single largest ‘thing’ in your house besides the walls and ceilings. If your carpet is newer and not stained you can get a deep cleaning from a professional carpet cleaner and be good to go, but if cleaning will not restore them, to almost new condition, you’ll need to replace them.

Most Realtors® will tell you that a home with worn out carpet is difficult to sell. They must look and smell clean for potential buyers.

Make Your Walls Look New

Painted living roomIf the interior of your house has been painted within the last couple of years, you can probably get away with just touching up the walls and trim. Touching up walls and trim is easy if your leftover paint is still fresh. If it’s been a while since it’s been painted chances are the paint isn’t the same color anymore or what’s left in the can has dried up. Touch up’s that don’t match the existing paint look terrible.

Without a doubt, freshly painted homes look fresh and sell faster than dingy tired looking ones. If you have some rooms that are painted bright, bold colors, like the kid’s bedroom, it is best to paint them a neutral color. The more colors in your home, the more chance that buyers will have objections. Usually one current, neutral color is best. No matter how nice a bright color may look to you and your family, it might not be appealing to buyers. Remember, you are trying to appeal to as many people as possible. To see what neutral colors are popular in your area go to a few new home subdivisions and see what color the builders are painting their model homes. People rarely have objections to neutral colors even if they like bold colors. They can easily see themselves repainting a few rooms to personalize them, but can’t see themselves having to repaint the whole house.

Don’t forget the exterior of the house. If the body of the home is in good condition you can probably get by with just paining the trim work and exterior doors. The same is true for the exterior of the home as the interiors, bright, bold colors are going to turn off most buyers. Remember that you need good curb appeal to get a buyer inside your home!

Rent a Mini Storage Unit

Most people have full closets and cupboards and their garage is packed from floor to ceiling, and rooms with lots of comfy furniture. This is normal, it’s how most of us live and it’s just fine, except when you are trying to sell. Closets and cupboards that are packed make buyers think that there isn’t enough storage. Buyers need to be able to visualize where they are going to put all of their

To stay competitive, it is wise to rent a storage unit and start loading it with everything that you are not going to need while your house is on the market. Start with all your memorabilia and pack the unit with the items that you are least likely to need in the back. The more you put in storage, the better. If you have to question, “Should I store this?”, the answer is: “Yes!”. Start packing as though your house is sold and you only have a month left in it. The more you put in storage, the less you will need, because your home will sell much faster! Buyer’s love homes that look move in ready!

Freshen Up Landscaping

Landscaping Statistically, landscaping is the biggest bang for your buck when listing your house for sale. We’ve all heard about the importance of “curb appeal”, and know that first impressions are HUGE in real estate. The fastest way to freshen up your landscaping is new mulch. Spread a layer of it all throughout your landscaped areas. This is inexpensive and requires very little time commitment.

If you’d like to make an even better first impression, plant some colorful flowers which will make your new mulch stand out even more. Trim any over grown plants and bushes and clean up your outdoor spaces to look new again. In a city with weather as beautiful as ours we spend a lot of time outside, so it’s likely to have a big impact on your buyer’s decision to purchase your home.

Get Specific Advice From a Realtor

RealtorEvery property is different and will have unique and specific areas to address. Experienced Realtors look at dozens of homes with home buyers every week. When we walk through your house at a listing appointment, we have buyer’s voices in our heads calling out objections. We know what buyers want because they tell us every day. Every market is different and there are different tactics for each area. A good experienced Realtor will point out all of the objections that you can expect to hear from your potential buyers. There will always be Sellers that don’t want to hear it, but this is extremely valuable information, so be sure to take advantage of it early on in the listing process.

Final Thoughts

How Sellers Feel When They Get a Strong Offer As you read through the list above, don’t be intimidated by the scope of work. Make a list of things that you feel are important for your home sale and then plan them out accordingly. Tackle one item at a time and before you know it, your list is done. Once your house is ready to put on the market it will most likely get an offer before your competition does. Many sellers will try to avoid some of the steps mentioned above. If you take the time and expense to tackle these issues, your house should outshine the others and sell for the highest sales price possible. When it comes to selling your home, the adage “you get out what you put in” rings exceptionally true. Your efforts will be well rewarded!

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