Preparing Your Home to Sell

Once you have made the decision to list your home for sale the next step is to make your home ready to sell.  The two most important pieces of preparing to sell a home are to make it functional and presentable.  These are home improvements that will help your home sell faster and at a better price.  The problem is, if you are like most homeowners the last thing you want to do is spend a bunch of money on a home you will no longer be living in.  So what are the most cost efficient ways to improve the marketability of your home?


That’s where a recent survey from real estate website HomeGain can help.  HomeGain recently asked 500 real estate agents from across the United States what they thought were the most often recommended and cost effective home improvements for homeowners preparing their homes to be sold.  Here are the top ten recommended improvements and their estimated return on investment.

Number 3 on the list is plumbing and electrical but we like to include anything functional.  Most homeowners know if there are any “functional” issues with their home.  There are a myriad of little things that can go wrong in a home over the years that owners often find themselves just learning to live with.  The cold water in the bathroom sink may drip so you just turned it off under the sink.  The ceiling fan may make a horrendous noise when you turn it on so you open a window instead.  The toilet tank may leak slowly into the bowl causing it to refill once an hour so you call it your “backup flush” for when the kids forget to flush.  The door to the laundry room doesn’t latch but you figure it doesn’t matter since you only use it once or twice a week.  Whatever the little functional issues may be in your house a good inspector will find them.  Rather than wait for the buyers or their inspector to find those issues and possibly delay (by asking for repairs) or even kill the deal, the best course of action is to fix those issues before listing your home for sale.

A home that is cluttered or just downright dirty won’t be an issue for an inspector because it will discourage most potential buyers from even making an offer.  Don’t even think about having any showings of your home until you have had a third party, like your real estate agent, “certify” that it is sufficiently clean and uncluttered.  Buyers are easily distracted by dirt and clutter.  You want them to see the beautiful hardwood flooring in the bedrooms not the piles of laundry and toys.

Once your home is clean and clutter free you need to be able to show it off.  For most realtors, the first thing they do when showing a house is open all the blinds/curtains and turn on all the lights.  Having clean windows will make a big difference.  Also, be sure to replace any burned out light bulbs.

The kitchen above and living room below are great examples of a home that is clean and uncluttered.

After the inside of your home is looking good it’s time to turn your attention to the outside.  The yard is one of the first things a prospective buyer will see and first impressions are important.  Your yard doesn’t have to be so amazing that it looks like it belongs on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens but it should at least be on par with your neighbors.  Grass should be mowed, gravel and bark areas free of weeds, and anything that doesn’t belong should be put away.

Most homeowners won’t have to spend much money, if any, to get their home ready to sell.  It depends on how much time you have before you want to list, the current state of your home and how much time and effort you are willing and able to give to make it ready.  There is no rule that says your house has to be neat and clean and everything has to work properly.  However, as illustrated by the chart above, these things can make a differencee in the price your home sells for.  The thing to remember is that these improvements aren’t for you.  They are for the people that you want to walk through your front door and make you an offer you can’t refuse.


About Dan Seim

Dan Seim is the primary contributor to Preferred Residential's blog. He has been writing about real estate issues that affect home owners in Bend and Central Oregon since 2011.