Getting your house ready to sell can create all types of anxiety and stress.
If you’re like most home sellers, you’re not sure how to prepare.
You’re nervous about buyers not being interested.
And you’re worried about selling for the price you want.
The silver lining?
A little preparation and the right approach can attract the right buyers so you can score the best possible price for your house.
And the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
I’ve assisted numerous sellers in getting their homes ready to sell, making the process easier than they anticipated.
I want to share those insights and tips so you know what to do to prepare.
Here are the steps you should take to get your house ready to sell.
1. Adjust to a seller’s mindset
Your first step should be to put yourself in the sellers’ mindset — start seeing your house as a product.
Because getting your home ready to sell isn’t just about swiping away dust and taking out the trash.
It’s a mindset shift, an attitude adjustment that will help you navigate through this process with ease and success.
You don’t have to let go of all memories attached to your home — instead, think about how others may experience this space differently than you.
That’s what potential buyers are going to do.
And those potential buyers make emotional decisions.
You can benefit from that emotional decision making if you adjust your frame of mind.
This is why it’s important to take an objective stance when optimizing your home’s appearance.
You’ll need this mindset when making other decisions throughout the selling process, too.
For example, you may get a buyer who wants to negotiate on asking price or terms.
Staying rational and not taking anything personally can help you avoid losing a serious buyer who’s making a very reasonable offer.
Now is the time to start thinking of selling your home as a business transaction.
Because that’s what it is.
This important distinction will help you get your house ready for sale in the right way and make decisions with confidence.
2. Find the best-qualified listing agent
The difference between two real estate agents can be much greater than you think.
The right one will help you sell for the maximum price.
The wrong one will sell your house below market value.
So finding the right listing agent is crucial.
And you should do this as you start getting your house ready because you’ll get expert guidance from the get-go — which will ultimately save you time, stress, and money.
The “right” agent is a real estate professional who is best qualified to sell your most valuable asset.
However, this is where many sellers make a common mistake…
They don’t ensure the agent is best qualified.
Instead, they solely rely on a recommendation from a friend or family member.
Or they choose a real estate agent because they know them personally.
An agent you know or who comes recommended might be the right fit.
But it’s important that you do your due diligence to make sure they’re best qualified.
That means the listing agent you work with needs to possess the following qualities:
- Relevant selling experience: Your real estate agent’s resume should include homes sold in your area that are similar to yours, both in property type and price range.
- A great reputation: A proven track record speaks volumes. The best real estate agents will have favorable reviews from previous seller clients.
- Low dual agency: Agents with a history of low dual agency — meaning they’ve primarily represented only the seller on the homes they’ve listed in your market — will typically have a stronger commitment to your best interests. This is a key quality, so don’t skip this.
- Will let you cancel the listing agreement: Ensure any listing agreement you’re asked to sign has a cancellation clause. This will help keep your agent motivated to sell your home.
Those four qualities should be your focal point when you interview real estate agents.
Because working with the best qualified listing agent will put you in the best position to sell quickly and for the best price.
3. Estimate your selling price
Estimating what your home might sell for is an important step when getting ready.
It allows you to manage expectations and make informed decisions before listing your house for sale.
For example, knowing your potential selling price can guide you on whether to invest in upgrades to increase your property’s value.
And it can help you better prepare for your next move.
But don’t rely on an online estimate or the price your neighbor sold for.
The online estimates are hit or miss (and can be way off) because they don’t know the specifics about your property.
And your neighbor’s home most likely doesn’t have the same characteristics as yours.
So do this instead…
Get a property analysis
You’ll get the most accurate (and realistic) price opinion if you’re working with the best qualified real estate agent.
They can do this for you by putting together a comparative market analysis (also known as a CMA).
This analysis compares your home with recently sold properties, properties currently for sale, and pending home sales where the seller has accepted an offer but the sale is not yet finalized.
The best analysis will include accurate price adjustments that account for the differences between your home and the comparable properties in your local housing market.
These include things such as the:
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Interior square footage
- Lot size
- Proximity to noise
You can use the opinion you get from your agent to guide you on setting the best listing price.
But you can use also leverage their expertise to get priced opinions based on:
- Whether you sell your home as-is
- If you do improvements or repairs
You can then compare the two price estimates to determine if you want to spend the time and money making improvements before putting your house on the market.
This is just one example of how working with the right agent at the start of the selling process can be beneficial.
4. Optimize your home’s space
Optimizing the interior space is an essential step in preparing your property for potential buyers.
Because most buyers will be analyzing your rooms and storage capacity during showings.
They’ll try to envision themselves in your house, so it’s important that your home’s interior look spacious and inviting.
Here are some tips for maximizing your space to ensure your house makes buyers feel at home.
Decluttering can help get more buyers interested in your home because it can create a spacious, clean, and appealing environment.
It also forces you to sort through and get rid of items you no longer need, making the moving process easier.
Decluttering might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
The key is to create a plan of attack.
First, make a list of all the areas in your home that need to be cleaned and organized.
And set a timeline for completing each task.
Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to start sorting your belongings.
Create three piles: keep, donate, and discard.
Be ruthless when deciding what to keep — if you haven’t used an item in over a year, it’s probably time to let it go.
Focus on high-traffic areas such as the kitchen, living room, and bathrooms, as buyers will be paying close attention to these areas.
Make sure these areas are clutter-free and organized.
If you’re short on storage space, invest in storage solutions like shelves, baskets, and containers to help keep your belongings organized.
Or if you have a garage, you can put your belongings in there until you move.
Potential buyers will want to peek in your garage, but storing belongings there won’t have a negative impact.
And be sure to remove personal items like family photos and personal memorabilia.
Doing so will make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living in your home.
Leverage your mirrors
Utilizing mirrors can optimize your space when getting your house ready to sell.
Mirrors give the illusion of extra depth while also bouncing natural light around the room — making it appear brighter and larger than before.
First, consider the placement of the mirrors to achieve the desired effect.
For example, hanging a large mirror in a small room can create the illusion of more space.
And placing a mirror across from a window can reflect natural light and brighten up a room.
You can also add mirrors near focal points, such as fireplaces or artwork, to draw attention to these features and make the room feel more balanced.
The important thing to consider is what the mirror will reflect to ensure they highlight attractive features of the room.
It’s also essential to analyze the overall layout.
You’ll want to do this to verify that the mirrors aren’t creating any distracting reflections or cluttering the space.
And be sure to select mirrors with frames that complement the style of your home.
With a little creativity, this can be a simple yet effective way to help you prepare.
5. Get a home inspection
Buyers will want to know if anything needs to be fixed, even if your home shows well online and in person (or if it doesn’t).
This is why getting a pre-sale home inspection is one of the best investments you can make when getting your home ready to sell.
It gives potential buyers information about what’s “under the hood.”
And helps alleviate any concerns.
But it’s important to remember that getting a home inspection doesn’t guarantee that everything will be perfect.
In fact, almost every home inspection has at least several items called out in the report.
That’s because inspectors pick a home apart and call out any detail they see.
But all of this is normal.
Any issues found during the inspection can be addressed before putting your house on the market.
Doing this will ensure you don’t run into any nasty surprises when trying to sell later on.
And you can use this to your advantage if you’re working with a great real estate agent.
Go over the inspection report with your agent
You should get the inspection report within 1-2 days after the inspector visits your property.
When you do, discuss it with your agent and ask them to give you a checklist of items that are worth taking care of.
Then provide your agent with a list of the items (and any receipts) that were completed.
Your agent can include that list in the seller’s disclosure package (usually a PDF file for interested buyers that includes the seller’s disclosures, inspections, reports, etc.).
This will show prospective buyers the time and money you’ve invested in preparing to sell your home.
Of course, doing all of this is optional.
But having your home inspected before listing it for sale is a great tip when selling because it does three things:
- Helps the buyer feel more confident when submitting an offer
- Reduces the chances of the buyer asking you to make repairs
- Decreases the chances of the buyer backing out
And those three things will help you sell in a shorter time frame and for more money.
6. Make repairs and upgrades that pay off
Home repairs are vital for creating a good impression on potential buyers, while upgrades can add significant value to your property.
This is why it’s important to consider both when preparing to sell your house.
Consider important repairs
How do you know which repairs are worth making?
First, refer to your home inspection and the list of recommendations from your real estate agent.
Then walk through your home from the perspective of a potential buyer to ensure you don’t miss anything.
This is not easy to do, but it can really help when getting your house ready to sell.
Grab a pen and paper and step out your front door.
Walk back in and pretend you’re seeing your house for the first time.
Go room by room and walk slowly.
Does anything stick out visually or is anything not functioning as it should?
If so, these are the things that you’re going to want to fix as they’ll get you the biggest bang for your buck.
Spend a good 20 to 30 minutes and make a list.
Any visible holes in your wall?
Open and close your windows and doors. Do they function as they should?
Can your showers and bathtubs use a re-caulking?
Do your bathroom fixtures work?
Check your AC filters.
Are they dirty? Replace them.
These minor repairs will help create an inviting atmosphere when prospective buyers attend showings and open houses.
Not only do they make sure everything is functioning properly but they also show that you care about maintaining the condition of your home.
And keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to fix every little thing — or anything at all.
Depending on your circumstances, selling your home as-is might be a better option for you.
Make money-making upgrades
The next step is deciding which upgrades are worth investing in before putting your home on the market.
Think of what buyers would appreciate most — adding a fresh coat of paint, installing new light fixtures, replacing old carpets and floors — all these improvements can attract more attention from those looking for their perfect place.
But only certain improvements will increase your value more than what it costs you.
Usually, these are the upgrades that put a nice finishing touch on a certain part of your home.
Here’s what I mean…
Let’s say your kitchen is in pretty good shape but has old tile countertops.
Upgrading your countertops to something like quartz can make a massive difference.
Or maybe your kitchen is in good shape with upgraded countertops but you have white (or black) appliances.
Upgrading to stainless steel appliances can pay off big time.
Maybe your home doesn’t need any major upgrades but it hasn’t been painted in a long time (or has a unique paint color that doesn’t appeal to everyone).
Repainting in neutral colors can make it visually attractive to a larger pool of buyers.
Speaking of visually attractive…
Boosting your curb appeal can make a great first impression.
But this doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands of dollars on landscaping.
You can make your home’s exterior pop by planting a combination of colorful plants and flowers such as annuals, ground cover plants, and flower bulbs.
For the average home, you can spend several hundred dollars at Home Depot or any other home improvement retailer and get everything you need.
Upgrading adds value to your home and makes it stand out from other properties on the market.
But making the right upgrades when getting your house ready to sell will put more money in your pocket.
7. Stage your home for the right buyer
When done right, staging will highlight a home’s strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
That’s why staging is an important step when getting your home ready for sale.
It can create an emotional connection with buyers and increase the perceived value of the property — which can ignite a strong offer for your home.
But there are two things to keep in mind in order to do that…
Know your ideal audience
You need to know who you’re going to be staging for.
In other words, you need to know who your ideal buyer is (you can confirm this with your real estate agent).
For example, if you’re selling the average house in a suburban neighborhood, then your buyer is most likely a younger family.
But a younger family is probably not your buyer if you’re selling a condo in an urban area.
The target audience for selling this type of property would most likely be a single person or a younger couple.
A home in a rural area is most likely going to appeal to an older person or couple.
The key is to understand who will be most attracted to your type of property.
Once you have that nailed down, the next step is to make your home appeal to that audience.
Match the staging to your audience type
It’s important to tailor the staging to the preferences of your ideal buyer.
Because it reduces the number of questions buyers will have during showings.
And it makes it a whole lot easier for them to picture themselves residing in your home.
Start by preparing your home to be staged.
Get a deep clean and make sure it’s clutter-free.
Remove any excess furniture (consider an offsite storage unit) to help create an open and inviting atmosphere.
Next, consider what features your ideal audience is looking for in a home.
For example, if your ideal buyer is a young family, you’ll want to stage one or two of your bedrooms as kids’ rooms.
And adding child-friendly features, such as a play area or childproofing measures, can make your home more appealing to these buyers.
Incorporating a sleek, modern design throughout your home will work best if your target buyer is a single professional.
And so will staging one of your rooms as a home office.
The important thing is to match the staging to your ideal audience.
But take an objective stance when doing so.
This means being open to advice from your agent and/or a professional stager when discussing things such as colors, decor, and furniture placement.
And you should consider hiring a professional stager (some agents will cover the cost for higher-priced homes).
Knowing how to make a home more appealing to a specific buyer is what they do for a living.
The icing on the cake once your home is staged?
Hiring a professional photographer to capture high-quality images.
Listing photos that pop can help your home stand out from the competition.
Knowing how to get your house ready to sell is crucial.
Preparing with the right mindset and approach will increase your chances of securing the best possible price for your property.
And you can easily have it done in 30 days or less if you have the right agent guiding you through the process.
Check out our guide on how to find the right real estate agent for tips on landing the most qualified realtor.