Mortgages & Home Loans Real Estate Resources Selling Your Home How to Prepare Your House for Sale Little things can make a big difference By Elizabeth Weintraub Elizabeth Weintraub Facebook Twitter Elizabeth Weintraub is a nationally recognized expert in real estate, titles, and escrow. She is a licensed Realtor and broker with more than 40 years of experience in titles and escrow. Her expertise has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS Evening News, and HGTV's House Hunters. learn about our editorial policies Updated on April 7, 2022 Reviewed by Doretha Clemon Reviewed by Doretha Clemon Doretha Clemons, Ph.D., MBA, PMP, has been a corporate IT executive and professor for 34 years. She is an adjunct professor at Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, Maryville University, and Indiana Wesleyan University. She is a Real Estate Investor and principal at Bruised Reed Housing Real Estate Trust, and a State of Connecticut Home Improvement License holder. learn about our financial review board Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article Depersonalize Your House Declutter Your House Organize Bedroom Closets and Storage Cabinets Make Minor Repairs Make the House Sparkle Scrutinize Curb Appeal How much does it cost to sell a house? Which months are the best to sell a home? How should I price my home for sale? Photo: The Balance / Shideh Ghandeharizadeh Every seller wants their home to sell quickly and for a large profit, but it takes more than luck to make that happen. It involves careful planning and knowing how to professionally prepare your home to convince buyers to pull out their checkbooks. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure your house sells quickly and for top dollar. Key Takeaways To sell your home as quickly and for as much money as possible, you need to plan carefully and prepare to show it off to buyers. Preparing to show your home to buyers requires careful planning to make necessary repairs, clean everything well, and present an organized house. Your goal should be to make it easy for buyers to envision themselves living in your home. Disassociate from Your House Letting go of your home can be difficult. You've lived there, possibly for years, and the house holds many memories. To detach from it emotionally, you must realize that without you in it, the house is just a shell to be filled by other occupants. Look to the future, where you can make new memories in your next home. Note Sever your emotional attachment to the house by realizing that home is about the occupants who live there, not just the space or building. Your next house will feel like home before you know it, because you will be personalizing your space and creating new memories. Depersonalize Your House Pack up your personal photographs, family heirlooms, and other objects and clutter that might distract potential buyers and hurt a possible sale. You want to present buyers with an impersonal, clean environment so they can imagine the home perhaps decorated with their own photographs, furniture, and art objects. Depersonalizing your home makes it easier for potential buyers to visualize how the home might look filled with their own items. Regarding furniture, only leave understated pieces that are not a distraction and don't create an unintended impression. For example, it would be difficult for a buyer to visualize their own antique furnishings in place of the existing zebra couch, bright yellow chair, and bear rug. Note The goal is to make it easy for a potential buyer to see the house as their future home. Declutter Your House People tend to collect an amazing quantity of items over the years. Reasons for keeping items include an emotional attachment, an intention to reuse or fix the items in the future, or a wish to pass them on to others. However, for many items, if you haven't used them in over a year, you probably don't need them. Discard items in a useful way by donating them to a charity or nonprofit organization such as Goodwill. Not only will these items help those in need, but some are tax-deductible. For items that are not accepted, call your town to inquire whether the items can be picked up. Many towns schedule this service once or twice a month. Remove books and other knickknacks from bookcases, and clean everything off your kitchen counters. Essential items that you use daily can be tucked away in small boxes you can place in a closet when they're not in use. Consider this process an efficient start to your packing. Organize Bedroom Closets and Storage Cabinets Buyers will be curious about storage space and will want to check closets and cabinets. It's important to ensure these are organized, as it sends a negative message if your storage spaces are cluttered with items falling out. When a buyer sees everything organized down to the last detail, it shows that you take care of your possessions and likely took good care of the house. In kitchen cabinets, alphabetize spice jars, neatly stack dishes, and turn the coffee cup handles so they're facing the same way. In closets, shirts should be buttoned and hung together, and shoes should be lined up neatly. Consider Renting a Storage Unit Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove pieces that block or hamper paths and walkways, and put them in storage, along with distracting furniture, artwork, and empty bookcases. Note Removing extra leaves from your dining room table will make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture to showcase the room's purpose with plenty of room for buyers to move around. Remove or Replace Favorite Items If you plan on taking certain window coverings, built-in appliances, or fixtures with you, remove them prior to showing the house. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great-grandmother, be sure to take it down before a buyer sees it and asks that it be included with the house. Telling a buyer they can't have an item that appears with the house and enhances its appeal can hurt the sale. Make Minor Repairs In some seller's markets, you can sell a home in lived-in condition without much complaint. But in normal markets or a buyer's market, repairs can make or break a sale. Replace cracked floor or counter tiles, and patch any holes in the walls. Fix leaky faucets and doors that don't close properly, as well as kitchen drawers that jam. Consider painting walls neutral colors, especially if they're currently hot pink or purple. Don't give buyers any reason to remember your home as "the one with the orange bathroom." Replace burned-out lightbulbs, and also consider replacing those that have been in service for a while. Avoid the potential of having a bulb blow out when you flip the light switch during a showing. It's a small incident that can easily be avoided if you are mindful. You want the buyer's experience to be as positive as possible. Note Throw open the curtains and blinds, and turn on those lights. Houses show better when each room is clean and bright. Make the House Sparkle Preparing your home to be viewed by potential buyers may require hiring a professional cleaning crew. Cleaning may include washing the windows inside and out; renting a pressure washer and spraying down sidewalks and the exterior; recaulking tubs, showers, and sinks; and polishing chrome faucets and mirrors. Make sure all of the dust is removed from under the furniture, in the cabinets and closets, and everywhere else it could be hiding. Try to maintain this cleanliness by vacuuming daily, waxing floors, dusting furniture, and keeping the bathrooms and kitchen spotless. Hang up fresh guest towels, and keep the toilet lid closed when it's not in use. Note Kitchens are a big selling point for many buyers, so make yours as spotless and uncluttered as possible. In the event that someone opens your refrigerator, make sure it appears clean and orderly. Above all, clean and air out any musty areas. The night before a showing, avoid cooking particularly odorous foods such as fish, garlic, or cabbage. These smells can linger the day after. If you have pets, monitor litter boxes or any other areas affected by them. Scrutinize Curb Appeal A potential sale is lost quickly if a buyer won't even get out of their agent's car because the exterior of your home turns them off. Make the exterior more appealing and welcoming by painting your front door and, perhaps, adding a wreath of dried wildflowers, or placing one or two flower pots on your front porch. Hire a landscaper to clean up your lawn and add a few shrubs or flowering plants. Consider hiring a contractor to fix any cracks on your front steps or walkway. Make sure visitors can clearly see your house number. The Final Step Back inside your home, linger in the doorway of each room, and imagine how your house will look to a buyer. Examine how the furniture is arranged, and rearrange pieces until the room achieves visual appeal. Make sure window coverings hang evenly. Once you've cleaned and gotten everything repaired and organized, you can begin staging your home. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) How much does it cost to sell a house? Aside from the money it will cost to make repairs, spruce things up, and store excess furniture and personal items, there are other costs you'll incur to sell a home. Paying a realtor will likely be your largest cost. You'll typically pay between 4% to 6% total, with the funds to be split between your agent and the buyer's agent. Which months are the best to sell a home? May is the month that brings the best premium for home sellers, followed by June, July, and April. How should I price my home for sale? A real estate agent will help you find a good price for you home, but one good place to start is by looking at comparable homes in your neighborhood that have sold recently. You can also look at homes that are currently for sale and see what their asking prices are per square foot. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). "Topic No. 506 Charitable Deductions." ATTOM. "Top 5 Best Days to Sell A Home Occur in May, According to New ATTOM Analysis."