Checklist for Preparing Your Home to Sale

Clean the house: After all the repairs, painting, and such are done, clean, clean, clean!

  • Deep clean every room in the house, either by bringing in a professional cleaning service or dedicating a lot of time to doing it yourself. Make sure to clean your garage or workshop, too.
  • Make the beds, dust, vacuum, and get those fingerprints off your stainless-steel appliances, and give the bathrooms a serious scrubbing. Buyers always look at the condition of the bathtub!
  • Wash the windows (inside and outside).
  • Clean floors. Steam the carpets, mop, or vacuum hard floors.
  • Replace all burned-out light bulbs. Don’t forget the home’s exterior fixtures!
  • Vacuum dust off the vents and intakes on the ceiling/wall.
  • Vacuum dust off the ceiling fans.
  • Remove and store window screens: Natural light is a big seller, and window screens dim natural light and make windows look dingy in photos.

Declutter: Make the whole home look tidy and large.

  • Clear the kitchen counters of small appliances, tuck away bathroom items like toothbrushes and combs, remove any eyesore cords or wires, put your TV remotes in a cabinet, and finally go through that stack of mail. Pick up everything off the floor—leaving only furniture and tall plants.
  • Remove everything off the refrigerator (i.e., magnets, pictures, drawings, cards, calendars, etc.).
  • Pare down pets’ and kids’ belongings: Take the time to repair pet damage, remove pets’ belongings, and clear away kids’ items like gates, highchairs, and piles of toys.
  • Keep storage spaces tidy: You can never have too much storage, which means buyers are going to be opening your closets and pantry doors. Don’t just shove extra belongings into closets—they need to look tidy and not overfilled.
  • Remove items not in the room’s color scheme.
  • Rearrange furniture as needed: Remove furniture to make rooms seem bigger, and swap pieces in and out of different rooms to give each space an obvious purpose. For example, add a desk and chair to a bonus room to show it as a home office, or move a twin bed into an empty bedroom.

Depersonalize

  • Remove all personal items (pictures, religious items, memorabilia etc.) or anything distracting.

Create curb appeal

  • Common tasks include planting flowers, pulling weeds, laying down fresh mulch, mowing the lawn, raking, shoveling snow, pressure washing siding, cleaning gutters, removing moss off roof, and removing cobwebs (especially around the front door where buyers have time to look while the agent is unlocking the door).

Secure your belongings

  • Lock away any valuables to avoid theft of expensive items or private information—including weapons, prescription medications, documents, mail, etc.

Before each showing:

  • Make the beds.
  • Dust and vacuum.
  • Clean any surfaces that may have handprints (i.e., staircase handrail, light switches, door handles, door edges, etc.) and fingerprints (i.e., stainless-steel appliances).
  • Clean mirrors.
  • Turn on all lights—even closets and vent hoods (sometimes CDLs take a while to warm up). We want your home as brightly lit as possible.
  • Open the window blinds and any curtains/shears covering the windows.
  • Put toilet lids—not just seats—down.
  • Empty garbage cans and tuck away so every can is out of sight (even in kitchen and bathroom).
  • Hang freshly laundered and neatly folded towels in bathroom. Put away kitchen dishcloths and towels.
  • Declutter again: Clear the kitchen counters of small appliances, tuck away bathroom items like toothbrushes and combs, remove any eyesore cords or wires, and put your TV remotes in a cabinet.
  • Put away pet beds, food bowls, litter boxes, and water.
  • Pick up everything off the floor—leaving only furniture and plants.
  • Sweep (or shovel) walkways, porches, decks, and driveways.