A checklist to prepare your home to sell

Competition can be fierce in the real estate market. You have a house to sell before you can move on but so do hundreds of other sellers. What will make your house "the chosen one?" It is important to put the best face possible on your home.

If you are going to have a yard sale before you move, do it before you put your home on the market. This will help you to dispose of items cluttering up the house, basement and garage. Remember this process not only helps you sell your home but will make your move more efficient.


  • Does the door bell work?
  • Does it smell fresh? If not, use air freshener, carpet powder, or scented candles. Don’t overdo it! Avoid cooking curry, fish or spicy food that might cause lingering odours. Pay attention to scents.
  • Clear and clean all countertops and tabletops.
  • Quick dust all flat surfaces, wood, tile, and vinyl floors.
  • Vacuum all carpets.
  • Put away all toys, clothes, newspapers, mail, etc.
  • Make all beds.
  • Open up curtains and shades; turn on lights in dark areas.
  • Clean all glass and mirrors.


  • Clean off front porch or entry way. Add a flowering pot on the front step. Keep it watered and trimmed.
  • Close your garage door.
  • Step out to the curb and take a look at your home. Does anything look out of place? Pick up and put away any toys, tools, bikes, garbage cans, etc.
  • Mow the lawn, trim trees and shrubs away from the house. You can't sell a house if you can't see it.
  • Keep garden beds weeded and mulched
  • Check outdoor lights. Are your house numbers faded? Windows clean?
  • Clear patios or decks of planters, flower pots, charcoal or barbeques.
  • Touch up outdoor paintwork.
  • Fill any potholes in your driveway or walkway
  • Straighten anything that may sag i.e.: mailbox gutters etc.
  • Tighten doorknobs and oil squeaking hinges.


  • Discard worn furniture and move extra to storage area. Too much furniture makes rooms look small.
  • Visit a model home to get decorating ideas.
  • Clear away all magazines, books, and unnecessary objects from furniture throughout the house.
  • Take down pictures that hide walls. Patch nails holes and paint.
  • Add lamps and lighting if dark.
  • Open curtains. Clear window ledges of all objects to give a nice glimpse inside and out.
  • Set out fresh flowers.



  • Are all appliances in good working condition? Professionally clean oven and stove.
  • Replace broken appliances, and repair squeaks, drips, or binds in cabinet drawers.
  • Clean all appliances inside and out until they are spotless. Wax and polish floors.
  • Discard old food and leftovers from refrigerator.
  • Clean the refrigerator front of messages, pictures and magnets.
  • Clear all magazines, small appliances, and cookware from counter tops.
  • If it hasn’t been used for months...put it away.
  • Repair drawers, sliding doors etc. that won't open or close properly.



  • Remove any unnecessary items from counter tops, tubs, and toilet. Put away as much as possible, and make every bathroom look like a “guest bathroom.”
  • Sink, toilet, bathtub, tile, and shower curtain should look immaculate, no soap film or hair.
  • Fix leaky faucets, rust stains and faulty plumbing that may squeak.
  • Caulk and grout tile. Bleach discolored grout.
  • Replace or remove any wallpaper that isn’t “conservative.”
  • Coordinate towels to one or two colors only.
  • Place softer bulbs in bathroom fixtures and scented flower arrangement on vanity top. Make these rooms sparkle.


  • Clean fireplace.
  • Replace carpet if it’s a loud color.
  • Remove all magazines, books, toys and worn furnishings that might influence a buyer’s feeling about the room.
  • Create an easy-going relaxed atmosphere in your family room. This is where families spend their time so make it look good.


  • This is the second most important-to-be-appealing room in a home. (After the kitchen, and before the family room and garage)
  • Define areas, sleeping, dressing, and sitting by furniture arrangement. Try to have the bedroom look as simply furnished as possible.
  • Be sure that all clothes are hanging up..
  • Make closets more appealing by storing off-season clothes elsewhere. Go ahead and pack them up since you’re moving


  • Here’s the challenge: ask children and teenagers to help by thoroughly cleaning up their rooms, removing all posters, questionable photographs. Low lighting and clutter make bedrooms look smaller than they are.
  • Patch and paint walls if necessary.
  • Open curtains.


  • Make them look bigger.
  • Make closets more appealing by storing off season clothes elsewhere. Go ahead and pack them up since you're moving. Show that your home has ample closet space.


  • A finished basement is great! Just follow the same guidelines given in preparing the family room.
  • If unfinished, make sure concrete floor is swept and clean.
  • Seal or paint concrete floors. (Battleship grey)
  • Clean water heater, change filters, and put strong light bulbs in fixtures.
  • Put away all unnecessary articles to show large space in the basement.


  • The perfect garage contains only cars. But if this is not possible, clean up, fix up, sell or toss unneeded items. (This may be your only opportunity).
  • Clean and seal cement floor.
  • Neatly stack tools and clean up work bench and tidy up storage shelf areas.

Hopefully, this home seller's checklist has helped you gain a clearer knowledge of your home's overall condition - from a buyer's perspective. Now you can make repairs or improvements that will increase your home's marketability. And remember, you ARE marketing your house - you probably wouldn't try to sell your car without making it clean and ready. It just makes good sense!

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