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How To: Get Your Home Ready to Sell

By Blissfully Ever After on Feb 22, 2014


As we get ready to head into March and spring time, many people will begin (or may have already began) thinking about putting their homes on the market. If this is you, then you have come to the right place.

One thing I love besides my family…. is houses. Pure and simple as that. I’ve actually been in love with architecture of homes, interior design, and landscape design for the past 10 years and this all started for me from about the age of 6. I know young, but a true story. In fact, I used to ask my Mom to drive around and look at houses when I was 6. We’d grab an ice cream cone and drive around looking at houses for what seemed like hours. My passion runs deep. After graduating high school and going to college, I decided I’d put my love for homes to good use and earned my Washington State Real Estate License and worked in that industry for three years before becoming pregnant and transitioning to my current career of working from my home office developing this very blog, doing design consults, partnering with brands for projects, and working my natural health & wellness business.

Since we are in the process of moving and just recently sold our house For Sale by Owner (FSBO), I thought I could share some of my top tips with you on how to get your home ready to sell.



1. Purge/Declutter
2. Pack up unnecessary items ahead of time
3. Depersonalize your space
4. Neutralize your space
5. Spruce up the yard
6. Deep clean the interior
7. Tackle home repairs ahead of time
8. Stage your home

Click HERE for a downloadable free printable Listing Your Home Checklist

Step 1: Purge/Declutter

This first step is essential to getting your home ready to sell and often times many people look past this step and it can hurt them when it comes time for home showings with potential buyers.

You want to make your home feel as bright, large, and inviting as possible. When purging your home separate items into 3 different categories: TOSS, DONATE, KEEP. The first two, toss and donate will help you get rid of items quickly. You really just need to go through each room in your home and toss items that are broken, no longer working, garbage, or items that are not in good enough condition to donate. Items that are in good condition but you no longer need, love, or want can be donated. Often times there are Goodwill or similar drop off locations that make this step easy.

Step 2: Pack up unnecessary items ahead of time

The items you plan to keep after completing step 1 above will then go into one of two categories: Items to keep in the home used to stage it or that are necessary for every day living ie: clothes, toiletries, kitchen cooking utensils/pans, etc. or items that can be packed away to help declutter the home.

I recommend to keep items in closets to a minimum, especially if your home lacks storage space. You want your closets to appear larger, so pack up what you don’t “need” to keep on hand and then neatly organize items that will stay.

Step 3: Depersonalize your space

This is one step that gets overlooked very often because people are typically proud of their families and belongings and have had them up in their decor for so long that it may feel odd for them to take it down. However, depersonalizing your space not only helps your home to feel larger to potential buyers but it also allows them to visualize their belongings, style, and personal decor in the space.

Items to remove during depersonalizing your space:

  1. Family pictures (leaving some up are OK, but don’t over do it)
  2. Collectibles (if you have a lot of them…I recommend boxing these up ahead of time)
  3. Keep the fridge completely cleared off…remove papers, kids art work, pictures, etc.
  4. Keep personal toiletries off of countertops ie: bathroom items that can be stored in drawers or underneath in cabinets
  5. Try to minimize the appearance of having pets. I love animals, but some potential buyers don’t and therefore, it’s a good idea to make your home seem pet free as possible. Keep pet toys, food, etc. out of sight and keep home clean of pet hair. Litter boxes should be kept clean…no one wants to smell that while walking through your home at a showing.

Step 4: Neutralize your space

A neutral color palette for your walls is the best route to go when listing your home for sale. If you currently have bright, bold, or dark colors, I highly suggest painting over them with a creamy tan, beige, or grey color that will create a warm, inviting, and neutral backdrop for the potential buyer to view their belongings in the home. Also, one thing to note is that paint is literally one of the least expensive ways to make a big impact.

For example…..

Our kitchen before and after:

Staging a Kitchen Before and After

Step 5: Spruce up the yard

Curb Appeal Staging a Home

The exterior of your home is the first thing potential buyers see when driving by or pulling up for their home showing. Curb appeal is so important and really could make or break a sale. If a potential buyer is turned off by the exterior of your home, they may not even stop to grab a flyer or call to make an appointment for a showing.

Here are some of our top tips for getting your homes exterior in tip top shape:

1. Mow and edge the lawn
2. Trim back trees and bushes
3. Pull weeds
4. Sweep the walkways and porches
5. Pick up any debris, garbage, or “junk” that is lying around your property
6. Fix broken fences, replace broken screens, touch up paint and/or complete other minor repairs
7. Power wash the house and clean windows
8. If your home has a pool or water feature and it’s nice enough weather, clean them!
9. Put a seasonal wreath on your front door
10. Plant a few seasonal flowers in a planter on your front steps or place near the front door

Step 6: Deep clean the interior

This may seem like a no brainer but honestly, you would be surprised at how many homeowners neglect this step on the pre-listing phase of the home selling process. When I say deep clean, I really mean deep clean. Potential buyers want your home to be clean inside and out and they really do pay attention to sinks, bath tubs, marks on the walls, dirty floors, and the like.

If you are in need of a checklist, you can print our free downloadable Spring Cleaning Checklist HERE to get you started!

Step 7: Tackle home repairs ahead of time

Spring Cleaning the Home Exterior

By going through and completing necessary home repairs ahead of time, you will not only create a better atmosphere for potential buyers, but you will also help avoid any minor or major issues coming up on your home inspection. The home inspection is typically always paid for by the buyer and will take place after the home goes under contract.

If you are in need of a checklist, you can print our free downloadable Annual Home Maintenance Checklist HERE!

Step 8: Stage your home

Dining Nook Staged Home

Staging your home is actually the fun part of the Getting Your Home Ready to Sell process. You’ve done most all of the hard work up until now…and unless you absolutely hate to decorate, then you could actually have some fun with this part! Your home should now be decluttered, depersonalized, you should have neutral colors throughout, and you’ve packed up a majority of your belongings only leaving necessary items and some decor and furniture pieces for staging.


Home Staging Checklist


1. Let the light in
2. Turn on the lights
3. Clear the clutter
4. Deep clean your home
5. Play music
6. Freshen the air
7. Provide a flyer & home features list
8. Remove the pets
9. Leave the house too
10. Follow-up with potential buyers

Click HERE for a downloadable free printable Home Staging Checklist

1. Let in the light! Open up curtains and blinds and let as much natural light in as possible. I actually recommend pulling blinds all the way up to let maximum light exposure in and make sure to clean windows too.

2. Turn on the lights. Turn on every light in your home. You want your home to feel bright, warm, and inviting. So while the natural light filtering in through the windows makes your home feel bright and more spacious, the ceiling and table top lighting will create a warm glow that connects with prospective buyers. This tip is especially important for rooms without any windows and/or are on the smaller side.

Dining Room Staged Home

3. Clear the Clutter. I know we already talked about decluttering, but honestly,I can’t stress this step enough. Potential buyers are expecting your home to look and feel a certain way for them that is primarily emotionally/physiological based. Even though their own homes may not be clean and clutter free they want to purchase a home that is. So, clear the clutter as much as possible. Pack up non essential items, clean out closets to make them look more spacious, really simplify your home as much as possible.

*BONUS.…this will actually make moving easier because you will already have packed up items, tossed items, donated items, and now have only the essentials and some decor items left to pack. (more on creating a stress-free move in a later post)

4. Keep your home sparkling clean. This means you should do a major deep clean initially and then keep on cleaning weekly and ALWAYS clean before a showing. You may not think people are paying attention to your dirty sink, unkempt bathrooms, or dirty floors…but they are. First impressions count big time, especially to a prospective buyer.

Kitchen Staged Home

5. Play music. Have you ever walked into a store and there is no music playing? Then you are the only one in there besides the sales clerk and things just feel quite and ackward? Well, think of your home like a store. Potential buyers are coming in and you want them to feel welcomed and comfortable. Turn on some light tunes (preferably classical or instrumental) and keep it on low so there is just enough to fill the air.

6. Freshen the air. I prefer to use natural items such as cinnamon, vanilla, and oranges in a pan on the stove to give an amazing, fresh, yet warm scent throughout the home before a showing. You could also burn a candle or turn on a warmer with candle melts. Another great tip is to bake cookies or another yummy baked good before a showing. BUT, make sure to clean up your mess :)

7. Leave a flyer, Seller Disclosure, and Home Features & Improvements sheet on the counter in a visible space like the kitchen so Buyers have information to take with them.

8. Remove the pets. If you have pets, make sure they are either kenneled or take them with you before the home is showed. I have actually toured homes where pets were left behind and one time a cat followed my husband and I into every room and hissed at us…and I was actually terrified it might attack me. That is not an experience you want a potential buyer to experience, especially if you are serious about selling your home.

9. Leave the house too. If you are listing your home with a Real Estate Agent, make sure everyone in your family leaves the home so the Realtor can show their client the home. If you are selling FSBO, I recommend only having one person show the home while everyone else leaves…even if it is just to take a quick walk around the block. Having too many people at the home can seem overwhelming and not professional.

*If you are showing your home FSBO, make sure you talk with the person first and get his/her name and contact information to make sure you are safe. Remember, you are letting people into your home that you do not know, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

and make sure to…..

10. Follow up. This is a crucial step. You should always follow up with the Buyer, whether it is through their agent, or have your agent follow up or contact the Buyer directly if you are working FSBO on both sides. A simple phone call or email to the prospective buyer asking them what they thought about the home, if they have interest or plan to make an offer, and if they say no, make sure to ask them if they can give you feedback to make improvements for future showings.

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