10 Signs Your House Isn’t Ready to Go on the Market

Think you’re ready to sell your house? Not so fast. First, you probably need to take care of a few straightforward cleaning and maintenance tasks. To give your house the best chance for a quick sale, be sure to go through this checklist before you call an agent.

  1. The Carpets Aren’t Clean

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    Dirty Carpets

    Dingy, stained—or worse, smelly—carpets can kill the mood at an open house, and fast. If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, invest in having it professionally steam cleaned or rent a steamer and do the job yourself before you list your house. A simple deep cleaning goes a long way toward making a good first impression.


    Related: 7 Secrets to Keep Your Carpet Looking New

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  2. Some Interiors Need a Paint Job

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    Paint House For Sale

    It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do to brighten a space. But beyond applying a fresh coat, you also need to make sure you've picked the right colors. It's important to help potential buyers visualize themselves living in your home, so set aside your personal tastes and select paint colors that have mass appeal. Boring as they may seem, neutral colors will win the day.


    Related: 10 Paint Colors That Will Increase Your Home’s Value

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  3. You Have Too Much Clutter

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    Clean House For Sale

    Get rid of your stuff! Family photos and tchotchkes from your world travels make your home yours, but that's not a good thing during real estate showings. Those personal touches prevent home shoppers from envisioning how they could decorate the space. Style your rooms with a bare minimum of accents, then box up the rest and put them in storage.


    Related: 7 Ways to Declutter Without Throwing Anything Away

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  4. The Faucet Leaks

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    Fix Plumbing

    Before you put your house up for sale, make a list of any minor repairs that are needed and take care of them. In other words, you need to fix all those leaky faucets, noisy toilets, cracked floor tiles, and loose cabinet handles that have been irritating you for months. You may be able to live with a leaky faucet, but those kinds of nagging issues could signal to skittish potential buyers that you haven't maintained your home properly, and they may decide to look elsewhere.


    Related: The 15 Smartest and Smallest DIYs You Can Do for Your Home

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  5. The Windows Are Dirty

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    Dirty Windows

    Sunny spaces sell. But the sun can’t stream cheerily through windows if they are dirty. Wash your windows, inside and out, before you put your house on the market.


    Related: 9 Painless Ways to Keep Your Home Forever Clean

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  6. The Bushes Aren’t Trimmed

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    Curb Appeal

    Potential buyers who don't like the way a house looks from the outside aren’t going to be excited about walking in. When your house is on the market, curb appeal is of paramount importance. Do everything you can to make your landscaping look neat and appealing. Trim the bushes, get rid of the weeds, and go ahead—plant some fresh, colorful flowers . Don't let a bad first impression be the only impression your house gets to make. 

    Related: 14 Insanely Easy Curb Appeal Projects You Can Do in a Day

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  7. The Grout Is Cracked

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    Clean Grout

    While the kitchen is the most important room in your home to a prospective buyer, the bathrooms come in a close second. Ceramic tiles on the floors, walls, and tub surrounds need to look pristine. Recaulk everything, fix any chipped grout, and then clean until all the surfaces sparkle.


    Related: 10 Problems You Can Solve with Caulk

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  8. The Siding Is Moldy

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    Power Wash House

    Do yourself a favor and spend a few hundred dollars to have the exterior power-washed before putting your home up for sale. While you're at it, do the sidewalks too. You get only one chance to make that crucial first impression, and it has to be good. A flawless exterior will make house hunters eager to see what lies beyond the front door.


    Related: 10 Decisions Homeowners Never Regret

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  9. Your Closets Are Too Full

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    Overstuffed Closet

    Storage space is a big selling point, especially if your home has a lot of it. Whatever amount of storage space you have, show it to its best advantage. Reduce what you have in your closets by half, then cut it in half again. Store the extra stuff with a friend or rent a storage space to keep it out of sight while your home is open for viewings.


    Related: 21 Ways to Fake More Space Around the House

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  10. Your Interiors Are Dark

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    House Lighting

    The brighter your home is on the inside, the bigger and more welcoming it will look. So, remove any heavy drapes or curtains, and replace any burned-out light bulbs. As a matter of fact, it’s even worth investing in new, brighter bulbs. Remember, though, it’s lumens, not watts, that count. Look for the highest number of lumens in the wattage that’s appropriate for your lamps and fixtures.


    Related: 15 "Under $100" Lighting Solutions for Every Room

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  11. Seller's Guide

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    Seller's Guide

    Everyone wants a quick sale when their house is on the market, but without these fixes, the buyers won’t bite. Make these changes—and consider a few other upgrades—for a real estate boost.

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  12. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!