How to Get Your Home Ready to Sell

In my last post, I shared the news that we were moving to North Carolina for a new job. Once we made the decision to go we had to take the next big step, which was to put the house on the market.

Ready to put your house on the market? What every homeowner should do to get your home ready to sell. |

We’ve sold 6 homes during our 30 year marriage, and they’ve all sold pretty quickly, so I’ve done this enough times to know what you should do to get your home ready to sell. This isn’t about picking a great realtor or setting the right price, which are important steps to consider when selling, this is all about getting your home ready to put on the market.

front of house pic 4Before we even sign the papers for the realtor to list our house, we always go through a checklist of things to focus on to get the house ready. If you need to sell a house quickly like we did, and even if you don’t, you have to make a list of the most important things that should be done. This isn’t the time to build a deck or start a big remodel, you are just doing essentials to get on the market.

How to get your home ready to sell


  • This is probably the single most important thing you can do before you put your house on the market. It’s a great time to get rid of things that have been sitting in the basement collecting dust (hello old Christmas tree) or cluttering up the closet. Do a quick sort, you don’t want to think too much about it, and anything that hasn’t been used in a year or two, and you know you won’t use again, goes in a donation or trash pile. You need to do this in every room. Prospective buyers will come into your house and look in every closet, and even the kitchen cabinets, so you want them to look as uncluttered and neat as possible.

Cleaning up clutter is one thing that every homeowner should do to get your home ready to sell. |

Make Repairs

  • Do you have a railing that needs to be painted, kitchen cabinets that need a quick touchup or a temporary shade in a bedroom window? Now’s the time to get all of the little cosmetic jobs done that never seemed important enough to finish. Your house will be put under the microscope when buyers come through, so you want them to see your house in the best light possible.

Clean Up the Yard

  • Whatever the time of year, you should try to do what you can to make your yard look it’s best. Put away the shovel or broom that is leaning against the house and pick up the sticks scattered around your yard. This go-round, we set up the deck with our patio set and outdoor rug, even though it’s winter. You want the outside to look as good as the inside.

Cleaning up the yard is one thing that every homeowner should do to get your home ready to sell. |

Give Your House A Good Cleaning

  • Once you’ve decluttered and made necessary repairs, it’s time to give your house a thorough cleaning. That means dusting, vacuuming, cleaning all of the bathroom fixtures, cleaning dirty rugs, washing windows and dusting light fixtures (I’ve even cleaned the bulbs). Your kitchen should be spotless too. Spend the extra time to clean the oven, replace drip pans and make sure the fridge is presentable and smelling good. Remember, buyers look at (and in) everything when they come into your home, and stoves and refrigerators are not exempt from scrutiny. A bit much? Maybe. But I think that showing a clean house, even if it has some flaws, is more likely to sell than showing a dirty house.

Staging Your Home

  • One very last thing you should do before the “For Sale” sign goes up in the yard is to stage your home. Take down personal pictures, don’t forget to repair the holes, declutter countertops and tabletops and keep decoration to a minimum. I approach this step completely differently than I would if I was photographing a room for the blog. For instance, if I’m shooting the kitchen for a post, I’ll put bottles of San Pelligrino out along with a cutting board and maybe some fruit or a loaf of Italian bread.

Simplifying is one thing that every homeowner should do to get your home ready to sell. |

But, if I’m getting ready for a buyer to come through, I’ll make sure all the countertops are completely clear. You want them to see all of the awesome space they’ll have when they are cooking a meal in their new kitchen. I may add some fresh flowers or a throw on a bed, but that’s as far as I’ll go.

Keeping kitchen counters clear is one thing that every homeowner should do to get your home ready to sell. |

See the difference? Yeah, it may be a little boring but you want buyers to come into your home and see themselves in there, not you. You need to go through and do this in every room. Make them look pretty but not personal. Simple is best.

Showing Your Home in its Best Light

  • Your home is ready and it’s on the market when you get that first exciting call that someone wants to see it. There are a few things you need to do before you walk out the door to let the prospective buyer in.
    • make all the beds, clean up the bathroom and clear your kitchen counters
    • turn every light on in the house, even in the closets and basement
    • make sure your house smells it’s best, if I have fair warning I’ll light a couple of candles (just make sure you extinguish them before you leave)
    • remove pet toys and bedding (mine goes in the basement or a locked armoire, I’ve even put them in my car)
    • take your pet with you (it’s not always convenient, but not everyone likes pets)
    • lock up or take valuables with you (I pack a bag with my expensive jewelry, computer and any personal papers that are laying around)

One last look around and you’re ready to show your home knowing that it looks it’s very best.

Keeping your decor simple is one thing that every homeowner should do to get your home ready to sell. | chatfieldcourt.comWhat every homeowner should do to get your home ready to sell. | chatfieldcourt.comPutting  your home on the market is definitely stressful and a lot of work, but if you follow these simple steps to getting it ready, you may get an offer quicker than you thought. Ours went under contract less than 24 hours after it went on the market, so it is possible.

Have you ever sold your home? Do you have any tips on how to get your home ready to sell?

In case you missed it, I shared the reason why we’re moving here…


Change of Plans…

…and 7 helpful tips and tricks for moving.

7 useful moving tips and tricks that will make your move easier. |

7 Helpful Moving Tips and Tricks 




  1. Carol Rodenbaugh
    Friday,March 11, 2016 / 9:12 am

    All your tips are great. When I sold my house after 26 years I compiled a list of all the repairs I had done and the cost to do them . Over the 26 years the list was quite long and impressive and the potential buyers were all interested to see that the house had been maintained and upgraded on a regular basis. I agree with all you other tips except I also lit a fire in the fireplace and had cookies or something either baking in the oven or just baked. It gives the home a nice homey feeling and smell.
    BYW I had three serious bidders on this home in less than 3 weeks and sold it for a whole lot more than I paid for it. Congratulations again on your sale.

    • Kristi
      Monday,March 14, 2016 / 12:24 am

      Thanks! That’s a great idea with the fire and cookies, although I use candles that smell like cookies. 😉 I haven’t had a fireplace in a few years so I forgot about that. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Friday,March 11, 2016 / 9:44 am

    Wonderful tips Kristi, and knowing how lovely your home is esp. that kitchen, I’m sure your home will sell in no time! Good luck!

    • Kristi
      Monday,March 14, 2016 / 12:05 am

      Thanks so much Vel. We are under contract after 1 day on the market. We still have a few hurdles to overcome, but we’re on the right track. 😉

  3. Friday,March 11, 2016 / 9:46 am

    Great tips Kristi…and a lot of work!! I have only sold one house. I had toddlers in tow so it wasn’t easy, thankfully, like you, we sold it in under 24 hours!! Now the fun of finding a house begins. I like that process a lot better!! 🙂

    • Kristi
      Monday,March 14, 2016 / 12:12 am

      Thanks, Kim. Phew, it’s been a ton of work, especially since we are doing it so quickly. I’ve done it with toddlers and it’s something you never forget. Finding a home is the most fun part of the whole process. I could spend hours every day searching online, and sometimes I do. 😉

  4. Karen
    Friday,March 11, 2016 / 7:19 pm

    Congratulations on selling the house, and also on the great article on getting your home ready. You might want to change something though – you want the word “prospective” buyers, not “perspective” which has more to do with spatial relationships and art related subjects- how something is viewed. I’m not trying to be picky, just trying to make sure your blog is the best it can be! I always enjoy it very much. Good luck on the move.

    • Kristi
      Friday,March 11, 2016 / 7:44 pm

      Thank you, thank you, thank you, Karen, for pointing out my error. I always proofread several times but sometimes things can get overlooked. I appreciate you looking out for me and the blog. 🙂 Thank you again and I appreciate your support.

  5. Saturday,March 12, 2016 / 12:02 pm

    Thank you Kristi for all the great tips. I am going to print this out so I can use it as a check list. As I mentioned on your last post I will be putting my condo on the market in a few months. I had been debating whether to remove the old wall paper in the two bathrooms and kitchen before listing. UGH. The kitchen and guest bath are not glaringly bad. I didn’t even realize the kitchen had wall paper until the walk through before closing. LOL But, the master bath has really big peach roses. 🙁 What would you do? Good luck on the packing. So excited for you and your new adventure. Debbie

    • Kristi
      Monday,March 14, 2016 / 12:22 am

      Thanks Debbie, I’m so glad that you found it useful. I hate to say this but I would probably take it down in the bathroom if you think it’s bad (trust what your gut is telling you). You could paint over it, not something I’ve ever done but it can be done. You could also ask a realtor what she/he thinks you should do, they’re pretty honest about stuff like that. If there’s wallpaper of the same era/style in the rest of the condo, leaving it may not be a big deal. I know it’s not a cut and dry answer, sorry. I’d love to hear what you decide, and see a pic of that wallpaper. 😉

  6. Monday,March 14, 2016 / 12:24 pm

    I’m not surprised you got an offer so quickly. Your home looks wonderful! Lucky buyers.

    • Kristi
      Monday,March 14, 2016 / 1:42 pm

      Awww that’s so sweet of you, thanks! 🙂

  7. Monday,March 14, 2016 / 5:36 pm

    I am so happy for you in regards to how the puzzle pieces are all fitting together as it seems that it was meant to be but I feel sad about that kitchen…all that work. It’ll help the sell but it would have been nice to have had a few months to enjoy it prior to this, ha! 🙂

    • Kristi
      Tuesday,March 15, 2016 / 4:12 am

      I know Deb, we are both upset that we can’t enjoy all of our hard work. It’s funny how things work out sometimes. 😉

  8. Wednesday,March 16, 2016 / 8:43 am

    I’ve sold several homes. My first home (with my late husband) sold within 24 hours. We had two offers over the asking price. That was our California home, sold in 1988. Illinois wasn’t so easy. . .we were in a very small town during a very bad market. I got a job in Columbus, OH and had to leave my husband there to try to sell our house while I started my new job. We ended up renting it out for a few years and then it finally sold. That was yucky. My Columbus home was a cinch. When my neighbors found out I had remarried and was going to sell my house they offered to buy it. It was a private transaction and they paid all my closing costs. No realtor involved. Very nice. The last home was the home I owned with Dennis in Colorado. It sold pretty quickly. I used all the tips and tricks you gave here. I also took all the photographs for the real estate listing instead of having the realtor do it. The buyers said the photos made them want to see the house. What I don’t understand is listings with photos taken when the house is at its worst. Have you seen those? Junk everywhere, piles of clothes. What are they thinking?

    • Kristi
      Thursday,March 17, 2016 / 1:25 am

      Wow, Nancy, it sounds like you know how to sell a house too! We’ve had similar ups and downs when selling, big downs when the market is bad, but preparing your house is always a plus. And those messy house pics you see with some listings? It’s unbelievable that there are people that don’t bother to clean up when the listing pictures are going to be taken. Like you, I always wonder what they’re thinking when they do that, and what kind of realtor would work with them.

      Thanks for stopping in my friend. Hope you have a great weekend!

  9. Bonnie @ Our Secondhand House
    Friday,March 18, 2016 / 3:19 pm

    This is a great article. I wish more people knew these things. We looked a many houses when we were buying that looked like they weren’t really interested in selling. When a house has junk piled everywhere, it’s hard to look past it and see the house itself. I would love for you to share this at the Friday Favorites link party going on now.

    • Kristi
      Saturday,March 19, 2016 / 1:33 am

      Thanks, Bonnie. I’ve looked at a lot of houses that were a mess too. You’ve got to wonder what they are thinking, right? Thanks for the invite to your party. I’ll definitely pop on over.

  10. Sandra
    Sunday,December 11, 2016 / 7:07 pm

    I will move before I list the house. Should I have the house staged rather then leave it empty. I have concerns about my own pictures,some online are terrible. Thanks for your help

    • Kristi
      Monday,December 12, 2016 / 1:36 am

      Hi Sandra. I’m not a real estate expert, but I think that having your house furnished, or staged, would be great idea when you sell your house. It could be helpful if you want to sell it quickly and for the best price.

      Best of luck on your move.

  11. Patricia Wainer
    Wednesday,January 11, 2017 / 1:03 pm

    Hi, Kristi; my home is a charming pseudo-Victorian farmhouse w/wrap porch whose Ionic column bases are beginning to rot.Structually, they are sound;I know I will disclose; should I paint anyway? Popcorn ceilings in most rooms show water damage(2 story H20 disasters)should I paint or just disclose as with columns?Same with over garage. House is 34 y/o; Have raised 4 sons,1spec. Needs daughter & husband disabled 10 yrs ago? Thanks so much. Pat in Neptune Beach F

    • Kristi
      Thursday,January 12, 2017 / 8:33 pm

      Hi Pat. Thanks so much for your questions. I’ve sent an email to the address you registered with.

  12. Natalie Powers
    Wednesday,March 1, 2017 / 3:00 pm

    My husband and I are getting ready to sell our home. Our deck is not in the best of shape. Would it be worth it to replace before we list it?

    • Kristi
      Sunday,March 5, 2017 / 11:40 pm

      That’s a tough question to answer, Natalie. There are a lot of factors that you need to consider like age of the deck, condition, what you want to sell your house for…

      I think your best bet would be to ask a local realtor. They should be able help you make the right decision. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

      Best of luck with the sale of your home.

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