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The Ultimate 30-Day Guide to Preparing Your Home For Sale

Follow these tips to ensure your home shows it's best!

Day 1: Prepare the Paperwork

It doesn’t matter if you are going to try selling your home on your own or hire me to do it for you.   Realtors and potential buyers are going to ask a lot of questions about your home including things like utility costs, square footage, size of the property and so on.  Start gathering the paperwork now!  Documents like tenancy agreements, property tax forms, survey certificates, copies of your title, utility bill history, appliance manuals, home warranty information and so on.

Day 2: Update Your Lighting

Burned out light bulbs will not make your home shine as bright as possible. Adequate lighting makes a huge difference in how a home looks to potential Buyers. If you have outdated light fixtures (like the orange tinted shade in the basement hallway), consider replacing some of the ones in key locations.  This is something I am able to assist you with.

Day 3: Get Boxes or Storage Box Delivered on Site

If you’re planning on moving, now is a good time to arrange for some boxes to be available.  You’re going to want to declutter your home when it is listed for sale. Better yet, consider UPak Mobile Storage containers.   They allow you to pack your items in them up at your house.  When they’re full, they get carted away and securely stored at their site.  When you’re ready for them to return, they’re delivered to your new home when you move in.

Day 4: De-clutter the Basement, Crawlspace and Garage

In most cases, this will take longer than one day. Like me, these areas can become filled with items that were long forgotten.  You’re going to need some of these spaces to use as a staging area for your clutter purge so now is a good time to start making space and clearing out unwanted items.   

Day 5: The Living Room

Now the fun begins!  Look around the room and start packing away items that are personal to you and your family.  Things like family photos and the funny looking heirloom from great grandma.   It’s difficult for potential buyers to imagine themselves living in your home when there are photos of your entire family looking at them.  If necessary, clean your couch and chairs. Hide the books and magazines and all the clutter that has accumulated. Try to minimize the wires from your TV/stereo/speakers.

Day 6: The Bathrooms

Remove all the toiletries you have on display. Invest in some fresh white towels, maybe a new soap dish or shower curtain.  Consider some minor repairs to things like missing tub caulking, dripping faucets.   If the bathroom has a linen closet, start packing away some of the items in there to give a sense of available storage space.

Day 7: Declutter the Kitchen

Do not skimp on the kitchen.   This is one of the most important rooms in the home that Buyers look at. Remove nearly every appliance from your counter as you want them to be as clear as possible. Wipe down the inside all the cupboards.  Don’t cram all your dishes and food back in – be selective on which dishes you need out while you’re selling your home.  Pack the other ones away because again, you want Buyers to see your kitchen has enough storage for their stuff. Clean the shelves in the fridge, remove the magnets, chore list and photos from the door. Clean your stove and oven and pack away your alcohol. When it gets closer to having people view your home, a bouquet of fresh flowers is recommended.

Day 8: The Bedrooms

Invest in a neutral-colored duvet cover and some new pillows. Remove family photos, trinkets and personal grooming products if you have an ensuite. Clean out the closets consider donating unwanted items. Off season clothing should be packed away.  If the floors are cold, get an area rug.   Oversized furniture should be considered for off-site storage.

Day 9: Dining Room

If your home is like mine, you’ll need to put away the kids’ homework and art projects that have accumulated on the table. Start emptying the hutch. Invest in a new tablecloth to hide an ugly table.

Day 10: Linen Closets and Storage Spaces

Buyers will open your closets. In fact, one of my properties was a hard sell because it lacked closet space so make sure you give the impression of ample storage space.  Buyers and Realtors will look in your cupboards. Take the time to pack away what you don’t need in the immediate future.

Day 11: Throw Away, Donate and Pack Away

Consider donating to local charities like the Women in Need store or Salvation Army.  Items that can be recycled should be.  If you are clearing out a home with decades of clutter, creating a throw away pile inside a garage or rear yard is a great idea as it can be picked up all at once by a disposal company when the time is right.   Have a cluttered home that you need empty?  I can take care of all the headaches for you in regards to having it emptied so you don’t have to.

Day 12: Entry and Foyer

Statistically, Buyers will know within 60 seconds of entering a home whether or not they like it.   Their experience at the entry is so important. It should be clean, de-cluttered and inviting.  Put away all the unused pairs of shoes and thin down the number of winter coats in the closet.  If you don’t have a closet, make sure this space isn’t cluttered with overused coat hooks or bench seats being used as coat storage.

Day 13: Lose Your Emotional Attachments

That stings, doesn’t it?   Your house needs to appeal to as many Buyers as possible.  As mentioned before, they can picture their own stuff in your house with all your family photos, souvenirs from your travels and other personal items starring back at them.  Try to view every room in your house as a Buyer.  

Day 14: Contact Me so We Can Talk

If we haven’t already met, today is the day.  I can list your home for sale within 24 hours, but typically I would like around two weeks to schedule photos, measurements and prepare the marketing plan.  I will also arrange, if you want, for a pre-listing home inspection to be done so we have a checklist of items that we can either work on ahead of listing to obtain top dollar or to assist us with pricing and negotiations.  Drop me a line here.

Day 15: Make an Extra Set of Keys

I will need to provide controlled lock box access to your home.  Other Realtors and their Buyers will need to access your home, so you’ll need an extra set of keys.

Day 16: Paint Touch-ups

A fresh coat of paint is one of the cheapest ways to freshen up your home. Of course, in a lot of cases, this isn’t something a Seller wants to undertake.  However, bold colors can be a turn-off so to appeal to the most Buyers possible, take the time to re-paint that red bedroom and blue bathroom is something to consider.  The lighter the color, the larger small spaces will appear.

Day 17: Make Some Repairs 

Remember that pre listing inspection I want to schedule?  Now’s the time to take care of some minor nuisances like the leaky faucet, the door that sticks and so on. As a licensed home inspector, I can provide you with my opinion on items that should be addressed if you are not wanting a formal pre listing inspection (even though I will cover the cost).  Don’t worry if you aren’t handy, I am.  I also know a number of qualified tradespeople who can help you.

Day 18: Window Cleaning

Grab your bucket and brush and get scrubbing.  Time to remove the kid handprints from the glass along with the leftover wet dog nose imprints.

Day 19: Front Yard and Landscaping

You only get one chance to make a first impression!  Stand on the sidewalk and have a look at your front yard.  What do you see? Clean any scuff marks off the front door, touch-up the chipped paint or consider giving it a fresh coat. If you have a front porch, make it look inviting by purchasing a few seasonal planter boxes. Trim back and clean up the garden. Make sure your outdoor lights work.

Day 20: Rear and Side Yard

If you’re planning on selling in the spring or summer, clean up the garden areas, mow the lawn, trim trees and bushes as needed, wash or restain the deck and if you have patio furniture, make sure it isn’t shabby looking.  Items such as bicycles, rubble or compost piles and other outdoor items should be disposed of or put in to storage.

Day 21: Have Carpets?  Are They Clean? 

Unless your carpets are brand new, you’ll want to have them professionally cleaned or consider doing them yourself.

 Day 22: Don’t Forget About Other Floor Coverings

Pay attention to the corners and nooks where your mop or floor brush can’t reach. If the wood floors are scratched. Consider touching them up with one of the many stain and repair products out there at the local hardware store.

Day 23: Walls and Doors

If your walls and doors are scuffed, try using a product like the Magic Eraser.  Dirt stains around light switches should be washed down and touch up any noticeable marks with paint. If your wall art needs a refresh, head down to Home Sense or Marshalls and purchase some affordable wall hangings.

Day 24: Get a Pre-listing Home Inspection (for FREE)

While it’s not good to be caught off guard during the review of offers, you may want to educate yourself with the condition of the home before you list it. You can either fix the problems ahead of listing, or we can factor it into the asking price.  I will pay for the cost of this inspection up to $600.

Day 25: Make Plans for the Family (including the ones with 4+ legs)

If you have kids, try to put away most of their toys and empty the Diaper Genie.   Make a plan to get your dogs out of the house.  Prefer cats?   They’re easier to handle but make sure their box is clean.  If they are indoor only, let me know so we can ensure they don’t escape during showings.

Day 26: Staging

If you have decided to bring in a professional Stager, they’re likely ready to start the process. They’ll want to reposition your furniture and use accessories and colors to enhance your home’s living space. In some homes where space is challenging or has recently become vacant, professional stagers can help your home sell faster and for more money in a lot of cases.

Day 27: What’s That Smell? 

If you’re a dog owner, wash any furniture or beds where the dog sleeps. You may not smell him anymore, but Buyers will. Tuck the cat’s litter box away and clean it daily. Use of an ozone machine ahead of listing may be a good idea if the home has been unoccupied for some time.  

Day 28: The Final Clean

If you’ve followed this list so far, you’re almost ready to have your listing go live!  You’re probably pretty worn out by now as well. I prefer it if professional cleaners are brought in, but if you are confident in your cleaning skills, make sure to clean all the spots you don’t normally get to like baseboards, light fixtures, etc.

Day 29: Photography and Marketing Production

Now that your home is de-cluttered, cleaned and smells good, it’s time for my photographer to take photos and design floor plans. This will happen a few days before we list your home for sale and may include a virtual tour or video.  I’ll want to have this work done during daylight hours so we’ll need to coordinate access together.

Day 30: The Final Inspection

Well, how did we do?   Is there anything that might distract or turn off a Buyer?  Have a friend or neighbor pop over for their opinion.  As long as you’re satisfied with your hard work, it looks like we’re ready to go live with the listing and wait for offers to flood in!

MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.