Preparing Your Home To Sell

alpharetta real estate

preparing home to sellWhen you decide to sell your house, there are a many cosmetic things you can do that will improve your success. These are often things that you are “too close” to see. When you live in a home items that are often obvious to outsiders are “invisible” to the you.

If you are working with a real estate agent, he or she will tell you what needs to be addressed before placing your home on the market. You might also ask your most honest friend to come and give an impartial once-over to determine areas you need to work on before placing your house on the market.

Remember, any house will sell – in any condition – but the items listed here will positively affect your sales price and will help you sell it faster.

Jeff’s Note: If you don’t have the time, desire, or money to invest in all of the following items, you should at least do the cleaning items, go over the entryway list, and order a full yard service.

Outside Considerations:

  • Wash all exterior windows
  • Pressure wash any shutters and gutters in need of cleaning
  • Pressure wash any concrete and deck surfaces with algae deposits or other stains and wash or sweep off the sidewalk and the section where the street and sidewalk meet to remove all debris
  • Once clean, treat and seal any decking
  • Order or perform a full yard service (mow, edge, trim the lawn)
  • Fertilize and water the yard to make it lush and green
  • Freshen up bedding material (pine straw is one of the most inexpensive sprucing elements available)
  • Review your landscaping and be sure all hedges are trimmed and plantings are properly maintained
  • Prune any trees that are touching or closely overhanging the house
  • Remove any dead or diseased plants and/or trees from the yard
  • Cut back or remove any ivy, vines, or plants clinging to the sides of the house
  • Clean gutters and roof
  • Evaluate and replace any damaged windows
  • Replace damaged window screens
  • Replace mailbox and doorbell if they are in poor condition
  • Check for dry rotted wood and trim, replace and paint as needed
  • Free any windows painted shut
  • If obviously needed, have the house painted
  • Replace and paint any damaged siding
  • Straighten and organize any personal belongings and furnishings outdoors and remove any that aren’t necessary
  • Straighten and stack any firewood and ensure that it is an appropriate distance from the house
  • If you have an outbuilding, be sure it’s neat and organized and throw away anything you don’t need
  • Park any “extra” cars away from your house (especially important if the house is small)

Jeff’s Note: Often, you can improve the curb appeal of your home by removing a tree or two in the front yard to “open up” the view of the house. If they can’t see it, you can’t sell it. Most sellers are resistant to cutting tress, but the more curb appeal you have, the less time it takes to sell.

Exterior Entryway

  • Sweep the entry way
  • Replace the front mat
  • Polish and/or replace the door hardware and kick plate
  • It’s critical that the lock and deadbolt function smoothly because problems here will make it difficult for agents to show your home and a door that requires struggling will not impress a potential buyer (this can often be fixed with a tube of graphite from your local hardware store)
  • Remove any spider webs, dust and dirt from the entryway
  • Wash any glass portions of the porch light(s)
  • Wash all painted surfaces on and around the door
  • If you haven’t painted this area in the last two years, paint it
  • Add a touch of color with flowering potted plants


  • Replace all burned-out light bulbs and brighten your home with 75 watt (or higher) bulbs throughout (safety pre-caution: be sure the fixtures are rated for this wattage)
  • If you use air freshener, stick with light, natural scents (avoid heavy scents which may bother some potential buyers)
  • Remove all clutter from surfaces and remove excessive photos, magazines, collections, etc
  • Throw away, donate or pack away any unnecessary personal items
  • If your home is too full, consider packing what isn’t essential and moving it into rental storage while you sell your home
  • Organize and clean out closets to make them appear larger
  • Remove selected pieces of furniture if needed to make rooms appear larger
  • Lubricate hinges to prevent door squeaks
  • Use Elmer’s glue to reseal any raised or separating wallpaper seams
  • Tighten any loose hardware on doors, cabinets, etc
  • Make sure your hinges and strike-plates align so all doors latch properly (if they don’t, most home inspectors will notice this)
  • Service the heat and air
  • Stretch carpet if necessary
  • Check for and repair or replace any plumbing that leaks or faucets that drip
  • Ensure all active leaks, which have made ceiling stains are addressed, then seal and repaint
  • Remove any items that will not be for sale (special light fixtures, etc)

Jeff’s Note: Having the heat exchange cleaned and serviced, prevents the inspector from making comments that may put doubts in a potential buyers mind on the condition of the furnace. If it’s clean and well maintained, the buyer will feel confident.


  • Remove all unnecessary small appliances from surfaces (this is especially important if you have a small kitchen)
  • If you have older linoleum, tile or wooden floors, consider waxing the floor (even if its a “no wax” type)
  • Remove refrigerator magnets and remove all items from the top of the refrigerator
  • Clean inside, outside and tops of all appliances (pay particular attention to the microwave, refrigerator and oven)
  • Clean the fronts of all cabinets and the “kick plates” under kitchen cabinets
  • Clean and organize underneath the kitchen sink
  • Clean the areas behind and underneath all appliances
  • Scour sinks and clean the edge of the sink (where it joins the cabinets) with an old toothbrush


  • Use a lightly scented air freshener in this room
  • Clean the fronts of all cabinets
  • Clean around toilet and edges of all floors and wax them
  • Clean mirrors, sink and tub/shower
  • Clean shower deposits on shower surrounds and corners of tubs
  • Repair any faulty toilet mechanism
  • Re-grout tile if in poor condition
  • Replace and/or renew caulk in bathrooms
  • Tighten/repair the bolts on toilets (do not over tighten or you may break the porcelain)
  • Be sure all linens on display are neat, clean and in good repair


  • Clean all light fixtures including blades on ceiling fans
  • Clean out fireplace, and put in fresh logs
  • Clean the walls and trim to remove any fingerprints, marks, etc (paint if necessary)
  • Remove all globes and light fixture accessories and clean thoroughly
  • Clean the blinds throughout the house and wash or dry-clean curtains
  • Dust all baseboards and the top of all woodwork (over doors, windows, etc)
  • Clean and polish all light switch plates
  • Clean all ductwork vents
  • Have carpet professionally cleaned (have it replaced if stained or substantially worn)

Jeff’s Note: Before selling your home, you will need to clean like you have never cleaned before. This can be such a time consuming task, you may want to hire a cleaning company. Most potential buyers will associate clutter and dust with a failure to maintain a home.

See what other buying and selling checklists can help your real estate ventures go smoothly.