4 Ways to Prepare Your Home Before a Sale

Preparing a home to be sold is a lot of work. Here’s what you need to do and how you can avoid it.

Selling your home is a big decision that typically requires a lot of preparation. Unless you’ve anticipated moving out as you move in, there’s often a lot to do to get your house ready for potential buyers to see. It’s never as simple as tidying up, and then there’s the potential hassle of being on-call for home views. Here’s how to simplify it.

#1: Live like you’re ready to move

One way to minimize the work that goes into preparing your home for market is to live in it like you want to sell it. Even if you’ve just moved in, start thinking through ways to make it easier to move out. While this may sound counterintuitive, here are a few strategies to consider.

Maintain curb appeal

Keeping your lawn and landscaping nice and trim throughout the time you live in your home is a worthwhile endeavor. You want your home to look nice, and people’s impressions start as soon as they drive up. Consider having a welcome mat and plant flowers to add a homey touch. You may want to cycle in regular pressure washing on the outside of your windows and the house itself.

Handle repairs quickly

Even if you don’t think that a running toilet or crack in the wall is a big deal, small problems get bigger. Addressing repairs as you notice them, rather than waiting for them to become an inconvenience, is not only good for your home, but for your wallet as well. Even if it’s something you know you can live with, the next owners might see it as a major issue. Being proactive about maintaining your home to operate at its highest level is beneficial for everyone.

Deep clean every now and then

Nobody likes to deep clean, but doing it on occasion can extend the life of many things within your home. It doesn’t have to happen frequently, but on a regular schedule, consider tackling ovens, stovetops, and carpets with a little extra elbow grease to maintain top appearance and functionality.

For more tips and information on home care, check out our recent article series:

#2: Prep your home for listing

Living like you’re going to move can decrease the amount of work you have to do to list your home, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Preparing to sell means spending a significant amount of time cleaning, decluttering, and staging. Outsourcing these activities is costly, but doing them yourself can take a lot of time away from finding your new home. It’s hard to decide which way is best, but the work must get done.

Declutter everywhere

Clutter takes on a new definition when you’re preparing to sell your home. It’s not just about putting away the piles that have grown throughout your home. It’s a major project that involves depersonalizing and thinning out your stuff. The less you have on shelves, in closets and cabinets, and on countertops, the larger your home feels. The fewer personal items, like family photos, you have out, the easier it is for potential buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. No area is safe when it comes to decluttering, which is why this is such a time-consuming activity. Make sure you check everywhere, and remove whatever you can, packing it up and storing it out of sight.

You have to clean too

Once the clutter is gone, you’ll have a better idea of how much dust has really accumulated in your home. It’s time to clean. This means more than just wiping down surfaces. You want to take some time to organize the areas in your home, so everything is neatly put away. This means tackling obvious areas like your kids’ playroom, but also looking at the inside of your fridge and all your cabinets. If you find it hard to organize a space, you might need to pack up a few more items.

Bright and light is your staging mantra

Decluttered and clean, it’s now time to stage your home. That’s right, the way you’ve been living in it might not be right to attract potential buyers. Using the mantra, “light and bright” will maximize the potential for each room. Keep curtains open and dust fixtures to allow as much light in as possible. You may also have the arduous task of thinning out furniture if there’s simply too much in a room. Less furniture makes your home look bigger, and it’s not uncommon for people to remove around half of their existing furniture when they’re ready to list their home. This means the added cost of moving and storing your items, even if it’s for a short time.

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#3: Capture everything in photos

At this point, your home should be photo-ready for your listing. Hiring someone to take the pictures is costly, so you may want to do this yourself if your realtor doesn’t offer the service. Positioning yourself in each room to get the perfect picture isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ll need to take a lot of photos from multiple angles. The goal is to capture the most spacious view of each room without misrepresenting what you have in your home. This time-consuming process can have you crammed into corners, climbing up and down ladders, and stressing out about details like natural light and furniture placement.

The work isn’t over once you’ve gotten all the pictures taken. The next step is to select the best and give them a little touch-up. Crop out anything that doesn’t add to the picture, like taking the dog’s head out of that perfect shot of your bedroom. You may also need to adjust light balance and contrast.

In addition to pictures, you might want to consider adding a 3D walkthrough of your home. According to Matterport, 90 percent of buyers say they’d feel more compelled to check out a listing with a 3D tour. While there are a lot of benefits to adding this feature into your listing, it’s also a lot of work. With the help of an app, you can do this yourself, but it takes a lot of time, and some extra equipment to get a smooth and professional-looking tour.

#4: Sell your home with less effort

With all of this work complete, it’s now finally time to list your home. There’s a sense of relief, until you realize you still have to maintain the level of cleanliness you’ve worked so hard to create while still living in the home. Add to that the stress of leaving at a moment’s notice when a potential buyer wants to come tour, and it may not really be worth your time to even sell.

Luckily, there are alternatives that remove all of the work. Sundae can help you sell your home as-is. You won’t have to clean or repair anything. A Sundae Market Expert can come and explain the benefit of selling to an investor on our marketplace.

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Kyle Spearin

Kyle is Sundae's Real Estate Editor. As both an investor and content marketing professional, Kyle combines his passion for real estate investing and educational background with his love of helping others. His experience with real estate tech companies, including contributing to BiggerPockets Pro, gives him insight into markets across the United States.