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8 Important Things To Do Before Listing Your House

Updated: Jul 4, 2021

There's a lot to think about once you decide it's time to sell your house. Just moving is stressful, but when you add in all of the details required to sell a house and buy a new one, it's easy to get overwhelmed on where to start.

That's why one of the top questions we get as real estate agents is, "What do I do before I list my house?"

After all, we all know it's the details that can really sway buyers to put in those offers and start a bidding war to win that dream home.

Since we have already shared the larger home improvements that you can make to add value to your home, we'll be focusing on the little projects and tasks you'll need to do to get your home list ready before home staging.

These things can be easily overlooked, but make a big difference in preparing your home to be listed, so that it can sell fast and, hopefully, over ask.

How To Prepare Your Home To Be Listed:

1. Walk Your Home Like a Buyer:

sell my house

It's time to get critical. Get your clipboard and start all the way at the edge of your front yard and walk in as if you are seeing it for the first time. Imagine you are walking the home like a buyer who is looking for their next home. Write down everything negative that stands out to you or things that take your attention away from the better features. Fight the urge to stop and pick things up or get distracted.

It's amazing what you'll notice when you take a step back and really pay attention. If you find that you're not able to be objective, ask an honest friend or neighbor to do this for you.

Or, start by going out and walking some model homes near you or other properties you're interested in. Once you start to see the way other homes on the market look, you'll come home with a fresh, new perspective on your own home. Take note of anything that stands out, like stains on the walls or overgrown hedges in the backyard. Write down any glaring differences in finishes from your house and the others you visited or distracting decor that takes your attention away from the architecture.

2. Declutter and De-Personalize:

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Very few of us decorate our homes like a designer. For most, our homes showcase our lifestyle, complete with family photos on the wall and piles of sports equipment in the closet.

You want potential buyers to imagine the life that they could have in your home - rather than feel like they are just trespassing on your property. Nothing can ruin that daydream like piles of clutter in every room or a huge collection of wigs on display in the closet.

If you are moving because your family is bursting at the seams and have outgrown your current home, consider boxing up as many things as you can and renting a short-term storage facility. This will allow you to remove clutter and personal items, while also helping you move in stages.

3. Freshen Up the Paint:

sell my house

You'll probably see this advice again and again - but one of the best updates you can make is a fresh coat of neutral paint throughout your home. This is especially true if you've recently pulled a lot of frames and decor off the walls.

If you don't want to invest in the whole house, definitely repaint rooms that have bold paint, really old paint or busy wall decor. If you've ever had the pleasure of trying to get someone's really old wallpaper removed or paint over that chocolate brown bathroom, you know why buyers are more attracted to homes with fresh paint.

4. Remove or Update Window Coverings:

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Another area where you can make a big impact quickly and affordably is window coverings. Look at your drapes and blinds. Are they old, discolored or damaged? Get those off the walls, STAT. Do you have patterned or dated designs? They've got to go! What about heavy, dark movie theatre drapes because you can only sleep if it's pitch black? Ditch those drapes!

Even if you just replace them with bright white sheers that let in tons of light or affordable drapes from Home Depot, they'll help breathe life into the space, make it appear larger and allow potential buyers to imagine what they would do with those windows.

5. Address Any Smells:

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You may not think anything smells, but all of our homes have a smell. Some homes have multiple smells as you walk the home. Just because you don't notice, it doesn't mean your buyer won't.

Now is the time to properly air out your home, let the fresh air in, remove anything old and dingy, like old carpets, and do a deep cleaning wherever pets hang out.

Also, consider investing in non-toxic candles and air fresheners that will help you get rid of any lingering smells and give your home a more neutral palette. Plus, lightly scented and lit candles placed carefully in key areas of the house create a warm glow and inviting atmosphere that buyers will love.

6. Fix Any Issues:

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You know that sticky kitchen cabinet with the broken hinge? Time to fix it. Never hid those wires sticking out of the wall? Get rid of them. Think like an inspector and go through your house like a handyman (or even WITH a handyman) and start taking care of those pesky little repairs that we all have, especially if we've lived somewhere for awhile.

It's much easier to make these repairs prior to a potential buyer requesting a bunch of inspections. Plus, you might even attract a few hungry buyers who start a bidding war.

7. Spruce Up The Exterior:

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It's time to give your home a little extra curb appeal. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:

  • Clean up the landscaping

  • Freshen up the bark

  • Power wash walkways, rocks and exterior

  • Test and replace any broken sprinklers or drips

  • Clean up the garage

  • Keep yards clean and freshly mowed (or hire a landscaper to do it for you)

  • Consider planting fresh flowers in highly visible places

Put some effort into the backyard as well, so buyers can imagine all of the memories they'll make there with their own family and loved ones.

8. Consider Thoughtful Touches:

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If you're investing in staging, this will probably be taken care of. But, if you're setting it up to list on your own or just wanting to add some special touches after staging, here are some great ideas to get you started:

  • Add decor to make the bathrooms feel spa-like

  • Use pops of color to draw the eye

  • Add fresh flowers or fruit and light candles in the kitchen

  • Make sure every room is clean, bright and smells good

  • Organize cabinets and closets

  • Make all beds and fluff pillows

This is just a starting point. Check out our free ebook on staging every room in your house. If you're hiring stagers, this guide will give you an idea of what you should be expecting from them, too.


Selling your home can be stressful. We hope these tips will give you something to start with as you begin the process of preparing your home to list.

And, be sure to ask your realtor for help, too! We are always happy to help our clients prep their home to maximize their investment and then get into their dream home.

If you're in the Sacramento area, reach out. We love working with new clients. Give us a call at: 916.524.9733 or follow us on Instagram @enyarthomes.

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