10 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale

If your goal is to sell your home for top dollar, you'll want to appeal to the broadest set of prospective buyers.  To do so, your home should feel welcoming, sparkling clean, and well-cared-for.  Additionally, you want your home to feel like a fresh slate.  If a prospective buyer can easily envision herself in your space, she'll be more likely to make an offer.  Follow these ten steps to preparing your home for sale and you'll be signing on the dotted line in no time.

Deep Clean

Time to shine!  If your home feels clean, it will feel well cared for, which will set a positive tone for prospective buyers.  Wipe down every surface, even the inside of cabinets and the tops of ceiling fans.  Scour and shine your kitchen appliances.  And scrub that grout!

Declutter

Clearing your home of clutter will allow the architectural features of your home - ceiling lines, windows, fireplaces, etc. - to do the talking.  Clear countertops of paperwork piles.  Start packing knick knacks and collections.  Corral the kids' toys.  Clear the fridge of reminders, artwork and notes.

Organize Closets

If you think everything behind doors is off limits, think again.  Prospective buyers are curious.  They'll open it all, revealing everything you've stashed away.  If you need to, rent a storage pod to clear out excess.  Organized closets and cabinets set the tone that you have cared for the home.  

Depersonalize

Removing your personal items allows prospective buyers to imagine their own things in your home.  You cherish your photo wall, for example, but it may be distracting for others.  This is also a good step to help protect your privacy.

FRESHEN THE AIR

Avoid any strong smells - from the morning's breakfast bacon to floral scent diffusers.  Lilies may be your favorite flower but an allergy hazard for someone coming in the door.  Open your windows while you clean to freshen the air and even consider a few house plants to help keep your air clean.

Tone IT Down

... especially when it comes to wall paint.  The green bathroom may look fabulous with your furnishings but odds are it won't be quite right for your buyer.  And you don't want "paint" to end up on a list of the prospective buyer's to-dos or objections.  Whether your home features bright and fun colors, or rich and deep ones, consider taking all walls to a buyer-friendly neutral color.  

BRIGHTEN IT UP

Pull back the drapes and open the blinds.  Let natural light flow as much as possible.  And where natural light doesn't pull enough weight, add artificial sources.  Aim to have three sources of light (overhead, table and window, for example) in larger rooms.

ADD Curb Appeal

Take a look at your home from the street or curb: does it feel welcoming?  Cared for?  Little things, like a pretty doormat or wreath on the door, can freshen up the look.   

Landscaping

Weed, trim, plant, repeat.  Put down organic fertilizer and start watering regularly to help green the grass.  Add mulch in bare spots.  Add color with flowers.

Minor Repairs

It may feel like a waste of money to fix a leak in a home you're leaving.  But it will likely save you money to have minor repairs taken care of before you list your home.  The longer the list of inspection items, the more weary a prospective buyer will get... and the more thoroughly they'll hunt for other issues.  At a minimum: touch up paint, fix leaks, and fill in caulk where needed.