You don't need to spend a lot of money getting your house ready for sale. Most of your effort should go into cleaning, repairing and donating items you no longer need. Spend as little money as possible, and spend it on cosmetic items like interior painting that will refresh your look and appeal to new buyers. The list of things to be done can seem overwhelming but take it one step at a time. Break it down to manageable-sized chores and you’ll have better results.
First things first – decide what furniture and household items you aren't taking with you. Have a garage sale and then donate whatever doesn’t sell. Pare down the furniture and decorative items in your house to a minimum. It will make your rooms seem bigger and allow buyers to focus on what they are buying. Start packing personal photos and other decorative items that will make the move with you. Once the clutter is cleared away, it will be easier to see what else needs to be done.
Entry and Front Lawn
You only get one chance to make a good first impression so focus on the front of your house first. Your buyer will most likely hire a house inspector so you will save time addressing repairs now and have the benefit of having your house look well-maintained.
• Put a bright coat of paint on your mailbox. Fix or replace any broken house numbers.
• Spring for some brightly colored potted outdoor flower arrangements for the front yard near the entrance.
• Make sure the porch light works.
• Buy a new welcome mat.
• Clean or repaint your front door.
• Buy a new welcome mat.
• If the doorbell doesn’t work, repair or replace it.
• Edge, mow and fertilize the lawn regularly. Make sure it’s well watered and reseed any sparse areas.
• Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly. Cut back or remove overgrown shrubbery that looks scraggly or keeps light out of the house.
• Power wash your siding or brick. If your exterior is painted in strong colors, consider repainting in a neutral shade. This is especially important if there is any peeling.
• Clean and align gutters and downspouts.
• Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling, and reseal if possible.
• Inspect and clean the chimney.
• Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
• Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
• Keep your garage door closed. Remove oil stains from driveway and garage and repair broken outdoor steps.
• If you’re selling in the winter, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice.Otherwise, keep the walks and driveway swept.
Nothing turns a buyer off more quickly than a dirty house. If prospective buyers walk into your house greeted by the smell of cat litter, mildrew, cigarette smoke, or pet accidents, there is little chance that even a reduced sales price will persuade them to buy. So the first thing to do is clean. This includes walls, floors, inside of closets and cabinets – everything. If you must, hire a cleaning service to come in and do the job.
• Remove worn or unattractive furniture, particularly if the room seems crowded. Less is more when you are selling a house.
• Buyers will open your closets, cabinets and drawers so make sure the contents are neatly arranged and lubricate any squeaking doors and cabinets.
• Put away appliances you normally leave on countertops. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter.
• Clean out your garage, basement and attic. Buyers like to see storage space and if yours is at capacity it will make your house seem too small.
• Remove wallpaper and borders that are 15 years or older. Consider repainting strong, bold color choices using a neutral color – off white or beige.
• Shampoo all carpets, scrub and wax linoleum, wash and wax wood floors.
• Repair cracks, holes and damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.
• Wash the windows inside and out and replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings and other woodwork.
• Clean out all window tracks. Mend torn screens. Check to see that all windows will open and close.
• Make sure all your light switches work and all of your fixtures have working lightbulbs. Use brighter lightbulbs for the best results.
• Thoroughly clean all appliances (especially refrigerator and oven).
• Replace old toilet seats and shower curtains and liners. Hang a white shower curtain and bath towels if possible.
• Repair dripping faucets and showerheads. Unclog slowly draining sinks and tubs.
• Clean out the fireplace and lay some fresh logs in it. Consider plants if it's summer time.
• Clear all cobwebs from corners and doorways.
• Wipe down all light switches, handrails and doorknobs and door frames.
On Showing Days
• Keep draperies, blinds and shades open to let in the light.
• Avoid cooking food with strong odors while your house is on the market.
• Clear away dirty dishes and keep countertops clear of clutter so buyers can appreciate the counter space to prepare meals.
• Have your home well-lit during showing.
• At night, turn on porch light and outdoor lighting in back if you have it.
• Place fresh flowers throughout the house.
• Keep any toys neatly put away.
• Spend the day of an open house away from home.