Setting the Stage

Three words best describe home preparation: clean, bright and uncluttered.

Proper home preparation is crucial to an efficient and successful home sale. Follow these tips and advice to make sure your home is ready to impress potential buyers.

1 – Clean

Make Your Home Shine

Follow these tips to help make sure your home shines its brightest.

  • Clean upholstery and polish wood surfaces. Clean, neat, well-kept rooms make a good impression and show your home in a favorable light.
  • Clean carpets and remove spots.
  • Clean walls and wax woodwork.
  • Clean, wax and polish all hard surface floors.
  • Clean windows inside and out – glass, frames and ledges.
  • Clean draperies and open to maximize natural light.
  • Clean bathrooms thoroughly – floors, walls, fixtures and tiles.
  • Clean kitchen ceiling, cabinets, appliances and fixtures. Wax and polish kitchen floor.
  • Clean attic, garage and other storage areas.
  • Clean closets and hang clothes neatly. Store shoes, luggage and other articles neatly.
  • Clean your swimming pool until it sparkles.

2 – Bright

Paint. Refinish. Upgrade.

What are today’s hot trends in home amenities? Actually, they vary from one part of the country to the next. Hardwood floors are a popular feature as long as they are in good condition. Ceramic tile is desirable as long as the style is relatively modern. Outdated wallpaper is a hard sell for most homes, so removing it could be worth the effort.

So the question is, should you improve, upgrade, renovate or paint? Probably yes to all in varying degrees.

  • Paint your ceilings. Many buyers pay close attention to ceilings looking for telltale cracks, water stains and the last century “popcorn” spray applications.
  • Paint floor-to-ceiling wood paneling. This type of wood paneling has fallen from favor, unless it is architecturally or historically significant. Removing or painting it a neutral color will help modernize the room.
  • Consider small improvements to kitchens and bathrooms. Would a new faucet make the kitchen enticing? Will a new light fixture brighten the space?
  • Consider "home staging" professionals. Worth the investment if selling quickly is a must. Home staging is all about creating illusions to make your home warmer, bigger, more loving and desirable.
  • Examine your home through a buyer's eyes. Make the necessary improvements based on that perspective, and the recommendations of your real estate professional.

3 – Uncluttered

Make it Neat

Decluttering a home can seem daunting. But when done correctly it’s easy, efficient and adds another level of professional polish to your property.

Decluttering Checklist

Floors and Windows

  • Vacuum and steam clean (if needed) wall-to-wall carpets.
  • Mop hard surface flooring like wood and linoleum.
  • Touch-up gouged hardwood flooring or refinish if needed.
  • Pull back curtains and open window shades.
  • Wash windows on the inside and out.

Closets and Bathrooms

  • Fold, organize and stack linens neatly in all closets.
  • Remove or organize toiletries in each bathroom.
  • Ensure that storage and clothing closets are not crowded or dirty.
  • Empty all trashcans, especially in the bathrooms.

Lighting and Climate

  • Turn on lamps and overhead lights.
  • Make sure that each room is a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid artificial air fresheners or cleaning products with harsh, lingering odors.

Hire a Portable Storage Company

Now is the time to hold a yard sale or donate to local organizations. You might also want to put excess furniture in storage while your home is being shown. This is a great way to declutter each room to make it look more spacious.

Unlike traditional storage facilities, portable storage companies deliver a storage box to your home. Some may even double as moving companies. Filling the portable storage box with excess furniture and household items is much easier, less expensive than transporting the items to an off-site storage facility.

All Systems Go


Download the Helpful Hints for Selling Your Home Guide now.

Your Guide

Before you show your house, ensure your basic home systems are up and running. The thought of imminent maintenance can be a major turn off to prospective buyers.

  • Contact American Home Shield® to purchase a home protection plan. It may significantly increase the perceived value of your home, help your home sell faster, help protect your budget from unexpected expenses and limit potential after-sale problems.
  • Check all wood surfaces for weathering and paint deterioration.
  • Check all decks, patios, porches, stairs and railings for loose parts.
  • Check roof for loose or missing shingles, check ceiling and attic for water penetration.
  • Clean areas around indoor and outdoor heating and cooling equipment.
  • Inspect all faucets for corrosion or hard water deposits that slow water flow.
  • Have slow running drains cleaned.
  • Make sure all sinks and bathtub stoppers hold water.
  • Learn location of electrical service panels and label each circuit.
  • Have air conditioning condensation lines cleaned.

Discover how an American Home Shield Home Protection Plan can help keep your home running and budget in check.

Work Out the Bugs

Nothing will turn prospective buyers off faster than signs of a pest infestation. Make sure all pests are dealt with long before buyers tour the home.

  • Contact a pest control service company. A proactive inspection and treatment can pay dividends down the line.
  • Inspect your home for termites. Many states require a clearance letter stating the home is free from any wood destroying organisms, so it’s a good idea to have the inspection before closing.
  • Pest-proof the exterior of your home. Ants, termites and other pests don't enter through the front door; make sure all cracks and holes are securely sealed to prevent future infestations.
  • Don't leave food or dirty dishes out in the open. Many pests love leftovers as much as we do.
  • Seal all doors and windows. Use tight-fitting screens and weather stripping to pest-proof your home.
  • Ensure that the attic and crawl space have sufficient ventilation. Proper ventilation creates an environment unsuitable for cockroaches and other pests. It also improves the heating and cooling efficiency of the home.

Curb Appeal

Most prospective home buyers make a firm judgment about the property from the street, before they even enter the home. Your listing includes a current photo of the front of your home, it helps shape the first impression a buyer forms when viewing possible properties.

If your home doesn’t have good curb appeal, you may not get as many lookers to venture inside. Get in your car and drive up to the front of your house. Make an objective evaluation about the view from the street. Ask yourself:

  • Is the walkway clear and easy to navigate?
  • Does the yard and landscaping look well tended?
  • Is the front door clean and inviting? (It doesn’t take much money or effort to put a fresh coat of paint on the door and to clean the hardware.)
  • Are the outside lights clean and operable?
  • How about the mailbox – does it need a new coat of paint or replacing?
  • Are windows washed?
  • Are sidewalks cleared of any snowfall? 
Consider adding some color with seasonal flowers in the beds or in pots near the entrance. Solar lights are priced reasonably and make a home welcoming in the evening. Move bicycles, toys, garden hoses or lawn equipment from the front of the house.


5 Feng Shui Concepts to Help a Home Sell

An ancient Chinese philosophy used for centuries to help orient buildings and the contents within them, Feng Shui and its core principles can be applied to your home as well. We’ve gathered these five tips from Feng Shui expert Holly Ziegler, author of Sell Your Home Faster with Feng Shui (Dragon Chi Publications, 2001).


  • Abundance, blessings, opportunities, and good fortune enter through the front door.
    Considered the “mouth of chi” and one of the most powerful aspects of the entire property, it’s important to keep the front door and the surrounding area clean and well lit.

  • Keep the good forces in.
    Chi energy can be flushed away wherever there are drains in the home. Ensure toilet seats are down and bathroom doors are closed.

  • The master bed should be in a place of honor, power, and protection.
    Orient the master bed so it’s farthest from and facing toward the entryway of the room. Paint the room in colors that promote serenity, relaxation, and romance, such as soft tones of green, blue, and lavender.

  • The dining room symbolizes the energy and power of family togetherness.
    Make sure the table is clear and uncluttered during showings. Use an attractive tablecloth to enhance the look of the table while also softening sharp corners.

  • The windows are considered to be the eyes of the home.
    Getting the windows professionally cleaned will make the home sparkle and ensure that the view will be optimally displayed.

Source: Sell Your Home Faster With Feng Shui by Holly Ziegler (Dragon Chi Publications, 2001)