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Complete guide: How to prepare a house for sale

Are you getting ready to sell your house? The journey from 'For Sale' to 'Sold' starts with preparation. In this blog post, we'll guide you through a comprehensive checklist and expert tips to whip your property into its most marketable shape.

Vivian Tejada
August 15, 2023

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Selling a house is no small task. From assessing property conditions to posting your home on the multiple listing service, there’s certainly a lot to consider. Once you’ve decided that you are ready to sell, it’s time to prepare your home for the market. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about selling your house so you can have a successful and seamless home sale. Take a look at our comprehensive guide below.

Create an action plan  

Before preparing your property, you’ll want to develop a home sale plan.

Assess your financial standing

Selling a home costs money. To prepare your house for a successful sale, you should first take stock of your finances. A firm grasp of your monthly income streams, savings accounts, and outstanding debts will help you prioritize your expenses over the next few months.

Although the average home takes 55-70 days to sell, there’s always the possibility that your home will stay on the market for longer. Whether your home sale takes less than a month or more than three, you want to ensure you can stay afloat during that time.

Understanding your finances will also help you determine the amount of money you can allocate toward home sale fees, such as agent commissions, closing costs, and staging expenses.

Evaluate the condition of your property

Your home’s condition will inevitably impact your property’s value. Employing the help of an appraiser and professional home inspector will help you accurately assess your home’s condition, note any required repairs, and estimate how much your home is worth.

Research your local real estate market

An experienced agent will advise their sellers on sales prices and the best time to sell. However, every seller should do their due diligence and inform themselves of local market conditions. This involves staying updated on buyer preferences, comparable properties, and recent sales. Knowing this information will help you plan your home sale and allow you to ask for a competitive home sale price.

Prepare your home for sale

Tackle necessary home repairs

Critical home repairs related to the roof, foundation, electrical system, plumbing system, and HVAC system should not be delayed. The longer you wait to address these kinds of issues within the home, the more expensive it will become to fix them in the future.

It’s best to get ahead of vital home repairs to minimize property damage and maximize your asking price. Homebuyers are naturally attracted to properties that display excellent upkeep. When a home exhibits neglect or deferred maintenance, buyers are more likely to view the property as a burden. Even just a leaky faucet can leave a bad impression. On the other hand, a well-maintained home has a better chance of passing the home inspection process, spending less time on the market, and selling for a higher asking price.

Consider home renovations with high ROI

If you’ve owned and lived in your home for a while, chances are it could benefit from at least a few enhancements.

However, it can be challenging to know which upgrades benefit you the most at the time of sale. According to Fortune Builders, the 10 best ROI home improvements in order of importance are:

  • Minor bathroom remodels
  • Landscaping enhancements
  • Minor kitchen remodels
  • Attic bedroom conversions
  • Major bathroom remodels
  • Major kitchen remodels
  • Entry door replacements
  • Deck, patio, and porch additions
  • Basement remodel
  • Window replacements

The renovations you take on are ultimately up to you, but real estate agents agree that there are two types of rooms that sell houses: kitchens and bathrooms. When in doubt about which home upgrade will benefit you the most as a seller, prioritize bathroom and kitchen reforms. Be sure not to overspend on renovations that won't yield fair returns.

Minor bathroom renovation

One of the most lucrative home improvement projects you can take on is a minor bathroom renovation. This kind of renovation typically costs $10,500 to complete and generates an ROI of 102%. Replacing a bathroom vanity, installing new light fixtures, or switching from a regular shower head to a rain shower all classify as minor bathroom renovations.

Major bathroom renovation

If you’d like to take the renovations mentioned above to the next level, you can choose to replace all aspects of the bathroom. On average, a full bathroom remodel will cost you about $26,000 to complete and has an ROI of 93.2%. Given how frequently this kind of room is used, a comprehensive upgrade of your bathroom walls, sink, and shower area can help convince buyers they’re making a sound investment.

Minor kitchen renovation

Replacing outdated appliances with energy-efficient options is one way you can execute a minor kitchen remodel. You can also consider applying a fresh coat of paint or glass to existing cabinets instead of replacing them. This combined with new hardware can go a long way. The average cost of a minor kitchen renovation is $15,000, with an ROI of 98.5%.

Major kitchen renovation

Similar to a major bathroom renovation, a full kitchen overhaul involves a complete transformation where everything is replaced and redone. If you want to revamp the entire kitchen, it’s worth considering an open-concept design. Removing a wall can immediately create more space. Kitchens with ample room for hosting and cooking are highly sought after by buyers. However, major kitchen renovations do cost a considerable sum. The average price of a full kitchen remodel is $43,900 with an ROI of 91%.

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Focus on first impressions

Homeowners don’t always have to spend a lot of money updating their homes. In some cases, focusing on curb appeal and entryways can be enough to merit a buyer’s attention.

Enhance curb appeal with small landscaping projects

One key aspect of a home’s curb appeal is its landscaping. Small tasks such as mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes, or repainting your home’s exterior can quickly, and cost-effectively enhance your home’s curb appeal.  If you want the most bang for your buck, consider the following landscaping projects:

  • Laying out three cubic yards of bark mulch ($275)
  • Cutting the grass, fertilizing the lawn, or killing weeds ($340)
  • Installing a new garage door ($1,200)
  • Paint your home’s exterior ($3,000)
  • Create a new walkway, flower bed, and shrubs ($4,500)

Create welcoming entrances

Another key aspect of enhancing your home’s curb appeal is sprucing up entryways. Like landscaping, the entry door is often one of the first visible aspects of a home. Small projects such as repainting the front door, staging the porch, and replacing outdated light fixtures are good places to start. According to Fortune Builders, the estimated cost of building a welcoming entrance is $1,410.

Stage your home and update the interiors

When discussing how to prepare your house for sale, we can’t ignore the importance of staging your home. If you’re wondering how much does it cost to stage a house? The answer is between $357 and $2,542. Although it’s an additional and upfront expense, staging can help your home stand out.

While staging focuses mostly on aesthetics, it plays a pivotal role in helping potential buyers imagine themselves living within the home. Here are a few things to keep in mind when staging your home or updating its interiors:

Declutter and depersonalize

Home sellers should do their best to avoid presenting their homes with crowded closets, cramped furniture, or piles of clutter on countertops. Deep cleaning your home is a great way to get started. You can remove non-essential home items, such as excess furniture or winter clothes, and rent a storage unit.

If you’re still living in your home while tours are happening, you can’t get rid of everything. However, you can take this opportunity to declutter and reorganize your furniture, clothes, shoes, and other home items.

Rejuvenate your home’s walls

Once you’ve removed a large amount of personal items from your home, you may notice stains, cracks, or discoloration along your home’s walls. In many cases applying a fresh coat of paint will do the trick and instantly rejuvenate your home.

Neutral colors are widely preferred by new homeowners and will reflect well against natural lighting.

Create open and inviting areas

Furniture placement and room layout are important aspects of staging. You can do this yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Whichever option you choose, focus on open-concept designs that place furniture up against the walls and maximize the space that can be used. The more ample the space, the better.


Refine your marketing plan

Marketing your home to potential buyers is one of the most critical aspects of selling. Your listing agent will help you find the right buyer. Still, you can help your agent market your property successfully by:

  • Providing them with stunning property photos: Taking high-quality images on your smartphone or hiring a professional with a high-resolution camera will instantly elevate your home’s online presence.  
  • Having a flexible schedule for showings: Allowing open houses to happen when you’re unavailable. This will help you arrive at your closing date much faster.

Marketing your property effectively becomes especially important if you are moving forward with a sale-by-owner transaction because you won't have the help or network of a buyer's agent.

In today's digital age, the internet is a marketplace for virtually everything that can be bought and sold. Real estate is no exception. A staggering 97% of buyers started their house hunt online in 2020, emphasizing the importance of making a positive impression on online buyers.

You can refine your home's digital appearance by searching your home's address and double-checking property details for accuracy. Most homes and buildings are visible on Google Maps street view. Check to see if the photos of your home on Google Maps reflect any recent updates you've made. If not, highlight these updates in your property listing descriptions on MLS and other sites.

Final thoughts

Home sales with poor planning and execution can quickly become a headache — and even cost you a good chunk of your return on investment. Devising a plan and patiently ticking off items on your home sale checklist can help ensure a smooth process and that everything significant is addressed.

If covering selling costs is one of the most challenging aspects of the journey, consider using your built-up home equity to ease the burden.

Point's HEI allows homeowners to access a lump sum of funds in exchange for a portion of their home's future appreciation. You can buy back your equity anytime during a 30-year period by selling or refinancing the house. There are no monthly payments or restrictions on how the funds can be used. Visit Point to find out if you qualify for an HEI so you can get started on your home improvements.

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