How to Get Your House Ready to Sell & Make The Most Profit

You’ve taken the plunge. You’ve made the big decision to sell your own home.


Now what? Where do you even start? If you’re wondering how to get your house ready to sell, our tips below can help.

Find a Reputable Handyman

If you’re handy yourself, you’ve probably kept on top of all those minor repairs that crop up over time. If you’re not handy, you may have let them slide, learning to live with inconveniences like a dripping tap or an electrical outlet that doesn’t work.

It’s important to make all minor repairs before listing your home. No matter how small an issue may seem, something broken or faulty may give the impression that your home hasn’t been well looked after. It may also cause prospective buyers to wonder if there is a bigger unseen issue–one that is potentially more expensive to resolve. For example, does that non-functional outlet simply have loose wiring or is there a bigger wiring issue plaguing the entire house?

If there are repairs that you’re not able to make on your own, ask around to find a reputable handyman.

Beautify Your Home With Minor Upgrades

Minor upgrades that freshen and modernize your space can help your home sell faster and for a higher price. Consider doing things like:

  • Replacing light fixtures;
  • Updating door handles and cabinet hardware;
  • Putting in new faucets and taps;
  • Purchasing new window treatments;
  • Installing a new mailbox; and
  • Laying fresh mulch in flower beds.

As tempting as it may be to do a more major upgrade–like a kitchen remodel or an addition–these types of makeovers rarely pay off. While television shows about home flippers appear to show otherwise, it’s actually rare to get your money back on huge home improvements. Invest in the small things instead.

Break Out the Paint Brushes

When you’re considering what to do in order to get your house ready to sell, a fresh paint job should be at the top of your list. Painting is particularly important if you’ve customized your home with bright or unusual colours. It can also hide imperfections, such as nail holes and scuffs. Choose neutral colours for your new paint job–white, light grey, or light beige. They’re widely appealing and they brighten up spaces, making your home seem larger.

Don’t forget to touch up the baseboards and crown molding!

Declutter – Rent a Storage Unit

We often use the word “clutter” as a synonym for “junk.” But clutter isn’t just worthless items that should have been tossed in the garbage. It’s also things like:

  • Stockpiled items like cleaning supplies or personal hygiene products;
  • Sentimental items that we never use, like grandma’s china;
  • Home decor items that have no meaning for us, like coffee table books that we never crack open;
  • Many multiples of anything, like displayed photographs, any kind of collections, or overstuffed bookshelves;
  • Items crammed to overflowing in a small storage space like a kitchen cabinet or clothes closet.

Clutter can make a home seem messy and small. It can also make it hard for potential buyers to envision themselves living in the space.

If you have a lot of clutter, rent a storage unit. Ruthlessly weed through the items in your home and stash everything that you can in the storage unit. On the plus side, it will be much easier to finish packing and move once your home sells.

Pack up Personal and Polarizing Items

Removing personal items like family photographs, collections, and memorabilia should be part of the decluttering process. Make sure to also pack away polarizing items at this time. These are things that might provoke negative opinions from potential buyers–like religious or political items.

Organize Closets and Pantries

Storage spaces that are crammed full can make it seem as though your house doesn’t have enough storage. An important part of getting your house ready to sell is clearing these spaces out and organizing the items that you leave in them. Remove excess items as part of the decluttering process. Neatly organize the items that remain behind.

Make Everything Sparkle and Shine

Deep cleaning is an important part of getting your home ready to sell. You want your house to sparkle and shine. Work your way top to bottom to:

  • Polish light fixtures;
  • Wash ceiling fan blades and bathroom fan covers;
  • Wipe down walls, cabinet doors, and baseboards;
  • Vacuum thoroughly;
  • Break out an old toothbrush to clean all corners and grooves, like the in baseboards and registers;
  • Clean grout;
  • Wash or otherwise clean window treatments; and
  • Wash windows, making sure to also clean window screens and tracks.

A spotless home that looks and smells freshly clean will be highly appealing to potential buyers.

Clean the Carpets

Clean carpets don’t just look better–they smell better too, freshening your whole home. Whether you rent a carpet cleaner yourself or hire professional cleaners, it’s a cost that will pay off in the long run.

Stage Your Home

Once your home is decluttered and spotlessly clean, it’s time to make some final adjustments. You want your home to seem as big, bright, warm, and welcoming as possible. The way to do that is to stage it.

If you have the money to hire professional stagers, the cost can be worthwhile. They are trained to look at homes objectively and make minor decor changes that can appeal to buyers. They also have access to an inventory of neutral home accessories that you can rent as needed. However, if you don’t have the budget for professional home staging there are things you can do on your own.

Rearrange The Furniture

Critically look at your furnishings. Are there any that can be removed? If so, stash them in your storage container. Rearrange the remaining pieces to make your home look larger and to improve traffic flow.

Make Your Home Gender Neutral

Sometimes certain areas of our homes have strong gender references. For instance, a man cave might be furnished in dark colours, with few soft touches like throws or cushions. Alternately, a powder room might be painted pink, with artwork that leans to feminine tastes. Tone down these references so that people of any gender can easily imagine themselves living in all of your home’s spaces.

Let The Light In

Before any showing, light your home as brightly as possible. Open all window treatments and turn on all light fixtures throughout your home. Hanging mirrors is a neutral way to add interest to walls and they will also reflect and add more light.

Scent Appeal

Some articles on staging recommend baking cookies or bread in order to fill your home with a warm comforting aroma. Other articles argue that some people may not enjoy those scents. Instead, your best bet is to make sure that your home smells clean. Freshly painted walls, newly cleaned carpets, and a good deep clean will go a long way to making your home smell appealing. If you have pets, wash their bedding and put out fresh litter before showing your home. If you like, you can add to the clean scent with subtle hints of natural scents, such as citrus, herbs, or pine.

Amp up the Curb Appeal

Don’t forget about the exterior of your home. It’s the first thing people will see when they drive up for a showing. Beautify the front step area by polishing the light fixture, updating the mailbox, cleaning any windows, and putting out a new outdoor mat. You may also want to install a new door handle.

As well,

  • Powerwash your home’s exterior;
  • Sweep and/or powerwash (or shovel) the front walkway and driveway;
  • Weed and place new mulch in flower beds;
  • If the season allows it, plant flowering plants; and
  • Keep the lawn mowed and the hedges trimmed.

Keep Your Home Show Ready

Keep your home ready to show at a moment’s notice. In addition to maintaining all the things you’ve already done, also:

  •  Keep all surfaces (countertops, tabletops, etc.) clear and free of clutter;
  • Make the beds every morning;
  • Wash dishes and/or load the dishwasher immediately after every meal;
  • Stay on top of the laundry;
  • Vacuum and sweep daily;
  • Wipe down all bathroom surfaces daily, and keep fresh towels handy to put out; and
  • Devise a way to quickly clear any clutter (eg from craft projects in progress).

In an excellent piece on her organizing and productivity blog, Abby Lawson suggests keeping a couple of spare laundry baskets handy. You can toss anything that you don’t have time to put away into the baskets and then stow them in the trunk of your car.

Once you start planning to sell your home, you need to also start thinking about how to prepare your home for the market. Those preparations involve repairs, upgrades, cleaning and staging — in other words, time and elbow grease. But getting (and keeping!) your home ready to show is a crucial step in a successful sale. It’s well worth the time and effort.