Selling your home? Here is a checklist

Preparing your home for sale requires more than just mopping the floors and cleaning the shower. Most every potential buyer will use the services of a Home Inspector. Their job is to accurately identify any potential issues that need attention. If the buyer makes an offer on the house, they will typically present this list of deficiencies to the seller and request that they be addressed or fixed.

Of course, the homeowner is under no obligation to resolve any of these issues. The options for the seller are:

  • Sell the house as-is
  • Cut the price to compensate for the issues
  • Address some or all of the issues before the sale

It’s obvious that the fewer the issues, the easier the sale. Here is a checklist of items to look for, things that any good home inspector will certainly be checking:

Exterior Home Preparation

The condition of your home’s exterior is most important when it comes to buyer appeal.

  • Touch up trim paint on doors, window frames, fascia, etc.
  • If your lawn shows no signs of life, a little fertilizer and some water will do wonders for its color. Mow and edge the lawn frequently until the home is sold.
  • Overgrown shrubbery should be cut back to show as much of the exterior as possible.
  • A low-cost investment in seasonal flowers or ground cover will add a personal touch.
  • Replace missing shutters, gutters, downspouts and remove any debris.
  • Inspect the roof for necessary repairs and any visible broken shingles or tiles.
  • Cracks in the driveway and sidewalks can be easily repaired with ready-mix cement. For excessive stains, there are easy-to-use cleaning agents at your home repair store.
  • Stucco water stains can be repaired using a mild bleaching agent.
  • Fences should be mended and painted.
  • If the street sweeper does not come every week, make sure the area in front of your curb and driveway are clear of debris. Wash it down with the hose.
  • Wash all windows inside and outside.
  • All of these suggestions may also apply to your back yard or child’s play area.

Interior Home Preparation

Living Area

  • Clean your home from top to bottom.
  • Put all valuables in a safe place.
  • Repair any cracks or holes in walls and touch-up paint.
  • Doors should be cleaned and touched-up as well. All torn screens should be repaired or replaced.
  • Avoid repainting the entire house unless current colors are very loud or offbeat. White or light pastels are the easiest for new homeowners to work with and they make your rooms look larger.
  • Clean carpeting and draperies. Carpeting should be vacuumed throughout the house the day your home is being shown.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure all tile is in good condition, the screen is in good shape, and the hearth is clean.
  • Lubricate squeaking doors, windows, and cabinets.
  • Put deodorizers in each room and closet.
  • Store out-of-season clothes so closets do not look cluttered.
  • Pre-pack items, which may clutter your home and make rooms appear smaller.
  • A few colorful plants will help liven and add color to the interior.


The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house. An open appearance with sunlight and green plants here and there will make the room a focal point.

  • Keep the counters clean and clear of appliances.
  • All appliances should be clean and neatly organized. 
  • Never leave dirty dishes in the sink.
  • Clean and wax the kitchen floor. If the floor looks old and dull, consider replacing the flooring.
  • Clean fans and vent hoods.


  • All bathroom appliances should be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Remove stains from sinks, toilets, and bathtubs.
  • Replace old caulking around bathtub and sinks.
  • Repair or replace leaky faucets.
  • Unclog and sanitize drains to remove odors.
  • Clean all mirrors.
  • Keep all toilet seat lids closed.
  • Fresh towels should be in the bathrooms at all times.


  • Have a garage sale to dispose of any unwanted items.
  • Family heirlooms, which you will take with you, should be boxed and stored in the garage until you move.
  • De-greasers are available at your local home repair store to remove stains from the garage floor.
  • Remove any cobwebs.
  • If the basement or attic is a functioning part of the house, make sure the area is clean and in good repair.

Showing Your Home

Home Staging Tips (Before The Showing)

  • Dust and vacuum the whole house thoroughly.
  • Lightly clean and straighten up living areas.
  • Open all drapes and blinds to let in as much light as possible. Turn on lamps and other lights as necessary to brighten each room.
  • If you’re planning to move around the same time you’re selling your home, try to arrange showings while the furniture is still in the house.
  • Any household or children’s items should be stored away. This includes toys, bikes, skateboards, etc.
  • Turn television sets off. Turn on a radio with soft music at low volume.
  • While your home is being held open, arrange to spend the time away from the house, especially if you have small children. If this is not possible, go for a walk, visit a neighbor, or keep children quiet when your home is being shown to prospects.
  • Keep pets away from potential buyers and keep pet areas clean.
  • Your agent may request to serve refreshments. If not, feel free to suggest this.
  • Try baking chocolate chip cookies or brownies just before the open house. A pleasant aroma means home to many people.

During (And After) The Open House

  • Once the open house begins, let your agent do the job.  Do not try to assist unless asked by the agent showing your home.
  • If you’re trying to sell any household items, do not bring this up, unless you are asked.
  • Remember to keep your valuables in a safe place.
  • Should a buyer stop by when you’re not having an open house, refer all inquires to your agent.
  • Feel free to answer questions the buyer might have, but again, refer as much as possible to your agent, as he/she will be able to answer in the most positive manner.
  • Save visiting agent’s business cards for your agent.
  • Write down the date on the back of the visiting agent’s business card and indicate if the agent had buyers with them.
  • Notify your agent if you’ll be out of town and how to contact you.