How to prepare my home to be sold

How to prepare your home for sale?  How to get your home ready to sell.  What should I do to prepare my home to be sold? Whether selling without an agent or selling with an agent these are the questions and concerns every homeowner has. Below are 8 steps. The first 4 all sellers have to do, whether selling without an agent, selling without a real estate broker, or using a real estate broker to sell your home.  Although the below is a comprehensive list each seller is unique.  For example sales resulting in a divorce would require a few additional steps, as when selling a home that was inherited.

  1. Property Condition Disclosure. Most states require that a seller complete a state approved Property Condition Disclosure or Property Condition Disclosure Statement.  This disclosure is a series of questions about the property.  It is intended to level the playing field for the buyer when negotiating the price of the home.  The seller does not have to repair or fix anything. The seller simply has to answer the questions truthfully.  This way when the buyer is making an offer they are basing it off of an accurate understanding the property.

For example there will be questions about the Plumbing system and if you are aware of any problems that need to be fixed. If your not then you say no.  If you are you answer yes and provide a brief explanation of the issue.  The property condition disclosure will ask about all areas of the home.

This disclosure is truly helpful to both sides.  As stated above the buyer will know what if any issues the home has. The seller will be free from any liability because they disclosed the condition of the property before the sale was consummated.

Click here to go to a legal website that has links to all the states and if they have a property condition disclosure.

  1. Getting the property ready. When you are showing your home to potential buyers you want the home to look its best.  Its like going on a job interview, you want to make your best impressions immediately.  Therefore there are several things you can do to make your home look its best.
  2. Make sure you get rid of all clutter in the home. Less is better.  This will mean that you will want to pack away from things you do not need immediately. In some cases this means taking photos down, getting rid of excess throw pillows, making sure the closest look organized and not too packed.  Remove things off of counters that are not needed and store in cabinets so that countertops in the bathrooms and kitchen look clean and organized.

For those that need some decluttering idea, click here to get some tips from

  1. Lawn Care. This applies to both the front back and side yards.  Details matter.  If there are areas that need seeding, seed, and cover with fresh dirt.  Use mulch to make the lawn look nice fresh and filled in.  Plant plants, trim hedges, use a rock garden to hide flaws you cannot fix.  Make sure while on the market and up until the day you are closing you are watering your yard to make sure it looks healthy.

Click here for some lawn care tips from

  1. Electrical System. Make sure all the outlets are working.  This is easy to do with a tester. If they are not, try replacing the outlet to make sure its not a deeper issue.  Replace switch covers.  Make sure all light builds are on and the light fixtures are clean. Run the air conditioners or central air unit.
  2. Plumbing System. Check your furnace, get it serviced if needed.  Make sure if you have any leaks you know where they are coming from.  Flush all the toilets.  Run the sinks at the same time, hot water.  Make sure there are no signs of the water having a problem leaving the home out of the main line. If you have a septic then get it cleaned. Many localities require the septic to be cleared before a sale.  So have it cleared and get it certified to be in working order. If you have well water make sure you know the levels and all the parts are in working order.
  3. You don’t have to paint every room.  But paint the rooms that look the oldest.  The bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms all help.  Fill in all nicks and flaws in the wall, sand and paint.
  4. Minor things. Consider changing the handles in the kitchen and bathrooms, that can make a big difference. Replace doors.  Replace cabinet doors.   Replace your water hose to a more modern one.  Change garage door opener.  Change the security system.  Add ring door bell.  Add smart plugs.
  5. Before you sell your home yourself you should locate several important documents.
    1. This is not required but is great to have. It states whom to owner is or whom the owners are.  The names on the deed need to sign the deed over to the new owners. If one of the owners is deceased there is a process in place for an heir to sign the deed to the new owners.
    2. Title policy. If when you purchased the home you also purchased a title policy try to locate it.  The title policy will help the buyers title company when they are doing their searches.  It will state whom the owners are and some other information.  Using the same title company the seller used when buying the home can result in a savings on the title charges.

Not sure what title insurance is?  Click here to go to Old Republic Title, one of the nations only national title insurance underwriters, to learn what title insurance is.

  1. This is a birds eye view of the property. It is a sketch of the property showing the property lines, and where the home and other things like a garage is situated on the home.

Click here to see what a survey looks like.

  1. Satisfaction letters. If you have a mortgage request a payoff letter.  This is important for your to determine what you will net out of the sale. If you have any judgments or collection accounts request a payoff letter.  These letters require a good until date. That is the day the pay off is good til.  Make it the end of the month you are calling. When you are closer to closing we will update this letters.
  2. Permit issues. If you ever filed your local town village or other municipality for a permit for do work on your home.  Make sure these permits are closed.  Make sure there are no issues at the local buildings department.  Some times there can be past inspections or forms not filed.  Best to get to this as early as possible.
  1. Cost of the sale. In all states the seller will have closing costs, that is costs that are paid by the seller when the home is sold.  In some states the seller must pay a transfer tax, recording fee at the county clerks office, to name a few items.  Contact a local title company or attorney to give you a list of the fees you need to consider when selling.

To find a local title company click here and you will be brought to Stewart Titles website where you can search for a local agent. Stewart title is one of the oldest and most well known national Title Insurance companies.

  1. Price it. The value of a home is very subjective. In reality your home will sell for a price the buyer is willing to pay and your willing to sell it for.  But in no way does that help you determine what your home is worth.  I will layout a rather scientific approach to determining a value.  It is a good tool to use to justify what you believe the home is worth.  The first step is to google “homes that sold near me.”  Or if you don’t live near the home being sold, “Homes that sold near (insert the address of the home.)”  You will find a number of websites that will lay out all the homes that sold near you.  Select the homes closest to you that are most like yours. For example if your home is fully attached, select fully attached homes that sold.  If your home is fully detached select fully detached homes that sold.  Try to pick 3 to 4 homes that sold in the past 6 months (or the past 12 months if the market is very slow.).  Make adjustments to this homes to account for the differences in bedrooms, bathrooms, garages, pools, any thing that is different. The amount you should use is different for each area.  If not sure guess.  For example if you use $10,000 for each bedrooms, and a home has 4 bedrooms, where your home has only three, you will subtract $10,000 from the sold price.  Use the same figures for each home that sold.  Make sure you are considering the difference in gross living area this is important, for improvements like new bathrooms, kitchen, or roof.    When completed you should have a list of 3 to 4 homes and a dollar amount subtracted or added for the differences of the homes.

Then search for homes for sale near the property.  Do the same thing but for the homes that are currently active on the market. Think of this as your competition.  Make the same subtractions you did for the homes that sold, to the homes that are for sale.  This should result in three homes that have amounts for the differences subtracted from the asking price.

Between the 3 to 4 homes that have sold and the 3 to 4 homes actively on the market you can deduce what the value of your home is worth.

You should have a gride that looks like the one below.  Lets say your home has 1200 sf, 3 bedrooms, and 1 bathroom with no garage.

Sale 1 $ Sale 2 $ Sale 3 $ Active 1 $ Active 2 $ Active 3 $
Sold price $440000 $490000 $470000
Listing price $509000 $539000 $528000
Bedrooms 3 4 -$10000 3 3 4 -$10000 3
Bathrooms 1 2 -$10000 1 1 2 -$10000 1
Garage None 1 Car -$10000 1 Car -$10000 None 1 Car -$10000 none
Gross living area 1025sf $5000 1400sf -$5000 1380sf -$4500 1200sf 1400sf -$5000 1250sf
Total adj $5000 -$35000 -$14500 0 $35000 0
Final $445000 $465000 $455,500 509000 504000 528000

In the above example the three sales, after adjustments for the bathrooms bedrooms the living spave and garage is $445,000, $465,000, and $455,500.  This gives you a good range in what your sold price will be.  As for the listing price you can see, $509,000, $504,000 and $528,000 are the numbers you need to be between.

Remember every home is unique. So be sure to add more items to your list of what is subtracted or added from the homes you are comparing to.  You can add for the proximity to stores, transportation, parks, beach, lake, or whatever else you feel is important to consider.  Use this tool to make the deductions or additions to the homes that sold and are currently on the market, that are like yours, to determine a supported value.

  1. There is truly no one way to write a description. There is no formula for the right way to write a description for your home. Click here to watch a video one minute I made on this topic. Briefly tell the story of your home. There are no rules for how long or short a description should be.  Just tell your homes story.  Begin with where the home is located.  Then tell in words what the buyer will see when walking up to the home.  Write about what is on the first floor.  Then discuss the second floor. Each floor describe in some detail anything that you think is special or unique about your home. This is probably the most important part of writing the description, telling what you like the most about the home.  There are some words to avoid. In the video above I get into those phrases and why they are negative.
  2. In todays real estate market photos and videos are the most important part of the listing.  Therefore it is worth spending the money on professional photos. Google real estate photographer near me.  The fee should be $250 or less for 20 to 25 photos. They will expect you to clean and stage your home.  They will walk around the home taking video and photos.  Most realtors use a professional photographer so I highly recommend you do the same. If you are going to take your own photos, make sure there is plenty of light. Take photos from different angles and heights.   And smart phones take great photos and make editing very easy.
  3. List it . There are some considerations you must make before you list your home for sale. The first is if you will pay real estate commission or not.  If you are expect to pay between 4% and 6%. This amount is typically split between the listing agent and the selling agent, or buyers agent.  There was a recently decided lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors.  This verdict which was for $1.8 Billion essentially says that sellers should not be required to pay the buyers realtor.  Although the verdict is currently being appealed, the NAR has changed its rules and regulations to state when a seller puts their home on the MLS, they are not required to offer any compensation to the buyers real estate agent. This means the typical 4% to 6% could now be reduced in half.  However if a seller is marketing their home and not offering any compensation to the selling or buyers agent, then they will get less traffic.  Therefore if you decide to list with a realtor, then you should also offer compensation to the buyers or selling agent.  And if you are selling your home with an agent, then they will make sure it is listed on the MLS, which will broadcast it to many of the popular websites like Zillow.

For those that are available to show their home to potential buyers, that know how much their home is worth, that can negotiate, will consider selling without a real estate agent.  These sellers are often referred to as FSBO or For Sale By Owner sellers.  A FSBO seller will have to consider where to list your home for sale.  There are many options to choose from.

There are also flat fee MLS websites where you list your home on the MLS, and it will then get broadcast to many websites like Zillow, the same as if you listed it with a realtor for full commission. There is a catch here.  When listing on the MLS, the only information that will appear to a buyer searching the internet is the realtor whom listed your home for you on the MLS. Remember the MLS is a realtor only organization.  So when the listing gets sent to Zillow and all the other websites, the realtors info shows up not yours.  The agent that listed your home will be getting all the leads that come in.  Therefore this option is frowned upon.

There are FSBO or For Sale by owner websites that offer a lsiting on their site. Problem is their website will get little to no traffic.  Zillow Trulia and many more sites get substantially more traffic, so never select an option where the only place you are displaying or listing your home is on their website.

You can list your home for free on Zillows website.  It gets the most traffic.

An owner can list their home with me at  We not only get your home on Zillow and many other popular websites, we help you with almost everything else.  We provide a yard sign, appointments are scheduled with a live person, we provide your property with a website page, the URL being the address of the property, ie  On this website all interested buyers and realtors with buyer clients will go to and enter our unique system that makes sure only serious qualified buyers or realtors with qualified buyer clients can get through to you.  We vet the buyers and follow up on the transaction after your in contract.  All for one low flat fee.  Yes a shameless promotion but I feel we are so much better than our competition I cant help but mention it.

I hope this post was meaningful and will help you prepare to get your home ready to be sold.