One of the most valuable things you can do when you know you’re going to sell your home is prepare it for sale. Simple, right? Not so fast.

Buyers are finicky, whether HGTV standards are to blame, or the lack of time or know-how for DIY home improvements, buyers want things D.O.N.E. To get the best return and avoid being on the market for ages, in today’s market, your home has to be ready.

My most savvy sellers will invite me for a tour of their home before they spruce up their home for sale. Feel free to follow their lead! Here’s a list of my FAQ while on these appointments:

All terrific questions, and the answers can make or break your sale. Let’s go through them one by one.

  1. It’s not news that neutral colors sell homes. However, some drama is okay- like that black accent wall in your bedroom. However, any bright color that lacks universal appeal should go- think orange, fuchsia, red. Rooms that can accept some color include kids’ rooms, there’s a chance a little one will swoon over the color, and if not, it’s only one room the new buyer has to paint versus an entire home.

  2. Flooring and paint are the two improvements you can make to your home that will net you at least 100% ROI (return on investment). If you have worn carpet it should be replaced, make sure you get good padding. Maybe you have hardwood floors that have seen better days? Refinishing will make them look brand new. Luxury vinyl plank flooring is also popular due to its water resistance and durability.

  3. Light fixtures are one of those quick and easy, as well as cheap, upgrades that can elevate a space. If you have anything 90s brass that you’ve been putting up with, now is the time to upgrade. Hollywood bathroom lights also have to, as well as anything that screams dated.

  4. While it’s important to declutter and pare down as much as possible, moving too much furniture out can make your home look too sparse. Furniture, if placed properly, will actually make a space feel larger. Buyers like to imagine where their couch, tv, bed, etc. will go and it’s much easier if there’s something there already. But, if a room is overcrowded it will look small and buyers will think their own furniture won’t fit.

  5. Where do you put all the stuff you’re clearing out? A storage unit works well if you have a lot. Better, get rid of the items you won’t be moving with you (think Marie Kondo here), and box up everything else and store it in your garage. As long as buyers can see most of the garage, you’re good to go. You don’t want it packed to the gills, but a pile of boxes along one side will not kill your sale.

  6. Home inspections, in my market, are for buyers only. While you absolutely can spend the $400+ to get an inspector pre-sale, why not leave the cost to the buyer? Likely you know what needs to be fixed in your home, whether it’s a dripping faucet or a loose toilet handle, now is the time to take care of these items. Don’t lose sleep worrying about what a home inspector might find, just focus on fixing what you do know.

  7. Appliances are a bit of a gray area. Most buyers will not bring their own. If you’re selling the appliances you have with your house, make sure they’re in tip-top shape- no missing knobs on the stove or worn-out water filter in the fridge. If they are ancient, it’s worth looking into new, package deals can be the best value if you need more than one replaced. Stainless steel is still buyers’ preferred finish, even if your other appliances aren’t- it’s okay to mismatch in this case.

Of course you’ll get the best results if you meet with a Realtor ahead of time, especially one who is well versed in home staging, like me! Do you know that Compass has an exclusive program for sellers, where we pay for home improvements and repairs up front, to be reimbursed at the time of sale? There are no fees, interest, or gimmicks. Live outside of Northern IL or Southern WI? I can refer you to a talented Realtor anywhere in the world- don’t trust google.


What questions do you have about prepping your home for sale? Ask below!

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