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More On Preparing Your Home For Sale

  1. PAINT: Few things will enhance the salability of a house quite so much as painting the outside. Before painting, scrape or water blast any blistered or peeling paint; repair gutters and down spouts and replace wood showing dry rot. Wood, trim work, gutters, and wrought iron should receive primary attention.
  2. FRONT ENTRY: Give special care to this area. This is where buyers get their first opportunity to make a close inspection, and they will pick it apart looking for flaws, so eliminate them. All woodwork should be freshly and neatly painted, including the door if necessary. Replace a badly worn or broken doorbell button. Polish the door brass. Repaint or replace an unsightly mailbox. Put out a new or clean door mat. Do a thorough weeding and pruning job on any flower beds near the entry, and try to have some flowering plants growing.
  3. YARD: Mow and trim the lawn. Weed flower beds; remove or replace dead plants or trees. Water regularly during the growing season. With desert landscaping, make sure that no underlying plastic is exposed, that rocks and sand are tidy, and that weeds and grass are removed.
  4. DRIVEWAY, GARAGE/CARPORT: Clean up grease or oil spots; remove the soil at least, if not the stain. See that the garage door opens freely and that the automatic door opener is in good working order. If possible, don’t park cars in front of the house or in the driveway, and try to have very few parked cars on the street near the house. Recreational vehicles or boats should be in the garage or carport or behind a fence in the back. Derelict cars or ones being overhauled, should not be visible from the street and preferably should not even be present.
  5. FENCE: A few missing stakes or slats are real eyesores to buyers, yet are usually inexpensive and easy to fix. Repair, paint or stain as necessary.
  6. ROOF: Remove visible debris or toys. Straighten the television antenna if necessary. Remove any tree branches bearing on the roof.
  7. AIR CONDITIONERS/EVAPORATIVE COOLERS: Repaint or replace any rusted exposed metal. Correct improper draining.
  8. PATIO: A nice spread of outdoor furniture looks very appealing. If necessary, borrow from a friend to enhance showability.
  9. SWIMMING POOL: Adjust chemicals until the pool sparkles. Hose dust and cobwebs from filtration equipment. Store chemicals and tools neatly.
  10. ON-SITE SEWAGE DISPOSAL SYSTEM: OSDS Ordinance passed in September 1999 by the Wayne County Commission requires that an on-site sewage disposal system be evaluated prior to time of sale or transfer of property (please click here for complete information: OSDS Evaluation and Maintenance Ordinance)


  1. LIGHTS: Every light socket in and around the house should have a good bulb of adequate wattage. Don’t overlook those outside; in the garage; utility room, halls, closets, or over the kitchen sink; and in the oven and exhaust hood.
  2. SWITCHES AND FIXTURES: Repair or replace wall switches, outlets, and light fixtures that don’t work, replace any broken switch plates. Note: If you are not fully competent to handle these repairs, call in a professional.
  3. APPLIANCES: Those that will be sold with the home should be in good working order. If specific equipment does not work and you do not intend to repair it, point this out.
  4. PLUMBING: Badly chipped or irreversibly stained sinks and tubs should be re-enameled, patched, or replaced. Leaky or excessively noisy toilets should be fixed, as well as any dripping faucets.
  5. SPRINKLER SYSTEMS: These should be working properly with no defective heads.


One of the best and least expensive ways to improve the show ability of your home is to open as much space as possible. Openness stimulates positive feelings in buyers. Overstuffed rooms or closets give the impression of being smaller than they really are. You can’t change the size of what you have, so try to present it in a pleasing way. If necessary, rent a mini-warehouse to store your extra belongings in while the house is on the market.

  1. CLOSETS & STORAGE AREAS: One of the most frequently voiced requirements of buyers is for closet and storage space. Open up your storage areas by getting rid of items you aren’t using.
  2. COUNTERS & CABINETS: The same principle applies here: Over crowding gives the impression of inadequacy. This applies to bathrooms and kitchens, with the kitchen being most important. Store infrequently used counter-top appliances. Do some prudent discarding in cabinets.
  3. GARAGE: Buyers will pay a premium for a garage if they can visualize it being of value to them, but it’s hard to sell the virtues of a garage when it is filled to overflowing. If your garage has become a two-car attic, move the excess to a mini-warehouse for the duration.


The following comments touch only on areas often neglected or overlooked.

  1. BATHROOMS: Few places in the home can get so dirty so fast, and yet few things will “unsell” a house as fast as dirty baths. Vanity, sink, faucet hardware, and mirror are the focal points, but other potential problems might be soap residue in a shower, a moldy shower curtain, accumulated dirt in the track of the sliding shower door, soiled or missing grout, stained toilet bowls, and dirty or battered bath mats.
  2. KITCHEN: Like baths, kitchens get dirty all by themselves. Most buyers will inspect this area carefully, so extra time invested here is well spent. Clean the stove inside and out. Replace badly stained or corroded reflector plates under the heating elements on electric range tops. Don’t neglect the kitchen exhaust hood; buyers frequently check this area as a clue to general housekeeping.
  3. WINDOWS: Clean windows are an absolute necessity if a house is to look its best, yet this is very often overlooked.
  4. WATER HEATER & SOFTENER: Perhaps because it is so unusual, a sparkling clean water heater or water softener really impresses buyers – and it takes so little time and effort.


  1. WET TOWELS AND WASHCLOTHS: Residents of a home frequently aren’t aware of what a potential source of bad odor these are. Replace all used towels with fresh ones before a showing.
  2. SOILED CLOTHES: When the house is being shown, keep dirty laundry out of the living area; move it to the utility room, garage, or storage area. This applies especially to a diaper pail.
  3. GARBAGE: Take all trash and garbage out of the house, particularly any food-related discards for the kitchen, and make sure no potatoes or onions are going bad under the sink or in the pantry. After running garbage through a disposal unit, grind up part of a lemon to add a fresh smell.
  4. SEWER GAS IN THE HOUSE: Do whatever is necessary to correct this problem before the house is placed on the market.
  5. CATS & DOGS: As a first step, move the cat’s litter box out of the house. And be sure to clean up after the dog before any showings.


  1. VALUABLES: You may have valuable possessions that you like to display in your home, but when the house is being shown to strangers is not the time. Never leave small valuable items lying around on counters or visible in closets or cabinets. Get them out of sight, if not out of the house. Don’t invite a problem.
  2. EXCLUSIONS FROM THE SALE: Make a note now of the items you do not intend to include with the sale of the house. Freestanding items generally are not included, but when in doubt, spell it out. Some items that often cause misunderstandings are light fixtures, draperies, large mirrors, water softeners, garage door openers, and television antennas.
  3. KEYS: As you are readying the house for the market, make a note to gather all the keys for the house, including keys for doors, deadbolts, garage doors, and any padlocks around the property.
  4. INSTRUCTION MANUALS: As with keys, gather manuals and warranties for the mechanical equipment in the house – kitchen appliances, water heater and softener, air conditioning and heating units, evaporative cooling units, pool and filtration equipment, and electronic air filters.


  1. LIGHTS: Open all draperies unless there is an objectionable view. In most rooms, you should turn on lights for a bright and cheerful look. Lamps and indirect lighting are preferable, but use overhead lights if that’s all there is in a particular room.
  2. LIGHT SWITCHES: If some wall switches operate wall outlets, plug in a lamp or radio to demonstrate that the switch works. When a buyer flips a switch and nothing happens, he instinctively suspects a problem.
  3. AROMAS: Set out some fresh flowers, both for their appearance and fragrance. Right before an agent showing, place a small dish of vanilla extract in your oven at 250 degrees.
  4. CLOSETS: Keep doors closed except for walk-in closets. Have those doors slightly ajar and turn on the lights to draw attention to this special feature.
  5. POSTERS & SIGNS: We live in a tolerant age, but don’t take a chance on offending a potential buyer. Remove all signs or posters that might be considered offensive.
  6. ASHTRAYS: Dirty ashtrays are both unsightly and a source of objectionable odor to nonsmokers. Keep them clean.
  7. UTILITY BILLS: Have copies of the past 12 months’ bills available, or at least a written summary of the amounts paid monthly for the period.
  8. PETS: Get them out of the house, if not off the property. Some people don’t like dogs, and nobody likes muddy paw prints on a clean suit or dress. Cats can be just as objectionable to the person who doesn’t like them, and invariably a cat will single out the cat-hater to use as a rubbing post.
  9. MUSIC: Soft background music will help create a relaxed mood that prompts buyers to linger and enjoy, but no music is better than loud music. Never have the television on when the house is being shown.
  10. YOUR PRESENCE: Most buyers will not relax and closely inspect a home if the owners are present, so try to arrange to turn the home over to the salesperson. If you must remain at home, refrain from talking unless questions are directed to you. All too often, a seller will jump in to point out some special feature, fearful that the salesperson might overlook it. But, please bear in mind that some of the most successful sales people will say little or nothing during showings, and for two reasons: First; they have made their selling points before entering the house; and second; they want the buyers to discover some things for themselves in order to build excitement. The Salesperson also knows the buyer’s temperament. So trust the Salesperson’s professional judgment.
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