How should I prepare my house for a showing?

Jun 18, 2013

House for sale

Thinking about selling your home? Although the housing market is starting to turn around, it’s still competitive out there. So we’ve put together a few tips to give you even more of a boost when staging your home for potential buyers.

Prepare Yourself

You have to be mentally ready to give up your home to someone else. Your house is probably more than just the place where you’ve been living. Maybe you’ve gotten married or raised your family here. Either way, you probably feel some sort of attachment to your house. By the time you’re done preparing your house for a potential buyer, it might look vastly different than the house you’ve come to know and love.

You can begin by walking through your home and envisioning the rooms from a shopper’s perspective. Scrutinize everything. Are there spaces that feel cramped, dark or out of date? If you have pets, your home may have that distinct (and unpleasant) smell. All of this needs to be addressed in order to have the right impact on the buyer.


It's time to clean up your clutter and make your house look more like a model home. Start by collecting and storing all of the small items around your house that make it distinctly “yours.” Clean off counters, sinks, tables, nightstands, and dressers. Pack up personal belongings, including family photos, CD and DVD collections and knick knacks. In order to want to buy your home, people need to be able to see themselves in it. This can be harder to do when your magazines are scattered all over the coffee table and photos of your family are hanging on the walls.

Clean out your closets and organize all spaces so that they’re neat and easy to navigate. Remove anything that disrupts the flow of the room or makes it feel smaller. Consider removing some furniture and pulling what remains away from the walls to create better energy.

If there are things in your home that are not staying - such as ceiling fans, appliances, or bathroom fixtures - replace them with something else before you list your home for sale. If a buyer falls in love with your stuff and finds out after they’ve put in an offer that it's not included in the purchase of the home, it could cause issues during negotiations.

Make Repairs

Nobody wants to buy a house only to find out that there is a laundry list of tiny things that need fixing. Take pride in your home and fix all the necessary repairs before you open it up to potential buyers. Patch any holes in the walls or cracked floor tiles. Make sure that all doors and windows open, close and lock like they should. Consider replacing light bulbs with new, 100-watt bulbs. These will illuminate your newly cleaned home. Also, make sure your doorbell is working and your gutters are functioning properly. These are all items that may end up on a “fix it” list during a home inspection.


When you sell your current home and move to the next one, you'll be looking for a fresh start. That's part of the fun! Whoever buys your home will want that fresh start too. Taking care of some basic cosmetics before they move in can be very appealing.

One of the best ways to refresh your home is by giving it some new paint. Your favorite color may have been perfect for your family, but lighter, neutral colors tend to appeal to more people. If the current carpet is stained or worn, you need to replace it. Again, lighter neutral colors work best and make the room feel more spacious.

Do you want to move into your new home and take the first shower in a bathroom with old, grimy caulk in the shower and around the sink? Probably not. New caulk will do more than almost anything else to freshen up a bathroom.

Clean Up

There is nothing that turns off a prospective buyer more than a dirty house. It’s extremely important to keep your home clean while it's on the market. Dust, sweep and vacuum regularly! If possible, hire a professional cleaning service to come once every couple of weeks. Consider getting your floors waxed and carpets professionally cleaned.

Clean your windows and knock down cobwebs that might be hanging in high corners or in the garage. Keep fresh towels in the bathrooms and be sure to clean up and organize your refrigerator. Buyers will associate your clean home with responsible homeownership, so they’ll probably feel more confident about their purchase.

Curb Appeal

Remember, potential buyers are forming opinions about your home before they even step through the front door. Curb appeal is key. A freshly-mowed lawn and trimmed bushes will make a huge difference. Remove any weeds and edge along driveways and walkways.

To really make the house pop, pressure wash the exterior and add a fresh coat of paint to the front door. A new welcome mat will also make a good impression. Finally, make sure that your house number is clearly visible from the street.

The Finishing Touches

You will probably still be living in your home until it sells. There are a few things you should always do to set the stage when a potential buyer is heading your way. First, open the blinds and let in as much natural light as possible. If it's night, turn on all of the lights in the home, including the entryway lights. Set the thermostat to between 70 and 75 degrees.

While you're in the process of selling your home, try not to cook fish or use strong spices. These can produce powerful smells that may take over the whole house for a few days. Use air fresheners or candles for a clean, fresh smell.

Play soft music and make sure the beds are all made and the bathrooms are clean. Put away everyday items including toiletries, dishes in the sink, or children's toys.

With all of this preparation, your home should be looking its best. At this point, you've done everything you can. With a little luck and a good real estate agent, your home will be sold in no time.

If you're in the market for a new home and would like to speak with one of our neighborhood branch managers about financing, make an appointment today!