How to Get Your Home Ready to Sell

Are you wondering how to get your home ready to sell–and sell fast and for the most money? You’re smart–the part about getting your house ready to sell. That’s because many homeowners don’t realize how much work goes into getting your home ready to sell. They think they have to put a “for sale” sign on the front lawn and that’s it.


Right now home sales are hot. With so much of the market closed down these past few months, there has been pent up demand. I just read a report that said home sales surged by almost 45% last month. Wow! Now’s a great time to get ready to sell your home.

Selling your home

At this point in my life, my husband ad I have bought and sold seven homes. Each time we knew we would have to do certain things to get our home ready to sell. Usually we would ask our Realtor what her best tips were for how to get our home ready to sell. We wanted this professional to take a critical look at what we could improve to help our house sell faster–you know a kind of real estate dos and don’ts before you put your house on the market.

Turns out that in addition to getting your home ready to sell, you need to be smart about how you describe you home in any real estate ads or listings online. In fact, there is a pretty comprehensive list of real estate buzz words that can help you sell your home fast.

So the purpose of this article is not just how to get your home ready to sell. You also need to learn about curb appeal tips for selling your home. Plus, when it comes time to put your house on the market, the words you use in real estate ads along with words not to use in real estate advertising really do matter.

how to get your home ready to sell

Speaking of selling your home, I hope you’ll check out my new blog called Selling and Buying a Home.

How to get your home ready to sell

how to get your home ready to sell
A decluttered closet actually looks larger.

One of the first things you should do to get your house ready to sell is declutter. You may be impressed with how much stuff your bookshelves or extensive kitchen countertops can hold, but buyers won’t be. All they’ll see is clutter.

So whenever possible get rid of your clutter. The fewer things on countertops and other horizontal surfaces, the better your home will look.

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Don’t forget to declutter closets. Closets will actually seem bigger without all of your stuff inside.

If you need to get rid of old electronics, they might be worth some money. Check out my review of for trading in old electronics for cash  money.

Maybe you’ve got a lot of stuff to get rid of. When we sold my mother in law’s home, after she moved to an assisted living facility, we were looking at 30-plus years of possessions. We took what we wanted, for sentimental reasons, and then booked 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

The company was affordable, efficient and extremely professional. If you’re interested in booking a job with 1-800-GOT-JUNK, you can do so online and save $10.

Bring in a pro to help get your home ready to sell

After you’ve decluttered, you may discover that you need to do some minor home improvements. For example, maybe the paint on your walls needs to be touched up or your carpets steam cleaned.

We’re a DIY kind of family so would often do these touch-up jobs ourselves. But when we didn’t have the time for that, we would put in a request through Home Advisor, the free contractor referral service. Thanks to Home Advisor we were able to find a contractor that could:

  • paint the interior and exterior of our home
  • improve our landscaping
  • update our bathrooms

Speaking of updating bathrooms, your real estate agent may have told you that updating your bathrooms could bring a higher selling price. I believe it.

In my research I’ve found that when considering how to get your home ready to sell, redoing your kitchen and bathroom will give you one of the best returns on investment. So many real estate agents have told me that kitchens and bathrooms sells houses. Those two areas of the house are usually tops of the home buyer’s wants and needs checklist.

If you want to clean your house yourself, here are some little known cleaning hacks.

Four areas of the home for getting your house ready to sell

I’ve already pointed out that redoing a bathroom can increase your ability to sell your home. Fixing up a kitchen can, too. Here, I offer a bit more about how to get your home ready to sell by focusing on bathrooms and kitchens. Plus, I’ve added two other areas of the home you should concentrate on during your home sale prep.

  1. Improve your kitchen.
    As I’ve mentioned kitchens sell homes. So if you have one with outdated appliances, countertops, and cabinets, it might be worth it to make improvements there. Stainless steel appliances and granite countertops are still top of buyers’ lists.
  2. Make sure your master bath is the nicest it can be.
    If you can afford to spend in the master bath, upgrade the shower to a frameless glass shower enclosure. You can also add new fixtures and maybe a new vanity and countertop.
  3. A fresh coat of paint helps to sell a house.
    On the interior, repaint and keep it neural with soft earth tones. Also, if you’re thinking of painting your kitchen, go with yellow. For some reason yellow on kitchen walls will sell a house. I have a pin on Pinterest about yellow kitchens that is one of my most popular pins ever! Please follow me on Pinterest. 
  4. Consider installing new carpet.
    No homebuyer wants to move into a house with dirty, worn-out carpet. If your budget allows for it, replace the existing carpet with a new, neutral carpet. Or take out the carpet all together, especially if you have hardwood floors underneath.

Find out how having a home gym, including a Peloton room, could help sell your home.

Home staging tips and tricks

If you really want to get your home ready to sell and want it to sell fast, you should stage it. You can hire someone to do the staging, or you can tap your inner Chip and Joanna Gaines and stage it yourself. Keep in mind that staging a home won’t necessarily have it sell at a higher price but it can help it sell faster.

Speaking of Chip and Joanna Gaines, you can find a whole slew of Magnolia Home-inspired home furnishings on Amazon. So if you want to stage your home to look as if it was one “Fixer Upper,” you’ll definitely want to shop this collection.

I’ll admit that when we were selling our houses, we would visit our local Raymour and Flanigan to peruse the sales. When we sold our last house, we ended up investing in a retro-looking credenza to put our flat screen TV on.

tv stand for selling house

Why did we buy new furniture to hold our TV? Previously the TV had been mounted on the wall. You need to understand that when selling a house, anything that is attached to the wall is expected to be included in the sale. We did not want to give up our flat screen TV. Anyway, the credenza wasn’t too expensive, and it works great in our new home, too.

FYI, Raymour and Flanigan is an East Coast furniture store. If you live somewhere else, I would recommend looking for inexpensive furniture for staging at IKEA, Bob’s Discount Furniture or Target.

Here are seven home staging tips and tricks

1. Put pillows on chairs, sofas and beds

One of the easiest ways to stage your living and sleeping areas is with pillows. You can pick up colorful throw pillows at Target that can work in your old home, during the staging and selling, and then in your new one, too.

In fact, we got so used to have our beds made with pretty pillows, and our couches, too, that we kept the look going after we’d sold our old house and moved into our new one. Pillows can add a pop of color to an otherwise neutral room.

pillows on chairs

2. Declutter and depersonalize

One of the best ways to stage your home for someone else to imagine living there is to get rid of your personal stuff. Declutter books, pictures, knickknacks, and anything else that is exclusively you.

The bonus to doing this decluttering now is you can pack up what you plan to move with you or donate what you’re not interested in keeping. Once you do sell your home and have to move, you’ve already gotten a head start on packing as well as thinning your possessions.

3. Turn on all the lights

If you don’t have enough light, things can look drab and dreary, especially if you have showings on a gray day. Try adding floor lamps or table lamps to rooms that don’t have enough light.

If you have bedside tables, put lamps on them, too. Again, we turned to Target for lamp options. If you already have lamps, it might be worth it to update the lamp shades so they are new, fresh and on-trend.

4. Set the table

A blank dining room table is boring. Instead, set it for a dinner party so there is a wow factor when buyers walk in and see your beautifully arranged table. We found cheap (as in price) dinner plates at our local IKEA. You can also find inexpensive serving pieces on Amazon.

dining room table set

5. Keep furniture proportional to the room

Strategically placing a minimal amount of furniture in a small space works better than over crowding it with too much furniture. For a small room, just use a small desk, one chair, and an area rug with one big piece of art, and that’s it.

In a guest bedroom you can simply have a bed and one more piece of furniture. This was what our guest bedroom looked like when it was staged.

downstairs guest room

6. Turn your bathroom into a spa

When in doubt go with solid white towels, rugs, and shower curtains when getting your house ready to sell. Roll those towels, just like you might see in an upscale hotel, and store them in countertop baskets or propped on a shelf above the toilet.

7. Clear off countertops

Get rid of all clutter in bathrooms and kitchens except for the bare necessities that “read” bathroom (soap dish and a hand towel) or kitchen (coffee machine). You can display a cookbook on a stand on a kitchen counter, and have it open to a fun recipe. Kitchens are often the number one priority on a buyer’s list, so make yours look as clean, open and spacious as possible.

kitchen countertops

You might be able to get all of your home-staging shopping done at Amazon. The products include pops of color as well as plenty of pillows. Can you tell how much I love pillows?

Curb appeal tips for selling your home

When you’re selling a house, you don’t want potential buyers to drive by–and keep on going. But if your home doesn’t have curb appeal, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

So one of the most important answers to the question about how to get your home ready to sell is to focus on curb appeal. It’s the first impression for potential buyers. Sure, they may have seen your gorgeous photos in an online real estate ad. But up close and personal, perhaps the outside of your house doesn’t shine as much. If so, address this immediately.

Here are 17 easy curb appeal tips for selling your home.

  1. Wash the windows.
  2. Evaluate foundation plantings, and trim back or replace as needed.
  3. Update the light fixture at the front door.
  4. Repair or install a new mailbox.
  5. Repair the front walk if it is cracked or heaved.
  6. Remove dead tree and shrub branches.
  7. Mow the lawn.
  8. Power wash your house. Before you hire a professional for this service, check out the Windex Outdoor Multisurface Cleaner, which attaches to a garden hose. I’ve used this product to clean vinyl siding and windows.
  9. Clean entry way, front lights, and walkway of cobwebs, tree debris, dust, dirt, etc.
  10. Add colorful, potted plants along walkway or entryway.
  11. Clean and sweep the driveway.
  12. Store all yard equipment, including children’s toys.
  13. Find somewhere else to park any extra cars, boats, trailers, or RVs.
  14. Do not use the porch for storage.
  15. Clean up after your pets.
  16. Store garbage cans where they are not visible from the street.
  17. Invest in a new front mat. When we were selling our house at the Jersey Shore, our doormat definitely had a beach theme, just like this one I found on Amazon.
get your home ready to sell

The good news is that, oftentimes, improving curb appeal can really get your home ready to sell. I believe that these curb appeal tips for selling your house show how just doing a few small projects can have a large impact on how quickly your home sells and for how much.

Real estate buzz words

Now that your home is ready to sell, inside and out, it’s time to work with your Realtor to write the description. Since nearly all buyers search for homes online these days, you want to make sure that your listing includes all of the right real estate buzz words. This includes the top search words for real estate. At the same time be aware of words not to use in real estate advertising.

get your home ready to sell free printable

(Please visit our Printables page for a free PDF printable of the tip sheet above. You can download it for free and print it out for your use.)

Top search words for real estate

Here are 18 words you should always include in a real estate listing, assuming these real estate buzz words accurately describe your home:

  1. Luxurious: The word luxurious signals that a home’s finishes and amenities are high-end.
  2. Captivating: “Captivating” provides a rich, enticing description for buyers.
  3. Impeccable: This is a rich (literally and figuratively) adjective that describes something about the quality of the home–in a good way.
  4. Stainless: If you watch HGTV, then you know homeowners are crazy about stainless steel appliances–and have been for years.
  5. Landscaped: Curb appeal sells! If you’ve recently landscaped your yard, let people know.
  6. Remodel: Real estate experts know that it’s usually worth mentioning if you recently remodeled or made improvements to your home.
  7. Beautiful: A beautiful feature like a view may be worth noting.
  8. Spotless: Saying a home is “spotless” bumps up its value in the buyer’s mind.
  9. Tile: New tile often signals that the home has been well cared for.
  10. Upgraded: Upgrades are almost always a selling point.
  11. Updated: To buyers the word “updated” says that something old has been replaced with something new.
  12. Move-in: Saying a home is in “move-in condition” or is “move-in ready” says that the house is updated, has the bells and whistles you may be looking for in a new home, and if you buy this house, you won’t have to do a thing when you get there.
  13. Granite: Buyers love granite countertops. Home Depot nearly always has deals on granite countertops, if you’re looking to upgrade (see how I used that real estate buzz word there?).
  14. State-of-the-art: State of the art is pretty self explanatory–your home is modern and updated (again, see real estate buzz word number 11).
  15. Corian: If you don’t have granite, Corian is a second best contender. Home Depot also carries Corian.
  16. Maple: Maple cabinetry is extremely popular among buyers.
  17. Gourmet: A gourmet kitchen sounds like it stepped right off the set of a “Food Network” show.
  18. Hardwood floors: Hardwoods beat carpeting any day of the week.

Words not to use in real estate advertising

The words your real estate agent uses in your real estate advertising could affect the price you get when you sell your home–and not to your benefit. Using the wrong adjective could cost you a good selling price.

Here are nine words not to use in real estate advertising:

  1. Fixer: The word “fixer” implies “fixer-upper.”
  2. TLC: Falls in the same camp as “fixer.”
  3. Cosmetic: A buyer likely doesn’t want to hear their home needs work.
  4. Investment: Low-priced listings described as an “investment” signals a home that has seen better days.
  5. Investor: For buyers this word can mean rundown and cheap.
  6. Potential: A home with potential might sound positive, but to a buyer it says work-in-progress or not finished.
  7. Bargain: If you think your home is a great deal, a good rule of thumb is to let the price speak for itself. Don’t say it’s a bargain.
  8. Opportunity: In the corporate world an opportunity suggest something positive. In real estate, it’s the exact opposite. That word often suggests “investment opportunity” or “house-flipping opportunity,” which can have negative connotations for buyer.
  9. Nice: For low- and mid-priced homes, “nice” is highly subjective, especially if it’s used generally to say “a nice home.” The buyer is left to interpret what “nice” means. Your high school English teacher probably already warned you about using the word “nice” there are other, better adjectives out there. So find a better way to describe your house, such as the words listed above in the top search words for real estate.

Hopefully this advice helps you get your home ready to sell easily and quickly, and for your ideal price. And, if you decide you might want to rent versus own, this blog post can help you weigh the pros and cons.