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Top Things to Do Before Listing Your Home for Sale

By September 2, 2016February 22nd, 2021Judi's Blog

So you’ve decided it’s time to list your home for sale – now what? It’s easy to get overwhelmed during the selling process. Paint this, repair those, remodel that…where does it end? And where should you start?

Do These For Highest Return Before Listing Your Home for Sale



Take a deep breath and ponder this thought. It is a natural tendency to want your house to look its best for the prospective buyers. Even in this fast-paced market, homes that show well — sell well. So you are definitely on the right track here.


But this doesn’t mean throwing a lot of money into big remodeling projects or major overhauls. Because the money spent on these big projects may not pay off in the sale, we recommend a different approach. Prioritize your list of ‘to-dos’ by the return you will get in the sale. Return in this case means higher price for the money spent, and faster close.


So how do you know which activities to focus on for your house? First of all, ask your real estate agent for advice. Experienced real estate agents know the homes in your area, and what kind of competition you’ll have for the sale. Additionally, they can help you prioritize your to-do list according to the condition of your particular home.


So before you put the sign in the yard, get with your real estate agent and use the list below to help you get started.
1. Get Impersonal

You rock, it’s true. But selling your home means you have to make it appealing for others, not you. Make it easy for prospective buyers to imagine themselves in the home.

Once you can look at your home objectively, necessary changes become a whole lot easier. Refer to #7 below and this statement makes a whole lot of sense. And remember, you can go to town painting purple walls in your next home right?


2. Get Inspected

If your home is slightly older, you may want to go ahead and invest in an inspection prior to listing. Although some agents think this isn’t necessary because you will need to get another one during the selling process, it may be worth your piece of mind to do it now, especially if you have concerns on major items (roof, air conditioners, etc.).

If there’s something big that needs to be fixed, you can take care of it now- on your terms, and keep from delaying the close once you are in the contract stage. Talk to your real estate agent to see if this might be a good idea for you based on your particular home condition and age.


3. Think First Impressions

You’ve probably heard of curb appeal, but may not know how important it truly is. You only have a few minutes to capture your prospective buyers’ attention- make it count. Trim bushes and trees, mow and fertilize the grass, and make sure to get rid of any unsightly weeds. Also, a fresh edge and top layer of mulch look nice.

Plant some color in the beds closest to your entry way to provide an inviting approach. Check to make sure you don’t have any peeling paint on doors, shutters and window frames. Although this may not seem like a big thing, it could be a red flag to buyers that the property isn’t cared for and properly maintained. This bad vibe tends to spoil the mood for the rest of the home visit, so taking the time here always pays off.


4. Let There Be Light

Lighting is another one of those mood-setting factors that can make or break a buyer’s decision. And, lighting is always listed as one of top three decision factors for home buyers. Open the curtains, clean the windows and change out any really outdated lighting fixtures in the entry area. Change out your light bulbs and use 100 watt bulbs for extra lighting. It’s ok, the energy police will give you a break on this one.

Also, using different types of lighting provides a warmer, layered look that is very inviting. Use lamps, under-counter and overhead lighting wherever possible. For showings, always turn on lights and lamps to welcome the guests.


5. Kitchens are King

Kitchens are the heart of any home. This is where we come together as families, entertain our friends, and find comfort for life’s mishaps. It’s no wonder that kitchens are one of the top decision factors for home buyers. Make sure your kitchen is super clean and looks inviting.

For a homey feel, neatly lay out a few cookbooks on the counter or tea kettle on the stove top. Change out outdated faucets and hardware to give your kitchen an easy update. And, if needed—go ahead and paint the cabinets. Adding fresh flowers is also a very nice touch.


6. Think Small

Big expensive remodeling projects typically don’t pay off, but the RIGHT small ones do. Add fresh paint where needed, especially in the entry areas and front rooms. A fresh coat of bright white paint on base boards and door frames can totally transform a room and usually doesn’t take a lot of time.

Change out hardware on doors and cabinets. Update kitchen and master bath faucets if needed. And, adding a new bed cover, lamp shade, decorative pillow and cozy throw can really add zing and liven up a room.


7. Get Lean

No, you don’t need to diet. We’re talking about clearing out the clutter. Now’s the perfect time to throw out or donate any unwanted items. This is much better than lugging it to the new place. It’s also a great time to start packing up anything you won’t need for a few months.

Get rid of as many items as possible on tables, mantles and bookshelves. Also take down family photos if possible. Prospective buyers want to envision themselves in the home and it might be harder to do with Grandpa Earl staring at them from the mantle.

Emptying closets to ½ full is a powerful trick that does wonders. This is also true for kitchen cabinets, coat closets and storage areas. Ask a family member to help you temporarily store extra furniture and boxes, or invest in a small storage facility. This is where your charm or unused IOUs could come in handy.


8. Coral the Critters

We all love our fur babies. But prospective home buyers may not be as keen on them as we are. Make sure you hide as much evidence of your little mess-makers by putting away pet toys and beds, and clean up any pet fur on furniture, base boards and blinds.

Also clean and deodorize carpets so there are no tell-tail (pardon the pun) signs of your cuddly fur-balls. If pets are present during showing, make sure you have them in a safe, out-of-the-way place. Also make sure that agents are notified before showing your home and always remove them if you can.


9. Set the Stage

Before you list your home for sale, it’s a great idea to stage it to highlight key features and show off the space. Little things can make a big statement. Add fresh flowers and set the dining room table with your best place settings. Re-arrange furniture in conversational groupings and move away from the walls. This will create a natural, open flow and make the room seem larger.

Designers will tell you to group décor and wall hangings in groups of 3 or 5. For some reason, this is pleasing to most human types. According to, properly staging your home can add 3-10% on to your sell price and help you sell your home up to 60% faster. If you need a little extra help in this area, ask your real estate agent for their recommendations on professional staging help.


10. Be a Cleaning Machine

This should go without saying, but a dirty or unkempt home is not appealing at all to prospective buyers. It usually sends them running for the door before they have a chance to fall in love with your home’s charm. If you don’t tend to be a picky cleaner, hire professional help.


Remember, your home is unique. Enlist your agent’s help in prioritizing the pre-listing activities and tap into their expertise. If you are looking for a real estate agent who is expert in marketing and selling homes, give us a call!


Judi Wright/The Judi Wright Team is a real estate group specializing in the suburbs of Frisco, Plano and surrounding areas. Judi has been named the “Best Realtor in Dallas,” by D Magazine ten times and a Five Star Realtor with Texas Monthly. Consistently named a Company-Wide Top performer with Ebby Halliday, Judi is also the #1 Individual Agent for Ebby Halliday Frisco.

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