7 Tips for Preparing Your Home to Sell

Remember how you felt when you decided to buy your first home? Mixed in with all the excitement may have been feelings of anxiety about the next steps you'd need to take toward homeownership. Would you know what to tackle and when? And who would help?

Now, when it comes to selling your home, you may have similar emotions. You may also have questions about:

  • What to prioritize as you prepare your home for the market
  • When to reach out to a real estate agent
  • How to determine the best price for your property

To help guide you, we’re sharing the following strategy and tips.

1. Take stock of what needs to be done around the house

Maybe it’s been a while since you put away all the laundry and deep-cleaned the bathroom. Or perhaps you’ve been putting off repairing that gap in your fence. Tidying up and taking inventory of what else needs to be done is a great place to begin. For big-ticket repairs, you can also start to puzzle through how much time and money you’ll need to budget in order to address them.

2. Create a rough timeline

Whether you need to move quickly due to job relocation or have time to transition slowly to a new home, it’s always wise to map out a timeline of when you plan to enter the market to sell your home. In addition to building in time to address the basic cleaning and repair issues mentioned above, you’ll want to think about any time-sensitive issues for which you must account, such as a start date for a new job in another state or when the builder of your new home anticipates construction will be complete.

It’s worth noting that some times of the year are better than others to sell your home. And while the “ideal” time can vary a bit from community to community and even year to year, most real estate markets tend to pick up in late winter and early spring, with many buyers and sellers alike preferring to move in ways that can accommodate school year calendars.

3. Reach out to an agent

Although many people explore selling their own home, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the vast majority of American sellers (86%) work with a licensed real estate agent.

That’s understandable, since agents — through their professional networks and experience guiding people through real estate processes — are important educational resources.

Not only can an agent provide comps (short for “comparable properties” in your neighborhood), but also they can connect you with repair people and make referrals to property photographers, title companies, mortgage loan officers and even moving companies.

» Tip: Many people find it helpful to consult with a mortgage lender to secure preapproval or prequalification before they reach out to a real estate agent. That's because knowing how much money you have to spend can help an agent guide you more quickly toward homes that fit your budget, saving time and energy.

From helping you determine the best price under which to list your home to marketing it to the public and walking you through negotiations and closing day, a good agent can offer great value to sellers.

When you first meet with a prospective agent, share the rough timeline you’ve sketched out. They can help you assess the feasibility of your plan given what they know about the current market and buyer activity. Plus, they’ll want to walk through your home, assessing everything from needed repairs to how best to stage your property for photographers and prospective buyers.

» Remember: Your agent’s recommendations may require adjusting your initial timeline. As with much of the selling process, flexibility can be key.

Although it’s optimal to have everything as tidy as you can before inviting an agent into your home, it’s understandable that tight timelines can necessitate letting them see your less-than-perfect closet organization skills. In fact, the tighter the window you have in which to sell, the sooner you’ll want to talk with a professional.

4. Move forward with basic repairs and home staging

Fresh paint. New plants in front porch pots. A tidy pantry. These elements can catch a buyer’s eye in person and online, so it’s likely that your agent will provide suggestions along these lines. Most likely, your agent will suggest that you “depersonalize” your space, removing family photos and mementos to neutralize decor. (This allows prospective buyers more freedom to imagine themselves living in your home.)

5. Set the right price

As much art as science, selecting the price tag you’ll place on your home is a place where an agent can prove invaluable.

There are many factors that can impact your listing price, such as (but not limited to):

  • Comps for your neighborhood and adjoining areas
  • The age, condition and size of your home
  • Your home’s proximity to good schools, employers, shopping and entertainment hubs as well as green spaces
  • Economic indicators and interest rates
  • The overall health of the local real estate market

There’s a sweet spot for listing prices. On the one hand, you don’t want to price so high that no one sees your home. On the other, if you price too low, you may not get the best return on your investment. Working with an agent and the above factors, you should be able to come to an agreeable number, ideally one that attracts interest from buyers as soon as your home hits the market.

6. Develop a plan to keep your home worth showing

You’ve tackled your to-do list and selected a real estate professional to market your home. The listing price is set and your home is about to go on the market. Yet there are still a couple of things to address. A big one? Developing a plan to maintain your home’s interior and exterior appeal.

It’s one thing to tidy up your home in anticipation of seeing it in online real estate listings. It’s another to keep it tidy consistently over time, especially in a sluggish market. Basically, whenever a buyer’s agent wants to show your home, you’ll want to avoid having a stack of dishes in the sink and smelly trash that needs to be taken out.

A daily and weekly to-do list can help keep you on task and minimize the need for last-minute tidying. Plus, don’t forget to come up with a plan for how to occupy your time during open houses and when someone is showing your house — especially if you have young children.

7. Plan to lean into the sales process personally

Although online listings, flyers and your “for sale” sign are important tools that your real estate agent will use to attract interested buyers, it can be helpful for you to put the word out that your home is up for sale. Social media as well as neighborhood websites and message boards are excellent ways to announce your home is available.

The Takeaway

In the run up to putting your home on the real estate market, there are many things to consider. Some details are easy to address. Others are best undertaken in concert with a local real estate professional, someone who knows and understands the market well enough to provide useful guidance.

Whether you’re planning to sell or buy a home soon, remember that Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty — RBFCU’s preferred real estate partner — is here to help you move beyond your expectations to provide an extraordinary real estate experience.

Information in this article is general in nature and for your consideration, not as financial advice. Please contact your own financial professionals regarding your specific needs before taking any action based upon this information.


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Kuper Realty Holding Company, LLC dba Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty is a subsidiary of RBFCU Services LLC. RBFCU Services LLC is affiliated with Randolph‑Brooks Federal Credit Union (RBFCU).