10 Ways to Prepare Your House for a Sale

November 4, 2023

Looking to sell your house? Get tips to maximize your home's appeal and value before listing. 10 easy ways to prep your house to sell at top dollar.

As a real estate agent in North Carolina, I recognize the importance of best practices for selling, listing, and staging a house, along with the vital aspect of reducing sentimental attachments to the property.

To effectively prepare your house for sale, it's crucial to shift your perspective and view your home as a product that needs to appeal to a broad range of potential buyers.

Next, address any necessary repairs and maintenance issues – both minor and major – to ensure the property is in top condition before listing.

When it comes to staging your home, aim for a balance between clean, neutral design and tasteful, inviting decor.

Emphasize the property's best features and create a sense of flow and spaciousness within each room, accommodating a variety of potential buyers' preferences.

For luxury homes, consider engaging the services of a professional stager or consult with your real estate agent for expert guidance on how to most effectively present your home.

Aim for a balance between clean, neutral design and tasteful, inviting decor.

Emphasize the property's best features and create a sense of flow and spaciousness within each room, accommodating a variety of potential buyers' preferences.

Here are soma additional ways you can begin the preparation process as you contemplate selling your home.


Start by depersonalizing your living spaces; remove personal items such as family photos, heirlooms, and any collections.

This allows prospective buyers to more easily envision themselves living in the property and minimizes potential distractions during showings.

During home showings, potential buyers need to visualize themselves living there.

They need to feel like that home is the right home for them and too many personal items could derail that feeling.

Depersonalizing the home leaves space for the potential buyers to imagine their lifestyle in the home.

Removing pictures and other personal items not only allows the buyer to emotionally attach themselves to the home, it will also allow you as the seller to personally

detach from the home.

Improve your landscaping

Enhancing your property's curb appeal is vital, as it creates a strong first impression.

Every home seller should include landscaping in their budget when getting their home market ready.

Invest in pressure washing the exterior, and keep driveways and walkways clean and well-maintained.

Having an early start on sprucing up your yard will give the foliage time to grow and it would have a natural look when the house is listed.

Adding fresh mulch is a cheap and simple way to liven up the yard. Also consider cleaning up dead leaves and debris around trees and bushes and fertilizing your lawn.

Improve Your Curb Appeal

Pay close attention to curb appeal, as the exterior of your home serves as the first impression for potential buyers.

In the manual for “market ready real estate essentials” (if one exists), curb appeal is at the top of the list.

If your house needs an exterior makeover, you don’t have to break the bank. Give your siding, driveway and porch a good pressure washing.

Fresh landscaping, a clean façade, and well-maintained outdoor spaces can significantly enhance your property's appeal.

Clean the gutters, seal the driveway, and clean up any junk around the outside of your home. If necessary, install a new mailbox.

Dress Up Your Entryway

The best first impressions of a listing occur before the potential buyer enters the front door.

First impressions are everything and in home showings, it could make or break the possibility of receiving an offer.

Give your entryway an inviting feel by adding a fresh coat of paint to your porch.

Also consider painting your front door, preferably a color that pops and contrasts with the exterior.

A welcome mat and door ornaments will give a nice personal touch.

Get the House Inspected

It's a great idea to get the house inspected before spending money on repairs or improvements.

I cannot stress the benefits, savings on time and money and peace of mind it brings.

A typical premarket inspection is only a couple hundred bucks and it is worth every penny.

If you have an inspection report, use it as a roadmap for defects you can correct within your budget.

Having an inspection report is also beneficial if you have to hire a contractor.

The report will help the contractor identify the extent of the damages and the report will help you conceptualize the scope of work needed.

Tackle necessary repairs and maintenance tasks to ensure the home is in excellent condition before listing.

This includes addressing even small issues that may be seen as red flags by potential buyers.

Declutter The Space, Let Your Home Breathe

This is your opportunity to get rid of items rarely used and take up space.

Most commonly cluttered area is the kitchen countertops.

Remove 90% of the items from the kitchen surfaces so the potential buyers can see the true functionality of the space.

Also, remove cluttered wall art if necessary. Decluttering also gives you a head start on packing for your next big move.

Organize Your Belongings Before Showings Begin

When you are selling your home, privacy no longer exists. That closet that hurled junk into needs to be organized and purged.

Potential buyers will inspect the entire house and open every door, including the storage areas.

If you have a junk room that satisfies your hoarder tendencies, there is a good chance that potential buyers might look there too!

Paint Neutral Colors

If you personally painted your walls colors such as, red, yellow, green, pink or any other bold color, you should consider changing it to the original neutral color.

We all have different tastes and preferences. Listings with bold interior paint tend to sit on the market longer than the competing listings because buyers would consider repainting as “too much work”.

Begin with a coat of primer and paint with the “builder beige” or “agreeable grey” color that the home was originally painted with.

If the neutral plain is restored, your home will elicit more offers because your potential buyers won’t be too busy thinking about starting a huge painting project before

they can move in.

Eliminate Bad Aromas, Especially Pets

During showings bad odors will turn away virtually every buyer.

If you smoke in the home, poorly maintain your pets, have mold or cook ethnic foods with strong smells, you may want to consider taking measures to change the scent in the home.

Oftentimes the smell circulated through the air ducts and vents, so I would consider cleaning the  HVAC duct system.

You should consider replacing carpets and removing some upholstery.

Priming and painting is a life hack for these situations but can be costly.

Less expensive measures include, buying candles, replacing the air filter and baking brownies or cookies the days you have showings.

Gather Your Warranties

In a North Carolina real estate purchase, it's typical for most of the appliances to come with it.

The only appliances that are usually up for negotiations are the refrigerator, washer and dryer.

Several common warranty companies cover all appliances (in addition to the HVAC and water heater) despite the age of the appliances.

If you have warranties on any of your mechanical items or roof, be proactive and gather these ahead of time.

This would save you a lot in negotiating and it would insure for a smooth close.

Like everything else, if you are properly prepared you can accomplish every goal and selling your home is no exception to this rule.

Think ahead, act accordingly and you be ready when those competing offers come in.


Effectively preparing a house for sale in North Carolina requires a shift in mindset, viewing the property as a marketable product, and focusing on strategies that appeal to a wide range of potential buyers.

By addressing repairs and maintenance, enhancing curb appeal, depersonalizing, and staging the property with neutral yet inviting decor, you can create an appealing atmosphere that encourages potential buyers to envision themselves in the space.

Partnering with one of our experienced real estate agents further ensures your home is showcased and priced optimally to attract motivated buyers.

By combining these best practices and maintaining a professional, objective perspective on the selling process, you will increase the likelihood of a smooth and successful transaction that meets your goals as a home seller.

Tim M. Clarke

About the author

17 years as a Realtor in the Research Triangle, Tim seeks to transform the Raleigh-Durham real estate scene through a progressive, people-centered approach prioritizing trust & transparency.

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