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First Impressions: How to Prepare Your Home For Showings

Marketing your home is a team effort and I need your help. The following checklist will help set the stage for a speedy sale at the highest price. When a prospective buyer looks at your home, these suggestions are the very things that influence a buyer’s FIRST IMPRESSION.

The House Exterior:

Your front door gives a vital first impression while a REALTOR and a prospect wait for you to answer the door. A little linseed oil will freshen up stained wood. If painted, wash with soap and water. If paint or varnish is chipped or peeling, a fresh coat of paint may be in order.

  • Clean out gutters if needed.
  • Repair any torn screens or replace missing ones.
  • Hose off or pressure wash exterior wood and trim.
  • If gutters or exterior wood and trim are in need of paint because of obvious cracking, peeling or chipping, it is best to repair those areas.
  • If you have window air conditioning units, wipe them clean and remove any rust that may have accumulated around condensation areas.
  • If you have an outside patio or deck, make sure any lawn furniture, gas grills, or exposed wood are in good repair, “X-14″ spray or a chlorine bleach solution will help remove the mildew.
  • Many cleaning services are available to assist you with a thorough cleaning.

The House Interior:

  • Kitchens, bathrooms, floors, and woodwork are the key. Keep these areas clean and in good condition.
  • Keep ovens, stoves or surface units and all porcelain or stainless steel clean. Cabinet counter tops should be clean and kitchen accessories in order. Remove unnecessary clutter from counter tops.
  • Whether you have hardwood floors, wall-to-wall carpets, vinyl, or any combination, keeping them clean is important. Mop or sweep hardwood or vinyl. Vacuum carpets thoroughly, clean if needed.
  • Bathrooms are difficult to keep straight and clean, but they are of great importance in the overall appearance of your home. If grout between ceramic tile has cracked and fallen out it is best to re-caulk these areas with ceramic caulking compound found in any grocery or hardware store.
  • Replace old furnace filters, and remove any dust accumulation from heat registers or vent covers.
  • If doors stick or folding doors are off track, repair them.
  • Storage is important to any prospective homeowner. Cluttered closets and other storage areas may accentuate a storage problem, especially in homes without basements. Clean out closets. A spacious appearance in any storage area is extremely important. Pack items you don’t use, leaving only those needed before your move.
  • If any rooms within the house are dark during daylight hours, keep curtains or drapes open and if necessary keep a lamp on. A bright cheerful room is pleasing and again gives an air of spaciousness. Let the sunshine in! Turn on the lights.
  • If interior repainting is necessary, use neutral colors. Consult your agent.
  • Gleaming, clean windows say a lot to buyers about your home and you.
  • Do not dump waste paper or trash in fireplace. Keep fireplace as neat as possible.
  • Replace burned out light bulbs, especially in the basement.
  • Tighten doorknobs, window fittings, and other hardware.
  • Do not hide a problem; it will come back to haunt you. Cracks in walls or concrete, broken appliances, roof leaks or wet basements are normally inexpensive to repair and should be repaired.
  • Keep all steps clear of hazards.
  • Make up beds with attractive spreads and dress up windows in freshly laundered curtains.
  • Keep pets out of the way when showing. (One type of prospect is annoyed, the other gets attention diverted.)
  • Pack personal collections and photos. Too much seller personality prevents buyers from taking “personal possession” of a home.
  • Never apologize for appearance. It only accents or distracts.
  • Leave showing to the agent. The agent’s business is to sell; the agent can overcome objections and highlight your home’s features better without your help.
  • It is best for you to leave when your home is being shown if at all possible.
  • Never try to sell furniture to a customer before the house is sold.
  • Do not discuss anything concerning your sale with a customer. Refer customers back to the agent. We know the prospects and know best how to negotiate price, terms, possession, and other factors.
  • Turn off the television while the property is being shown. A radio playing soft background music creates an inviting atmosphere.
  • Put jewelry, checkbooks and other valuables in a secure place.

The Yards and Grounds:

  • Keep the lawn cut and trimmed.
  • Trim and shape shrubs if necessary.
  • Keep the area around garbage cans neat and free of trash.
  • Stack woodpiles neatly.
  • Keep drives and walks swept and free from pine straw, limbs, oil stains, etc.
  • Put a fresh layer of straw on pine islands.
  • Keep surface water drainage areas and natural streams free from debris that may cause water to stand or stagnate.
  • Pick up toys, tools, bicycles, etc.


You will notice that the majority of suggestions made here cost very little. When preparing a home for sale, we strongly urge you to spend money only when necessary. Outdated decor will lower a prospective buyer’s opinion of value. Repainting in neutral tones and repairing, when necessary, will help to insure that you receive fair market value for your home. The suggestions offered above are drawn from many years of experience in selling thousands of homes. I appreciate the opportunity to work with you on the sale of your home.