Prepare Your Home for Sale {Printable Checklist}

When we decided that our house needed to be placed on the market, I knew that I had my work cut out for me. Eight years of living lazily comfortably within this house had left me with closets, drawers, cabinets, and corners full of clutter. Everyone I spoke with said the same thing…

If you want to sell your house, you need to de-clutter.

So, we cancelled homeschool for two weeks. I woke early and went to bed late. But, we got it done and the house looks amazing.

What is Clutter?

This might be harsh if you are attached to your stuff, but clutter is anything excessive that rests on a surface. While “excessive” might be relative to the individual, I think you should really seek minimalism. Box up those treasured what-nots and extra items. You are planning to move anyway, right? Consider it preparation for moving day.

If you are having a difficult time determining what should be put into storage, try to view your home as a visitor would. Look at your house from the street. What catches your attention? What could be improved? Walk in and look around. What do you notice first?

Still having problems? Ask someone you trust, like a neighbor or friend, to point out things that they notice.

The Checklist

If you are planning to put your house up for sale, here is a step-by-step checklist for de-cluttering your home.

In every room ~

  • Remove all clutter
  • Clean the ceiling fan
  • Sweep the ceiling
  • Dust the walls from the top down
  • Dust the base boards
  • Dust all furniture
  • Vacuum, mop and/or clean carpets
  • Launder or vacuum the window treatments
  • Wash the windows
  • Replace or repair damaged mini-blinds
  • Replace blown light bulbs
  • Patch holes
  • Touch-up paint walls and trim

Additional items in the kitchen ~

  • Box up all extra plates and serving pieces
  • Organize your spice rack and pantry
  • Move appliances you seldom use to your cabinets or pantry
  • Scrub your sink
  • Change the drip pans on your stove top
  • Clean the oven
  • Wipe down all appliances
  • Make any necessary repairs

Additional items in the bathroom ~

  • Scrub the shower
  • Clean the toilet
  • Remove toiletries from the counter and tub
  • Make any necessary repairs
  • Have clean towels prepared for show

Additional items in the bedrooms ~

  • Remove excess books, magazines, and/or toys
  • Make beds (daily)

In the closets ~ 

  • Remove seasonal items
  • Organize loose items
  • Move boxes to attic or storage

Outside ~

  • Wash windows
  • Check for rot and mildew
  • Spot clean, if needed
  • Touch up paint, if needed
  • Sweep the front porch/stoop
  • Trim the lawn and hedges
  • Place potted flowers around your front door
  • Purchase a new welcome mat

Notice that we chose to not repaint. This is definitely something you should consider if your home has a variety of different colors on every wall in the main living spaces. Since our home carries a neutral theme through the majority of the home, we decided not to paint but will offer any potential buyers the option of having us paint in neutral tones before we move.

What tips would you offer for preparing your home for sale?

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  1. Sarah T. says

    When we sold our house several years ago we also:
    – Took everything off the fridge
    – Took down all family pictures
    – Power-washed the walkway (amazing difference!)
    – Left out past utility statements to show off the low bills
    – Removed excess furniture (think “staging”)

    I wish I would have taken the time to look at each item and assess if we really needed it. It would have saved a *bunch* of boxes and time/energy later. If you’re not in a hurry, or anticipate moving in a year or so, it’d be a good practice to start now, so you don’t feel rushed when it’s time to actually put the house on the market.

      • Penny says

        If you are storing empty boxes, break the boxes down flat and then store either in a basement or a garage up against the wall (behind an existing cabinet or shelving unit might be even better since it would clearly hide them). If they are “packed/filled”, again, the basement or the garage in a corner is best (or suspend plywood from your ceiling of either of those places and store them up there). I do not think buyers are as critical about basements and garages as they are the rest of the house (as long as it is organized, that is).

  2. says

    Remove anything that is personal. Try to put up generic pictures (landscape, etc) and take down family pictures.

    Try to make every room look as big as possible. You might take out extra furniture or move it around. Ask your realtor what is popular right now, man cave or intimate talking space/living room? And try to work that in to your space.

    Ask friends to store your extra belongings or rent a storage unit. (Our poor dear friends had our stuff in their basement for over a year while we were working on getting our house ready to sell and trying to determine what our future moving plans were.)

    Clear counters and fridge front and make your house pictures look their best!! Our realtor let us take our own pictures, so my husband and I moved everything and took a picture then put stuff back. With 4 kids, it’s almost impossible to have every surface clear all the time. :) Take pictures around your house at all seasons if possible. You might list your house in spring but the pool isn’t going to look as nice during winter as it did last summer.

    • Penny says

      Great tips! We have a ton of stuff at my parent’s home and still have some things to take. Crazy how much you can gather in eight years.

  3. Patty Herbert says

    This is a great checklist! I am a Realtor and this makes a Huge difference when selling a house. Thanks for posting.

    • Penny says

      Thanks, Patty! If you have anyone buying in the Mobile, AL area, I have the perfect house for them. 😉

  4. Leila Billich says

    1. Paint your grout. You can get actual paint grout from home depot or some such place, or just use white house paint and a q-tip. It makes your tile in your kitchen/ bathroom look new – a huge difference! If you’re using house paint instead of the expensive grout paint, it’ll wear away quick but it’s about the staging, right?
    2. If you have wood floors (real or fake), use a wet swiffer or mop on them right before a showing – the glow makes a big difference :)
    3. Put in a bunch of glades/ airwicks, febreeze the couch, whatever you use to make the house smell nice – do NOT allow your house to have a bad smell, automatic deal breaker.

  5. Penny says

    I have my house for sale by owner as I work through downsizing it and removing clutter. Mr. Clean magic erasers are my new friend. Those worked amazing on molding, baseboards, white doors, scuff marks on walls, paint stains in a utility sink, etc. (no need to repaint or touch up). They even worked getting makeup stains off my daughters’ bathroom sinks and vanities. It looks new again. Our house is 10 years old and we have lived here 7 years. Another suggestion… clean or replace all shower curtain liners. Use Pintrest for tough cleaning ideas first before you replace or repaint.

    • Penny says

      Oh my! I must confess that I also have a love for Magic Erasers… especially since one of my children thinks he is Picasso and decorates our walls regularly. uh. 😉


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