Preparing to Sell Your Home

By Ginny Mees

openhouseFirst Impressions are Key!

For most sellers, a showing and/or open house feels like a real invasion of privacy: with looky-loos and nosy neighbors poking their heads into closets and opening drawers. For single women it is especially invasive, because we may feel more vulnerable living on our own. Remember many neighbors know people who are looking, and (good) word of mouth is the golden gift to a home for sale.

It begins the morning of the showing; by making up the beds, clearing all the clutter and making sure that kitchen and bathrooms are ‘spick and span’. (It is strongly advised that you have a professional stager start 3-4 weeks ahead of time to help with an objective point of view-it is proven that staged homes sell for a higher price). The longer we live in our home the more likely it is we lose our perspective on the first impression our home will make. It is important to remember, you only have one chance to make a “first impression”…so even though it seems like a lot of work to prepare the home for each showing, remember this is the buyer’s first time seeing your home. A good rule of thumb is, to prepare your home as if you are having company spend the week, and they are people you would like to make feel at home.

In order to help you we have put a TO-DO list together which you should use to make your home presentable and enticing for any prospective buyers and their Realtors.


A sparkling sink becomes your kitchen’s benchmark for hygiene and tidiness. Load the dishwasher immediately after you clear the dishes and keep countertops, refrigerator doors (no magnets or children’s artwork, etc) and the stove top clean. Just a tip: pre-moistened wipes are a quick and powerful tool to make the home sparkling, and they leave a nice fresh smell in the home. Cooking fish or spicy dishes prior to a showing is not recommended due to the pungent odor that is left for sometimes days after cooking. Sweeping/or mopping the floor is also a nice touch.


Make cleaning the basin as routine as washing your hands. If you keep a tub of cleaning wipes under the sink, and wipe it out after every use it prevents you from having to run around like a mad woman before the showing. Get the most out of your pre-moistened wipe by using it to clean around the edges of the tub and then the toilet before tossing it.

• Wipe out the sink and toilet seat and rim. Also, please keep toilet seat and cover down!

• No personal hygiene items to be left anywhere visible (I once showed a house and the single woman seller had left yeast infection cream on her counter, and the book “Why Men Love Bitches” on her nightstand-TOO MUCH information about the seller!!).

• Pour bleach and swoosh the toilet bowl with a brush.

• Wipe the mirror and faucet.

• Squeegee the shower door.

• Spray the entire shower and the curtain liner with shower mist after every use.

• Hang colorful towels and toss all dirty ones in the laundry bin.


Making your bed as soon as you wake up will alleviate this necessity during each showing. Also a neat bed will inspire you to deal with other messes immediately. Although smoothing sheets and plumping pillows might not seem like a high priority as you’re rushing to work, the payoff comes at the end of the day, when you slip back under the unruffled covers.

• Make the bed.

• Fold or hang clothing

• Hide jewelry and other valuables.

• Straighten out the night-table surface.

• Ensure pictures and other wall hangings are straight.

Family room, living room, hall-way

Start with the sofa because as long as it’s in disarray, your living room will never look tidy. Once you’ve fluffed the pillows and folded the throws, you’re halfway home. Pick up crumbs and dust bunnies.

• Fluff the cushions and fold throws after use.

• Wipe tabletops and spot-clean cabinets and glass windows when you see fingerprints.

• Run a vacuum over any carpet.

• Ensure important papers (and anything with social security numbers, or other confidential information) is put away.

• A great item to have on hand is the Magic Eraser (Target carries them). It’s a sponge that you wet with water and it takes off all manner of marks – fingerprints, scuffmarks, pen on walls-many a home seller was able to avoid touch up paint due to this fantastic little tool!

• Straighten coffee-table books and magazines.

• Place fresh flowers in the home on a weekly basis.

• Play music, preferably easy listening/jazz but not too loud.

• Turn on the lights just before the showing or Open House.

Because real estate industry statistics show that a well prepared and staged home will sell quicker and for more money, we recommend you or your real estate professional invest in a professional staging of your home. A team of professionals is waiting for you to assist with your upcoming sale: Visit to find your Independent Women Professionals who can provide you more tips on how to prepare your home for sale.

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Other SMW Articles on Real Estate

The Savvy Home Buyer in 2009

Buying a Home? Are you Ready?

 The Female Face of Real Estate