Yes, before cleaning, polishing, staging, and repairing, the first thing you should do is gather together all the relevant paperwork for your home — not only the obvious financials for the Realtor, but also documentation that will matter to a buyer:
- Manuals and warranties for major appliances, HVAC, garage door, etc.
- Vendor contacts and contracts (e.g., lawn service, plumber, electrician) including any recent work and guaranties
- Utility bills so you can show average seasonal costs for your home
- Renovation, repair and remodel records — new roof? New water heater? Gather up the papers that document what you had done, by whom, and what new warranties might apply
2. Declutter (and depersonalize)
Always the number one recommendation by Realtors, stripping your home of your personal possessions, knick-knacks, and crowded furniture is the fastest, easiest and cheapest thing you can do to increase the appeal of your home to potential buyers. Try to make your home an inviting blank slate — like a hotel room — onto which buyers can easily see themselves and their lifestyle.
From messy to appealing, from Bubblegarm
3. Deep clean
You know it’s true — your house is at its sparkling best when it’s bright, spotless and cleaned within an inch of its life. Now’s the time to clean the blinds, touch up the smudges on the walls, scrub the bathrooms and kitchens, rent a steamer and go to town on the upholstery and carpets.
Big things make big impressions. Small things make lasting impressions. Make sure every light bulb and light switch works. The toilets shouldn’t run and the faucets shouldn’t leak. Check that doors close, locks turn, windows open, sliders slide, blinds go up and down. Replace any screens that are ripped.
5. Dress up
After you’ve decluttered and de-personalized, make your home inviting. Fresh flowers are a sure-fire way to brighten your home and make it look its best — open any photo spread in Architectural Digest or Better Homes and Gardens and check out the flowers. If the walls look bare because you’ve taken down artwork, hang mirrors, which make rooms look lighter, brighter and bigger. Try hanging a single large mirror, or a symmetrical arrangement of smaller mirrors.
For more tips on what to do before you list your home:
- 5 Cheap and Easy Fixes Before You List Your Home (Zillow)
- 10 Things to Do Before You List Your House (TLC)
- 5 Musts Before You List Your Home (Realty Times)