How to Get Your House Ready to Sell

Getting your house ready to sell is the most effective action you can take to ensure a successful result from your home sale. We all know that buyers have high expectations and want to fall in love with their new home. If you make a plan and take the time to prepare your home properly for sale, you will absolutely reap the rewards of your efforts.

Getting Your House Ready to Sell

In this article, we will focus on the actions you can do yourself to ensure your home sells well.

Of course, there are other factors that contribute to how successful your home sale is, such as a superior marketing plan and home staging, but this article will focus on what you can do to get a head start towards preparing your house for sale.

What Sells a Home?

Before we get to the steps on how to get your house ready to sell, it’s important to understand what the majority of homebuyers are looking for in a home.

90% of buyers are looking for a bright, modern, stylish home which they can be proud of. Buyers want a home that feels like an upgrade from their current home, and provides them that “better life” which they seek. When you are able to give them this, you’ll be the most successful when selling your house.

As a home seller you need to take this knowledge, and inject as much of this aspirational feeling into your home as you possibly can.

We do this with 3 factors, by making your home look bigger, brighter and more updated then other similar homes for sale in your area.

Before doing anything, take a look online to see what homes currently for sale in your area look like. It will be a great way to learn what you’ll be competing against when you list your home for sale.


1)  How To Make a House Look Bigger

A bigger home, whether it’s real square feet or just a perceived sense of more space, creates more value for a buyer. If your home feels bigger than the other homes they are looking at, your home will be more attractive to them. Below are some important points to keep in mind when you’re getting your house ready to sell.

  • Floor Space is King: wide-open spaces feel bigger and flow better. Reduce the furniture all rooms down to essential furniture only. For example, an average size master bedroom only needs a bed, 2 side tables, 2 lamps, and MAYBE a dresser if there’s enough space. Ensure all doorways and walkways are clear of furniture so that walking around is easy for the buyer.Optimizing a home’s floor space is one of the most important aspects of home staging services.
  • Reduce Contrast in Small Rooms: Colour doesn’t make rooms feel small, contrast does. If there are any sharp colour transitions in your floors or walls, consider changing them for a more harmonious colour scheme to visually expand the space.Be sure to check out this article on the Top Paint Colours for Staging Your Home.

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  • Leave Most of Your Walls Empty: Use art to create strong focal points where necessary – over sofas, beds, fireplaces, and by tables. Make them big & bold points of attraction. Let the rest of the walls be empty to give visual “breathing room”. 
  • De-Clutter: Clear counters of all paperwork, books, bins, and miscellaneous item. Hide away appliances. Store makeup and toiletries in bins in the vanity. Tidy bookshelves so that they are not stuffed with plastic binders and unattractive items. Store, Purge, Sell or Toss as much as you can. The sooner you start, the less stress you will feel.

2)    How to Make Your Home Brighter 

The way people live in a home is far different then the way people buy a home. I have been in hundreds of homes, and most people live with windows drawn closed and lights off. But when buyers are looking for a home they want a bright, airy-feeling home.

Selling a bright looking home is a good example of how home buying is just as much emotion as it is logic. The home seller who understands this, will have much more success attracting buyers. Below are some steps you can take to make your home as bright as possible.

  • Remove Dated and Broken Blinds: All of those vinyl horizontal and vertical blinds have seen their day, and chances are that you have some that are broken and don’t pull up properly anymore. Remove them completely so that your home is brighter and more updated.
  • Use Sheers/White Drapes: If you don’t have California Shutters throughout your home, this is not the time to invest. Depending on the privacy level you require, use plain white sheers or drapes to bring elegance to your windows and let the light filter through as much as possible. Make sure the drapes touch the floor.

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  • Open Your Shutters: People do love California Shutters, but they block far too much light from your windows. When you are selling your house, ensure they’re all open. If the window has a bad view consider frosting the glass with a simple vinyl frosted sheet. 
  • Increase Your Lighting: Have a 1-bulb light? Switch it for a 3-bulb. Have a 3-bulb pendant/chandelier? Switch it for a 5-bulb. It will feel oddly bright when you do this, it might take some adjustment. But I guarantee your rooms were too dark before. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Cheap and Stylish Lighting for more inspiration.
  • Pot Lights: Many home sellers decide to upgrade their lighting by installing pot lights. Pot lights are a great secondary source of lighting, but should not be your main source. Using too many pot lights give a distinctive airplane runway effect. Keep the central fixtures in your home, and then add just enough pot lights around them. In a 12×14 room, estimate 12 to 14 pot lights, not 20.

3)    How to Modernize Your Home

While there are some situations where full-blown renovations are worth the investment, that’s not what we’re talking about in this article. Every home can benefit from some updating so that it meets most buyers’ desire for a modern, move-in-ready, stylish home.

  • Check Your Floors: Do you have carpet? Worn out wood floor? Dated hallway tile? Most homebuyers hate dealing with flooring issues. Now is a great time to fix any worn out or dated flooring and buyers will reward you for the effort.
  • Check Your Kitchen: The kitchen is the most important room in the house. If your budget is tight, concentrate your efforts into the kitchen because this is where you’ll get the best return. If your cabinets are in good condition, consider updating the counters, the backsplash and the handles to get a fresh, modern look.


  • Upgrade Your Home Lighting: Lighting is something everyone takes for granted, but when you see a stunning light, it grabs everyone’s attention. An eye-catching light adds elegance, style and sophistication to a room like nothing else, and it’s relatively cheap to upgrade your home lighting. Put beautiful, transitional lights throughout your home and watch the buyers fall in love.


  • Paint: Painting your walls AND trim is the fastest, most economical way to update your home. Covering all the marks, dings, scratches, and past trendy colour choices will make a big difference. Check out this article on the Top 10 Paint Colours for Selling Your Home.

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How to Get a House Ready to Sell Quickly

The key to selling your house quickly and for the most money is to be organized, and give yourself enough time to properly prepare your home to sell.

In my experience, the longer you’ve lived in a home, the more time you will need to prepare the home for sale. On average, it takes 5-10 days to de-clutter and clean. If you need to make repairs and paint, you should leave yourself another 2 weeks for these. For larger jobs it’s best to make a plan and start 1 to 2 months ahead of time.

The ideal situation would be to have a home staging consultation as soon as you know you’re going to sell. It’s very common for me to meet with a client months before they sell, so we can create a solid plan for them. This reduces the stress and ensures we are doing everything we can to get our clients top dollar on the sale of their home.

In short, the more time you give yourself, the better. If you only have 4 weeks, we tailor a plan to your situation, which will be reasonable and achievable.

Sell Your Home Checklist

Here is a general guideline of how to prepare your house for sale, if you want to get started right away.

Step 1 Collect/Buy Boxes, Tape, Sharpie Markers, Labels and Packing Material
Step 2 – Allocate 1 Day (5-8 hours) to Each Room in Your Home to Work on

– Make a Schedule and Put this Time into your Agenda/Calendar

Step 3 – Take All items off the walls – art, clocks, floating shelves, and anything that has made a hole in the wall

– Keep any art that is simple and elegant – abstract/landscape is best

– Store/sell/donate the rest

Step 4 – Clear off all surfaces like counters, tables, side tables, etc

– Keep any accessories that are simple and elegant – vases/bowls/boxes

– Store/sell/donate the rest

Step 5 – Clear out Dressers and Closets of off-season/rarely used items

– Store/sell/donate them – it’s just less you have to pack up later

Step 6 – Use baskets, totes and bins to store away regular use items in your newly acquired closet/drawer/cupboard space.

– For example: Make-up and toiletries that are often on the bathroom vanity, or utensils and small appliances on the kitchen counter. Store in easy to pull out bins or totes.

Step 7 – Remove any excess furniture from the room so that as much floor space can be opened up as possible, especially around doorways and walkways.
Step 8 If you haven’t already, contact The Village Guru and have our home stager do a quick assessment of your home and what repairs and upgrades are worth addressing.


SOME REPAIRS & UPGRADES ARE NOT WORTH IT. It’s frustrating to see home sellers spend time and money in the WRONG place.


Call in help before you spend any money. Ideally, this is at least 1-2 months before you want to list your home for sale.

Simple Home Repairs

When preparing your home for sale, some repairs will pay off more than others. Ironically, for the big-ticket items, you may or may not fix before selling; but all of the small little issues add up to buyer aversion. It’s best to get professional advice specific to your home, but here is the general order of importance for simple home repairs.


Make a great first impression. This will tell people that you have pride in your home and take good care of it.

a.     A freshly painted front door with a functioning lockset
b.     Trimmed, neat grass and garden beds
c.      Interlock that is level and sturdy with no weeds
d.     Decking that has no cracked boards and has a good coat of stain
e.     Visible street numbers
f.      Driveway with no major cracks, heaves or pot holes

Ensuring there are no leaks or wiring issues is a huge relief to buyers.

a.     Fix or replace any electrical outlets that are broken or missing
b.     Make sure no wires are hanging out of the wall, have them capped properly
c.      Fix any leaky taps, faucets or toilets
d.     Remove any signs of old water problems (stains)
e.     Ensure there are no leaks in the basement, around the foundation or with the hot water tank
3)   WALLS & TRIM:

When a home’s walls are full of holes & marks, it makes the home feel unloved. It sends a subliminal message to buyers that the home has been neglected, even if it wasn’t

a.     Fill all holes in all walls
b.     Replace any missing trim work & fill any gaps or holes
c.      Remove any stucco on the ceiling, wherever possible
d.     Paint walls and trim to give the home a brand new, fresh appearance

Check out our 2 articles about painting your home for sale:

Top 10 Paint Colours

Choosing the Right Paint Colour

Home Repair Costs

In my experience, the average cost for a 2000 sq/ft home to prepare it for sale usually lies between $1000 and $3500– if there are no major repairs or replacements necessary.

These home repair costs can include anything from a handyman, painter, carpenter, plumber, electrician; dealing with anything that needs repair in your home.

Another factor that will determine your home repair costs is what kind of social network you have? Does anyone you know have the skills and is willing to help you out? My best friend is an electrician and he has helped me numerous times in the past. This is the time to ask friends, neighbours and family to come together and help you out. Bribing with food and drinks is often a good motivating tool.

Examples of Common Work Required when Preparing Your Home for Sale:


  • If you don’t know how to replace an outdated 1982 chandelier, it’s best to get professional help. Ask around first, often you can find someone who knows how to do this, because yes, electricians can be expensive.
  • $300-$600 for switching a handful of outlets and lights


  • A professional painter is recommended when you have hard to reach areas that require scaffolding and extension poles. Leave 2 storey walls to the professionals.
  • $1500-$2500+ for main rooms to whole house painting with moulding


  • A common suggestion is to replace toilets, vanity counters and sinks. If you go to a box store for the product, they can also provide the installation services. Look for sales and promotions!
  • $300-$600 for replacing several fixtures


  • The jack of all trades; only use one who is referred from a trusted source and comes with high recommendation. But if you do find and good one, they can be a miracle worker, for a fair price.
  • $18-$30/hr DOE, or agree upon a set fee if it’s a simple list of tasks


  • Had a leak upstairs that’s been fixed but the stain shows on your popcorn ceiling downstairs? There should be no stains or holes in your home.
  • Drywallers are worth their weight in GOLD by removing these false red flags.
  • $500-$1500 for smaller patch jobs up to removing 1 or 2 popcorn ceilings


Most Valuable Home Upgrades

At The Village Guru, we absolutely prefer to be part of the process of deciding which upgrades will give you the best bang for your buck when preparing your home for sale. Doing upgrades is never necessary to sell, but if you want to sell for the most possible money, some of the items in your home may require an upgrade.

Below are the items we recommend time and time again, because they’ve been proven to support a strong sales price. These are the upgrades that buyers WANT in the home they buy. Contact us to see which items may be the right strategy for preparing your home for sale.

Interior Home Upgrades

  • Stone Counters $2000-$6000
  • Wood Floors $5-$10/ft installed
  • “Spa” inspired bathroom $500-$3000 (assuming no demolition, just cosmetic upgrades)
  • Statement Lighting $200-$300 per fixture
  • “Decorator” Paint Scheme $2000-$4500 for all walls and trim, depending on house size
  • Stone/Stone-Like Tiles – Floors, Backsplashes, Fireplace Surrounds $1000+ depending on the job
  • Built-In Storage – Mud Rooms, Laundry, Closets $1200-$3000+ depending on the job
  • More Millwork – Larger size baseboards & crown moulding, wainscoting, wood feature walls $800-$2500+ depending on the job

Exterior Home Upgrades

  • Stone/Paved Walkway to front door $3000+ depending on size of job
  • Tailored Garden Beds – they don’t have to be fancy, just neat $500+ 
  • Upgraded Lighting – you cant have too much $100-$300 per fixture
  • Clear and Inviting Front door – make it the focal point $30 for can of paint
  • Well maintained decking $100+ for board replacement and stain
  • Well maintained driveway $100 – $2500 for sealer or full replacement
  • Low Maintenance siding/windows – no wood except cedar $3000 (siding) – $10,000 (windows) on an average home
  • Outdoor Storage to hide miscellaneous Items and garbage bins $1000-$1500

How to Sell Your Home Fast

You can sell your home quite fast if you take the time beforehand to plan and prepare your house for sale. Homes that are well presented often sell relatively quickly (compared to average days on market) and for a strong price.

Our advice is always take the time necessary to present your home in its best possible light, because once you are listed for sale, arranging buyer viewings around kids schedules, anxious pets, and life in general is what causes the most stress for home sellers.

The combination of an attractive, updated home with a strong marketing & service plan, is how we get the job done right for our clients. And we want to be there with you, months before you ever list for sale, and long after your home closes. Contact The Village Guru to see the difference that true expertise and service make towards the successful sale of your home.

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