Prepping your home for a showing can be a bit surreal. It’s likely that your house has been a home to you and your family for years; saying goodbye can be difficult. As bigger and better things come your way, however, you will need to sell a home and move! At JB Goodwin, we created this checklist to give you a go-to resource as you setup your home for a showing or an open house.
Unfortunately, staging a home is not as simple as vacuuming, making the bed, and putting away the dishes. As we wrote in our article about how to sell quickly in San Antonio, you can’t just spruce for 10 minutes and then hope for the best.
If you want to get top dollar for your property, it will take some work to prep your home—work that will absolutely pay off in the long run. You need to declutter, deep clean any problem spots, and remove personal keepsakes so that people can see the property as their potential new home and not the place you’ve lived for the last 10 years.
It’s about presenting home hunters and potential buyers with a fresh start.
Your goal is to depersonalize to make your home seem like a model home: no family photos, no toybox explosions, no dishes in the sink, no grout stains in the bathroom. We want to help you make your place shine.
To do that, here’s our practical checklist for successfully staging a home:
- Sweep all leaves and dirt off your entryway. Consider power washing your entry if it is a deck or concrete structure. Buy a cute new welcome mat that you can take with you to your new house.
- Clear spider webs and wash your front door.
- Put out seasonally-appropriate flowers or hang a wreath on your front door. Try a planter of daisies in the summer or a few pumpkins in the fall.
- Put a nice bowl of individually-wrapped candies out on your credenza or table in the entry. Peppermints or chocolates can go a long way.
- Remove and put away shoes piled in the entry. Organize your mail and buy containers to organize entry way clutter (mail, change, keys, etc.) if necessary.
- Clean all surfaces with a multi-surface cleaner. Scrub where needed. Don’t forget the front panels of cabinets, the appliance handles, drawers.
- Clean microwave: put 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar in a Pyrex and microwave for 4 minutes. Wipe the inside clean. (Be sure to do this well in advance of your showing so that your kitchen doesn’t smell like vinegar!)
- Bleach the tile grout if necessary and remove any rust stains on stainless steel surfaces
- Consider re-caulking your sink and buying new hardware for your cabinets.
- Clear as much counter space as possible. Remove excess appliances from counter tops like blenders, toasters, food processors, etc.
- If you are going to replace any appliances opt for stainless steel over white or black options.
- Change boilerplates under burners and clean stovetop to make the oven appear new.
- Deep clean under the sink and organize cleaning supplies under the sink.
- Make your kitchen warm and inviting by installing under-cabinet lighting or putting a warm lamp in a corner space.
- Organize the pantry and throw away old items. Clean the floor in the pantry and be sure to clean up any stickiness or spills on the shelves.
- Take a look at your living room. Is there too much furniture? If it feels crowded, consider removing some items. Face couches and chairs toward each other in a way that would promote good conversation. Try to avoid making the TV the focal point of the room.
- If your carpet is old, consider replacing it. We recommend hardwood floors or tile with a nice rug on top if possible.
- Symmetry is key: arrange complementary accent pillows evenly on either side of your couch. Consider buying a throw that matches the pillows to drape over the back of your couch for a splash of color.
- Make the room as light and airy as possible—instill sheer curtains instead of heavy upholstered ones. Add lamps on end tables for warmth.
- Put 3-4 magazines or 1-2 large art or architecture books on the coffee table. Throw out large stacks of magazines and put away all clutter.
- Give potential buyers a look into the room where they could spend Thanksgiving feasts or have dear friends over for a warm meal. Think: entertainment.
- Give the dining room a good scrub—remove all food debris and stains.
- Remove all clutter from your table and cabinet space.
- Use slip covers on chairs if they are old or stained.
- Set the table with nice tableware if you have it—try to strike a good balance between fancy and casual.
- Place a vase with flowers or a nice centerpiece and consider buying either placemats or a table runner that coordinate with your décor.
- Help buyers see this room as a place they could get a good night’s rest.
- Remove photographs of family and mementos that are particular to your family. Make the room inviting with a cozy bedspread and comfy pillows.
- Keep everything as neutral as possible—make your bedroom look like a spa or an oasis from the world.
- Consider running a white noise machine quietly during an open house.
- Remove as much from the closets as possible to make them appear bigger. Pack up all clothes that are out of season and put them away in the attic or a storage unit.
- Scrub & bleach all grout surfaces until they shine.
- Re-caulk needed areas around sink, toilet, and shower.
- Clean up rust stains in showers and sink and replace hardware on cabinets if needed.
- Remove shower head buildup.
- Give the toilet a scrub like it’s never been scrubbed before. Don’t forget to clean the outside and bottom of the bowl where dust can gather.
- Empty trashes and remove empty shampoo bottles.
- Clean mirrors with Windex and make sure the floors are clean.
- Consider replacing themed shower curtains with something light and airy. Wash or update your bath mats.
- Remove any visible bottles or toiletries. Put out a small candle, fluffy white towels, incense sticks, or some flowers for a feeling of luxury and retreat.
Walls, Vents, Windows and Carpet
- Clean all the vents in your home and replace the air filter in your a/c. Replace any air vents that won’t come clean.
- Wipe down all the baseboards in your home—it makes your home appear newer. People will notice.
- Dust fan blades and remove any cobwebs or dust from the ceiling.
- Vacuum carpet and consider renting a carpet steamer to deep clean carpets—steam cleaning is mandatory if you have a pet.
- Clean windows inside and out to let in maximum light and give potential buyers a good impression of both the interior and exterior of your home.
It is essential to remove clutter from your home in preparation for a showing. Unfortunately, just stuffing everything in a closet will not work—people really like to see how much storage they will have, so it is important to remove clutter from common spaces and from closets.
- Reduce the number of personal mementos from around your home so that it looks more like a model home than the place your kids grew up. Removing personal items can help potential buyers see themselves in the home, which is a key part of staging a house.
- Often, sellers will use the time preparing for a showing to downsize and donate to large amounts of unused items to charity. If you need to, rent a temporary storage unit to put away overflow items.
As emphasized before, potential buyers will look in your closets. When you declutter, you cannot just stuff everything away in hopes that prospective buyers won’t peak in one of the closets.
- Remove items so that the closets look bigger, not small and crowded. Expect every closet to be inspected by potential buyers.
- Get bins from your local home goods store and put items away in them if necessary.
- Refold and organize linens. Consider getting under-bed storage bins to put things away.
- Pressure wash exterior of home and/or driveway and sidewalk.
- Manicure your lawn and sow grass seed in bald places. Use an edger along the curbs and driveway to make clean lines along your lawn.
- Trim back overgrown trees and bushes, and cut back ivy if it is overgrown. Adding a few bags of mulch can also work wonders for cleaning up the appearance of the outside of a home.
- Plant a few small flowers in flowerbeds near the front door and consider buying a hanging fern or basket of bright flowers.
- Remove and clean screens on windows with a water hose and make sure windows are gleaming.
- Take a look at the condition of your gutters, roof, chimney, siding, and mailbox of your home and fix anything that needs repair.
- If you decide to paint the walls, keep it neutral. If you have dark accent walls—paint over them. Keep rooms light-colored to make them appear larger and more move-in ready.
- Consider buying a home warranty to cover any unexpected appliances or expensive fixes that might arise after inspection.
- Do a burnt-out lightbulb check throughout your entire house!
- Dust like you’ve never dusted before. Fan blades, book shelves, cabinets, bed frames, wall art, and anything else you can find - let no speck remain.
- If you have a lot of trash in your garage, it is time to spend a Saturday cleaning it out. Have three piles: keep, give away, and throw away. Be relentless. Buyers need to be able to see garage space, and a cluttered garage can be a big deterrent.
Day of the showing or open house:
- Turn on lights and lamps and open blinds/curtains to let in maximum natural light.
- Give the floors one last vacuum or sweep.
- Set the a/c to a comfortable temperature for the season, but err on the colder side for an open house because people will be opening doors to come in and out frequently.
- Consider one of the following: lighting a couple delicious-smelling candles in different parts of the house, using scented wax plug-ins, or baking chocolate chip cookies a few minutes before you head out. Leave the cookies on the counter with a small sign that reads, “Please take one!” Make your house smell divine.
Once you’ve checked all these points, it’s time to step out of the way and let your house shine! Go get yourself a latte and leave it to your REALTOR® to talk potential buyers through the best aspects of your now-gleaming home. Fingers crossed! Also, let a JB Goodwin agent know if we can help you find your next home.