Preparing to Sell

Assuming you have decided it is time to sell, it’s time to get started with preparations. There are a few people whose homes are in condition to put on the market at almost any time. For most people, however, getting it ready to sell for the best price in the shortest amount of time requires some additional work.


After you live in a home for awhile you tend to suffer from ‘house blindness’. You get used so used to seeing your house every day that you often overlook things that potential buyers may see immediately. I can’t tell you how many sellers tell me of the things they were going to change right away when they bought…but they got used to them and never got around to fixing them! Now is the time to take a fresh look with ‘buyer’s eyes’.

It’s useful to have someone who doesn’t live in your home go through it with you for a fresh perspective. It could be your Realtor or stager, a friend, neighbor or family member…it can also be useful to go through with more than one person, we all see things a little differently…and a local Realtor or stager can give you insight into what appeals to buyers in your area. Don’t take comments personally or in a negative way…an outsider’s view is extremely valuable, and it’s better to hear it from someone you know and trust before you hear it from a potential buyer.

Start with an exterior checklist of items to review including: driveway, sidewalk, steps, railing, front door, house numbers, lighting (so they can see you house numbers at night), roof, windows, exterior paint/siding, rain gutters, drainage and grading, landscaping, deck/patio, garage.

Then go room by room inside checking items such as: ceilings, lighting, floors, walls, paint, trim, window coverings, clutter, furniture arrangement. Kitchens and bathrooms can make or break a sale…make sure they sparkle and there are no dripping faucets or leaking toilets. If you haven’t had your furnace cleaned and tuned for awhile this is a good time to have it done…it’s one of the most common buyer requests.


Armed with your ‘To-Do’ list following the review of your property, you are ready move on to the next steps. If you plan to put your home on the market ASAP they are usually done simultaneously, often with professional help if you have a lot of work to do. However, I sometimes meet to review a property months or even more than a year before it is actually listed for sale, giving the seller time to spread out both the work and associated costs over time. There is no right or wrong way to do it…just what is right for you. If you have lived in your current home a long time, often de-cluttering is the most difficult of all the steps!

Staging is a relatively new term, and while many people have heard about it there is still confusion about what it really means. In simple terms it’s just getting your home in top condition and ‘neutralizing’  the space with a minimum of ‘stuff’ so potential buyers can picture themselves in your home.

The pictures below show combined fixups, de-cluttering and staging, including new light fixtures,  fresh paint and new carpet. Furniture arrangement and decor included using some owner furnishings as well as bringing in additional furnishings and decor items from professional stagers who worked with the seller on all stages of preparing it for sale including fixups and de-cluttering. This property had a purchase agreement after 7 days on the market. Staging1


Thirteen Twin Cities metro communities require an inspection prior selling your home, and most require it prior to even offering your home for sale. Some may require repairs based on the inspection, which must be completed prior to sale. Click here to see if your municipality requires an inspection, and learn about the requirments.


Minnesota state law requires that sellers, whether they are represented by a Realtor or are For Sale by Owner (FSBO), fill out a Disclosure Statement declaring the condition of the listed property. They must disclose all material facts of which they are aware that could adversely and significantly affect an ordinary buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property, or any intended use of the property of which the sellers are aware.


The final step is actually listing your home for sale…and getting out of the way when potential buyers view your home. Although the hard work of preparing to sell is now done, it can be equally difficult actually living in your home while keeping it ready to show on a moment’s notice. It only takes one person to buy, and you never know when that person is going to walk into your home!

Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results – EmailWebsite

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I love what I do! Highly insightful, analytical and creative, there is nothing I love more than helping you find the right solution for your real estate transition. My mission is to serve my clients with honesty and integrity, exceeding their expectations in service and support… and to help others by donating a portion of every transaction to Habitat for Humanity.

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