Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My top {PROVEN} Tips on How to Prep your home for Sale {part 1}

This post was sponsored by Shark Cleaning. As with all of my posts, all opinions are my own.

When you are ready to sell your home, the list of things 'to do' can be quite overwhelming. With all of the things that moving involves, it can be hard to know just where to start with the actual tasks that are in front of you with readying your home for the market. We've moved 15 times now in 16 years of marriage. We've bought and sold several homes. While shopping for houses in various markets over the years, we've probably viewed over a few hundred houses. This unique perspective has lead me to professionally stage homes for realtors.

Print this out.
 Use it as a checklist. 
Because when you are selling a home, you have so much to think of in addition to the actual, physical home prep things. But this will keep you on track ;)

Realtors will tell you that:

1. A clean home will sell.
2. Fresh Paint will work wonders.
3.  Consider updating light fixtures. If your lighting is considerably dated, it dates the home. Consider providing a small budget to update a ceiling light, ceiling fan, bathroom light fixtures, etc.
3. A home that is occupied or staged with furniture is better than leaving an empty home. This gives buyers an idea of what will fit into their rooms and how the space is actually usable in real life functionality.
4. You must make the rooms look occupied but maximize space by de-cluttering and scaling down furniture and accessories. I think one of the hardest things to do when you're getting ready to put your house on the market is to stage your home. You have to de-personalize your spaces...and that's personal. But I have a simple solution AEO! Always Edit Objects.
5. Clean out all closets, storage areas, etc. If your storage spaces are full then it may cause your prospective buyers to think "if this is too small for them, it will be too small for us". Many home buyers cross homes off the list if they automatically feel like it doesn't have enough storage space.
6. Don't underestimate the power of curb appeal. Keep your front lawn and entry area clean, well landscaped and inviting. Plant some fresh annuals. Wash windows and power-wash anything possible. Buyers DO judge a book by it's cover, so to speak ;)

Things to keep in mind:
The key is to think about what model homes look like. When builders build new homes they have a MODEL HOME that they want you to walk through...to see the floor plan and finishes, right? But they don't typically have an empty house for you to walk through....they prop and decorate those suckers like there is actually a family living in them...even down to sometimes making chocolate chip cookies, right? They have the pantry stocked, curtains up, even a board game on the table...I've been to many Model Homes and sometimes it floors me that they go to such lengths to try to create the look of what a"normal" home would look like.

Here's the big thing that sort of goes against what a lot of TV Realty Shows tell you to do:
Don't buy new furniture to stage your home. {I'm not talking about a fresh coat of paint, or updating permanent fixtures, that's another story}.  But when it comes to staging a home, use what you have. There are going to be so many other expenses in your move...this one isn't one that you should just assume you have to do. And cleaning and de-cluttering are free.

Think about what kind of personal items you have throughout the house that could tilt the vibe of your home. Years ago when my husband and I were buying our first home in CA, we looked at several homes. There was one home that was really nice. We loved it. But in one of the bedrooms there were all of these clown costumes and red clown noses in dishes like they were potpourri, and clown art everywhere. Like EVERYWHERE in the room. It was creepy. It became known to us as THE CLOWN HOUSE...and somehow we couldn't get past that and couldn't see ourselves living in the CLOWN HOUSE. It doesn't make sense, but that is the kind of thing that can happen...buyers sometimes can't even place why they don't like a house- sometimes its the vibe. For us, the CLOWN VIBE was just too strong. In that same house hunting experience we also had a house that we referred to as the "Frat House" because of all of the beer bottles, cans, ash trays and dart boards throughout. Yeah, not good. It made us question and look into the neighborhood...and we were right to. The surrounding homes were predominantly rentals with young twenty-somethings, which wasn't the family oriented type of neighborhood we were looking for. Think about what sort of atmosphere your home has and make adjustments as needed ;)

Remember, you aren't trying to make your home look like a store. This isn't the opportunity to share your design style and flair. Keeping things streamlined and minimal does two things: it allows your rooms to feel larger, and it allows your prospective buyers the opportunity to more readily see themselves and their own style in the home.

Additional Staging Tips for Real Estate Photos and Showings

Here are some easy things that I did when selling our last home (which sold in 4 days).
 I took down several sort of cool/quirky things off of my mantle and replaced them with simple vessels so that it wasn't distracting or cluttered. Do the same for what's on your walls. And by the way, mirrors make rooms feel larger.


 TV clutter (remotes, discs, etc) should be put away.

ALSO, when you are cleaning like a mad woman because people are coming to see your house, you'll realize that the less you have out the easier it is to keep things clean. WORD.

Kitchen and eating area: EVERYTHING pretty much goes away. Nothing on the counter. Not even your toaster. Especially in a smaller kitchen.. Maybe a fruit bowl, plant or a vase of flowers...but otherwise, the bigger and cleaner and less cluttered your kitchen can look the better.

No kiddie art work on the fridge or bulletin boards. Keep it visually clean so that their eyes go to the positive things in the room, such as the crown molding...they aren't distracted by tons of stuff that doesn't matter.

Again, always edit objects: have very little props going on. REMEMBER...your house isn't a store. Just a few things here and there will create the atmosphere that it is a functional and {you hope} a lovely home, but scale back some of your decor and people will be more easily ready to see their own furniture and style in the house.

De-clutter all of your shelves. I don't care if you have to put books under your bed. Do it. Leave some things on the shelves but keep them looking light and un-cramped. AGAIN: if your house looks full and over crowded you are sending the message that maybe your house isn't big enough and maybe doesn't have enough storage space.

Kids rooms don't have to be character-free. Again, think of a model home. They still have art work and curtains and cute bedding in model homes... but keep it clean, clutter free and ALWAYS EDIT OBJECTS. Even if you think you're good, take something away.

Quick Clean Up Tips
Wake up early and go to bed late. Yup, that's one of my biggest secrets of keeping things clean when your  home is for sale. It's not fun, but I never go to bed without cleaning up (dishes done, things are wiped down, etc). Then, in the morning, I would typically handle all laundry, folding and putting away. Again, it's not fun, but if you get in the habit of keeping things clean and ready to show on a moments notice, it will be less stressful for you when that phone call comes. And NEVER EVER turn down a showing.

The quickest and most effective way to really clean floors is with a Steam Mop. I've had excellent results with my Shark Steam & Spray Mop. It leaves the floors super clean, never sticky, the way that other spray mops do. I've used the Shark Steam & Spray on hardwoods as well as tile and it gets my floors clean to the equivalent of literally being on my hands and knees scrubbing the floors. It is fast, too, doing all of the surfaces in my entire house in under 15 minutes. It saved me from hiring someone to come in and professionally clean tile grout, as well. With the Steam & Spray, there is a noticeable difference where the steam has lifted the grunge.
Saving time and money when your house is on the market is a HUGE PLUS.
Before Moping with the Shark Steam & Spray

After Mopping with the Shark Steam & Spray (that's my big toe making a cameo)
Basket of stuff. Yup, that's another one of my no cost secrets. Every morning after the kids are off to school I grab an empty laundry basket and run around the house, picking up all of the stuff that is everywhere other than where it should be throughout the house. Then I quickly either put those things away or if I don't have time to sort through things, the laundry basket goes in the laundry room. That way, if you get a call to show the house, while you are stuck in the line at the grocery store, you can say "Sure" instead of "Not now"! {I have to admit, on a few occasions, I have put the 'full of junk' basket in the back of my car when evacuating the house for a showing. Whatever it takes!}

Clorox Wipes and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are invaluable. You don't need to deep clean every day, right? But wiping things down on a daily basis will help to keep things under control. I stock up on Clorox Wipes and Magic Erasers because you never really realize how dirty your house is until you start cleaning it.

I hope that you've found these tips to be helpful!
Pin and share ;)

This is a sponsored post by Shark Cleaning.  Shark did not tell me what to say about this product and any views and opinions expressed on this blog belong entirely to Commona My House.  



  1. Awesome tips, Amy! Thanks so much for sharing these!

  2. Great information, Amy! I can't imagine moving 15 times in 16 years!! That really does make you a pro. :)

    1. Thanks, Christy! Yup, not fun. But you can do things to make it a positive experience. Thanks so much for stopping by! Come back soon! XO

  3. Fabulous info! The house definitely sells quickly if potential buyers are shown what it looks like when furnished!

    1. Thanks, Cher-Ann! Appreciate your comment, XO

  4. Great Info I love your real take on this topic

  5. Thanks for the super helpful tips! You're the best, Amy!

    1. Your welcome, Amber! Thanks for coming over, XO!

  6. Great tips! Your house looks great inside and out!

  7. As I start house-hunting, it amazes me how few people know how to declutter! You should start a whole business of helping people - you've got it down to a science!!
    xo ~kim & chloe

    1. Thanks so much Kim & Chloe! I just might do that! Appreciate your kind words, XO