Prepping Your Home Before Meeting With a Real Estate Agent

If you have considered putting your house on the market, there is a good chance one of your thoughts have been, “gosh, there’s just too much to do to sell this house.” or “there’s no way I will ever have the time to make this happen.” Then, you abruptly give up and kick the can down the road. Do you delay selling by months or even years by this negative thinking? Your dreams for a new home are there, right in front of you, my friends. I’m here today to give you a very manageable step in making selling your home a reality.

DE-CLUTTER your space. Shoot, even if you’re not thinking about selling your home and you just want to refresh your space, this is going to be helpful. Living in a simplified environment is good for the mind and spirit. For selling purposes, you would want to de-clutter before you sign a listing contract with an agent, or even meet with an agent for the first time. This could also happen before you make that first list of repairs and improvements needed to sell.

I think I need to be more specific. I live in a pretty clutter-free environment, but my home is also very lived-in. I would have some work to do ahead of listing my home. My lived-in home does not equal my home on the market. When a buyer walks through your home, they don’t need to see your stuff, you want them to see the house and its potential. If your house is filled up with your stuff it will make it a lot harder for them to imagine themselves living there. If it looks crowded and tight, it will make it even harder for them to imagine their own items occupying the home.

Let me be clear, you are not trying to lie to potential buyers. You want to free up their minds to imagine what is possible. You want your space to inspire them.

In this blog, I would like to do an activity. I will be using my house again for my tutorial. I won’t do this in every blog, but it’s such an easy exercise for anyone to do in their own home. I would like to go through a couple of rooms in my house to show you how to asses what needs to be done. I did very little to prepare the rooms ahead of my husband taking the photos. What you see is what you get here.

When the items in your home are in the same place for months and years they can become fixtures and you hardly notice them. As you walk through each room in your home, you need to access your CREATIVE MIND to see the space from a buyer’s perspective. Imagine the room with nothing in it, that may help you start noticing what is there. The buyer has never seen your house before and will notice things you didn’t even realize were there. Let’s start with my living room and I’ll name what would need to be done to get it “listing ready”:

  1. Well, let’s start with the refrigerator magnets on the door that I completely forgot to take down when my children put them up at Christmas. It became a fixture and I forgot they were even there. Get that mess out of here.
  2. All of those “things” you see by the television in the shelves and below. The only thing I should see in that corner is the t.v, the furniture it is on, and the floor vase.
  3. The violin case resting under the secretary towards the front door would need to be stored somewhere safely, like a closet.
  4. The snowman decoration next to the violin would need to go.

Next up, my oldest daughter’s room:

Oh, I just love her sweet room so much.
  1. The stuffed animals behind her bed would need to be stored away.
  2. The bookcase busting at the seams would need to be minimized.
  3. Everything on the top of the vanity table would need to be boxed up.
  4. I, personally, would take the painting off the wall because it doesn’t match perfectly with the room, but that’s not a clutter issue.
  5. The dollhouse would need to be taken out of the room.

Next up, our basement, which has been a catch-all of hand-me down furniture and toys.

In this half of the room I would take out the cedar chest, records, and rocking chair.

Whew, Everything in the photo above would be removed except for the large white cabinet (which is filled with toys, games, and crafts).

In this corner of the basement, which is our clutter corner, we would take out everything except for the computer desk and chair, the wall décor, and the telescope. Everything else would have to hit the road.

I’m sure you are asking yourself, “Where will all of this stuff go? A magical closet somewhere?” Yes, as a matter of fact, a magical closet. I would store all of this excess stuff in my garage until I met with the listing agent and was ready to sign a contract. I would then, before listing photos and showings began, rent a storage unit to hold my items until it was time to move.

Let’s move on and talk about closets. I don’t know of many people who have perfectly organized closets from day-to-day in their lives. Mine generally look good, but I would not call them “listing-worthy.” I’ll use my least embarrassing closet in my home as an example. The coat closet in the entryway.

No buyer wants to open a closet and see it completely full. This closet functions well for us but every bit of it is being used. Ahead of listing the house I would:

  1. Take the instrument case off the floor of the closet.
  2. Pack up at least half of the coats hanging.
  3. Keep only the basket and white organizer cube on the shelves, remove everything else.

For closets, it is advisable to strip the contents down to your living essentials and organize it to make it look functional. To sell your home, I would suggest operating with the closets at 50% capacity while listing.

Let’s talk about personal photos. Just like we all know that we don’t want to get hung up on paint colors when looking for a house, we also have heard that we should reduce the number of personal photos around the home when listing. It isn’t a bad idea, especially if you have a lot. You want your buyers to picture themselves living there, not another family. I can count on one hand the number of personal photos I have hanging in my house. In my case, I think I would take one or two down and just leave a couple.

You could probably accomplish all of these organization goals to get your home to a pre-staging phase in one or two weekends of focused work, depending on your home size and the amount of stuff you have hanging out in your house. When you think you are done, go 10% farther in decluttering. I’m serious!

Next steps would be to make a list of repairs needed for your home. Reach out to your local real estate agent (*cough, cough* me) and review the list with them. You might be surprised that your list may not need to be complete to move forward with selling your home. Also, it WOULD NEVER HURT to get your home inspected prior to selling. This will eliminate a lot of surprise and stress once you are under contract with a buyer. You can make some newly discovered and necessary repairs and it will also allow your agent to price your home more accurately. It is appealing to buyers to see an up-to-date inspection report while touring a home. It brings them peace of mind. I will talk about staging furniture in another post on another day. Happy organizing!

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