Is Your Home Ready to Sell? A Comprehensive Checklist

Monday Oct 30th, 2023


OK, so you have made the decision to sell your home—congrats! You are about to embark on an exciting journey, one that will surely lead to lasting memories. But before you can get going, you will need to get your home in top shape for prospective buyers. 

Getting your home ready to sell can take some work, but it is worth it to help maximize your opportunity for the best offers possible. 

Here are suggestions on what to do around your home to prepare it for walkthroughs and open houses. 

Less is more

Decluttering as much as possible during the process of selling your home is crucial when trying to appeal to buyers. Sell it, toss it, or donate it. If you have not used it in the last six months, it must go. Buyers believe the way they view the home is how they are going to live in it, so make sure it looks great!

It is easy to go down a rabbit hole of downsizing and decluttering when you are ready to sell. Your garage does not have to be perfect. Focus on your main living areas and ensure those spaces look fresh and bright.

Renovations are not mandatory

Before you go and spend thousands of dollars on updating your kitchen or bathroom for purely aesthetic reasons, check in with your REALTOR® to see if that is necessary. Often sellers think they need a new kitchen or bathroom to sell a home but that is not the case. Sometimes a fresh coat of paint, new fixtures or an updated counter may be enough for a fresh new look. One thing that is very important is cleanliness and a clean home goes a long way!

In the kitchen

Even though you may not have to fully renovate your kitchen before selling, you still need to make sure it is in tip-top shape for any walkthroughs or open houses. Keeping the space bright, clean, and organized is crucial.

To get your kitchen ready for selling, clear all surfaces—for photos and showings you want the countertops to be clutter free. Having everything put away shows potential buyers you have enough storage for all your kitchen appliances and knick knacks. 

You will have buyers open cupboards to check to see how much storage is available, so try to make sure what they find is not off putting. Ensure there are no cooking odours from the day before, and that garbage and recycling bins are empty.

Here are some other things to consider when getting your kitchen ready:

  • Refrigerator spotless inside and out, organized, and spoiled food discarded.
  • Frost removed in the freezer and light bulbs working.
  • Oven, stove top and burners trays cleaned.  
  • Sinks and faucets cleaned and leak-free.
  • Dishwasher clean and stain-free.

In the bathroom

Like kitchens, it is essential for bathrooms to look and smell clean. Shelves should be organized and highlight the amount of space that is available. New towels should be displayed and garbage bins emptied. Make the buyers feel welcome with a scented candle or plug in, but make sure it is not too strong—that can be off putting as well. The main thing is getting the clutter off the counters just like your kitchen.

Here are some other things to consider when getting your bathroom ready:

  • Fresh soap on display.
  • Sinks spotlessly clean, faucets working properly.
  • Tub and shower surface clean.
  • Towels stain-free and hanging neatly.
  • Shower curtains clean and in good repair. 
  • Toilet extra clean and working properly.
  • The medicine cabinet cleaned out. 

In the living room, dining room, and bedrooms

Your living areas—including living rooms, dens, dining rooms, studies, and bedrooms—need to be inviting to potential buyers, and not overloaded with personal items that detract from the space itself. Hathi says sometimes that means finding inexpensive items to replace what you currently have.

Staging the furniture to use the space efficiently is key as well. Think of how photos would look. For bedrooms they need to feel comfortable and relaxing, not chaotic.

It is best to put away most of the family photos, jewelers’ boxes, etc.—anything that sits on top of a night table or dresser and the bed must be made. All of this is an effort to show the person who owns the home is really looking after it and they are on top of things. This impression is carried through to all other aspects of the home, like cleaning, maintenance, and overall care.

Here are some other things to consider when getting your living, dining, and bedrooms ready:

  • Everything thoroughly vacuumed/dusted.
  • Excess furniture removed.
  • Remaining furniture clean and in good repair.
  • Wood and other surfaces clean and polished.
  • Bookshelves neat, organized and clutter-free.
  • Children’s games/toys stored neatly.
  • Fragile items removed and stored.
  • Smaller valuables removed/locked away.
  • Window coverings open for views and sunlight.
  • Mirrors clean and in good repair.
  • Fireplace clean, logs/kindling stacked neatly.

In the yard

Outside your home is also important when it comes to selling. Your front yard needs to make a great first impression and any yard space should make it easy for potential buyers to envision how relaxing it would be to enjoy. 

Make sure no kids’ toys are left on the lawn and all landscaping lights are working. Make sure your gate latches are working and functional. First impressions are everything and the exterior of the home is your first impression.

Cut your grass, maintain weeds, remove any debris from the yard. You want people to be able to imagine throwing a ball in the yard and being able to use it in whatever way they may have in mind. You do not want them to envision how much work they would have to put into it.

Here are some other things to consider when getting your yard ready:

  • Driveways and sidewalks clear of snow and ice.
  • Lawns freshly mowed/edged.
  • Large bare spots repaired. 
  • Trees pruned, hedges trimmed.
  • Flower beds weeded and tidy; dead plants replaced.
  • Junk and scrap removed. 
  • Lawn furniture clean, organized, and in good repair.
  • Bicycles and children’s toys are stored neatly.
  • Firewood organized and neatly stacked.
  • Dog runs secure, yard free of “doggy deposits”.

What people often overlook

Cleaning your windows is a big one. Wiping down light switches and baseboards goes a long way, as well. When those things are clean it gives the buyer confidence that other, more important things, are taken care of. 

If you have dark bedding, consider replacing it with a lighter colour—it brightens the room and photographs so nicely. 

At the end of the day, your REALTOR® will help ensure your home is in the best shape possible before listing, but there are some things you can start doing in advance to help move the process along.


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