Things to do BEFORE Selling Your House

This post was one that I wrote in 2013 and shared a few things that we had learned about prepping our house to sell. I was excited to share tips to do before selling your house but I had no idea how popular this post would get, or just how many great tips people would share in the comments. I wanted to fix up the post a little and share some of the other tips that have been shared in the post as well to make this the holy grail of tips before selling your home. So although this post started with just 10 things to do before selling your house, this will have many more!

We put our house up for sale 2 1/2 weeks ago and boy have we learned a lot! Luckily, before listing it, I knew that there were a few things that we needed to do before we could do anything else. Once that list was all checked off, we listed our house and it has been non stop ever sense! We have had 9 showings and are hoping to find “the one” very soon! Here are a few things that I have learned that need to be done before listing your house. Ten things to do before selling your house…

Top Things to do Before Selling Your House 

Tips for preparing your house to sell

1. Get rid of any extra furniture- This means that any furniture that doesn’t serve a real, functional purpose needs to go. It can be sold, or just in storage, but it needs to get out of the house. You want as much of your space shown as you can.

2. Hide the toys- Before taking any listing photos or showing your house, hide the toys! Unless there is a designated area used as a playroom, toys need to be hidden. Buyers want the spaces they are looking at to feel fresh, clean, and grown up.

3. Open doors- Be sure to open all of your interior doors before taking photos and showing your house. In photos, it helps the photos flow together so that the potential buyers can understand the layout of the home more easily. When showing, you don’t want any big surprises. The potential buyers need to be able to easily walk from one room to the next.

4. Clean your doors- This can be an easy place to forget to clean, but it is so important! When the doors are nice and wiped down, the overall feel of the entire house feels cleaner!

Cleaning before selling your house

5. Turn on lights- When showing your home, turn on all of the lights before you leave. This is especially the case if your house has light switches in strange places. The last thing you want the potential buyers to do, is search for your light switches. By having the lights on, it makes the home feel brighter and more cozy.

6. Good smells- The smell of your home will be one of the very first things that the potential buyers register in their brains when looking at your home. Be sure it is a good smell! I really like to use an oil diffuser of some sort. I am a big fan of diffusing citrus oils because it makes the house SMELL clean.

7. Take good photos- Chances are, the first impression of your house will be by the photos that potential buyers will see on your listing. Make sure they are good! There are so many times I see pictures that have awkward angles that make the rooms look much smaller than they are. There are also several listing photos out there with clutter all over the place! Potential buyers want to look at photos of a clean house. Pay attention to detail when taking photos.

8. Fix up the curb appeal- This doesn’t mean that your front yard needs an entire makeover, but make sure that it looks warm and inviting. Plant some flowers, fix your fence, and mow your lawn. It is the little things that really make a difference.

9. Clear off counter tops- Nobody wants to look at clutter. Put your bread and bananas in the cupboard before your house is shown. You want potential buyers to feel like there is plenty of counter space. While you are at it, take down the cutter off of your fridge to make your kitchen feel fresh and clean.

10. Clean your windows- There is so much dirt, dust, and who knows what else that gets stuck to windows. Clean them inside and out. It is amazing to see how much more light comes through when the windows are clean. It makes the entire room feel cleaner too.

Getting Ready to Sell Your House

11. Remove most of your personal photos- You want your buyers to be able to envision themselves in the home and it is a lot harder to do that when all they can see are photos of your family everywhere. You don’t need to remove them ALL but do try to remove a good portion of them.

12. Put your toilet seats down- Nobody wants to walk into a bathroom and instantly see the inside of a toilet. Gross!

13. Don’t forget the fridge and dishwasher- Buyers are going to take a look at the appliances that are included in the home. If you are selling the dishwasher, microwave, or fridge, make sure they are clean inside and out. You don’t want a dirty dishwasher to be the reason someone doesn’t buy your home.

14. Don’t forget to dust- Take care of the blinds, the ceiling fans, and the cobwebs in the corners. Nobody wants to see that!

15. Clear off the floor in your closet- This shows buyers just how big the closet actually is.

16. Don’t store appliances on the kitchen counter- Take the toaster, coffee maker, etc off of the counter. The buyer won’t be able to see how much counter space you have when it is covered in small appliances.

17. Take care of the garage- Organize the garage, sweep, and make sure it looks nice. Don’t ignore the garage!

Now go get to work at get that house of yours sold! Let’s all pray that mine sells quickly! What are your house selling tips?

For even more ideas to get your life clean and organized, check out these awesome posts too!

Organization Board Family Command Center tutorial on Modern Under the Crib Diaper Organization on


  1. Working as a real estate assistant for over three years, I can definitely tell you that you have compiled a great list! Another tip would be to remove all or most of your personal photos.

  2. We love Fish Foam at our house too…it’s one of the kids’ jobs to clean windows and mirrors, and they love drawing smilie faces with it first 🙂 Hope you find a buyer soon!!

  3. Put the toilet lids down!!!! I think it is disgusting to see an open toilet. In addition to the things you mentioned, it’s important for the seller to be gone and not there when people are coming to look. Also making sure things like the inside of your dishwasher and washer/dryer are clean is important. We recently saw a home we liked – until we opened the dishwasher and saw dishes covered in food and the whole interior of the dishwasher was super grimy and covered in soap scum/hard water stains. It was nasty and a huge turnoff. Made me wonder how well they had cared for the rest of the house and appliances we were considering purchasing.

  4. Great list! We’ll be listing our home soon and this is helpful. I had thought about the windows but not all the doors & knobs. Thanks!

  5. I totally agree with Maren and would add deep cleaning appliances that will be left behind. Buyers like clean and shiny things so don’t forget about the details. Stopping by from Tidy Mom.

  6. Having just toured many, many houses during our search to buy our new house, I agree with every one of your 10 points. I’d love if you’d come and share at Inspire Us Thursday at Organized 31.

  7. Awesome tips! We will be renting out our current home soon, and these will be helpful for finding renters as well! I popped over from Lil’ Luna–thanks for sharing!

    ~Abby =)

  8. Don’t forget to dust! Things like blinds and ceiling fans and those pesky cobwebs that are hiding in the corners! You would not believe how many houses we looked at that had these while buying our home

  9. When we sold our last house, we rented a storage put all the extra furniture, packed up all personal photos, and cleaned out closets by boxing up things we wouldn’t need during the sale to clear the floor area. Clearing the floor area of the closet shows buyers how big the closet really is. They are paying for square feet so show it to them. My biggest pet peeve is looking at photos of houses where they have clutter all over the kitchen counters or knick knack all over the place. In the kitchen we cleared out space under counters to store the coffee maker, toaster, and anything else that cluttered the counter. Steam clean the carpet and furniture. Don’t neglect the front door! A fresh coat of paint or clear coat, can make it pop. If necessary, put new door hardware as the front door will be the first impression. Clean up landscaping. Look at your house like it isn’t yours or ask a friend who can be honest tell you what they see. It will pay $$$ in the end.

  10. here are a few more: check out your mailbox. if it is old and rusted or the flag is broken, replace it. get a new mat at the front door. clean up your garage. this means getting the cobwebs out and dry vacuuming the floor and maybe power washing it. put the things in your garage in order and don’t let this be your dumping ground for bikes and toys. spend a little money getting the garage organized, those hooks to hang bikes are cheap. consider painting the insides of your closets too if they are all marked up.
    clean your lampshades and get in there and clean out the runners on sliding doors and shower doors. it’s the little things.

  11. You have some great ideas. The Scentsy one is not so great. I am allergic to Scentsy products as are many others. There are many natural ways to make a house smell nice such as baking or boiling apples and cinnamon on the stove for a while.

    • L. Natalie Warchola says

      Thank you Pippa, I too am allergic to perfumes, colognes and some cleaning agents. Walking into a house with Scentsy, Fabreez or Plug Ins can send me running back out! Please be mindful of people with sensitivity to such chemicals.
      A natural approach to scenting a home makes it more welcoming to those of us who suffer from allergies. Even something as simple as brewing a cup of coffee can fill the home with a welcoming scent.

      • Many people have sensitivity to perfumes, colognes, scented candles, etc. The best scent for your For Sale house is CLEAN. I would add to your list: Put away all signs of pets – feeding bowls and waterers, leashes, beds and toys. Make sure the yard is cleaned of all signs of them, too. If you have a garden, invest a little time in cleaning and tidying it up, including little signs with names of the flowers, trees, veggies and fruits placed near each specimen. Lay decorative gravel or mulch on all the walkways. Our asparagus bed and raspberry bushes sold our last home in less than a week. (Put a plate or bowls of your garden’s bounty on the counter, with a little note: From our garden – help yourself!

  12. When we put our last house on the market we ended up renting THREE storage units and got rid of a ton of junk. (Nothing like 10 years in one house to pile up the stuff!). We took all of our personal pictures, knick knacks and junk out. We got rid of furniture. We painted the walls in nice sedate colors-nothing flashy! We also gave each kid 7-10 outfits and they were all put on hangars. We got two drawer plastic bins for the closet. Top drawer was for socks and undies and the bottom was for jammies. Shoes went on top. Took up about 2 feet of closet space and we were able to get rid of the dressers, giving the room more space AND our closets were totally cleaned out, too! We had a really deep pantry so I measured and taped an index card with how wide and long each shelf was and the total square feet of storage space. Made the little pantry seem so much bigger! We joke that we lived like monks. We had just the essentials. Doing this made it so easy to totally clean the house! We could go from “Can we have a showing in an hour?” to spotless in no time flat! Not bad for having 4 kids (including 2 4 year olds!).

  13. *clutter off the fridge, not “cutter”

  14. Phyliss Webb says

    Clearing out your pantry and closets of all clutter is beneficial. Also, I had read that lemon scent is the best , because it is instantly recognizable, it’s related to cleanliness, and does not distract potential buyers.

  15. Really good tips both in the article and the comments. One thing I might add is we no longer advise people to remove ALL pictures and personal items. It makes the house seem too cold and sterile. Definitely pare back on personal items but a few well placed pictures and mementoes makes your house look homey and appealing. Just keep them at a minimum so the buyers can imagine themselves in your home. Buyers do look in cupboards and refrigerators as well as dishwashers so it is good advice to clean those as well. Try and keep the house picked up everyday. That one last minute showing you turn down because the house is a mess might just be the offer you’ve been praying for. Best wishes to all of you trying to sell your homes. It is a demanding time but worth the effort.

  16. I agree with one of the posters here, a deep cleaning of the appliances as well as thorough window cleaning is necessary before selling a home.

  17. You linked to the parent company site, the site to get Fish Foam and their All Natural glass cleaner is actually

  18. I appreciate the comments regarding removing signs of pets and also labeling plants in garden!

    Our log cabin has incredible views in the Fall and we have a beautiful lake just a few feet from the edge of our property. I’m going to be placing some beautiful enlarged pictures from previous years to showcase the four seasons. I also plan on leaving some information about state land snowmobiling, hunting, and hiking only 5 miles from our home. (We live in the Adirondacks)


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