Preparing Your Home to Sell Quickly and For Top Dollar

selling a home quickly


Over the past few years, I’ve viewed many houses that were listed for sale. I am not the kind of buyer homeowners hope to have looking at their properties. Since we are usually searching for homes that make good rental properties, you can bet that we aren’t going to pay anything near the asking price.

Sadly, I’ve seen some homes with real selling potential that languish on the market and fall prey to investors like us because of mistakes many homeowners make when trying to sell a house. If you don’t want people like me scooping up your house on the cheap, here are some simple ways of preparing your home to sell quickly and for top dollar.

Think Like a Hotel

Do you know why so many people enjoy staying in luxury hotels? It’s because they are modern, very clean, somewhat generic, yet able to make you feel at home at the end of a busy day. This is how you want potential home buyers to view your listing.

Every person who walks through the front door needs to be able to picture themselves living there. That’s really hard when there is barely a path to walk between oversized, dated furniture and toys scattered on the floor, all the while holding your nose because the whole place smells like a litter box.  No one wants to see dirty dishes or three generations of your family in a life sized canvas photo over the mantle either.

Clean, Declutter, and Clean Some More

The most important thing homeowners can do before listing a home is clean and declutter. Some people have different levels of what they view as clean, but if you want home buyers to bite, make sure your place is immaculate, and get rid of any offensive odors. If you can’t get your home to that level, hire a service to come in and deep clean. It will be worth the investment. Also, keep things picked up and semi-neat at all times when your home is for sale. You never know when a showing might materialize.

If you aren’t willing to get rid of clutter, then store it in a family member’s garage or even rent a short term storage unit. Stuffing it in the closet doesn’t work. You want buyers to think your home has tons of storage. If junk falls out on their heads when buyers open the closet door or if drawers are so full they won’t open, that doesn’t promote the image of spaciousness. Potential buyers will open all drawers and doors, so make sure to leave one third of the space empty to show how much room is available.

Make sure furniture fits the size of the room. You might love having two couches and a giant recliner crammed into a small living room, but send some of that furniture to storage as well. Use neutral bedding and take personal items off the wall. If you are a hunter with trophy mounts all over the house, what happens if a PETA member looks at your home? Let buyers remember your house and not the stuff taking up space.

Paint, Change Fixtures, Add Accents

No one wants to dump a ton of money into a house going on the market, but there are some inexpensive improvements that can make a huge difference.

Paint can make the most dreary rooms seem fresh and inviting. Remember to choose neutral colors that appeal to the masses instead of what your personal favorite might be.

Kitchens and baths sell houses, but they can also be the most expensive rooms to remodel. After a fresh coat of paint, changing out cabinet hardware and installing new faucets can make an older kitchen or bath seem new.  Adhesive vinyl tiles look amazing. Adding some colorful accents, like a new shower curtain or fancy hand towels, can really make the most important rooms stand out.

When To Invest Money Before Listing Your Home

If there is something major that is wrong with your home, it is probably wise to fix it before putting the house up for sale. A bad roof,  worn out furnace, leaky windows, decades old flooring, crappy appliances, or poorly working plumbing are all red flags to home buyers. All of these things will come up on inspection and cause the asking price to sink, often times by way more than it would cost to have the problem areas repaired or replaced. If you can afford it, go ahead and make everything awesome before listing the home.

Remember Curb Appeal

Now that the interior of your home is perfect for viewing, don’t forget the curb appeal. Make sure the yard or outdoor space is clean and clutter free. Clean off cobwebs from the exterior of the house. Put out some flower boxes. If your home is right next to the neighbor, it might even be wise to invest in a privacy fence. We’ve installed one in a day with supplies from Home Depot. It’s not a very difficult project and makes the yard seem much more private and relaxing.

Any home will sell at the right price, given enough time. If you want the sale price to put more money in your pocket instead of benefiting potential landlords like myself, then take the time to make some changes that will prepare your home to sell quickly and for top dollar.

What are some red flags that would make you balk at buying a house? Why don’t people clean their homes before selling them? 


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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


  1. I have been through too many homes where cleanliness is not a feature of the house. Either there are bugs (live/dead) around, food on the walls/counters, dirty bathrooms, stained carpets, etc. Cleanliness is of extreme importance to me. I believe that the homeowners should think about how the house looks inside and out. How it appeals to others, and not just themselves. They need to think of things like this especially if they want to get top dollar. You have provided a great guide.

  2. When we were house hunting, one home we almost bought met all of our criteria and was the right price, but we could not stand seeing the overgrown and trash-riddled yards of their neighbors. They still haven’t sold their house, and I’m not sure they will unless they invest in a tall vinyl fence around the property. As nice as the house was, we immediately knew that we didn’t want to live near those neighbors.

  3. When I was looking for a house to buy, one factor I considered is whether a house was clean. It’s really a plus when house is clean, which speeds up getting more customers and makes the value greater. Getting into the small details like painting and cleaning is something that we should do especially those selling their house.

  4. This is an awesome checklist of to-do items when you’re getting a house ready. This is similar to the checklist I just went through getting my rental ready for a new renter. It’s so important to pay attention to little details…paint, light switch/outlet covers, trimming…little things can be the difference between selling and not selling. People don’t even realize how minor the things they don’t like are sometimes.

  5. These are great tips to remember since we will most likely be selling in a few years. The general homebuyer, which is the one who you want buying the house, is very influenced by first impressions. Hiring a maid service to do a deep one time deep clean is not too expensive, and keeping rooms clutter free goes a long way.

  6. Well we intentionally bought a house that needed a ton of work so I might not be the best person to ask haha. I do think that updating some things like the bathroom, kitchen, flooring….that’s what people are looking for. Not surprisingly those are our top 3 priorities with our house.

  7. A fix-and-flip investor will be able to see beyond the clutter, but if you want to appeal to a wide audience, pretend it’s a house YOU would feel good walking into. Clean carpets, paint trim, add fresh plants outside.

    1. Most homebuyers cannot see beyond clutter and dirt. If you want the best chance to sell, you are absolutely right.

  8. I can’t imagine why people wouldn’t want to declutter and fix up their place a bit before selling. Maybe people get so used to it they don’t think it’s actually clutter? I know I can feel the energy of a place when I walk in and if it’s not clean and full of crap, I don’t like it.

    1. I think some people’s idea of clean is much different than what the majority of the world views as clean. I think it also gets to overwhelming, like when someone in huge debt doesn’t open bills. Just too much to deal with so do nothing. Not the best approach, but one I think gets overused.

  9. Cleaning is so important to me. When a home isn’t clean, I automatically assume that it wasn’t cared for and maintained either. Plus, what kind of person doesn’t clean before they have an open house or list their house for sale?

    1. Apparently lots of people. Our first rental was a pit. The owner had to go into the nursing home and I guess the kids didn’t want to clean it up before selling. A weekend of declutter and cleaning would have probably netted them 10K more. I don’t get it, but I guess some people can’t be bothered.

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