Prepping a Property to Sell

by Carole Morgan, StageRight Home Staging

You have decided to place your property for sale. Once you do that, your property becomes a commodity. Like any good retailer knows, marketing/condition and pricing are your best allies and it doesn’t matter what the current market conditions are. There are certain expectations when a potential buyer views your property-this is called presentation and to meet those expectations you have some prepping to do. 92% of all potential buyers view a property on line before even calling an agent. You don’t want to be eliminated at the get go because your property does not meet the expectations of the potential buyer at your price point

Exterior Prepping:

Power wash your house, the eves, the sidewalks, porches, patios and drive way. Remove animal litter, empty or half full bags of lawn products etc., excessive toy clutter, sticks and leaves. Mow the entire lawn and edge the drive and sidewalks. Clean the windows and the glass in any exterior lighting. Also make certain that all exterior lighting has functioning light bulbs. Make certain the fencing, shutters, doors, windows; outbuildings are all in good repair. Home buyers will pay top dollar for their dream home but they won’t pay to fix it up. Eliminate excessive lawn furniture or any items that block the view from inside the property. You want the potential buyers to look out the windows and see the yard. Roofs should be in good repair and there should be no chipped or peeling paint.

Interior Prepping:

Here it is important to understand the difference between prepping and staging a property. Your potential buyer has an expectation that the following things are done: All windows should be washed, the floors clean, light fixtures cleaned with light bulbs that work (no bugs), carpets cleaned and registers cleaned. Your home should be mother-in-law worthy. Fresh paint is the number 1 expectation of potential home buyers and typically yields a 500% return on investment. Never, never use white or off white to paint. These colors are cold and actually make a room look smaller. Use soft sages, gray based beiges, gray or putty colors (gray/green). Beware of taupe and beige as they sometimes will come off pink. Typically you should use flat paint (do not use gloss or semi-gloss), but your local paint store can help choose the perfect finish for your space. Floors must be in good repair or replaced. New flooring is the number 2 expectation of potential home buyers. Setting money aside for the potential home buyer to do these themselves will not produce the results you want. More importantly you will take the hit on this twice: once in the offer and then again when you give the allowance to the potential home buyer. All storage (cabinets, cupboards, closets and pantries) should be full. You don’t want the potential buyer to think you are moving because storage is an issue. You are moving anyway so get an early start on packing and start with the seasonal items. Organized storage is 3 on the potential home buyers list of must haves.


Defining clutter is difficult to do. Here is a list of possible offenders and once you go through this you will begin to see what is distracting the potential buyer: Toys, animal accessories, papers, magazines, dead or dying plants, too many books on shelves, too many CD or DVDs stored, cords, collectibles, items on counters in kitchens or personal care items in the bathrooms, shoes and coats left by the door. All of these items are distracting the potential buyer from viewing what you are selling, which is space, character, amenities and possibilities. Everyone has storage in the basement or attic so make sure it is as far away from the point of room entry as possible and that it is neatly stacked. Kitchens that have towels on the front of the stove and a refrigerator covered with photos, notes and magnets are distractions as well. Window sills with plants or figurines on them stand between the potential buyer and the view/yard you are trying to sell, they must go as well. Scatter rugs are not good for showing the size of a room, they define the area they cover and that is all. On the MLS they stand out and that is all you can see. The same with window valances, they cut the view and lower the ceiling.


Bathrooms must be pristine. Get out that scrub brush and clean the sink, the tub, the shower and the stool. Make certain you have great lighting in there. Put new caulk around the tub and touch up any paint that needs to be touched up. In general, if something is broken fix it; you don’t want someone to not choose your property because there is work to do. Depersonalizing: Remove all your personal photographs. Many think that this is done because people want to envision themselves in your home. This is typically not the case. If they are busy looking at your family photographs and commenting on them they are not looking at or discussing your property. These helpful hints and many more can be found by doing a Google search as well as consulting with your local professional home stager.

Upgrading your property:

When you preparing your property for market you must remember who your competition is and often times it is new construction (depending on your price point). You may have to do some upgrading to make your property marketable. These upgrades should be commensurate with you price point and your local professional stager can assist you in what upgrades you should or shouldn’t do. In most cases the return on investment is not there but your days on market will be reduced thus reducing your carrying costs. Remember your professional stager stands nothing to gain by recommending the appropriate upgrades; however you have everything to gain. Now that you have prepped your property it is time to consider staging your property: The purpose of each room should be clearly defined by the furniture art and accessories placed in that room. For example, you do not want to have a desk in your formal dining room or your spa inspired master retreat. You do not want to turn a bedroom into an office. Fewer bedrooms means reduced value. You should maximize the use of every area (large landings) and keep pass-thru completely clear of benches, hall trees, and floor plants. Each room should show function and clearly define purpose with the appropriate placement of furniture, art and accessories. All furniture should be to scale and period appropriate for the property and the target lifestyle and should be in excellent repair. Typically family and friends are not good helpers when it comes to staging your home. They love your style, the decor and they are almost as emotionally attached to it as you are. Proper staging accentuates the square footage, lifestyle, amenities, character and possibilities of the property and for that you should consider a professional. You are not selling your style or your friends’ decorating you are selling square footage. If you decide to call in a professional home stager keep in mind that their pricing will be far less than your first price reduction and they want your property to sell quickly and for more money. Make certain they are accredited, insured, experienced, belong to an ethics driven trade organization and have references.

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