You see your home as a place of value, but buyers look with a critical eye. The trick in preparing your home for sale is to look at it through the eyes of a stranger.

Most people begin their search for a home online. An online real estate ad is your first opportunity to make a strong first impression.

The National Association of Realtors 2010 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers states 93% of home buyers feel online listings contain the most useful information.  It went on to say that 87% of buyers found photos of homes for sale very useful.

Whether preparing your home for sale or just looking to give it an upgraded look, the following 11 decluttering tips will have your home looking good in no time.

Tips on Preparing Your Home for Sale

When getting your house ready to sell, you need to see it through a stranger’s eyes. Think about what you look at when house shopping, then walk through your own house with the same discriminating eye. Here are some areas to focus on.

1. Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the impression your home gives when a person drives by or pulls into the drive. It’s that reaction when you drive by a house and go “Wow, that place looks great!”  That is what you want potential buyers to do when they see your front yard.

Make sure you have a well-mown lawn, your bushes are properly trimmed, and areas around shrubbery is mulched. Keep any flower gardens weeded.

Check the driveway and sidewalk. Do they have weeds popping up between cracks?  Eliminate them. Does the driveway have stains from oil or grease? If so, clean it.

Clean and Declutter

Clear any clutter off the porch to make it feel roomy. A potted plant or a couple of chairs on a large front porch can give the home a welcoming feel. Eliminate seating if people have to struggle to walk around it.

Symmetrical patterns create focal points and add appeal. This is accomplished by using matching wall lanterns on both sides of a garage door or putting potted plants on either side of a door. Accents need to complement, not overpower, the home.

Remove things such as banners and flags. The exception would be if you have a quality flagpole displaying the United States flag. Stay away from anything that symbolizes clubs, hobbies, or status as a veteran, POW, etc.

Clean the gutters and have the home, drive, and sidewalk power washed. Brush away any cobwebs, spider webs, or beginnings of beehives and bird nests from the house and porch. Keep the area clear of leaves and grass clippings.

Also, keep bicycles, cars, portable basketball hoops, and soccer goals off the drive and yard.

Simple Repairs

A quick, easy repair can make a world of difference in the way your home looks from the road. Examine your house and yard as if you are viewing it for the first time.

If you have a roadside mailbox, how does it look? Is it leaning and rusty with a faded flag? Swap out that dated mailbox for something stylish, and replace the worn-out, rotted post too.

Are your house numbers easy to spot and read? Upgrading your house numbers with something in an eye-catching font that compliments the architecture of your home adds appeal.

How does your front door look? Does it catch your eye and look inviting? Repainting the door is inexpensive and easy to do it yourself. A bright contrast color creates an eye-appealing accent to your home.

If you have a front screen door, make sure it is clean and dent free. If not, it should be either replaced or removed. New door hardware in a color that contrasts with the door, such as brass hardware on a dark-colored door or a white door with black hardware gives a polished look.

Walk around your house and look for anything that needs repair. Broken windows and ripped screens detract from the look. Simple fixes make your home appear well maintained and easier to sell.

2. Backyard and Side Yards

The backyard should look appealing from the side when walking around the house and the back house entrance. Make sure the yard is free of pet waste and toys.

Rake the leaves, mow the lawn, trim the bushes, and weed the gardens. If you have any fountains or decorative ponds, make sure they are clean and operating.

Clean your pool or hot tub, and make sure it operates. Put away all cleaning supplies, hoses, pool vacuum, bug catchers, and chemicals.

Make sure any patio furniture is arranged neatly and cushions are clean. If cushions are worn or faded, either remove or replace them.

Built-in grills should be clean and their covers removed. If a portable grill is not being sold with the home, it should be moved out of sight if possible. If it cannot be moved, make sure it is clean and the cover is removed.

Clear away cobwebs and spider webs from the back of the home and around any storage sheds. Remove garbage cans and lawn sprinklers.

If you have a fence, make sure it is in good condition. If it is a wood fence, it may need to be painted or stained.

Side yards tend to collect things that we don’t want to see. Make sure there aren’t items such as bikes, trash cans, lawn equipment, or other items stored along the side of the house.

3. Living Room and Family Room

The potential buyer should be able to envision the home as theirs. It is important to remove any personal items such as family photos, knick-knacks, and other memorabilia. This includes anything that depicts heritage, culture, or religion.

To make the rooms look spacious, remove extra furniture. A nice seating area and a complimentary table make the room look much larger than a collection of couches, chairs, tables, and other items shoved wherever they fit. You want your home to have that appealing, designer look.

Remove seasonal decorations. This includes Christmas lights, statues, Christmas Trees (they take up a lot of space), and nativities. If you have items you cannot part with or easily hide, rent a storage unit to store them.

If you have a natural fireplace, remove any ashes and clean the interior. The fireplace doors and hearth need to be clean and free of soot and debris from stacks of wood. Clear the mantel of any decorative items.

Make sure all areas are dusted and vacuumed. Fresh vacuum lines give the impression of a home just professionally cleaned.

4. Kitchen and Dining Rooms

The kitchen counters should be cleared of all clutter, including appliances, decorative items, and food. One small appliance, such as the coffee maker, can be left. Wipe all counters and fixtures.

The sink needs to be free of any dirty dishes. If prepping for photos, dishes can be stashed in the dishwasher. Keep in mind that during a showing, potential buyers may open appliances.

Make sure the range, built-in microwave, and dishwasher are wiped clean of grease and fingerprints. Clear the refrigerator front and sides of any magnets, calendars, photos, and kids’ artwork.

Things such as garbage cans and pet items should be out of sight.

Polish the kitchen and dining room tables. A decorative bowl of fruit or floral bouquet can serve as a nice accent piece on the table.

5. Bathrooms

Remove all items from bathroom counters to make them look spacious. Soaps, shampoos, razors, hairdryers, and all other cosmetic items need to be cleared from counters, tubs, and showers.

Clean off that catch-all spot on the back of the toilet tank. A fresh roll of toilet paper looks more appealing than a half-used, crooked one.

Remove all dirty towels and only hang towels that are clean and in mint condition. Towel rods that are empty and wiped clean give a spacious look to the room. If you have hampers or dirty clothes in the bathroom, those need to be removed.

Make sure the sink, bathtub, and toilet are spotless, including shower doors or shower curtains. If the bathroom has a window, clean the blinds, window, and window casing. Open the blinds to bring light into the room.

6. Bedrooms

Personal items should be removed from the nightstand, headboards, and dresser tops. Make sure nothing can be seen under the bed when viewed from a distance. Remove dirty clothes and hampers.

Beds need to be made and linens wrinkle-free. If you have decorative pillows/shams, they should be properly arranged.

In kids’ bedrooms, remove personalized names, stickers, and posters from walls. Over-the-door hampers, basket-ball hoops, and toy holders need to be removed. Hide most toys, using only one or two as accent pieces.

In a baby’s room, clean off the changing table. Remove diaper genies and put away toys.

Most closets are not photographed. If you have a spacious, walk-in closet or built-in closet systems, they can add appeal to the home listing. Make sure your closets look organized and there are no piles of clothing and belongings.

7. Laundry Room

This area is a great selling feature in a home. Make sure the laundry tub is clean and the washer and dryer have been wiped free of water spots and detergent spills. Hide any trash cans from view, and sweep and mop the floor.

If you have a rack for hanging clean clothes, make sure it is empty. Put away all containers of detergent and dryer sheets. Remove any laundry baskets, dirty clothes, extra hangers, sorting bins, or any other item that clutters the space.

8. Basement

A potential buyer may want to use this space for storage and making it look spacious and clean boosts buyer interest. Put those stacks of boxes in a storage locker.

Vacuum cobwebs out of the ceiling and window wells. Sweep and mop the floor. Make sure all lights work and have new bulbs in them to make the area bright.

9. Home Office and Hobby Room

The home office and hobby room become catch-all rooms.

Clean off your desk, remove all personal paperwork, photos, and knick-knacks. Clear off filing cabinets and remove floor clutter. Make sure printers and computers are dust-free, and hide or arrange cables

In your hobby room, clear off work tables, put tools away, and clean up any scraps, debris, or other items. Remove all personal items, including sports memorabilia and trophies.

10. Clean, Clean, Clean

Once the home has been decluttered and organized, it is almost ready for photographs and showings. You also need to give the entire home a good top-to-bottom cleaning

This includes everything from mildew on bathroom ceilings to dusty ceiling fans and flooring. Remove all throw rugs to give an open, continuous look to the area.

Clean windows thoroughly, remove fingerprints from glass, and wipe down window casings and sills. Don’t forget the screen door that gets bodies pushed against it and kid’s fingerprints on the glass.

Make sure faucets are free of water spots. Wipe down sinks and toilets, including hookups behind the toilet base.

Turn off all TVs and computer screens, hide cables, and remove controllers. Make sure screens are dust-free. Bookshelves should look organized and tidy, but not overpacked.

Remove child booster seats and high chairs, straighten all furniture, and artfully arrange throw pillows. Remove stacks of magazines, mail, books, and kids’ toys.

All pet cages, food, dishes, and pet toys need to be removed. Use a lint roller to eliminate pet hair from furniture.

11. Upgrades Make the Difference

Let your real estate agent guide you on what is needed to improve the market appeal of your home. Something as simple as changing the cabinet hardware in your kitchen or upgrading a dated light fixture can make a difference.

Paint all rooms a neutral color that will appeal to buyers. Any flooring upgrades should also be in neutral colors that buyers can work into any décor.

If you have flooring that needs to be replaced, check with your agent on what the current trend is. Don’t assume carpet needs to be replaced with carpet. You may find out another flooring style will increase buyer interest.

Make sure every light fixture has working light bulbs. Use bulbs of the same temperature, either all incandescent or all compact fluorescent.

Use a Professional

The home selling strategy may require the use of several professionals, including a landscaper, roofer, handyman, or painter. To increase sales potential you need a professional real estate agent and a professional photographer.

Professional photos will give your home an outstanding online presence. By June 2020 home sales in Houston had fallen for two straight months due to COVID-19. The 21% drop in property sales was due to buyers being less inclined to attend person-to-person showings.

This is where a Houston real estate photographer can improve your chance of a quick sale. Your real estate agent and photographer will advise you on what areas of your home to showcase. This includes outside shots of both the front and back of the home.

Areas generally photographed include the living room, family room, kitchen, and bedrooms. Photographs are taken of the bathrooms, laundry room, and other areas that boost sales. Walk-in closets, a pool or hot tub, a spacious backyard, or a roomy basement can all increase buyer interest.

Boost Your Online Presence 

With the majority of home buyers beginning their search online, preparing your home for sale and putting it on the market with professional photo images will increase your chance of a quick sale.

We will be happy to advise you on getting your home ready for a professional photography session. Contact us to schedule an appointment, or visit our website for a quote on specific photo services.

Don’t hesitate – call or text (281) 357-9900 today!