Preparing Your Home For The Market

When you place your home on the market for sale, it becomes a product. Just like a product you’d find on the shelves at your local store, it has features & benefits, pluses & minuses, and there are other products to compare yours to. To gain an edge in your marketplace, you must be priced right and look better than the competition. Sometimes it is difficult to think of your home as a mere product, but it helps to think that way so that you can get top dollar for your property and sell in a reasonable amount of time. When you sell your home, you are going to have to move. When you move, you are going to have to pack. Most of the principles of staging just mean that you are going to pack up some of your things early. It is a little bit of work, but you are going to have to do it anyway- so let’s do it now so that you can get top dollar for your property. Everything we do in this process will be intentional. I will take you through this step by step, and through proven models and systems, we WILL achieve your Real Estate goals and get you top dollar for your property.


Andy Arthur

In 15 Seconds…

Your home will make a first impression

People make snap decisions in new situations. This is especially true when potential buyers are viewing new properties. In preparing your home for the market, we need to put this trait of human nature to work for us. Your home needs to make an impression such that the snap judgments of potential buyers are favorable. During the showing, the buyer will make judgments about your home as they view it through the “lens” formed in that first 15 seconds. Remember, people judge what they cannot see by what they can see. There is so much of what a home has to offer that you cannot see, so we need to make sure that what can be seen is presented perfectly. That is the purpose behind this booklet.

4 Factors Control the Sale of Any Property

  • Price

  • Terms

    This refers to market conditions: Interest rates, employment levels and confidence. We cannot control any of these, but they do impact us as we market your home.

  • Marketing

    We will execute every proven strategy we have at the highest level possible.

  • Condition

    This can be just as important as price. If condition is not model home perfect, price will have to be adjusted. If you have ever been to a model or show home, you know how great they look. When homes have that kind of appeal, they sell quickly and usually get the highest price possible.

Price and Condition

It is most important to have price and condition PERFECTED when your home first hits the market

Implement the suggestions in this booklet as soon as possible because just like you cannot duplicate the first kiss, you cannot duplicate the debut of your property on the market.

After the initial surge of interest, the only people to look at your home will be buyers new to the marketplace. The initial impression we make with your property is absolutely critical.

  • Use the Checklist

    The blanks in the checklist are for marking items complete.

  • Fix What Needs Fixing

    If you have a “honey-do” list or know of items that need to be addressed at your home, do them up front. Do not let the buyer wonder if you have cared for your home. Fix anything that needs to be addressed upfront and avoid headaches later.

  • We Will Help You

    Our experience in the marketing and the sale of homes will allow us to guide you in making low cost, high value enhancements to the positioning of your property.

Let’s Get Started

Presence and Stature

The impression your home makes when you when you’re pulling up to it.

Any agent will tell you that one of the worst things that happens to them in the course of showing property to qualified buyers is to drive up to a home and have them say: “I don’t want to look at this house” before you have even put the car in park. This happens WAY MORE than it should and is nearly impossible to overcome.

Remember, it only takes one buyer and what we’re doing in this process is creating opportunities for you anyway we can.

General Exterior

Start by standing in front of your home with this checklist and pen. Jot down anything that leaps out at you. Then, walk around the outside of your home with this checklist in hand.

▢  Shrubs and landscaping should enhance, not hide, the home. Shrubs should be lowered to, at most, the height of the home.

▢  As a rule of thumb, all tree limbs should be far enough from the ground so you can walk under them.

▢  Flowers add color and beauty to the home. Flowerbeds should be clean, and look good in all seasons. Make sure all beds have a sharp edge and are free of leaves and debris.

▢  Keep the lawn mowed and neatly edged. A perfectly mowed lawn does wonders for presence. You may have to mow two or three times per week during growing season.

▢  Aerate and seed any bare or thin spots in your lawn. Consider using sod if necessary.

▢  Arrange for a lawn fertilization company to set up an accelerated program to keep your lawn a deep green color and weed free.

▢  Mulch will do wonders to boost the presence and stature of your home anytime of the year. Always make sure all beds are freshly mulched. During the winter, at the very least, front yard and approach beds should be mulched.

▢  In the fall, be sure to rake leaves from your lawn and from planting beds. This may need to be done every couple of days.

▢  Check your flower beds, lawn areas and driveway for weeds. It is better to pull them than to use chemicals. Chemicals take a long time to work and the dead and dying weeds look awful as they go from yellow to brown. Only use herbicides to maintain these areas once the main weeding has been complete.

▢  Inspect your property and remove or hide all trash cans, discarded wood scraps, and trash. Re-stack wood piles if necessary and remove all storage containers, children’s toys and other unnecessary objects.

▢  Make sure windows are spotless. This includes frames around the windows, the sills and shutters.

▢  Consider painting or cleaning any ornamental fences, light posts and railings. If you are uncertain about what stains or colors to use, ask us!

▢  Vacuum out and clean the glass on all of the exterior light fixtures and do your best to remove all cobwebs.

▢  If you have a covered entryway, add a bench or attractive set of chairs to help people imagine themselves relaxing at their new home. If these items already exist, make sure they are clean, inviting and a place a person could actually sit.

▢  Pressure wash your driveway and exterior if necessary.

▢  Keep driveway swept. If not paved, rake and add more gravel if needed.

▢  Clean gutters & wash or paint the trim if needed.

▢  Consider a fresh coat of paint or varnish on the front door. At the very least, clean the door and hardware.

▢  Make sure your doorbell not only functions, but it is not cracked or broken.

▢  Sweep porch and walkway as often as daily if necessary for your area.

▢  Have an attractive Welcome Mat for people to wipe their feet. A second mat inside is important during our rainy seasons as well.

▢  Make sure mailbox is clean or consider rust proof paint.

▢  Verify house numbers are large and visible. We need to make sure buyers and buyers agents can find your home. If your house numbers are hidden, fix the problem.

▢  Mow, open up and clear any pathways to water or other Amenities on your property. This includes trimming low hanging branches. It is important to remove these items as they should not line the path. (NOTE : Now is NOT a good time for view enhancement unless you have a valid permit. An enforcement order is like a lien on your property and is not something you want as it goes on the market.)

Inside Appeal

You see your home through your heart. To get the highest price, you have to appeal to potential buyers who will see your home through cold, calculating eyes. If buyers have the choice between two comparable properties that are similar in price, they will choose the one in the best condition.

The following checklist will help you give the inside of your home the greatest presence. Take time to walk around with this checklist and make the necessary adjustments.


▢  Get the home aired out. Someone who lives in a place is the last person to notice any peculiar odor that may be obvious to visitors. However, if you do notice any bad odors, destroy its source.

▢  Wash all the windows inside and out. Clean the window sills and bottoms of the window jams. Wash the blinds and vacuum the drapes.

▢  If your carpets look dirty or have not been cleaned in over a year, clean them. Buyers only know what they see… not the way it is going to be. Unless your home is a “fixer”, badly worn or very out of date carpets should be replaced before coming on the market. Offering a buyer a credit to pick their own new carpet or discount off the price is far less effective and usually ends up costing more money and slowing down the selling process. Pick a light colored short plush or Berber carpet. Realtor beige is a safe color.

▢  Clean or polish all floors.

▢  Clean all the closets, cabinets, and drawers. Get rid of things you have not used in the past 5 years and pack everything that you have not used the past year. (this will also give you a head start on moving)

▢  Make sure the closets look like they have enough room to hold additional items. Make sure doors do not stick and nothing will fall out when opened. Get everything off the floor (unless very neatly arranged) and do not have the shelves piled to the ceiling. If necessary, box up off-season clothes (this is another head start on moving). All coats should be facing in the same direction.

▢  There should not be too many pieces of furniture in the rooms. You will be far better off selecting the pieces that look best and putting the others in the garage or in storage. Make sure fireplace mantels are not overloaded with items on display. A couple of well-placed items like a vase or small flower arrangement are all that is needed.

▢  Make the fireplace a focal point, the star of the room. Arrange seating to face the fireplace. Remove the television, if large and in a formal living room.

▢  Clear the ashes out of any fireplace if it is not being used.

▢  Clear out family photos and all other items that say “You do not live here” to a potential buyer. Fill any holes and touch up paint from taking them down.

▢  Put maximum safe wattage of light bulbs in all fixtures.

▢  Clean all wall switches and replace broken plates.

▢  Make sure that any pull-down staircase is strong enough to be used safely.

▢  Consider whether the posters currently in your children’s rooms are likely to offend any buyers. If so, store those posters for now.

▢  Remove all ashtrays. If there is a smoker in the residence, all smoking must be outside (not in garage) while property is on the market.

▢  Invest in some new and luxurious bedding (comforter, sheets, and accent pillows). You can take them when you move, and they will improve the look of the bedrooms while your current house is on the market.

▢  If your house is the least bit dated, consider changing items that will increase your home’s desirability such as dated wallpaper, light fixtures, etc.


▢  The kitchen may be the most important room in the home. Clean this room like your sale depends on it – because it does!

▢  Clean the oven and keep it clean; even if this means eating out or getting deliveries more often.

▢  After cleaning the range, put new drip pans under the burners or foil over the old ones.

▢  Clean around the seal of the dishwasher door.

▢  Look at the kitchen as if you were a health home inspector. Paying particular attention to: Garbage area, cracks and corners.

▢  Make certain you get rid of all junk, broken or cracked dishes. Also remove disorganized items that have accumulated in the kitchen drawers and cabinets.

▢  Keep everything put away that can be put away, especially on counters.

▢  Check the cabinet doors and door handles for fingerprints.



▢  Repair all leaky faucets.

▢  Caulk bathtubs, showers, and sinks.

▢  Coordinate towels in one or two colors. Fold clean towels in thirds and hang onto racks each day. Purchase new towels if necessary.

▢  Clear all items out of shower stalls and tubs except for necessities.

▢  Clean or replace shower curtains.

▢  If necessary, remove the shower door for cleaning. Use solution of one part muriatic acid to 10 parts water (use goggles when mixing), then scrub with plastic scouring pad and rinse clean.

▢  Fresh flower arrangements do wonders for a bathroom, both in appearance and aroma. No plug-in air fresheners or scented candles. (some people find them offensive)

▢  If you have pets, be sure to clean around their food areas and empty litter boxes frequently.


▢  Your prospective buyer needs to be able to envision their belongings in these rooms. The most effective way to accomplish this goal is to declutter.

▢  Make every bed perfectly. As mentioned before, purchasing new sheets and comforters are a fantastic option and you can take them with you to your new home.

▢  Clean up children’s toys and place them in storage bins if applicable.

▢  If you have any question that your carpets may or may not be clean enough, have them professionally steam cleaned.

▢  Remove family photos.

▢  Organize closets.

▢  Declutter.

Laundry Room

▢  Put soaps and supplies in cabinets or containers.

▢  Keep counters and sink clean and empty.

▢  This is one room to take special care with lighting. Many laundry rooms are way too dark. Upgrade wattage in light fixtures if safe to do so.

▢  Organize and declutter.


▢  Clean and sweep garage. Consider painting walls flat white and floors light gray.

▢  Store any dangerous tools and arrange others neatly. Use containers and tool boxes as necessary.

▢  Vacuum pipes around heating system which are visible.

▢  Check garage windows and screens. Windows should be clean and screens free of rips and tears. Windows should be checked for cracks and holes. Replace as needed.

▢  Organize, Organize, Organize.

▢  Remove all “junk” from the attic, basement, closets, garage, and tool shed. Large storage areas appeal to buyers. Rent a storage unit and clear out as much as possible to make your home feel open and roomy.

Preparing for Your Photography Appointment

To produce the best possible listing brochure and internet tour, we recommend completing the following before the photographers arrive to photograph your home. The interior and exterior of your home will be photographed from multiple angles. Every room will be photographed, including bathrooms, laundry room and garage.


▢  Make sure all vehicles are out of your driveway and away from the front of the property. This is extremely important.

▢  Front yard should be clear of debris, lawn equipment, toys etc.

▢  Sweep driveway, sidewalks, decks and patios.

▢  Grass should be cut, trimmed and edged.

▢  Garage doors need to be closed.

▢  Clear yard of leaves and fallen branches.

▢  Tidy hose and any lawn decorations you have.

▢  Items belonging to pets should be removed and hidden.

▢  Kids toys need to be picked up and hidden.

▢  Close lid on grill and open any deck or patio umbrellas, no matter the time of year. Built-in grills need to be spotless.

▢  If you have pets, please pick up any messes in the yard and remove the pet from the home for your photography appointment.

▢  All windows should be clean and free of excessive dust, dirt or streaks.

▢  If you have an outdoor wood burning fireplace, it makes a great photo by burning a small mound of wadded up newspapers just before the photo is taken. Please have this available (newspaper & lighter).

▢  Pools and hot tubs should be uncovered and freshly skimmed of leaves and debris; be prepared to turn on jets at time of photos.


▢  Turn on ALL lights, including stove light lamps, lamps, ceiling fan lights, under counters, side tables etc.

▢  Kitchen counters should be wiped clean and clear of all bowls, food items, knife racks etc.

▢  Remove or hide any cables/cords from appliances, tv’s computers etc.

▢  Walk through your home and make sure ALL light bulbs in fixtures are working.

▢  All blinds should be let down with the slats horizontal letting all available daylight in. Exception: if the view is a primary feature, keep blinds open completely.

▢  Make sure all beds are made and bedrooms are picked up and free from clutter.

▢  Make sure all counters are cleared in bathroom (including toothbrushes, personal items).

▢  Arrange towels in the bathroom in a neat and orderly fashion.

▢  Lower toilet lid.

▢  Have a full TP roll in all bathrooms

▢  Place all uncooperative pets in a comfortable but contained area, which will not be photographed.

▢  All windows should be clean and free of excessive dust, dirt or streaks.

▢  If you have a wood burning fireplace, it makes a great photo by burning a small mound of wadded up newspapers just before the photo is taken. Please have this available (newspaper & lighter).

▢  Remove items that would impact the buyer’s ability to focus on your home such as family photos, collectables, piles of magazines, books, coats, boots etc.

▢  If you have any photos, reading materials, videos or other items that would not be appropriate for all age groups to see, please put them away.

▢  Put pet food dishes and litter boxes out of view of the camera.

We are striving to showcase an inviting home that is decorated, but does not feel “lived in.”

It’s Showtime

Your property looks great and you have a scheduled showing appointment. Whenever you leave the house in the morning or during the day, please leave it as if you are sure it is going to be shown. Also, keep your home well lit. Buyers will drive by at odd hours and you want your home to stand out. Keep ample lights onboth inside and out-until at least 9:00p.m. every day.

▢  Open all drapes and window shades.

▢  Open all doors between rooms to give an inviting feeling.

▢  Turn on all lights including lamps.

▢  Turn off the TV.

▢  Look around for clutter, including newspapers and magazines and clear it away.

▢  See that the kitchen counters are free of unnecessary items and that any dirty dishes are put away.

▢  Remember to take out the trash. If you have pets, get them out of the way and take care of their food and/or litter area.

▢  Make sure beds are made and clothes are picked up.

▢  Verify that the bathroom is straightened up: toilet lids down, counter tops cleared off, towels hung neatly, etc.

▢  If it is fireplace season or you have a gas log, light the fire as buyers arrive.

▢  NO air fresheners or scented candles. They can aggravate allergies and create an image of covering up or masking issues.

Final Thoughts

It is difficult sometimes, and it might even mean you have to get up a little earlier in order to take care of these important items, but you never know when the right buyers are going to see your home. This way, you will always be ready for them!

Please try to accommodate all showings. Buyers tend to look at multiple properties each outing and may find another before you are able to reschedule.

If your electric bill does not go up while your house is on the market- you are doing something wrong! While on the market, your house should have the lights left on in case of a showing and a comfortable temperature should be maintained.

Keep pets out of the way during showings-preferably out of the house. Many people are uncomfortable around animals and may even be allergic to them.

During a showing, leave the premises. Take a short break while your home is being shown. Buyers are intimidated when sellers are present and tend to hurry through the house. Let the buyers be at ease, and let the agents do their jobs.

Agents should leave the home exactly as it was when they arrived. They do not know if you have another showing after they leave. So, if you would like certain lights turned off or blinds closed, please leave a note at your home.

If you need the name of a painter, house cleaner, handyman, roofer, electrician, etc… just give me a call or text. I would be glad to refer you to vendors I have worked with in the past, from whom I have received excellent service.

-Andy Arthur

andy arthur

Andy Arthur

As one of Portland, Oregon’s top Real Estate Consultants, Andy has spent the last five years delivering world class service for home buyers, sellers and investors, rising to the top 3% of Realtors nation wide. Unparalleled marketing, a relentless work ethic and his deep understanding of market positioning has made Andy one of our cities most trusted and sought after Realtors.

andy arthur
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