The DIY Guide to Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

I’ve sold quite a few houses and, oddly, I think it’s a fun project. Each sale presented different challenges and opportunities, and each taught me something along the way. I know most people dread putting their house on the market because they know there’s a lot of work that goes into getting the house ready.

Yes, you can hire people to do it all for you; but if you are a true Do-It-Yourselfer (DIY), you can pay attention to the details, make your list and get busy. Read on for some tips on what has worked for me (and how you can DIY too).

Depending on the condition of your home, you may have a long or short list. Either way, if you set your goals and do the work in phases, you won’t get as overwhelmed. It’s nice to see progress, and each item you cross off your list motivates you to do the next. You want your house to stand out favorably in a competitive market, warmly welcome and entice buyers, and capture the best price. Below is a helpful guide for home sellers on how to get your house ready to sell:

Here are steps to prepare for that outcome:

1. Assess the condition of your home and property.

Assess the condition of your home and property, review the condition of your home

  • Check all aspects of your property. Look at each area from a visitor’s perspective.
  • What do you see? Is it inviting?
  • Does it make you smile?
  • Is there anything that looks worn out, dingy or in disrepair?

Sometimes it’s good to have someone look at it with you. Choose someone who will be objective and give you an honest opinion, but in a nice way. This is not the time to deal with brutally judgmental remarks. (You know who those people are, and you can tell them about your project after everything is done.)

The DIY Guide to Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Related article

The 10 Best Places to Live in Oregon

Oregon is a study in contrasts. It has 363 miles of the most breathtaking coastline you’ll encounter anywhere in the world. But it also has dense forests, mountain ranges, and high desert country. Here’re the 10 Best Cities to Live in Oregon

Make notes for needed improvements, each on a separate page, for:

1. Exterior,
2. Interior, room by room,
3. Mechanical,
4. Garage,
5. Other buildings on the property.

You can take in the general view and make comments, then start digging a little deeper and make notes on the condition of each space or feature. You’ll decide later how you will deal with each item.

The DIY Guide to Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Related article

12 Key Factors to Know About Living in Washington, D.C.

The capital city of the United States has a reputation for being a busy political and business hub, but there is a lot more to discover and enjoy for residents of this diverse city. Washington, DC is consistently ranked among Business Insider’s and Niche’s top 50 cities to live in, and there are…

Here are a few examples of what to look for in each setting:

a) Exterior of the house

1. Condition of the siding, trim, shutters, gutters
2. Condition of the shingles and any rooftop vents, satellite dishes or accessories
3. Windows and doors, paying special attention to the front door
4. Driveway and sidewalks
5. Lawn, landscaping, trees, gardens, retaining walls, sprinkler system and water features
6. Porch, deck, patio, fireplace and outdoor living space
7. Electrical outlets, lighting, faucets and hoses
8. Pool or hot tub

b) Interior, make notes for each room on a separate page

1. Walls and ceilings (holes, cracks, condition of paint or wall treatments)
2. Ceilings (water stains, cracks, texture problems, condition of paint or plaster)
3. Doors, door knobs and windows
4. Window treatments, woodwork and trim
5. Lighting and fans
6. Cabinets, cupboards, drawers (organized, condition of handles and drawer pulls)
7. Appliances (do you have manuals?)
8. Sinks, tubs, showers, toilets, vanities
9. Flooring
10. Electrical outlets, switches and remote controls

Related article

8 Best Cities for Buying a House and Raising a Family in Minnesota

While everyone in Minnesota shares accesses to the great outdoors, four distinctly enjoyable seasons, and a friendly Midwestern vibe, each community has its own personality. Here are our views of the Top 8 Cities for family life in Minnesota. With a variety of personalities and attractions…

c) Mechanical (do you have manuals?)

1. Furnace (new filter, when was it last serviced?)
2. Air conditioning
3. Humidifier
4. Water heater
5. Plumbing, sump pump
6. Electrical

The DIY Guide to Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Related article

7 Key Factors to Know About Living in Chicago, Illinois

Before you consider a move to Chicago, you should consider 7 key factors that will increase your appreciation for the city and guide you to the right neighborhoods and activities for you…

d) Garage

1. Garage door, remotes, keypad
2. Condition of floor
3. Condition of walls
4. Built-in storage, shelves or cupboards
5. Lighting and electrical outlets

The DIY Guide to Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Related article

10 Most Affordable States to Buy a House in 2024

If you have the flexibility to move anywhere in the U.S., where could you buy the cheapest home? After examining data from Zillow and World Population Review. Here’re 10 most affordable States in the South and the Midwest to consider when buying a house in 2024…

e) Condition of other structures on the property

The DIY Guide to Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Related article

10 Most Affordable Places to Live in Michigan

Michigan is the only state in the United States with two separate peninsulas and five surrounding Great Lakes. Its landscape is diverse, ranging from industrialized skylines to sweeping sand dunes to gorgeous waterfalls. Once home to Henry Ford, it’s also considered the epicenter of America’s…

2. Color code and prioritize your projects.

Color code and prioritize your projects, keep your projects organized

Let’s assume at this point that everything can be repaired, renovated or replaced. However, once you prioritize, you can decide which projects must be done and which can be minimized or dropped from your list. You can also talk with your realtor about which items are necessary and which won’t make a big difference.

If you hire a home inspector, that person will give you a checklist on the condition of your home, with opinions on what should be done before the sale.

Use colored highlighters and color like items on each page. For instance, if yellow designates painting (including prep and repairs), highlight items on each page in yellow that need painting, touch up, drywall repair, etc. If blue is used for plumbing, mark all of that work in blue, like leaky faucets (inside and out), faucets that need to be replaced, a toilet that seems to run constantly, a showerhead that drips, etc.

Create your own system for color coding and you will soon have projects highlighted by type of work needed. Spread your pages out and look at the colors. Make a list on another sheet that indicates your color code and which categories you feel comfortable tackling on your own. You can then prioritize these projects and efficiently work at one type of project at a time.

If you feel capable of managing the plumbing issues on your own, check your tools and supplies and buy what you need. You can then wear your plumber’s hat and repair all the “blue” items on your list. You’ll feel inspired by having that entire category under control. You can then move on to the next category, by priority.

When you get to the painting projects, some areas might only need a touch-up. If you have some rooms that need a fresh coat of paint, it’s a good time to remove your personal pictures and accessories from the walls, patch the holes, and choose a neutral, warm color. (You’ll do more de-personalizing and decluttering later.)

We know you are a Do-It-Yourselfer, but if there is a category that you are not comfortable managing on your own, you can enlist the help of a friend who is qualified or hire that segment out. This could be anything from painting to electrical or mechanical to landscaping.

While you are prioritizing your work, you might also decide that some things are just not worth the effort. In that case, do your best to clean it up and make it look presentable, then let it go. The new owners can make their own decision about it.

The DIY Guide to Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Related article

10 Most Affordable Places to Live in Oregon

Geographically, Oregon boasts dramatic Pacific coastlines as well as volcanic mountain ranges. Its climate spans from rainforests along the coast to semi-arid conditions in the central and southeastern regions. The Beaver State is home to both Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the U.S., and Mount Hood, the second-most-climbed mountain in the world…

3. Create welcoming spaces.

Create welcoming spaces, make your space inviting

When buyers visit your home, you want it to be as welcoming and visually pleasing as possible. You’ve made the repairs and improvements on your list, and now you can work on making it attractive and appealing to the buyers who will visit. On the exterior, wash the windows so they sparkle. Trim trees and shrubs. and place the trash bins out of sight.

Inside, study each room. If the furnishings make it look crowded, remove some until you can move freely and the space looks open and airy. Put the extra pieces in storage. Then remove all clutter and unnecessary accessories, leaving only a few, fresh colorful items.

If you are in snow country and selling your home in winter, display some photos of the trees, landscaping, gardens and lawn. These will help buyers get a mental picture of the yard and how much they would like to make it their own. You can even display pictures of the birds and butterflies that frequent your backyard. These details generate more interest, and people will start to imagine what it would be like to live there.

The DIY Guide to Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Related article

10 Most Affordable Places to Live in Colorado

Given the outdoors benefits – the cost of living in Colorado is still one of the best values in the country. Here’re the 10 most affordable places to live in Colorado, taking into account the cost of living, median housing price, average crime rate and other factors that make the place unique…

4. Clean, organize, dust and vacuum.

Clean, organize, dust and vacuum, keep your home clean

Most of us have our rooms and closets jam-packed. It’s time to clean them out and organize. You’ll be moving soon anyway, so it’s a great time to get rid of what you no longer need. It’s better when buyers look into a closet (and they will) and see things hanging neatly and organized in baskets, etc. You don’t want them to think that there isn’t enough room for their clothes. The same is true of cupboards and drawers. Be sure to look at everything and tidy up. Less is better.

If this wasn’t on your list, you can now look at the bathrooms to see if you need to deep clean tile and grout, showers and tubs, and re-caulk if necessary. You want your bathrooms to look and smell clean and fresh. Envision a spa. That’s what a buyer wants to see.

You’ll soon be showing your home. It’s now time for serious cleaning. You need to clean every room from top to bottom. Make sure to clean in the corners, behind the furniture and all those little-unseen areas. Dust everything, including overhead fan blades and window blinds. Clean the mirrors and windows. Vacuum—and this you’ll need to do every day when buyers are visiting.

5. Prepare for showings.

Prepare for showings, get your home ready for showings

Once you have an MLS listing and your realtor arranges showings, you’ll need everything to be ship-shape before leaving the house. Make sure your bathrooms are immaculate and that there are fresh towels on display—the nice fluffy ones, not the ones that are wearing out. You can place some potpourri or flowers on the vanity for an added touch.

Same advice for your kitchen: clear your counters, run a lemon in your garbage disposal, take out the garbage, and make sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink. Have a clean floor and a clean refrigerator (yes, they will look).

Throughout the home, turn lights on and open blinds so the natural light comes in. Put all personal items away, out of sight or in storage or a safe deposit box. This includes expensive jewelry and keepsakes. Make sure all beds are made and each room looks ready for the Queen, or maybe your mother-in-law.

If you have children, minimize their toys while you are opening your home to prospective buyers. Keep it neat. The kids can still have fun, and you can rotate their toys and books as needed. If you have pets, keep everything clean and tidy.

Related article

4 Best Places to Live in Minnesota for Families in 2024

Bordering Canada and the Great Lakes is a state fondly dubbed as the “North Star State” and “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” The state has a lot of lakes sprawled across its more than 86,000 square mile area. In a comprehensive study of cities, Minnesota is the number one state for raising a family because of its high median income, affordable cost of living and exceptional education services…

The yard should also look great, with lawn mowed, weeds pulled and shrubs trimmed. You can make the outdoor seating look inviting, and don’t forget to water your lawn and plants so they look green and healthy. In the winter, if you’re in the snow belt, shovel the walks and driveway, throw out some ice melt so surfaces are safe for everyone, and turn on the outside lights. You’ll also want to place a clean mat or rug inside for shoes and boots.

You can use scented candles (maybe lavender or vanilla) or even bake cookies before a showing. We all know that bad odors will not help sell a house. Keep it fresh! A few healthy plants are a nice touch, as are fresh flowers.

Out of necessity, you’ll be a neat freak during this season of your life, but it will be worth it. The better your home presents itself, the quicker it sells. You might even decide to adopt some of your new behaviors on a permanent basis (and others, not so much). Have fun and enjoy the experience.

We hope you’ve gained the confidence to begin your preparations step by step. It’s easier when you have a plan, and you can now break it into manageable mini-projects. If you have enjoyed this article and gained some new ideas or inspiration, please share it with a friend who might also be interested in DIY preparation for selling a home. Thank you and best of luck with your sale.


Gloria Russell is the lead writer at Russell Resources LLC, a Minnesota-based company, serving clients across the country with business writing that sends a relevant message to a preferred audience. Her mission is to help businesses succeed and grow by creating original, written content for websites and articles and by editing and upgrading existing content. Having considerable experience in buying, selling and renovating homes as well as serving on association boards and managing complex projects, Gloria crafts insightful articles on current real estate topics. For more information, contact Gloria at or 651-485-8826. Thank you!