Prepare Your Home For The Sale

curb appeal

Many Massachusetts home buyers will peruse neighborhoods looking at listed properties from outside the home before inquiring with their real estate agent to set up an appointment to show them them the inside. Keep in mind that most Buyers appreciate a clean look in the homes they are viewing. Within 15 seconds, a Buyer has quickly developed an opinion of your property at first glance. A first impression is hard to shake and if the prospective Buyer doesn't like the looks of the house from the outside, they probably won't inquire at all. You'll never get a second chance to make that first impression. In order to get prospective home Buyers past your front door, you need to add some curb appeal.

Prospects would rather see how great your home really looks, than hear how great it could look, "with a little work". So, allow me to assist you in showing your house off to it’s fullest potential from a Home Inspectors' view. Here's a list of items that will definitely add value to your home...


A well-manicured lawn, neatly trimmed shrubs and a clutter-free porch will welcome prospects. If it's Fall season... rake the leaves. If it's winter, shovel the walkways with a nice neat edging. The fewer obstacles between the prospects and the true appeal of your home, the better.


Scrape and paint all those wood surfaces that are worn, peeling or cracking. Dress up your front door with a fresh coat of paint and add a seasonal wreath. Remember...Curb appeal is crucial.


Clear your gutters and downspouts of debris (leaves, sticks, pine needles, etc.) that may block the flow of water from your roof to the ground area.


Properly grade the area under your downspouts and around your house, so rainwater flows away from your foundation and basement area. Installing five or six foot downspout extensions will ensure that the rainwater (from the roof) flows away from the foundation/basement area to prevent any seepage.


Plantings and bark mulch should be set away from the foundation to ensure regular watering does not add to soil moisture around the basement. Lawn sprinklers should not hit the house or the area next to the foundation.


Ensure that the grading around the foundation starts at 8 inches down from the top of your foundation wall or siding and slopes away from the home approximately 5 to 6 feet away. Failure to have properly sloped grading may cause moisture to build up at or around the foundation (which causes basement seepage) and promotes the environment for mold growth and wood boring insect activity.


Keep mulch, dirt and other landscaping material away from veneer drainage system weep holes commonly found on, but not limited to veneer masonry and stucco homes. The veneer drainage system diverts water away from the interior of the exterior wall system and the weep holes allow the water to escape from the wall. If the weep holes are blocked or clogged with debris, mold may form on the interior of your exterior walls. The weep holes are found at the bottom course of the finished veneer.


Sidewalks, steps, stoops and all exterior foundation cracks should be filled. sealed or parged with mortar in order to bring up to date. Prospective Buyer's don't want to see cracks everywhere.


Caulking around windows, doors, foundation, gaps at the siding and chimney transitions and other common leakage transitions are necessary to prevent any moisture intrusion.


Repair any broken fencing that you may have around your property. Painting this fence will make it appear newer.


During the Summer months, add colorful plantings and bark mulch around exterior of the home, but not next to the foundation.


home preparation


Clean everything in sight. The kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms and general living spaces, and clean/test household appliances and equipment. Don't forget to clean all dirty grout at all tile locations. No matter what physical condition the property is in, it should be clean, tidy and uncluttered.


Bathrooms sell homes, so let them shine. Check and repair damaged or unsightly caulking and silicone around the tubs and shower edges. For added allure, display your best towels, mats and shower curtains.


Wake up prospects to the cozy comforts of your bedrooms. For a spacious look, get rid of and store all excess furniture off-site. Colorful bedspreads, comforters and curtains are a must.


You want buyers to view your home as their potential home. Therefore you want to downplay your personality and neutralize your decor. Put away family photos, artwork, sports trophies, collectable items, knick-knacks, books and souvenirs. Put them in a box or a rented storage area for a few months. Then, it's always good to replace those personal items with a few decorative touches throughout your home.


Buyers are impressed by space and light and are disappointed by cramped spaces. Living and dining rooms, in particular, usually contain too many chairs and belongings. In addition, too many heavy pieces of furniture make a room look and feel "crowded" to a buyer. Taking things away is very important, it opens up the house. Temporarily store all unwanted items. And remember, potential buyers will be looking for more than just comfortable living space. They're looking for storage space, too. While your storing your unwanted items, Make sure your attic and basement are clean and free of unnecessary items.


Homeowners learn to live with all kinds of self-set booby traps: roller skates on the stairs, toys thrown in a corner, slippery throw rugs and low overhanging lights. Make your home as non-perilous as possible for uninitiated visitors.


Put away any extra items like out-of-season clothing, extra linens and small appliances. Stack boxes neatly in an unobtrusive spot, such as the garage, basement or even better, a temporary off-site storage unit. Keep only enough furniture to enhance the space and show how the rooms can be used. You want buyers to see the fireplace (not the sofa), and the view, not the big-screen TV.


Shampoo and deodorize all carpets. If your carpet is heavily soiled, you may want to have it professionally cleaned. If your carpet is badly worn, outdated or stained, consider replacing it.


Polish all hardwood floors and wash all non-hardwood floors and walls with household cleaners and disinfectants. Use a broom to clear cobwebs from the high and low corners of all rooms and closets.


Nothing makes a home look newer faster than painting. Painting your walls and wood trim and removing any outdated wallpaper may be the best interior improvements you can make. For a broader appeal, paint in neutral colors such as beige, white, off-white or any soft color. These colors will suggest newness and cleanliness and can brighten a dull or outdated room.


Brighten the interior of your home by cleaning all windows, blinds and draperies.


Repair those small things now. Tighten and polish all hardware. Repair dripping faucets and waste pipes, as this suggests faulty or worn-out plumbing. Clean, or re-grout tiles and replace any missing or cracked tiles. Upgrade all silicone at the transition areas.


Clean all hanging light fixtures and add the highest-wattage LED bulbs allowed. Burned out bulbs leave prospects in the dark. Replace every burned out light bulb with an LED bulb. Don't let little issues detract from what's right with your home.


Properly insulate attic (12 to 14" of Blanket insulation or 8 to 10" of blown-in insulation) and make sure that your attic has the proper ventilation.


If you (or a family member) are a smoker... clean, prime and paint any nicotine stained walls, wood trim and ceilings thoroughly and replace any old carpeting and cloth window treatments as these items will cause nicotine odor to linger in the living area. Refrain from smoking in your home while it is on the real estate market.


If cabinets or closet doors stick in your home, you can be sure they will also stick in a prospects mind. Don't try to explain away sticky situations when you can easily fix them. Repair or hand-plane all sticking doors and windows now. Replace all broken, worn or ripped screens. A little effort on your part can smooth the way toward an easy closing. While your there checking your closet doors, now is the time to box up those unwanted clothes and donate them to charity. The better organized a closet, the larger it appears.


Neaten up the basement. A cluttered basement is not what a potential buyer wants to see.

Clean up and professionally correct any water problems in your basement. To include upgrading the foundation with mortar, parging mortar onto loose brittle areas and tuck pointing any loose cavities and cracks.

If your home has a Sump Pump and you can see water in the sump area, then test the float to make sure the pump activates and pumps water.

I recommend you have a professional Exterminator inspect for wood boring insects before the Buyers Home Inspector arrives and uncovers insect activity you were not aware of. This type of finding will cause serious delays in the close of escrow.

clean basement



Before you leave your home for the Buyers, turn on all the lights (both inside and outside-when showing your home in the evening) and open all the curtains to let in as much light as possible, but screen out any unappealing views. You want your prospects to see how bright and cheery your home is. Lights add color and warmth, and make prospects feel welcome.

It's always very important to have a good smell to your home. Aroma is the first thing prospective buyers notice when they step inside your home. Keep your home smelling fresh by burning candles or potpourri, boiling a pot of cinnamon sticks or applying a dab of vanilla on cold lights before turning them on. Vanilla will also give the house a fresh cookie baking smell when placed inside an oven on a dish. Another option would be to cook a fresh batch of cookies or even bake a cake before the showing. Any good smell in your home is important to potential buyers.

Light Classical or instrumental music (playing in the background) can also be effective in creating a pleasing atmosphere.


Once the above checklist is complete, now that big bright "SOLD" sign will be posted out front of your home in no time.

sold sign



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Hi Dave,
I wanted to thank you for spending the time with us today. I couldn't have been more pleased with your inspection. I was a bit nervous picking someone to inspect the house as it almost seemed like drawing straws (since I had no references to go on), with the possibility that I could draw the short straw, however, I can honestly say that I definitely didn't draw the short straw this round. The level of detail that you put into the inspection really helped lift a huge weight off my shoulders and I am more than confident in your assessment of the house. I also appreciate all the advise and tips you shared with us during the walk though.
Thanks again for all your help!

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Last updated on  Feb 11, 2020