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What to do before putting your house on the market

In a recent post, How to Prepare your House for Spring Sale Season, we went over three essential steps to start preparing your home for sale. Decluttering is the first step. That might involve renting a storage unit, as less furniture will make your home look more spacious. The second is depersonalizing your home so that buyers can imagine themselves and their belongings inside. The third step is a thorough deep cleaning, as well as organizing closets and cabinets. Read on for two additional things to do before putting your house on the market. Upping your home’s curb appeal and seeing to needed repairs can increase your chances of receiving an offer and help you sell your home more quickly.

How to increase your home's curb appeal

How important is curb appeal?

Curb appeal really can’t be overrated. The appearance of your home’s exterior can not only attract buyers, it can actually increase your home’s value. A buyer’s first impression happens when they pull up in front of your house. If the exterior turns them off, a potential sale could be lost. The first time potential buyers see your home may be in photographs of the listing, where curb appeal is also extremely important.

Clean the exterior of your home

Beautiful curb appeal for selling your home begins with the most basic home improvement principle: cleaning. Dirt and grime turn off buyers and can make your home appear in worse condition than it truly is. If your exterior can’t be new, at least make it shine like new.

Clean up your curb appeal in these simple steps:

1. Rent a pressure washer to power wash the siding, windows, and gutters. Don’t forget to blast the sidewalk, porch, and deck. Alternatively, use “home wash” (a hose attachment that is available at any home improvement store) to clean the outside of the house.

2. Wash the windows, inside and out. Don’t forget the screens!

3. Seeing mold? Try one of the many spray-and-forget-it products that attach to your garden hose and allow you to reach the high spots without a ladder. Be sure to clean your exterior according to the material; you’ll take different steps with stucco than with vinyl siding, for example.

4. Tidy up your yard and remove clutter, debris, and dead leaves. Think of it as housekeeping for the outdoors. Mow the grass, trim bushes and shrubs, and freshen your mulch.

How to increase your home's curb appeal

Other steps to increase your curb appeal

  • Make the exterior more appealing and welcoming by painting your front door, and replace any outdated exterior lighting fixtures.
  • Make sure buyers can see your house number from the curb. Buy new house numbers if the old ones are dated or faded.
  • Consider hiring a contractor to fix any cracks on your front steps or walkway. Buy a new welcome mat.
  • Add color by planting flowers in your front yard or in pots on your front porch. In winter, consider seasonal touches like a wreath or holiday lights. You might hire a landscaper to improve your front lawn and add a few shrubs or flowering plants. If you choose to do some planting yourself, apply mulch liberally and use low-maintenance flowers like perennials.
  • If your home looks a bit run down, consider adding a fresh coat of paint to the exterior walls. Signs that you should definitely paint the exterior when you prepare your home for sale: Exterior paint that is faded or flaking; cracks, wood rot or other water damage to trim or siding.

Repairs: Identify what’s needed and make a plan

Normal wear and tear can add up, especially if you’ve lived in your house a long time. It’s easy to ignore small stuff, whether it’s a squeaky door, a window that sticks, or that dripping faucet you’ve been meaning to fix. But such things are likely to be red flags for buyers. They will wonder if more serious issues lurk below the surface. You also don’t want buyers finding problems they can use as bargaining chips to seek a lower price during the closing process. So, try to make sure anything and everything that needs to be fixed is fixed before listing your home. Never neglect repairs that pose a hazard or have a significant impact on everyday life.


Go through the house and make a list

Go through your home room by room, noting repairs that need to be made. Throughout your home, look for holes or dents in walls. Floors should be free from cracks or chips. Doors should open and close properly.

In the kitchen, appliances should be in working order. Check all the cabinet doors to ensure that they open and close, and look for kitchen drawers that jam. Faucets, fixtures and drains must be leak-free and operational. Replace any cracked floor or counter tiles.

In the bathroom, check flooring, tubs and showers for cracked or broken tiles. Fix leaky faucets and look for signs of water damage. During your cleaning step, all mold and mildew should have been eradicated; if it wasn’t, do it now. Re-caulk the entire bathroom so everything looks clean and fresh.

Examine your home’s exterior

Outside, examine exterior surfaces, weather-stripping, eaves and windows. Look for damage such as peeling, cracks or rot. Decks and patios should be in good condition; if your deck hasn’t been cleaned and stained recently, put that on your list. Fencing should be free from damage, like rot or rust. Trim landscaping so it’s not too close to your house.

How to get those repairs done

Some repairs might be easy do-it-yourself projects, such as patching a hole in drywall or unclogging a slow drain. First time making repairs like these? Video tutorials on YouTube are a great way to help you get started.

Hire a professional for more serious or complicated repairs. When getting a house ready to sell, you should have a handyman on speed dial! If your roof leaks, electrical outlets don’t work, or you have cracks in your foundation, have the job done by someone who has the right tools and know-how. That way, you’ll know the repairs have been done correctly (and up to code).

Repairs can increase the value of your home, so you may need to consider the time and cost it will take versus the impact on your home value.

Consider having a pre-sale inspection

Getting a pre-sale inspection can ensure necessary repairs get done before buyers walk through. If the inspection unearths costly issues, such as needing a new roof, you can decide to make the fix or price your home a little lower to account for the needed repair. An inspection typically costs between $281–$402, according to Home inspection issues can be responsible for delayed and even terminated contracts. Most buyers will include an inspection contingency in their offer so if both parties aren’t able to agree on repairs following an inspection, the buyer can walk away without a penalty. A pre-sale inspection can take care of that problem.

Which months are the best to sell a home?

May is the month that brings the best premium for home sellers, followed by June, July, and April.

Scott Haubrich

Secure a professional realtor

We highly recommend enlisting a professional real estate agent to list your home. If you’re thinking of selling your home or of moving to Minneapolis, call Scott Haubrich at (612) 298-5400 or send an email to for more information.Click here to go to the homepage.