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Donna Bise
Diamond Real Estate

464 East Main Street
Suite A
Abingdon, VA 24210
Mobile: 276-608-0060

Suggestions For Getting Your House Ready to Sell

When getting your home ready to sell, you need to look at your house in a new way. It needs to show well – which means clutter-free and well kept.  You need to make your house a "10". This document will help you spot what is right and what is not so good. It will give you the opportunity to take corrective action to ensure your house looks fresh, clean and well maintained when the "For Sale" sign goes up.

Professional Inspection: Yes or No 

A serious buyer will want to have a professional home inspector check your house from top to bottom prior to closing. Even though this guide will help you identify problems on your own, the option of hiring a professional home inspector is open to you as well. If you can afford it, an inspection in advance of putting your home on the market is a good idea. It is your best way of finding and taking care of unknown issues before an inspector is hired by a potential buyer to discover them. The average estimated cost of an inspection ranges from $300. to $600. (Estimated Cost) based on the size of the house.  Also, most buyers are having radon tests done. If the test reveals a level of over 3.9 PCIL the level is too high and would require a mitigation system to be installed to remove the radon.  The estimated cost to install the mitigation system ranges from $1,500 to $2,500. (Estimated Cost)  It may be wise to have a home inspector preform a radon test prior to marketing your property. The estimated cost of a radon test ranges between $150. and $200. (Estimated Cost)

Let's Begin Outside:  Check Your House's Curb Appeal

How does your house look from the street? That is where prospective buyers will be when they first see your home; and, that is where they will form that all-important first impression. Stand at the curb in front of your house and note what you see.

Remove any clutter in your yard.  

If your lawn has bald spots, apply some top dressing and re-seed. Prune trees and shrubs of dead wood. Weed and mulch flower beds, if you have them. Make sure your lawn is mowed regularly

Are your windows and walls clean?

Does your front door need paint?

Ensure your eaves and downspouts are clear of debris and in good repair.

Are your backyard deck and walkways clean? If not, use a power washer and do any necessary painting or staining

Do all outside lights work? Replace any burned out bulbs, and clean fixtures of dirt and cobwebs.

Is there a shed? Does it look presentable?

Do windows and exterior doors need re-caulking? Even at 6-7 years of age, the caulking may be dried out and in need of replacement.

Do you have decorative wooden poles on the porch? Is the wood at the bottom in good condition? Overall, does it need a new coat of paint?

When you have completed the curb appeal inspection, carefully check the rest of your home's exterior.

Will Your Roof and Chimney Pass Inspection?

Check the general condition of your roof. Sagging sections, curled shingles, pooled water on flat roofs and corrosion on metal roofing mean it is time for repair or replacement.

Both masonry and metal chimneys need to be straight and structurally sound, have proper capping on top and watertight flashing where they penetrate the roof.

All roofs undergo stress from snow and rain loads, so a truss or rafter may become damaged, resulting in a noticeable small depression. A professional should do this inexpensive repair.

Now, Let's Go Indoors

A prospective buyer will usually enter through your front door; so, that is where you should begin your interior inspection. You want your buyer to see a neat, clean, well-lit interior. Get clutter out of sight; ensure that carpets are clean and floors are scrubbed and polished; and that walls and trim look fresh and clean.

Take a sniff. Are there any unpleasant odors in your home? If so, track them down and eliminate them. Ensure all your lights work and are free of cobwebs. You want your home to look spacious, bright and fresh.

General Interior

Check stairs for loose boards, ripped carpeting, and missing or loose handrails and guards.

Most problems with interior walls are cosmetic and can be repaired with spackling compound and paint.

Ensure doors open and shut properly. Minor sticking is normal but excessive binding indicates possible structural problems.

Open and close all windows to ensure they work properly. Fogging between the panes of a sealed window indicates the seal is broken and the unit needs to be replaced.

Keep furniture to a minimum so rooms do not appear smaller than they are. Ensure that traffic can flow in or through rooms unimpeded. If they contain bookshelves or cabinets overflowing with books, magazines and knick-knacks, remove some of these items.

Ensure closets look spacious, organized and uncluttered. Create space by getting rid of old clothes and junk.

Remove or lock away valuables such as jewelry, currency, expensive electronics and medicines.

Kitchen and Bathrooms

People splash water around in the kitchen and bathrooms so check around sinks, tubs and toilets for rotting countertops and floors. Problems could be due to poor caulking or plumbing leaks. 

In the kitchen, clean all appliances, including your oven. Clean your cabinets inside and out, as well as your countertops and backsplashes. Repair dripping faucets.

Remove anything stored on top of your fridge.

Remove excessive items stored on countertops.

Remove excessive items stored under the sink.

In bathrooms, scrub sinks, tubs and toilets, taking care to remove any rust stains. Remove mildew from showers and bathtubs. Fix dripping faucets or trickling toilets, and vacuum your fan grill.

Clean mirrors, light switch plates and cupboard handles.   

If you have ceramic tile in either your kitchen or bathroom, ensure grouting is intact and clean.


The condition of the foundation and main structural members in the basement are critical to the fitness of any house. The purpose of your inspection is to make sure these are sound and durable.

Look for cracks, water seepage, efflorescence (white powder-like substance), crumbling mortar or concrete, and rotting wood. If any of these problems are present, you need to do further research to learn about causes and possible solutions.

If your basement is damp or musty, consider using a dehumidifier.

Like all other areas of your home, your basement should be organized and clutter-free.

Change the filters in the furnace and have it cleaned–this is the number one item purchasers want done after a home inspection.


Get rid of the broken tools, old car parts, discarded bicycles, empty paint cans and the hundreds of other useless items that accumulate in garages. Again, you want a clutter-free zone.

Use cleaning solutions to remove oil stains from the floor.

When It's Showtime!

You have inspected your house and taken care of problems. Now you are ready for showings

Open all drapes, blinds, etc. and turn on lights to make the house bright.

Air out the house to get rid of cooking, pet odors, and so on.  

Pick up clutter, and empty garbage.

Set your thermostat at a comfortable level.   

Display photos of the house in summer to show landscaping if selling in the winter months.  If you have done renovations you may also want to leave out before photos.   Leave out the last 12 months heating, water, sewer and gas bills for prospects to view.

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