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7 Ways to Make Your For-Sale Home Move-In Ready

When to think like a buyer? The moment you even begin to think of selling.

Ever heard the phrase “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes?” When it comes to selling your home and boosting curb appeal, you need to walk every last inch of your home in the buyer’s shoes, from the front curb to the back fence. The moment you begin thinking of selling your home is the time to start thinking like a buyer.


Thinking like a buyer will help make your home move-in ready for just the right buyer (or maybe even a bevy of bidding buyers). The less work for the buyer, the shorter the time between the viewing and the closing table.

Here are seven ways to make your home move-in ready:

1. Host a prelisting party

Invite your trusted friends for a floor-to-ceiling review. In each room of the home, ask them if they would make any changes, or if they see any red flags from a buyer’s perspective.

This will give you an extra set of non-real-estate eyes on your home to help you create a solid list of potential improvements.

2. Consult with a great agent

Now that you have your friends’ opinions, run them by your agent. Determine which problems to address before listing and which fixes are of no benefit financially. If you’re looking for an agent, try this new tool from Trulia; it’ll give you a free estimate of your home’s value and connect you with an agent who can help you sell it.

3. Declutter

Closets get full, extra pieces of furniture get crammed into rooms, and bookshelves overflow with odds and ends. Allow the potential buyers to see your home and not just your stuff. Every closet in your home should show off the entirety of the storage space. Rooms should scream “possibilities” instead of “I can’t fit one more thing in here.”

Consider renting a portable storage unit that can be delivered to your home. Fill it with anything you don’t need at the moment and have it delivered to your new dream home when the time comes. In the meantime, you’ll be making room for someone else’s dreams.

4. Clean out the garage

Potential buyers want to know that their cars can fit into the garage. While it might seem harsh (and unrealistic since everyone you know uses the garage for storage), no one wants to see the garage filled with bike parts, boxes, and haphazard clutter.

Move the clutter to the portable storage unit and make some room for folks to imagine parking their dream car (or their own clutter) in the space.

5. Think neutral

It’s hard for potential buyers to envision themselves in a home that has you written all over it. Consider replacing bright or bold-colored walls, specialty wallpaper, or mural trim with neutrals.

A simple beige satin wall paint with semigloss white or off-white trim can do wonders for giving potential buyers the blank-canvas feeling. You want future owners to dream of their own personal touches — not be scared away by yours.

6. Kick up the shine

Have your bathrooms and kitchen counters lost their luster? It’s probably time they were refreshed (and it’s much less expensive than having them redone). Check Angie’s List for contractors in your area offering deals for grout, tile, and natural stone restoration. With a little investment, you can kick up the shine on your tile and countertops to get that long-neglected grout back to dazzling. That “exploding pizza” incident in your kitchen and that red hair dye on your white bathroom grout could be history in an afternoon — and on a dime.

7. Make those hardwood floors spiffy

Send the kids and the dog off to the park for the day and get those floors gleaming. Wash all surfaces with mild, soapy water first (avoid Murphy’s Oil Soap — it leaves a residue). Next, use a hardwood floor polish like Bona or a product like Rejuvenate to bring the beauty back —all for under $40–$50 for the average-sized home. Use the recommended cleaning product for each flooring type to prevent buildup and to keep them gleaming through your whole listing.

It’s a deal killer if the perfect buyer thinks they have to refinish a few thousand square feet of hardwood. Help them see hope, not dollar signs.