When getting your home ready to sell, you need to look at your house in a new way. Think
of your house as a product about to go on the market where it is probably competing with
brand new housing. It needs to show well–which means clutter-free and well kept.
Today’s homebuyers lead busy lives and may not be interested in taking on major repairs
or improvements upon moving in. You need to make your house a “10”. This document will help
you spot what is right and what is not so good about your product. It will give you the
opportunity to take needed corrective action to ensure your house looks fresh, clean and
well maintained when the “for sale” sign goes up.
Fix It First
If you need to make improvements to your home, do the work before it goes on the
market. Potential buyers are not interested in hearing about your good intentions to
look after defects before a transfer of ownership takes place. Even if fix-up work is
underway, buyers may not be able to visualize what your home will look like when the work
is finished. They will just remember it being in a state of disrepair.
Professional Inspection, Yes or No?
A serious buyer may want to have a professional home inspector check your house from top
to bottom before making an offer. 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 serious deficiencies before
an inspector hired by a potential buyer discovers them.
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
Repair cracked or uneven
driveway or walkway surfaces.
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. If it is the right time of year, consider buying some
flower-filled planters to enhance the eye appeal of your property. Make sure your lawn
is mowed regularly. Ensure that the composter area is tidy.
Are your windows and walls
Does your front door need
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, staining or
If you have a swimming pool,
are the deck and pool clean (when in season)?
Do all outside lights work?
Replace any burned out bulbs, and clean fixtures of dirt and cobwebs.
Is there a shed? Does it look
Do the window and exterior
door need recaulking? 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 and overall does it need a
new coat of paint?
If you have a gate, is it
When you have completed the curb appeal inspection, carefully check the rest of your
Simple curb appeal idea's
Will your roof and chimney pass
If you are uneasy about climbing onto your roof, you can inspect most items from the
ground using binoculars. Otherwise, be careful when working or moving about on your roof.
Unless roof repair is a simple matter of applying new caulking, you will probably need the
services of a professional.
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 it is possible a truss or rafter may become damaged, resulting in
a noticeable small depression.
A professional should do this inexpensive repair.
Examine Your Walls
The condition of your exterior walls directly affects the look and curb appeal of your
Replace old caulking.You may
have to cut or scrape away old caulking to get a good seal. Do not seal drainage or
Is your exterior paint looking
good? If you see faded colours and cracked or peeling surfaces, you need to repaint. Be sure
to get competitive bids if you hire professional painters.
You can clean vinyl siding but
defects or damage to it and to metal siding usually means replacement.
Stucco can be repaired but
some skill is required to blend patches with existing stucco.
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 show fresh paint (preferably neutral or light colours).
Take a sniff. Are there any unpleasant odours 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.
If you have considerable family memorabilia about, consider thinning it out.Your objective
is to help potential buyers feel as if they could live in your home. That mental leap becomes
more difficult for them if your house resembles a shrine to you and your family.
Professional realtors and decorators say the most important areas of your home to upgrade
and modernize are the kitchen and bathrooms. Buyers also want to see new or recently
installed floor coverings throughout.
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
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.
Living Room, Halls, Family Room, Den,
Keep furniture to a minimum so these rooms do not appear smaller than they are. Ensure
that traffic can flow in or through these rooms unimpeded. If they contain bookshelves or
cabinets overflowing with books, magazines and knick-knacks, remove some of these items.
Ensure bedroom closets look spacious, organized and uncluttered. Create space by getting
rid of old clothes and junk. Remember to remove or lock away valuables such as jewellery,
coins, currency, cameras and compact discs.
Kitchens 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. Fogged windows,
molds and sweating toilet tanks indicate high humidity levels, which you can remedy with
In the kitchen, clean all
appliances, including your oven. Clean or replace your greasy stove hood filter. Clean
your cabinets inside and out, as well as your countertops and backsplashes. Repair dripping
Remove anything stored on top
of your fridge and remove artwork and magnets.
Remove any items stored on
Remove items stored under
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.
Consider installing new 6-litre
toilets if you currently have waterguzzlers.
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
In general, if your basement is damp or musty, consider 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. If you have a pet with a litterbox,
ensure the litterbox is clean.
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.
You will need a plan of action that assigns duties to each family member so the place can
quickly be whipped into shape.
Open all drapes, blinds, etc.
and turn on lights to make the house bright.
Air out the house to get rid
of cooking, pet odours, etc.
Have fresh flowers in view.
Pick up clutter, and empty
Make sure everything is
Set your thermostat at a
Remove pets from the house
or put them outside.
If you have an agent, leave
when the house is being shown. If you are selling it yourself, you need to strike a balance
between being helpful and crowding the buyer.
In poor weather, provide a
place for boots, overshoes and umbrellas.
Display photos of house in
summer to show landscaping if selling in winter months.
Leave out heating and hydro
For those on a septic system and/or
well, leave out inspection and maintenance information.
Put our Agents to working
selling your home. To find out more.
Note: This page is provided for information only and does represent all of the
possible issues that may arise. Contact a reputable Realtor or Realtor Association in your
area. Real Estate Canada Network or it's owners assume any liability to it's completeness