Tips for Preparing Your Home for Sale from a Real Estate Pro

Preparing to sell your home? Home Matters sought expert advice from a leading Real Estate Professional to increase your chances of impressing your buyers.

Red for Sale Sign in Front of White Home and Cherry Blossom Trees

Photo by: Shutterstock

The prospect of getting your home ready to go on the market can be daunting. Being “showing ready” at the drop of a hat can cause feelings of panic. But there are some tricks of the trade that can help.

Every potential buyer has different priorities and every house is marketed a little bit differently. But one of the best sources for how to prepare to sell your home and prioritize your pre-market tasks is your friendly neighborhood real estate professional. Giving this sort of advice is what they do every day. So we sat down with Diane Cochran from Coldwell Banker, a real estate pro with over 30 years of experience, and asked her what tips she gives her clients.

How to Prepare to Sell Your Home

Q: When someone is preparing to put their home on the market, what are the top three most common pieces of advice you give?

Couple painting white walls


1. Remove clutter. If you have small children, have a laundry basket handy that everything can get tossed into and slid neatly into a closet. If you just have way too much stuff, consider investing in a storage unit.

2. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way. A nice, neutral coat of paint can really spruce up a room at a low cost. Pay particular attention to the entryway (first impressions and all!) and don’t forget the baseboards.

3. Clear off tables and countertops. Clear sight lines are important. Even if you typically stack bills, magazines or homework in a certain place, find a drawer to get rid of it when you need to. Also, box up all those knock knacks and personal photos. Hopefully you’ll be packing soon anyway!

Avoiding Common Misconceptions $ Increasing Curb Appeal

Q: What would you say is the most common misconception for sellers?

Cochran: Most people think their home is worth more than it is. They hear stories about what others have gotten for their homes. Or people get confused about asking price versus sale price. Anyone can ask anything for their home. But it is important to study the sales comps to see what similar homes have actually sold for.

Bouquet of flowers in white vase


Q: Staging a home for sale: what is your best advice? How much should you dress things up? How much is too much?

Cochran: Flowers and music are great. But don’t overdo it with the air freshener. It might come across that you are trying to cover something up. Also keep in mind that some people may be sensitive to certain smells.

Q: What is the most commonly overlooked thing homeowners can do to make their home more enticing to potential buyers?

Cochran: While people are focused on their home’s interior, they sometimes forget about the outside. Curb appeal is so important. Landscaping improvements can really enhance a home’s appeal.

Key with house keychain

How Home Warranties Can Help Prepare Your Home for Sale

Q: How can a home warranty help when your home is on the market?

Cochran: Home warranties can help protect sellers and pacify potential buyers.

Q: Has a home warranty ever helped you keep a home sale transaction on track?

Cochran: I have seen that happen many times, especially when the appliances are older and the potential buyer is worried about that aspect. Many times people shop houses at the top of their price range and they want to minimize potential after sale costs.

If you are planning to market your home in the near future, be sure to explore our real estate home warranty products.


Diane Cochran - Real Estate Agent and AHS Content Contributor Diane Cochran has been a real estate professional for 35 years. She is currently with Coldwell Banker. Previously, Cochran has worked with Re/Max and has owned her own brokerage. She is a lifetime member of the NAR Million Dollar Club and a Diamond Award recipient. Cochran lives and works in the suburbs of Chicago.

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