Preparing Your Home for Sale

Beautiful interiorListing your home for sale is a nerve wrecking process that comes with a lot of work preparing your house to be put on the market.  Your home may be far from perfect and you may not have enough budget to fix and upgrade your home before selling it.  So the question is how should you prioritize your budget so that your home is market ready and you can reap any investment that you put in for preparing it?  The goal is to minimize the cost and maximize the appeal while making your home market ready so your future buyer will not pass on your home and go with your neighbor’s listing instead.

Despite Portland housing market being hot as seller’s market, every home owner must not take the home preparation process lightly.  If your home is not appealing because of too much wear and tear or the appearance of it, buyers will quickly dismiss your home.  Buyers want to see a clean, well-maintained and move-in ready house, rather than a fixer upper.  Home buyers imagine what their life will look like living in that house when they seriously consider a home to buy.  Many buyers are also emotional about their choices because a home is where they will have happy memories and see their children grow.  So if you can afford to put in some money to maximize your home’s value, don’t ruin the value of your product out of your convenience of not doing it.

Cost Effective Items

Pressure Wash – Living in the Northwest, your house will have mildew and moss growing on it especially after our rainy winter season.  Roof is especially where it will grow the most.  Hire a roof cleaner to clean your roof and gutters for under $300.  Also, pressure wash your exterior sidings.  If you are a DIYer with a good pressure washer, great!  More power to you.  If not, you can always find someone to do it for cheap on Craigslist.  While you are at it, make sure to pressure wash your concrete driveway and patio.  You will notice a significant difference afterwards when your home looks clean.

Exterior Painting – After all the green gunk is cleaned out, consider exterior painting.  This doesn’t need to be the entire home painting if you can get away with touch-ups.  Also, pay attention to any faded paint trim work that needs redone such as white window trims, door trims, roof fascia boards, and etc.  Having the trim shine will really increase your home’s curb appeal.

Interior Painting – Painting walls with neutral colors will also increase your home value.  If your house has worn out walls or unappealing white paint, consider painting your walls again with neutral colors such as beige, light olive, light gray, bluish gray, and etc.  You can leave an accent wall or two with a bold paint color but make sure it’s something that can appeal to a wide audience, not only to people with a unique taste.

New Baseboards & Crown Moldings – Are your baseboards really outdated?  If you have very thin, old-fashioned baseboards in a bad condition, consider changing them out to a nice, modern 6 inch white baseboards to make your interior pop.  Adding a nice crown molding around your living room ceiling is also a great idea to make your interior pop with a fresh finished look.

Floor – If you have carpet, consider steam cleaning the carpet.  If the carpet stain is so deep, it doesn’t come off after steam cleaning, consider re-carpeting.  Trust me.  Buyers do not want to imagine what happened to those “spots” on your carpet.  If you have a hardwood floor with scratches and worn-out spots, consider recoating your hardwood without having to sand the whole thing and start over.  According to, the cost is only $100 with some elbow grease.

Missing Light Fixtures – Make sure all your light fixtures are in place and not missing.  Place light bulbs and make sure they work.

Landscaping – If your plants are going “wild”, it’s time to trim them so that everything looks organized in your yard.  It’s also a great idea to clean out any back patio area and add more gravel and bark to areas in your yard to create a manicured look.  Rake fallen leaves and flowers and organize things around your landscape.

Deck – If your deck is in a bad condition, you will need to address it.  Maybe you can pressure wash or sand it and refinish your deck.  Maybe you need to replace certain rotted deck boards and sister deck joists.  You can hire a deck professional to do minor repair.  A buyer does not want to see a deck where they feel their safety is compromised or that they will have to shell out a lot of money.  As a home owner, you know exactly what’s going on with your deck and you will be in a good place to minimize the cost of repairs and refinishing.

Staging – If you plan on living in your house while the home is on the market, it is important that you minimize all your clutter and always leave minimal furniture and decoration.  A cluttery home does not sell.  It is a good idea that you box all your unnecessary items and store them in your garage or in a self storage unit.  Put your family photos away and make your rooms look like expensive hotel rooms with clean white bedding, with minimal decor.

If your home will be vacant while being listed on the market, and your house is more of a higher end home, consider hiring a staging consultant.  A nicely staged home will increase your home value.  If your home is more in the median range and you do not want to shell out $2,000 to $3,000 in staging, you can leave some of your furniture and decoration at the house and stage it to sell.  Work with your real estate agent to make sure your house looks good.

Expensive Repair Items

There are major items your home may need.  Many of those issues are hard to find unless a home inspection has been done.  If you purchased your current home in the last 10 years, maybe you are aware of some of the issues at your previous home inspection when you were the buyer.  There are some deal breaker items and none-deal-breaker items a buyer will definitely ask for credit after the inspection.  It is important that you are aware of what some of the issues are so that you can prepare for it rather than being surprised when your buyer brings it up during your inspection.

Basement Water Issues – Most basements have water issues.  Some are worse than others.  If your basement wall is rotting or is constantly wet, you may need to investigate the issue.  Sometimes, it can be fixed easily with proper drainage system around the house or just cleaning your gutter.  Talk to a basement contractor to see what the problem is.

Roofing – If your roof has less than five years or life left in it, you will need to replace your roof.  Your house will not qualify for a mortgage unless it has more than five years of roof life remaining.  That means you can only sell your home as a fixer upper to cash buyers and miss out all mortgage buyers.

Sewer Line Damage – Sewer scope inspection is very common these days.  If your home is 30 years or older, buyers will order a sewer scope inspection where a video camera is inserted to your sewer line to inspect any damages such as cracks and rust.  It may be a good idea to find out if your house has a serious sewer line issues.  Most of the times, sewer line issues are contained to coupling joints, rather than the cast iron pipe itself, which is supposed to last 100 years.  More you are aware of the issue, better prepared you will be during the inspection.

Other Home Disclosure Issues – When investigating your home issues prior to listing your house, make sure you speak to a realtor as to find out what your seller disclosure form will require you to disclose.  You as a home seller are required to disclose items specifically mentioned on the form including any other material defects that you are aware of.  Latent defects are not required to disclose if you have no knowledge and you have no obligation to investigate every hidden issue with your property.  If it’s an item that you should have known, you will need to disclose it.  In general, more you disclose, less likely you will be sued after your transaction is over.

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Peter Park

I provide quality real estate agent services with my past attorney experience for home buyers and sellers in the Portland metro.
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