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HomePropertyBuying Selling and Renting PropertyHow to prepare your home for sale: The checklist

How to prepare your home for sale: The checklist


Ever noticed how all the best looking home photoshoots have very little in them? There’s a reason for this minimalistic approach: it lessens distraction.

Keeping rooms clear of clutter will allow your viewers to concentrate on the space rather than its contents. Key things to remove are day-to-day items such as the ever growing pile of letters on the sideboard and excessive toiletries from the bathroom. 

Hallways are vitally important as well, as they are the entryway to your home. Be sure to keep them clear of shoes and coats when you’re due to receive viewers.

Go as minimal as you can and you’ll be on the right track.


Similar to the decluttering process mentioned above, depersonalising your property will enable your viewers to see themselves living in the home, rather than being forced to think about it being so obviously yours. You want to allow them to dream a little.

This one can be tough for some of you, but just remember why you’re doing it. You can always put the pictures of the kids back up once you’ve moved home.

Improve your lighting

Ask any photographer for the best tip they can give and they’ll invariably say one word: lighting. Light matters, so don’t ignore it.

Thankfully, huge improvements can be made with almost no effort whatsoever. Open up those blinds and curtains and let natural light stream in. For those selling during the winter months or who have evening viewers, add plenty of floor and table lamps to a rooms that could use a little extra brightness.

Bright rooms always appear more spacious than dim and dark ones, so always be sure there’s enough light throughout the house before you start showcasing it.

Sort out smells

We all know that smells can be good or bad, but even some of the best ones may not necessarily help you sell your home.

Naturally, you’ll want to eliminate bad smells as a priority – think pet beds, rubbish bins, toilets, carpets, mustiness, etc. – but equally, you don’t want to go overboard with the good ones, either. Subtlety is key.

Don’t be shy here. Ask a friend or neighbour to give you an honest opinion. Does my house smell? isn’t an easy question to ask, but it will serve you well. It’s incredible just how used to familiar smells our olfactory systems become.

The science of smells and property sales has been discussed and studied at length, but there are still plenty of misconceptions surrounding what works and what doesn’t. If you really want to find some less-than-obvious aromas to fill your home with, check out this post next: Do Smells Sell Homes? The Top 5 Scents For Property Viewings

Take on the to-do list

This could prove to be a touchy subject, depending on how productive and proactive you are with your DIY skills (or lack thereof).

Even in households where there’s a prolific DIYer, you’ll usually find a list of chores that remain undone. This is the list you need to tackle before placing your home on the market.

Small jobs can make a huge difference. Got a doorknob that needs replacing? Lightbulb on the blink? Front room in need of a lick of paint? Dripping tap? Get them fixed, pronto.

A prime example of a small job that could truly scupper your sale would be a ceiling stain where the cause has been rectified but the evidence hasn’t been dealt with. Think overflowing bathtubs or blocked gutters.

Viewers, and even surveyors, will see such stains as red flags, when in reality there’s absolutely nothing wrong. Be certain to make good on any previous damage if it hasn’t already been taken care of. 

Be inspired

Just as small jobs like those listed above can make a massive difference to how your home is perceived, so can tiny tweaks in appearance. Concentrating on small details can have a huge impact.

The problem most of us have, however, is knowing what those details are! The last thing you want to do is overdo it, after all.

Taking inspiration from elsewhere is the answer. Think showrooms and style magazines. See what they do to showcase their properties. Another fantastic medium for this is Pinterest. Check out our account to see ideas on everything from floor tiles to bookcases: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pettyson/

Embrace neutral

Mention neutral decor to some and you’ll automatically see their shoulders slump. Boring! Well, no. Not really.

Sure, the commonly held vision of a neutrally decorated home can be a little dull, but things have moved on a lot over the last decade or so. In fact, there are some stunning neutral colours out there. Check out some of our favourites in this post: What Interior Paint Colours Help Sell Homes?

Create focal points

Just because you’ve toned things down with neutral paintwork doesn’t mean everything has to be straightlaced. Creating focal points in your home can really make your property pop, and it doesn’t take an interior designer to do it.

Got a particularly beautiful window? Then, make sure it’s highlighted and accessible. Interesting original fireplace? Why not place a bright piece of artwork on the mantle to catch the eye and draw the viewer to it. Plants are another thing you could use here.

Have fun with this, but remember: less is more.

Play down your pets

Ahh, now, before you scream at us, it’s important to know that we’re on your side when it comes to all things furry (check out #pettyspets if you want proof!). Unfortunately, however, not everyone feels the same way, so you might want to make your fluffy family member’s favourite items a little less conspicuous.

Things like pet beds and litter trays are the sort of things that could turn off a prospective purchaser, but so can falling over a discarded toy or bone! Tidy up and clear out as much pet stuff as you possibly can before viewings.

Showcase your storage

We’ve all got tonnes of ‘stuff’ these days, and buyers really do like to see that theirs can be safely tucked away somewhere. Showcasing storage doesn’t simply mean remembering to show viewers where it is – you can do better than that!

Take a little time to actually organise your storage before you show people around. Simple changes that make the most of what you’ve got can make a big difference, so consider racks, drawers, hangers and such before you go to market.

If your storage spaces are filled to overflowing, consider taking out a short-term self-storage unit. If this is a route you decide to go down, think about everything you can move out. Again, goes as minimal as you can and empty the house as much as possible…even the loft!

Self-storage not financially viable? How about asking a friend or family member to take some of your larger items just for your open day? Kid’s stuff like high chairs, ginormous prams and pushchairs, and even some toys can take up an inordinate amount of room, so get them gone if you can. You can promise to do the same for them when it’s their turn to move home. It’ll save you both a few quid at a time when every penny counts.

It might sound extreme, but the difference it makes is worth the effort. Trust us when we say that you wouldn’t be the first to do it! 

Focus on flow

Flow is an invisible element that matters almost as much as the observable objects we’ve already discussed, but what is it exactly?

In the most basic of terms, flow is the way viewers will move through your home, and your job is to ensure that this movement remains uninterrupted and interesting. 

The easiest way to test your home’s flow is to put yourself in the shoes of your buyers. Take yourself outside of the property and enter it as if for the first time. How does it feel? Are there any obvious obstacles that impact on how you move from room to room? 

Address these and you’ll heighten the flow. Simple.

Enhance kerb appeal

We’ve already had a few clichés, so throwing in another won’t hurt…first impressions matter.

Improving how your property looks from the outside is as important as how it feels once you’re inside, yet it often gets overlooked. Make sure that the front garden, if you have one, is tidy, all of your windows are sparkling, and the front door looks inviting.

Doing these small jobs will, again, make a big impact on your buyers.

Clean, clean, and clean again

We’ve left this one until last, but it could have been placed anywhere on the list and its importance would have remained the same. Clean homes are easier to sell, without any shadow of doubt, so make sure you clean everything, and we mean everything, thoroughly.

This is so vital that you should even consider hiring professionals to deep clean your home if it’s in need of proper attention. Things like carpets, couches, and curtains hold smells that can make or break a viewing, so be sure to do all that you can to make your property shine.

That’s about it for this home sale preparation checklist, we sincerely hope you found it useful. If you need any other property related advice or are looking to list your East London or West Essex home for sale, give us a call. 

We’re always on hand to assist and we take great pride in helping people move home. Get in touch today or pop in and see us for a cup of tea next time you’re in Wanstead. 

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