Photo by James Thompson

Update: Making your home look its best when you come to sell it has always been important. But with the economic downturn and slump in the housing market, potential buyers are being much more cautious about purchasing a new property – so it’s more important than ever that your home really stands out. Your buyer needs to instantly feel a connection and see themselves living there in order to part with their cash.

(ARA) — Between 2002 and 2003, more than 14 percent of the U.S. population changed dwellings. The most common reason for moving was the need for more space (43 percent). When you decide to put your house on the market, it’s important that you present a spacious, clean living space in which prospective buyers can imagine themselves living. A new Web site from The Home Depot,, offers some general tips for preparing your house for sale and suggests taking a look at nine key areas when preparing your home to show prospective buyers. More tips on preparing your home for sale, including information on the return on investment (ROI) you can expect for various home improvements, can be found on the new Web site as well

General Tips

  • Clean everything thoroughly.
  • Put out clean towels, new soap, a nice tablecloth and fresh flowers.
  • Don’t be at home during a showing or open house.
  • If you do stay, be polite, but let your real estate agent do the talking.
  • Don’t apologize for the condition of your home.
  • Make sure your kids and pets are out of the house.
  • Eliminate clutter from all areas of your home to create an impression of spaciousness and plentiful storage space.
  • Nothing makes a home look new more quickly than a fresh coat of paint. Neutral colors suggest newness and cleanliness.

Nine Key Areas for Consideration


One of the first things a buyer looks at in a home is the storage it offers. A general rule of thumb for sellers is to take out half of what’s in the closets and storage areas to make them look more spacious. Remove excess furniture to make rooms seem as spacious as possible. Consider throwing out, donating, selling or storing things you no longer want. Make sure that storage areas in your basement, attic or garage also are well organized, thus giving prospective buyers the impression that there is room for all of their belongings.

Photo by Colleen Lane


Ask homebuyers what area or room of the home they consider most important, and chances are they’ll say the kitchen. When prospective buyers look at your kitchen, they will pay particular attention to its cleanliness, layout and storage capacity. If major appliances are being sold with the home, make sure they are spotless, odor-free and in good working condition. Polish chrome surfaces and fix any leaky faucets, loose cabinet hardware, drawer handles and outdated or inefficient light fixtures. Make more efficient use of drawers and cabinets with dividers and cutlery trays.


Repair any cracks or holes in the walls and ceiling and repaint if necessary. Strip outdated wallpaper.


Clean interior and exterior windows and screens. Repair cracked panes, torn screens, broken sashes and ropes or cords as well. When your home is being shown, open your curtains to let daylight in, especially if the view is noteworthy. While you’re at it, wash all the mirrors in the house too, and launder or dry-clean your curtains and drapes.


Carpeting has a major impact on the look of a home. Prior to showing your home to prospective buyers, vacuum thoroughly or have carpets steam-cleaned. If the carpet is badly worn, outdated or stained, consider having it replaced despite the expense. Check wood floors to see if they need to be refinished. Scrub and wax tile floors and repair or replace cracked tiles.


Make sure light fixtures, switches, switchplates and outlet covers are clean and in good working order.


It’s true that first impressions are often lasting so take a good look at the paint on the outside of your house. Is it cracking, peeling or chipping? If it is, a fresh coat for your exterior may cost you a bit of time and money but may elevate your home from “fixer-upper” to “move-in condition.” If you decide your home needs painting, choose colors that are appropriate for the style of your home and that blend in well with your neighborhood.


Buyers will pay close attention to the condition of your roof. You should re-patch or re-shingle where necessary, and fix leaky, corroded downspouts and gutters. Inside, a watermarked ceiling is a sign to buyers that the roof has leaked — even if the damage has been repaired.


A neat and clean entryway creates a positive first impression, and a freshly painted door and trim with sturdy hardware add a welcome touch. Replace faded house numbers with new ones. Make sure the doorbell is in working order.

Courtesy of ARA Content