How To Prepare Your Home for Sale Checklist

A good agent will guide you through the process and help you list your home for sale but getting the best possible price for your home requires more than simply hiring a reputable real estate agent. There are a series of steps you’ll need to take to prepare the home for sale, beginning months before they show the property. Here is a checklist to help you prepare your home for sale.

Curb Appeal

Potential buyers form an impression before they enter your home. If you are not sure what needs to be updated, take a photo of your home from across the street. See if the front door and shutters would benefit from a fresh coat of paint if a new light fixture would make your home more inviting. Consider placing a planter by the front door. 

photo of a philadelphia rowhome with a matching teal door, shutters and garage. Two planters sit side by side by the main door to the home.

If you have been putting off re-pointing brickwork or repainting stucco, now is the time to do so. Assuming the new owner will do these things will reduce your sale price. Clean all windows and screens. If you have a storm door or screen door, make sure it looks new or replace it.

If the sidewalk in front of your home is cracked, broken, or capable of causing a fall, that’s definitely something you’ll want to fix. 

“A pre-inspection might also be a good way to know and correct defects that could come up,” said Deborah Solo, founder of Solo Real Estate. “I usually do a walk-through of a potential listing to see what each property could benefit from.”


30 days before buyers arrive, start to clear off all counters, windowsills, and tables of clutter. That goes for inside closets and cupboards which buyers will surely open. Be prepared to use only 50% of your closet space. If it looks full to bursting, it will send a negative message. The more you remove, the more spacious your house will appear.

Remove everything that is personal. That means packing away family photos, tchotchkes, religious objects, homemade crafts, artwork, and refrigerator magnets. Go room by room and eliminate unnecessary furniture taking up valuable space. Your home should look clean, spacious, and clear of anything that might get in the way of someone imagining themselves in the house.

Donate what you no longer need and take items to a storage facility rather than piling up boxes in your basement or garage. This will also make your move easier. Got kids? Store all toys, games, etc.

Re-paint the interior

The ideal time to paint your home is a month before the listing goes live — the walls will still look freshly painted when your home goes on the market, and you’ve likely already done some of the packing and moving, so you won’t scratch or damage newly painted walls.

Even if a pricey decorator chose trendy gray and “greige” tones for your home, repaint every room a light, neutral color without accent walls. Shoot for one of Benjamin Moore’s white or neutral colors. Leave the “color of the year” up to the next homeowner. Don’t forget to paint windowsills and baseboards.

Lighten up

Replace dim light bulbs with brighter, more energy-efficient LED bulbs, especially in ceiling and bathroom fixtures.

Tighten up

Check all door, stove, and cabinet handles. If any are loose, get out your screwdriver.

Add some green plants

Plants create a welcoming environment. Consider placing a bouquet of flowers on your dining room table and a bowl of fresh fruit on a kitchen counter. If the clutter you removed leaves bookcases and coffee tables looking empty, add a green plant. Avoid plastic plants as they can look cheap and communicate the wrong message.

A built in planter with greenery at kensington yards.

Do A Smell Test For Any Odors

Ask your real estate agent if they can detect any unpleasant odors. If you have a pet or a smoker in your home, masking these odors with room deodorizers isn’t enough. Invest in a professional deep clean which includes all surfaces, carpets, and furniture. You may choose to board your pet while showing your home. 

Schedule Cleanings

Consider hiring a cleaning service that will come back weekly. Unless your home sells to the very first potential buyer, you will have to repeatedly shine your kitchen and bathroom floors, dust, vacuum, etc. Use a professional carpet cleaner, especially if you have pets.

Hide valuables

People you don’t know personally will be coming into your home. Put all valuables, including passports, checkbooks, cash, credit cards, jewelry, and collectibles into a safety deposit box. Be especially cautious about protecting items in your home office, including laptops and files.


Consider hiring a staging company. Let’s say the home you are selling isn’t yours and it belonged to your parents who hadn’t bought a new piece of furniture since the mid-80s. If you do not want the furniture, donate it and hire a staging company. They will fill the house with classic pieces and attractive décor which will help appeal to younger buyers.

That is not the only reason to use a staging company. It also makes sense if you have already closed on your new home and want to live there before your old house sells. 

Solo Real Estate has decades of experience helping buyers and sellers achieve their goals, and we understand there’s no one size fits all approach to getting ready to sell your home. We have longstanding vendor relationships with contractors, lenders, and staging companies so we can provide guidance, recommendations and even handle all the details for sellers who may not live in Philadelphia anymore or don’t have the time.

Our agents are experts at helping homeowners overcome any hurdles that may come up along the way so you can get the best offer and arrive at a smooth through closing. Thinking of selling your home? Email us to discuss your real estate goals!

To Sell Or Not To Sell?

There may never be a better time to sell your home. All indicators point towards 2021 being one of the hottest markets in history for Philadelphia real estate. Supply is low. Demand is high. But before you take the leap, we want to give you tips and guidelines to avoid costly mistakes.

Understanding the Market

In February 2021, a record 5,040 homes sold in Philadelphia, as the median sales price rose by nearly $30K and properties came under contract in two weeks. The average single-family home price rose to $315,000. The last time that Philadelphia saw such large double-digit appreciation was in 2006.

867 N 27th Street – Fairmount/Art Museum – $649,900

In a recent Inquirer article, Drexel University economist Kevin Gillen explains, “This is the first time that the supply of homes for sale in Philly has dropped below 3,000. Historically, the city has an average of 7,400 houses listed for sale in a given month.”

Meanwhile, mortgage rates are low and housing prices are rising. The hottest markets are in West and Southwest Philadelphia, where prices have risen by 22%. Single-family homes rose an average of $40,000. Buyers paying tens of thousands of dollars over listing prices to win bidding wars. Properties come under contract within two weeks. And buyers are paying cash.

According to Forbes, Millennials are driving the housing market. Older Millennials are trade-up buyers, while the larger, younger segment are buying their first home.  Competition is highest at the lower end of the price spectrum, where first-time buyers tend to shop. So-called “starter homes” are in high demand but short supply these days. If you live in one and are ready to upgrade to a larger home or trendier neighborhood, the stars are in your favor. 

946 N Randolph St. – Northern Liberties – $390,000

Before you put your house on the market

Selling a home is easy. But buying one may prove frustrating and take more time and money than you imagined. Thinking of the burbs? Montgomery County has the lowest number of listings in 15 years. You will be competing against New Yorkers who are shelling out $2 million for a two-bedroom condo. (Case in point: the sky-high pricing at Center City’s 47-Story condo ArtHaus.) 

2017 Haverford Rd. – Ardmore – $450,000

Before selling your home, take a pencil to your mortgage, especially if you refinanced it in the last twelve months. A Wall Street Journal article advises, “It often takes a year or more to recover the costs associated with refinancing. When someone is refinancing, they should go through the thought experiment of: “Can I stay in this house long enough to make it worth it?”

Advice from an agent

“The idea of a buyer’s market and a seller’s market is a little misleading,” said Solo Real Estate agent Alejandro Franqui.  “Right now, the only sellers who will really do well are people who are selling an investment property or something they inherited.”

“However, if you’re looking to sell your own home, you’re probably going to have to buy another one and there is very little available,” he cautions. “You may get a great price for the home you live in now, but you’ll likely have to get into a bidding war and pay top dollar for your next house.”

Cash is King

Choosing a cash buyer has several benefits for sellers. Cash sales can take as little as 14 days, while mortgage closings usually take 30 to 60 days. In many cases, sellers are open to allowing buyers to bring in a home inspector before they make an offer. CNBC reports that cash sales for homes in the $100,000-$200,000 make up 36% of sales.

However, there is not a lot of risk taking an offer from a buyer who’s getting a loan from a conventional lender as long as you do your due diligence. That means calling up the lender and asking how qualified the buyer is. This is where having an agent can take the angst out of selling a home. Be aware, loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have more restrictions and may require you to make home repairs before the sale is final.

Choosing the best offer requires more than a pocket calculator. You need to compare the offers side-by-side, including offer price, loan amount, type of loan, contingencies, and other factors. Again, this is where having an experienced agent is crucial. 

Whether you’re thinking of selling your investment property or your family home, our Solo agents can give you advice and find the best approach for you in the current market.

Looking to sell your home or investment property? We can help! Learn more about our selling services here, and contact us for more information.