Sellers Roadmap


Prepare to Sell

The three most important factors in selling a house are location , condition , and price . Unless you have access to a reasonable house mover, there is little you can do about the location of your house. Since your agent has priced your house correctly, the most crucial thing you can then accomplish is to make your house ready for sale and look better than any of your competition.

Even if you have been extremely conscientious in the maintenance of your home during the time that you have owned it, putting it on the market requires taking the next step. Check every aspect of your house by repairing, freshening or changing whatever is necessary. Steps below will help you in this preparation:

Preparing Your House

General Exterior

The first step in preparing the exterior of your house--a buyer's first introduction--is to take a clear-headed look at the house from the street. Stand at the curb and look at your house as a buyer might. What stands out and catches your eye? The beautiful landscaping and the new roof? Or does something else strike you? The faded exterior paint? The ruts in the driveway? The 2 missing shutters? Remember, this is how your home will "introduce" itself to a potential buyer. If the appeal isn't there, they will likely move on to the next available house, no matter how beautiful the interior of your house may be!

If you need major improvements or renovations to your house, do them before you put it on the market. The average buyer simply does not have the "vision" necessary to see the job done. (if you are planning to do the improvements prior to closing)

  • Overall appearance: Remove any junk or clutter from the yard. This includes tree limbs and leaves, but especially goes for junk cars or parts, lawn tractors, etc.
  • Overall appearance: If the exterior of the house is dirty or moldy, power wash it. If it is in need of paint, get competitive bids if you can't do it yourself.
  • Grass: If possible, reseed any bare areas of the lawn.
  • Landscaping: Trim all shrubbery and plantings. Trim trees if necessary, especially dead limbs.
  • Driveway: If the driveway is stone and looking lean, add a coat of gravel. If it is asphalt, consider resealing.
  • Decks and porches: Power wash and seal, stain or paint.
  • Gutters and downspouts: Check gutters and downspouts to make sure they are clear and functioning properly.
  • Lights: Make sure that all exterior lights are operational.
  • Landscaping: If the season is right, plant colorful flowers where appropriate.
  • Landscaping: Add mulch to planting beds and around trees. An inexpensive but very effective way of freshening the look of the yard.
  • Windows: Make sure the exterior (and the interior) of windows is clean and operational.

General Interior

Many home sellers make the mistake of ignoring certain repair or maintenance items in the hopes that a potential buyer will not notice. Most buyers do not have vision. They are not able to look at a room that needs paint and carpet and imagine it fresh and attractive. Telling buyers that something will be cleaned, painted, or repaired may work with some, but the majority will not be able to envision the house after the changes have been made and will scratch your house from their list of potentials.

  • Painting: When it comes to preparing a house, painting gives you the best return for money spent. Which rooms should you paint? Any that have dirty or marked walls or any rooms that are currently painted in dark colors. Keep it neutral--off-white or antique white is the best.
  • Carpeting: At the very least, all carpeting needs to be steam cleaned. Any worn, stained or foul smelling carpet should be replaced. You may be tempted to give a "carpet allowance" and that may work. Just remember, most buyers do not have vision.
  • Operation: If you are not having a whole house inspection done, check all faucets, toilets, and electrical items for correct operation.
  • Safety: Make sure that your house is safe. Not only can a wobbly railing stop a sale, it could also cause an injury to a potential buyer who is not familiar with your house (and is spending time looking instead of being careful).
  • Clutter: If an item is not necessary for your day-to-day life, box it up and store it or throw it out!
  • Fireplace: Have a professional fireplace or woodstove cleaning and inspection. The buyer will most likely request it anyhow. Getting it done in advance impresses the buyer and makes the home appear cleaner and fresher smelling.
  • Closets: Make sure all closets are neat, clean and organized. See above item on clutter.
  • Doors and Windows: Check all for smooth operation. Replace any cracked window panes. 
  • Cleaning: Even though you may consider your house clean and tidy, a thorough cleaning--including dusting, washing and waxing everything--will always make a house more appealing.

Interior Room by Room

When your Mason Dixon agent gets a buyer into the house, it is important to make their visit as pleasant as possible--and that means having the whole house ready. You want them to be as comfortable as possible and to linger in the home. A "turn off" issue will send them scurrying quickly to the next house on their list!

Room by Room


  • Must be especially inviting for your guests (your potential buyers). Make certain it is well lit, clean and has nothing lying around either inside or outside. Paint the front door if it even remotely needs it.
  • If you normally use a back or side entrance to your house, pay particular attention to the front entry. You rarely see it but this is where the buyers will enter!

    Living Room or Great Room
  • If possible, keep furniture at a bare minimum so that traffic flow is easier and the room does not appear smaller than it actually is.
  • If bookshelves, entertainment centers and the like are overflowing with books and knick-knacks, remove some of them.

    Family Room or Den
  • If this is the room you live in the most, make it look inviting but not overly lived in.
  • Keep furniture at a minimum but make the room look like a comfortable place to spend time.

  • Clean the exterior of all appliances. Clean the oven interior.
  • Clean or replace the stove hood filter. This is often overlooked, usually dirty and greasy, and looked at by a lot of buyers.
  • Clean cabinet faces. Make them shine!
  • Remove all clutter and unnecessary items from countertops and clean all countertops and backsplashes thoroughly.
  • Clean vinyl or ceramic floor.
  • If you have ceramic tile elsewhere in the kitchen, pay particular attention to the grout--make sure that it's clean. If it is discolored, there are "grout whitening" products that are available.

  • Remove all clutter. If you don't need it, store it or pitch it!
  • Arrange or remove furniture to maintain good traffic flow through rooms. Remember, there may be three or four people in each group that walk through your house.


  • Make sure all bulbs are working and have the highest wattage available as safe for each fixture. Brighter is better!
  • Clean all ceramic tile. Check the grout for cleanliness and deterioration.
  • If faucets drip, fix them.
  • Thoroughly clean sinks and tubs. If rust spots are on the porcelain, attempt to remove them.
  • Remove any evidence of mildew from the shower and bathtub. Products are available that spray on and quickly kill the mildew.

  • Remove all junk: broken tools, old car parts, toys from the 1960's, etc.
  • If floor has oil marks, clean it (cleaning solutions are available at most home improvement stores and work with a normal garden hose).

  • Replace the furnace filter.

Showing Your Home

Your house has been checked, inspected, and cleaned from top to bottom. Your professional Mason Dixon agent has priced it at what you feel is a fair price. It is important to leave your home while agents are showing it to potential buyers. We recommend you leave the showing of your home to professionals for several reasons. Buyers are more comfortable discussing the home's merits and drawbacks with their agent if you are not there; they might even feel like they are intruding if you are home. Your agent is experienced in dealing with others on your behalf and has a fiduciary duty to represent your interests in the best possible way; let them do the talking. This way, you don't accidentally volunteer information that your agent could use more strategically during negotiations.

  • Open every window covering. All drapes, curtains and blinds should be positioned to let in maximum light. Buyers like a house to be "light and bright," so accommodate them! Turn on as many lights as possible.
  • Make sure the house smells good. Baking cookies, often recommended, may be overdoing it, but pet odors, smoke, or greasy cooking odors definitely will not work! Air out the house just before the scheduled showing, but close the windows (unless it is a perfect day) before they arrive.
  • Six very important words: no clutter, no clutter, no clutter!
  • Make sure that everything is spotless. Pay particular attention to the bathrooms and the kitchen. In the bathrooms, towels should be fresh and clean, sinks and baths scrubbed, and the floor freshly cleaned. In the kitchen, make sure all dishes are put away and countertops and sinks cleaned.
  • Check the thermostat to make sure that the house is at a comfortable temperature.
  • Remove pets from the house, or at least, keep them outside. Pets under foot will quickly put a damper on an otherwise positive showing.
  • Make sure Fact Sheets are available and easily accessible. (The dining room table is an ideal place for them).
  • If you are using an Agent, leave! If this is not possible, make yourself as inconspicuous as possible. If it is comfortable outside, go there until the buyers leave. If you are selling on your own, of course, you don't have this luxury. If this is the case, be as helpful as you can but don't crowd the buyers.

For more information in these selling steps, contact
Genevieve Poulain (941) 276 0468

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