Before putting your home up for sale, you should prepare both the inside and the outside by cleaning, organizing, and repairing everything in sight. The usual advice stresses making updates to the front of your home, emphasizing the importance of curb appeal in making a good first impression. While that part is important, keep in mind that potential buyers will be spending most of their time inspecting the inside of your house, so the interior should take priority.

Prioritizing interior repairs and upgrades will help ensure that potential buyers walk away with a good impression about the entire home, not just the first glance. Here’s how to make that happen and prepare your home to be put on the market for sale.

De-clutter, then purge

If all goes as planned, you’ll be moving out soon, so channel that moving-out spirit and start organizing each room and packing things away. Once you’ve de-cluttered each room and thinned the herd a bit, take another look at each remaining item. Can you survive without it until the house sells? If so, put it into storage (at a relative’s house or in a storage unit) or simply sell or donate it. When your house starts to look like a high-end hotel room, it’s almost ready. Finally, look at the house with a fresh set of eyes: ask one or two friends over for a walk-through. Ask them to imagine they’re potential buyers and check for any cluttered areas or other items that detract from the experience.

stacks of moving boxes and personal belongings getting ready to move

Purging the house of everything you don’t urgently need improves the visual impact your home will have on buyers, but it can have a psychological impact as well. A tidy, well-organized, uncluttered home will make you seem like a competent homeowner who probably doesn’t neglect important repairs. It will also allow buyers more leeway to imagine their own belongings filling the rooms, which can help them form an emotional connection with the house so they’ll want to buy it.

Update and Upgrade

woman painting home interior trim around window frame

It’s always a good idea to get a home inspection first, just in case there are hardcore repairs and home improvement projects to be done before you can sell. But in addition to the inspection, you can work on upgrading small- to medium- sized things that have a big impact on how buyers will perceive your home.

Some ideas for small but high-impact details include:

  • Dents and nail holes in the walls. They may look small, but these flaws can be very off-putting, so fill them all in and touch up with paint.
  • Light switch and wall outlet face plates. Installing shiny new ones is both cheap and easy. Plus, it makes your house look more polished.
  • Painting the trim. Neutral colors are best because they don’t force your personality on buyers’ imaginations.
  • Replacing light fixtures; it’s usually easy and relatively cheap. Light fixtures should be elegant but minimalistic.
  • Taking care of small nags like faucet drips, flickering or dead light bulbs, and so on.

Medium-sized, high-impact projects can include:

  • Painting entire rooms. It’s very important to have neutral-colored walls, although it can be a bit time-consuming to make it happen.
  • Removing or replacing outdated decor. You want buyers to imagine the house belonging to them, not their grandmother.

Make the most of your home’s strong points

modern home entryway with light grey walls, a decorative mirror, table, and chair

In addition to removing what buyers won’t want to see, you should highlight strong features that are likely to attract buyers. Here are two ways to make the most of what you have:

1. Increase visual perception of space

update interior lighting by replacing dim or broken light bulbs
update interior lighting by installing new light fixtures

Make each room look bigger by arranging decor and furniture to maximize the visual perception of space. For example, too much furniture next to a doorway can make buyers feel cramped when they walk in, so leave the area around the doorway as open as possible. Other tips for increasing visual space include:

  • Position furniture slightly away from walls (trying to leave nearly the entire wall visible).
  • Only leave a few well-chosen pieces in each room; too much furniture can make even a well-organized room feel cluttered.
  • Make sure each room is very well-lit. Consider swapping out light bulbs for higher-wattage light bulbs or additional fixtures if necessary.
  • Add strategically placed mirrors; not only are they neutral decor choices, but they can make rooms look more spacious.

2. Consider professional staging

Hiring a stager doesn’t have to mean paying to have your entire house rearranged. Of course, that is an option, but if you’re more of a DIY specialist you can simply have a consultation with a stager (perhaps after using some DIY staging tips to give you a head start) and then do the work yourself. A consultation is a great way to get an expert opinion on how to make your home look as inviting, attractive, and inspiring as possible.

modern and clutter free living room and dining room with wall art and oversized decorative mirror

Home sale prep can not only raise your home’s actual value, but can also increase its perceived value by giving potential buyers a great first impression, making them more likely to want to buy. Careful preparation can improve chances of a quick sale, make moving out easier, and put you in position to ask a high selling price.

What updates or improvements do you think are most important for home buyers?