Preparing Your Home to Get Top Dollar on a Sale

Preparing Your Home to Get Top Dollar on a Sale

Preparing your house for sale is a huge part of the selling process and it can be a very daunting task. However, what you do here can really make or break the sale. The preparation required also varies quite a bit depending on how you choose to sell your home. If you haven’t seen our post about the different ways you can sell your home, check it out here.

This post will guide you through different steps you can take to prepare your home so that you can get top dollar on a sale.

Preparing to Sell Your Home with a Realtor (or via Private Sale)

Selling with a Realtor or selling privately typically requires a considerable amount of preparation. Realtors want their clients’ homes to meet a standard that they deem acceptable before listing the home on a MLS. They want to ensure that the home stands out against other highly-polished listings and that it doesn’t damage their reputation (no Realtor wants to be known as the person who sells lousy homes!). Realtors will likely suggest what they think you should repair and can connect you with one of their trusted contractors. Homeowners typically spend 1-3% of the property value on repairs pre-listing. Realtors often also recommend professional staging (using external high-end furniture and art to help the home “show” well), which typically costs upwards of $3,000 per month.

Preparing for a private sale is very similar to the preparation process when selling with a Realtor, except that you will miss out on the Realtors’ expert opinion of which upgrades/renovations could be the most valuable.

10 updates to prepare home sales

Exterior Improvements

Realtors will strongly suggest you keep the outside of your home looking good (increasing “curb appeal” as they call it). This includes things like watering and mowing the lawn regularly, or shovelling your driveway if selling in the winter. This will be your chance to set a good first impression for prospective buyers. Other exterior upgrades to consider include installing interlock driveways/pathways or putting together an elegant flower bed.

Interior Improvements

The inside is where it gets a little tricky. Most homes can use upgrades in some place or another. However, as a seller it is important to consider how much value a certain upgrade or renovation will add to the sale price of your home. The most common interior upgrades that home sellers consider are repainting walls to neutral tones, upgrading the kitchen with the addition of granite countertops or by refinishing cabinets, and finishing the basement. These upgrades vary in cost and, depending on your neighbourhood and current market conditions, can vary in how much value they add to your home. Based on recent comparable sales in your neighbourhood, a Realtor will be able to advise you on what to invest in. As a general rule, these types of upgrades won’t increase the sale price of your home by more than the amount you spend – but they will make your home more attractive to buyers and are likely to reduce the time your home sits on the market.

Staging and Cleaning

Upkeep and ‘interior presentation’ is another aspect of getting your home sale-ready which applies to both private and Realtor-assisted sales. You want your home to look its best when showing it to prospective buyers. Third-party staging services are usually hired to decorate your home and make it appealing to buyers. But beware! Staging services typically charge a rental fee for their props and decor (typically $2,000-$3,000/month), and if your home is on the market for weeks, the rental fees will accumulate and diminish the profit from your sale. However, it doesn’t stop there. After you’ve staged your home, you have to make sure your house is clean and well-kept 24/7 for weeks on end and keep your children and pets under control while total strangers visit your home.

Potential ‘Concessions’

Once you’ve finally found a seller, there are often some post-agreement renovations that arise. Typically homes will have to undergo an inspection before the sale is finalized during which issues could be identified (e.g. cracked shingles on the roof, mold in a bathroom wall, etc.). At that point, it is up to the buyer and seller to negotiate whether these issues will be addressed, if the sale price will be adjusted or if any other form of settlement can be reached. These ‘concessions’ typically amount to 1-2% of the final sale price.

Preparing to Sell to a Direct Buyer

If you’ve decided to sell to a company that offers an instant sale, like Properly, then aside from post-inspection repairs (which are also required in public and private sales), there isn’t much to do in terms of preparation. Direct buyers will usually send a third-party appraiser to asses the general condition of your home on a scale that ranges from below average to exceptional condition. There is no need to dish out thousands of dollars in repair and staging expenses and be on your heels 24/7 worrying about keeping the home clean for showings. Typically, the direct buyer puts the onus of repairing and upgrading the home on themselves after they close a sale with you.


While selling your home may seem straightforward on the surface, there are many hurdles to cross before you can move out. From pricing your home, to deciding which method of sale is best for you, to getting your home sale ready, selling your home is a lengthy and complex process. Good luck!


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