Preparing your home

Preparing your home to be sold is extremely important. Buyers tour many homes, and sometimes at the end of the day, the homes start to run together.  Was the pink house the one with the fenced backyard or was it the blue one in Killearn? When your house is on the market, you are inviting strangers in to judge your house and buyers can be ruthless. (There are some tips below on how to handle this AND to keep it from happening.) Buyers touring your home start with your list price in mind and start subtracting random numbers from it as they find things that they do not like and would ‘have to change’ to live there.  When that price in their head gets low enough, they are done and ready to see the next home.  Even in a strong seller’s market, the speed at which you receive an offer and the number of offers you receive are dependent on you winning this beauty pageant of your buyer’ s affection. During this contest on the open market, in order to get top dollar, we must beat out the rest of the competition and make sure buyers remember your house as the most beautiful one they saw.  Every home has a feature that appeals to a wide range of buyers.  It may be a remodeled kitchen, or a peaceful deck, or a living room that begs you to cuddle up in front of the bay windows and wood burning fireplace.  Whatever that feature is in your house, start working on a wow factor there. 

Below you will find some general information on the process of preparing to sell a home in Tallahassee area. We will discuss the things we wish sellers knew and some common issues. We trust you will find this information useful whether you work with us or not, but we do hope you Contact Us.


Once you start searching for ways to help you sell you house, you will likely see ads for home staging. Staging costs can cost up to $2,500 per room per month. Many stagers have furniture and material they can provide to help show your home in the best possible light. Studies have shown that properly staged homes do sell quicker and for more money than non-staged homes. This does not mean that it is necessary to hire a professional stager if you have a good eye for color and design.


While we will advise you to be a flexible as possible; however, we will also ask you how you want showings to be handled. We can have all showing requests come to us to handle, or the request can can go directly to you (and notify us) via text, email, or phone call. We can ask for agents to give you a couple hours of lead time to prep your house or not allow showings within a specified time frame.  If you have pets, having strangers walk through you house can distress them.  We will discuss what we can do to help protect them.

Home Warranty

Home warranties offer coverage of your appliances while you are listed on the market.  This means if the hot water heater stops working, you can call the home warranty company and they will send a technician out to repair or replace it for a service fee. The costs run from $90 (short term contract) to $650 (for a year-long contract). Usually these warranties can be transferred to the buyer at closing for a fee, and sellers may want to consider offering this to the buyer as part of the negotiations in lieu of repairs or replacement of items.

The Process for Preparing Your Home

1) Honest Evaluation

Take a step back and look at your house with the eyes of a stranger. Start a to-do list of items that need to be cleaned, fixed, removed, or freshened up before having strangers decide whether to live in your house. Remember that showing condition is NOT the same as living condition (for most humans anyway).  If you have a lot of furniture (or belongings) you may want to consider renting air-conditioned space to store some things until you are ready to take them to your new home.  This is also a good time to interview Realtors. Have them come and make recommendations and give you ideas of how to increase the perceived value of your home in a buyer’s eyes.

2) Clean, clean, clean, repair, replace, purge and pitch

Take the to-do list and start addressing what you found.  There is no such thing as too clean –especially during this pandemic.  If you are handy, you will be able to complete many repairs on your own.  If not, we have a list of handymen and general contractors who can help.  This is good time to empty out closets and get rid of any clothes you have not worn in the past two years.  Small things can have big impacts.  In as many areas as possible, make it bright and airy.  While you may like sleeping in a cave (we do), buyers respond better when rooms are filled with light. Replace any low watt or burned-out lightbulbs. Remove any dead plants (inside and out). Check out our checklist for sellers prepping their home for sale.

Gather your warranties and paperwork for all repairs and work you have had done to your home since your ownership.  Make a list of the professionals you have worked with in the past that may be able to answer questions or supply documents (like paid invoices, permit applications, etc.).

3) Paint and Freshen

New paint is one of the quickest and cheapest way to improve your first impression on a buyer.  Choose neutral colors for the inside.  We had one listing in an extremely popular neighborhood that sat on the market longer their neighbors.  The buyers who toured it did not like the blue of the kitchen.  Once repainted, we had an offer quickly.  The most cost-effective way to increase curb appeal is landscaping – especially if you have a green thumb and can do it yourself.

4) Depersonalize and de-clutter

It can be difficult for buyers to see themselves living in your house if they get distracted by the photos of you on vacation, your trophies, knick knacks, etc.  Pack that stuff away and get a head start on moving.  We have worked with buyers who would not make an offer because they were sure that the seller would not be able to remove their things even with six weeks’ notice. Your cupboards and bookshelves should have empty space on the shelves, and we should be able to see at least some of the floor and space on each shelf in closets. Removing excess furniture and clutter will make your space feel bigger and provide a more inviting atmosphere.

5) Pets

Our noses are funny in the way that we do not smell scents we are used to, and pet odor is one of the best examples of this. (Smoke is another one!)  Before you list your home, ask a couple friends to be honest with you (and ask your Realtor too) about the smell of your furry family. Keep litter boxes clean and the back yard picked up.  During showings stash the pet food bowls. You will need to decide how to make sure your pets are kept safe while strangers come and go viewing your home.

6) Hire a Professional Full-Time Realtor

Many people want to try to sell their homes on their own and save the commission for themselves.  We can understand that.  However, studies have shown that experienced Realtors are worth more than the commission you pay them to help guide you through the complex process, market the house, negotiate your contract, and get you to closing so can find your next home.  Hiring a professional means signing a listing agreement and this will be your first experience negotiating for the sale of your home. How the agent handles this will tell you a lot about how they will work for you during the process.