Is It Time To Sell? 40 Things to Get Your Home Ready!

Is it time to sell?  Looks like things are going to be getting back to “normal”, or at least some version of it!  Here in Hawaii businesses are starting to open and people are venturing out.  Our local leaders are working hard to come up with a safe plan to restart tourism.  In a recent a conference call with a great company that helps active duty military families with their moves, PCS Grades, I heard that military moves are going to start earlier than the original June 30 delay.  Today I was talking with a client in the local moving industry and he confirmed they have seen a marked increase in military move orders.  If you’re considering selling your property, it’s a good time to start preparing!


If you think about everything that needs to be done to sell your home, you might throw your hands up in despair, or at least feel some anxiety. Take one step at a time, one small task at a time. Break it down to manageable-sized chores and you’ll have better results.  I’m working with a client now who is going through this exact process.  We’re going to have a staging professional visit the property to help determine what to keep and what to move out before listing.  Once we get some momentum with that, we’ll break down the list of things to do in small steps.


During this anxious time some owners make the pretty common mistake of spending a lot of unnecessary time and energy on renovations and remodeling.  While buyers will be impressed with some things, spending $5000 on remodeling will not necessarily add $5000 to your sale. Repainting the whole house in your favorite color to spruce it up may cause the home to be on the market longer, depending on your favorite color.  The time for a major remodel is when you plan to stay in the house, not when you’re going to sell.  Wisely spend as little money as possible, and spend it on cosmetic, readily seen features like interior painting or easy to install, inexpensive smart home upgrades.


First things first – have a garage sale. Whatever doesn’t sell can be donated to various local organizations that are especially in need at this time.  Some local organizations that are always in need are:  Goodwill Hawaii, Disabled American Veterans, United Cerebral Palsy of Hawaii, Kidney Foundation. Once the clutter is cleared away, it will be easier to see what needs to be done and come up with a plan to get it done!


The first impression is the most important, so start outside with curb appeal.  I’ve had many clients pass on a property showing as we drive up to a house because the yard is a mess.  Don’t let that happen to your beautiful home!  Some easy things you can do to make a great first impression on the outside of your home:

  1. Edge, mow and fertilize the lawn regularly. Make sure it’s well watered and reseed any sparse areas.
  2. Put a bright coat of paint on your mailbox.
  3. Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly. Cut back overgrown shrubbery that looks scraggly or keeps light out of the house.
  4. Buy a new welcome mat.
  5. Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling, and reseal if possible.
  6. If you have siding or brick, power-wash it. If you have a painted exterior, consider repainting in a neutral shade. This is especially important if there is any peeling.
  7. Make sure all of the exterior lights work.
  8. Clean and align gutters and downspouts.
  9. If the doorbell doesn’t work, repair or replace it.
  10. Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
  11. Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
  12. Remove oil stains from driveway and garage.
  13. Repair broken outdoor steps.
  14. Spring for some brightly colored potted outdoor flower arrangements for the front yard near the entrance.
  15. Keep your garage door closed – especially if everything from the house goes to the garage during decluttering.
  16. Wash the windows inside and out.
  17. Store RVs, boats and extra vehicles (anything that can’t be parked in the garage) elsewhere while the house is on the market.
  18. Paint the front door.
  19. Make sure all doorknobs and locks are functioning properly.


If prospective buyers walk into a messy or cluttered home, they may pass.  Remember, some buyers just can not see beyond what’s in front of them and will walk away.  Worse yet, if a buyer is greeted by the smell of cat litter, cigarette smoke, mildew or pet accidents, there is little chance that even a reduced sales price will persuade them to buy.  I once did a Skype video showing with some clients on the mainland and they asked me if the home smelled like dogs?  They said that from what they saw in the video, they could smell dogs!  Some easy things you can do to make a great first impression on the inside of your home:

  1. Clean, clean, clean. This includes walls, floors, inside closets and cabinets – everything. If you must, hire a cleaning service to come in and do the job.
  2. Get rid of clutter. Put away appliances you normally leave on counter-tops. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Clean out your closets, garage, basement and attic.
  3. Paint the walls and ceilings a neutral color – off white or beige.
  4. Repair cracks, holes and damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.
  5. Decide what you will do with the TV wall mount.
  6. Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings and other woodwork.
  7. Repair dripping faucets and shower-heads.
  8. Buy new cabinet knobs and curtains for the kitchen.
  9. Shampoo all carpets, scrub and wax linoleum, wash and wax wood floors.
  10. Unclog slowly draining sinks and tubs.
  11. Mend torn screens. Clean out all window tracks.
  12. Check to see that all windows will open and close.
  13. Replace burned-out light bulbs. Use brighter light bulbs or the right color temperature for the right room – warm for bedrooms/bathrooms, cool for kitchen.
  14. Make sure every light switch works.
  15. Nail down any creaking boards or stair treads (drive two long finishing nails at opposing angles through the floor and sub-floor into the joist).
  16. Lubricate any squeaking doors
  17. Remove excess, worn or unattractive furniture.
  18. Thoroughly clean all appliances (especially refrigerator and oven).
  19. Replace old toilet seats and shower curtains.
  20. Clear all cobwebs from corners and doorways.
  21. Wash all light switches, handrails and doorknobs.


The work doesn’t stop once the For Sale sign is up!  It’s important to keep things looking great for showings and open houses too.  This can be a true pain, but here are some important things to remember for show time:

  • Keep draperies and shades open to let in the light.
  • Place fresh flowers throughout the house.
  • Have your home well-lit during showing.
  • At night, turn on porch light and outdoor lighting in back if you have it.
  • Set out colorful, luxurious towels in the bathroom.
  • Avoid having dirty dishes in the sink or on counters.
  • Keep any toys in the children’s rooms, bikes, wagons and skateboards in the garage.
  • Play pleasant music at low volume.
  • Spend the day of an open house away from home.
  • Leave pets outdoors.
  • Unless you’re selling it yourself, let the agent show your house, and don’t tag along.


It’s always a good idea to start the process early to avoid stress and expedite/rush expenses.  I’ll be happy to walk through your home with you to talk about any needed/necessary repairs and improvements as well as decluttering or staging ideas.  I also have a network of trusted service providers who can help with yard work, cleaning, painting, etc.


At Coldwell Banker, we have the RealVitalize program that will cover the up-front costs of approved work done by a pre-approved vendor or service provider, up to an amount equal to the real estate commission earned by the listing brokerage, not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).  So in the example of a $500,000 home with a 3% listing brokerage commission, a homeowner can get up to $15,000 to help with things like yard work, cleaning, painting, repairs or renovations not requiring a permit, and even staging.  There are no fees or interest charges associated with the program and Coldwell Banker is reimbursed from the proceeds of the sale through escrow at closing.  Click here for more information about the RealVitalize program.


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