Things To-Do Before You List Your House!

April 15, 2021

We believe we should all love where we live.

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A week from now we have appointments lined up to show our house (eeeeek). At one point that felt so far away but now it’s basically here and I have so many emotions. Mostly excited, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a little anxiety about people walking through our house, deciding if it’s the house for them. We’ve been go, go, go, wrapping up loose projects around the house including the front entrance, the laundry room, the fauxdenzia (must I go on?), but we’ve also been decluttering, cleaning, patching, painting, caulking, and more to get the house ready to list.


Paint Color: BM Graphite, Sconce

We were originally going to swap out this window over the kitchen sink when we did phase 2 of the kitchen, but since that’s not happening anymore, we’ve ordered a new window. Unfortunately it’s not going to be here in time for showings, so we’re painting it in the meantime (we painted the inside during phase 1 of the kitchen here). This is just one of the things on our “Before You List” list.

When we were getting our previous home ready to sell, we made a list of things to do before you list, so we re-purposed it and made a new PDF for you (and honestly us) to download and refer to, if you’re ever getting ready to list a house. Several of our team members are getting their homes ready to list as well, and we’re all checking things off the list.

Print the house prep PDF here.

For our last move, I made a big list of all the little tasks that had to be done and I gave ourselves a week to work on them. I think that’s kind of key here. You could spend months getting your house ready to sell and it still wouldn’t be perfect because what does perfect even mean?

That being said, decluttering is a great place to start. When do you generally start clearing things out? Even if your listing date is months out, it’s never too early to declutter (in my opinion). A great place to start is closets. Here in Idaho, we’re just barely starting to box up some of the winter boots, hats, and gloves (which honestly still might be too soon because it’s supposed to snow today). I’m anticipating people opening up our closets because when we were house-hunting in Raleigh, I opened up every single closet. Pack it up, clear it out, and show how spacious your closets are. You can really level-up your house just by clearing the clutter, and the good news is, there’s no money spent in that.

No matter how well-kept your house is, there’s probably plenty of touch-up painting or re-caulking to do. I tend to move art around a lot, so we have some nail holes that need filling and painting. Check out this video to learn how to patch holes big and small. And don’t under-estimate a good deep-cleaning too. I’m the kind of person that wants to walk into a house and smell how clean it is. Now is the time to clean inside and outside like it’s your job.

I could go on and on about this, but make sure your light bulbs are showing your house in its best light. I like my lighting temperature to be the same throughout the house (3000K), but that’s just preference. One house that we walked through in Raleigh just felt off and we realized the lighting was too cool. It was a turn off and honestly felt pretty sterile. If you’re unsure of what lightbulbs to use, check out this blog post where I dive in and explain Kelvin, Lumens, and share my go-to bulbs we use in our house.

We’re not going into staging a house too much in this, but if you’re wanting more insight on how to stage for walk-throughs, be sure to check out this blog post where we list our 10 Home Staging Takeaways when we were house hunting in Raleigh. It’s jam-packed with tips (some of them you might be surprised by) that will leave a solid impression on potential buyers.

We put together a round-up of all the things you could need for prepping your home to list. So print out the PDF above, shop below, and get to work!



1. 34″ Round Mirror – Hanging a mirror in a small corner or hallway can make it feel bigger
2. Checkered Doormat – Place a fresh doormat
3. Wire Basket – Cute way to store blankets or toys
4. Floor Lamp – Every Light on is the way to go
5. Caulk – Don’t forget around the countertops and cabinets. They tend to shift a bit, and need re-caulking
6. Pressure Washer – Get your exterior looking its best with a good deep clean
7. Trim Paint Brush – For all of your touch-up painting needs
8. Paint Rollers – If you have any bigger painting jobs
9. Paint Roller Frame – Don’t forget the roller!
10. Putty Knife – To patch any holes
11. Spackling – This one goes on pink and turns white when it’s dried
12. Light Bulbs – My go-to light bulb these days
13. Microfiber Towels – So nice to clean with
14. Storage Containers – Store away things you don’t need out in the open right now
15. Magic Erasers – If you’re not using these to clean walls and baseboards, and everything else, then it’s time to start
16. Drywall Sanding Sponge – You’ll need this when you’re filling those holes



What do you think?

  1. Donna says:

    Will you have a cleaning crew come in and do a deep cleaning before you show it?

  2. Joan says:

    I worry that the potential buyers you have lined up could also be labelled as “Nosey Parkers”. I certainly hope not, but how do you weed them out if you’re selling privately(?)
    Wishing you all the best for a quick sale, at the price you want, to a family who will love it and care for like you did.
    I enjoyed the ride…now onto the next!

  3. Stacie says:

    This is great, and like others have said, a great seasonal checklist just for keeping your home fresh FOR YOU! :)

    Two things we did when we listed our last house that people said helped it stand out were:

    1 – leaving snapshots in various rooms to show how the view or the room looked in different seasons (like the spring view from the front window full of bright azaleas, or the living room with a fire going and a Christmas tree in the corner, when our house was for sale in the summer!)

    2 – leaving a list of things we were willing to leave, with the right sale circumstances (like the aforementioned giant Christmas tree, a too-heavy-to-move piano, and a sectional we had had custom-made for a small sunroom.) People love freebies, especially when they are items that would be expensive or complicated to replace!

    Excited for you guys, and can’t wait to watch the new home come to life for your family!

    • Meredith says:

      Your first suggestion sold us on our house! It has a beautiful Mountain View, but we saw the house on a rainy PNW day so we couldn’t see it during our booking. The seller had a photo album set out on the dining table with a picture of the view. We were sold!

  4. Michelle says:

    I would love to see the process of moving, I mean, how to organize the to-do list of the new house. Like you, I am going through a process of giving up my current house and moving into a new one. But we cannot make all the arrangements I would like at the same time. How I know that it should be a priority, I don’t know if you understand me. this process is so overwhelming. But any help will do. Hugs from DR!

  5. Michelle says:

    Our house goes on the market in 3 weeks and there’s been no better push to finish allll the projects we left at 80-90% complete. I think I’m most overwhelmed by emptying closets, but we’ve been doing it slowly for months. All this lock-down time was good for decluttering!

  6. Claudia says:

    I’m curious to know more about how you are listing your house privately. I’ve always assumed an agent was the only way, besides a FSBO sign in the front yard. If you feel comfortable/have time to share, could you please explain the process? (Maybe in a post?) Good luck with the showings and checking everything off the last minute to-do list!

    • Julia says:

      Since we have so many people on our team going through the process of selling and buying we thought we’d all share our experiences (since we’re all doing it so differently!) stay tuned

    • meredith says:

      Ditto to your question, Claudia! :)

      We’ve only experienced using an agent for both buying and selling, but my sister just sold her house using something called firm exclusive. It never went on MLS and was just put out to the agents within one firm. They priced it a bit higher figuring they could always adjust if there wasn’t interest, and any changes they made wouldn’t show up as a price drop or additional time on the market. It makes me wonder how often this happens and I don’t even know about it!

    • Erin says:

      Yes, Claudia! We need this. My family will be moving into our new home this summer (that we built!) and will have to sell the home we have lived in since 2002, our first home together. Lots of emotions but the market is great and we hope to offer our current home to family, friends and neighbors before considering listing with a broker. The process of private listing seems a bit daunting so any info you can share would be helpful. Thank you for the great lists and tips for keeping me organized during such a crazy moment in life, your timing is perfect!
      Aaand, I loved peeping your under-eaves treatment on the exterior. Not an angle that we usually see on any home but I like the details that are hiding in tucked away places; the wood grain that comes through the black paint, the lighting placement and the thin strip of copper gutters that acts like a border. When love and thought are put into anything it rarely goes unnoticed :)

  7. JL says:

    I would also add the garage to the declutter list. Many think just throwing everything into the garage is the answer. An overloaded, disorganized garage actually gives me anxiety; even if I know it will eventually be cleaned out. So cleaning out cobwebs, dirt, organizing boxes, pressure washing oil stains AND upgrading light bulbs in the garage goes a long way. Chris’ video on garage organization is still one of my favorites!

  8. Jessica says:

    Not selling my house, but I might print this out anyway and check some boxes! I remember the last time we sold our house, we questioned why we waited to do these tasks for other people, but didn’t do them so that we got to enjoy them!

    • Carrie says:

      I agree! This is also a great list for a home refresh!

    • Catherine says:

      I agree, as well — don’t wait til you’re selling to do these things! I think this is a great spring cleaning checklist, too.

    • Christie says:

      I agree! We’ve sold two houses that we decluttered, buffed up and finished all the stray little jobs….and each time left with the feeling that it was so much nicer and we could have been living like that all along!

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