How to sell your home quickly…increase your curb appeal (and clean that old house!)

We’ve written about the virtues of selling to a cash buyer (someone who will buy your home for cash). It’s quicker, you are guaranteed a home sale on the date of your choice AND you don’t have to fix a single thing. With the MLS, however, there’s an old adage:

Declutter, paint, clean, stage.

If you are insistent on listing your property on the MLS, this article is for you! We’ve put together a list of 10 things that you will need to do to get your house sold fast.

Note: It’s never too late to give us a call. will give you a free, no-obligation cash offer in 24 hours. If that’s not for you, please keep reading 🙂

When you prep the house for a quick sale, remember these items:

  1. Focus on the front door
  2. Pressure wash your roof
  3. Depersonalize the exterior of your house
  4. Fix your driveway and front sidewalk
  5. Open up those curtains
  6. Neutralize any odors
  7. Gather warranties for appliances.
  8. Sweep the garage, basement, and any other unfinished surfaces.
  9. Organize closets and drawers.
  10. Look up your address online.

1. Focus on the area around the front door.

The first thing cash buyers see when they walk up to your house is the entryway—so you need to make sure it looks great and gives off the proper vibe. And when expecting any private showings, your front door area needs to be in pristine condition. As your agent is unlocking the door, any potential buyer will be looking around and noting any imperfection on the outside of the house.

The best starting point is to walk out to the curb or front lawn, and then turn around. With a critical eye, look at everything in your line of sight and ensure it’s in good, working order.

Here are some tips to make the house as appealing as possible.

  • Clean your mailbox using dish soap, a sponge or cloth, and lukewarm water.
    If your mailbox is rusty and broken, replace it before you list your house for sale. Check out these new mailboxes for under $100.
  • Replace your welcome mat with a fresh, new one.
    Opt for a simple design that complements your front door. Avoid phrases like “Welcome to our home” that make buyers feel like guests.
  • Remove storm doors and screens.
    Nothing says “old” like a squeaky screen door. Sometimes, less is more. Take off your old storm door to instantly update the front of your home. No need to replace it… A lot of buyers will insist on replacing the hardwood door themselves after they close on the purchase.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door.
    However, it’s good to paint that front door. There are some very popular choices to sell your house quickly, but it does take a little coordination. Black doors with white homes are seen as classic, Red doors on other colors are seen as inviting. Brighter doors (blues and yellows) are eye catching and are great for resale value.
  • Buff and shine the hardware on the door.
    Over time, metal door handles tarnish. Wipe oil-rubbed bronze hardware with a tiny amount of vegetable oil to give it new life. Clean chrome hardware with a damp cloth or polish to restore its original shine.
  • Dust cobwebs off of light sconces.
Dirty roof in need of cleaning before a house sale.

2. Pressure wash your roof to remove unsightly mold and dirt.

Many times, especially in the humid NJ climate, dirt and pollen and mold stick on to the roof shingles. This could give buyers the impression that the roof needs to be replaced, even if it could last another 10 years.

Buyers and their agents will either offer a lower offer for the home, or will avoid it completely because…

  1. Roof issues cause delays in closing. Safety and function damage shows up in home inspections and can hold up the sale. Buyers looking for a move-in ready home will avoid houses with potentially big-ticket issues.
  2. A new roof is expensive––the average cost of a roof is around $9,000. Most buyers aren’t willing to take on such a large project, so the mere thought that the roof might need to be replaced in upcoming years will send them running.

Now, cleaning the roof is dangerous and we do not recommend you take this work on yourself. However, there are many service providers that will clean the roof with shingle-protecting products. The work will be completed within 24 hours and will not break the bank, especially in older homes.

It’s typically inexpensive and it just gives you that nice, clean look.

Outdoor decorations needed to be removed before selling house.

3. Depersonalize the exterior of your house.

By now, you’ve likely heard that you should depersonalize and declutter when you prep your house for sale. Many sellers only do this on the inside and forget to remove personal items in the yard around the house.

Starting at the front of your house, remove everything that isn’t part of your landscaping: Garden gnomes, Christmas lights, flags, and ceramic frogs take are deeply personal and your style may not jive with the buyer’s style. It’s best to present a blank slate, letting the buyer imagine things their way (rather than yours).

Next, work your way to the back. Walk along the side of your house and gather stray rakes, recycling bins, loose garbage, leaves, etc.

In your backyard, remove wind chimes, bird feeders, and other yard decorations that make the yard look cluttered. A clean slate with simple, attractive landscaping will appeal to every buyer.

Large crack in driveway of house for sale.

4. Check your driveway and the sidewalk in front of your house for bumps and cracks.

Uneven, jagged sidewalks or driveways are an eyesore, a safety risk, and a turn-off for buyers. Buyers looking for a kid-friendly home don’t want to deal with tripping hazards, especially if they’d like to avoid taking on any big projects immediately after moving in.

In New Jersey, sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owner.

If it is a smaller project, you can get some concrete sealant/ crack repair from Home Depot.

For larger projects, contact a professional to diagnose and repair your sidewalk and driveway issues. Search on the following sites for sidewalk and driveway repair pros:

  • Find local concrete contractors on HomeAdvisor who have been pre-screened, rated and reviewed by homeowners like you.
  • Search contractors near you on Thumbtack. Compare prices, reviews, and experience for free.
  • Connect with local masonry pros on Craigslist.

The cost of sidewalk repair depends on the size of the project, but leveling concrete slabs ranges between around $550 to $1,300. To repair a driveway, the cost ranges from around $750 to $2,300.

The size and landscape of your driveway and the extent of the damage adds to the cost of a repair project.

Open curtains in house for sale.

5. Open up the curtains and blinds on every window.

A bright house feels bigger, cleaner, and happier than a dark, closed off house—which is why every top real estate agent says to open up blinds and curtains for photos and showings.

Old, dingy or broken window treatments can distract buyers and block natural light from the windows.

Please, please, PLEASE clean those windows with Windex or some other type of window cleaner for maximum wow-factor!

Picture of fresh lime used to prep a house for sale.

6. Neutralize foul odors and make sure the house smells fresh for showings.

Many of us will take any excuse to ransack Target for Glade Plug-Ins and vanilla scented candles. So when your real estate agent tells you to deodorize your home, you jump for your keys and Target shopping shoes. (Oh, you don’t have those? Weird…)

Well, stop right where you are!

Air fresheners, candles, and (God forbid) fresh baked cookies are not what buyers want to smell when they step into a house.

“You don’t want to be overwhelmed by these plugins and candles and you don’t want to be overwhelmed by pet odor. You want a nice neutral, clean smell,” says Bare.

To make your house smell clean and new without overpowering buyers’ senses, take the following steps:

  • Remove pets, shoes, gym bags, and anything that holds onto odors.
  • Avoid eating any meals in your home.
  • Lightly spray a lemon-scented air freshener in each room.
  • Leave the windows open for at least 30 minutes.
  • On the day of the open house or showing, re-open the windows for 30 minutes to neutralize the smell.
A couple gathers warranties for their house sale.
Source: (stockfour/ Shutterstock)

7. Gather warranties for appliances.

If your appliances come with the home, make sure to have the warranty information for each appliance ready to hand off to buyers.

As you prepare your home for the market and move out, things can get pretty hectic. Find the warranty paperwork for all of your appliances that you are leaving behind and keep them in a safe place (like the top drawer in the kitchen!)

That being said, make sure you are familiar with the items you’ve included in your home sale. These items are usually discussed when you and your real estate agent sit down to sign a listing agreement.

8. Sweep the garage, basement, or any other unfinished surfaces.

Your house is clean. The yard looks great. All of the clutter is moved out of your storage areas––but there’s a layer of dust, dirt and random packing materials on the ground in your garage.

Get ahold of a push broom or power sweeper to sweep up any muck from your garage. An unfinished basement, as dingy as it may be, should be swept, too. While you’re at it, get your attic and crawl space. The cleaner your house is, the better!

9. Organize closets and drawers.

Let’s face it—serious buyers are going to look everywhere to make sure your home is “the one”. They’ll be poking into your kitchen drawers, closets, and even under your bed.

To avoid embarrassment and make every inch of your house look it’s absolute best, organize everything.

  • Remove excess clothing from closets and drawers and put it in storage, your new home (if you have one already), or the trunk of your car.
  • Fold and hang clothing neatly, leaving extra space to make closets look bigger.
  • Gather medications and hide them in locked boxes, secret storage, or in your new/temporary housing.
  • Empty your refrigerator and clean it thoroughly.
  • Remove excess kitchen accessories to enlarge the space. Take away refrigerator art, phone chargers, paper towel holders, and small counter-top appliances that make the house feel lived-in.
Laptop opened to google on table in house.

10. Look up your address online.

Most people begin their home search online nowadays. In 2018, 50% of buyers found the home they purchased online. Search your house’s address online to see what buyers see.

If you notice errors in the details of your home—like if a site reports 3 bedrooms when there are actually 4 bedrooms—contact the site to correct it.

On top listing sites such as Zillow or Redfin, you can claim your home’s listing and make edits to the information on the site. Be prepared to verify that you are the current homeowner. If your home is on the market, your real estate agent will have to make edits to errors on your listing.

If the Google Maps street view doesn’t show the new updates you’ve made to the exterior of your house, make sure you include them in the listing.

Work with your real estate agent to make sure your home’s listing is heavily marketed online and includes accurate information.

Go above and beyond to prep your house for sale

Declutter, paint, clean, stage!

There are so many things that go into a home sale, it’s easy to forget home preparation steps that are less obvious, but equally important to sell your home.

Hold onto these 10 home preparation tasks that otherwise might slip past you. And, hey, go share this with your sister-in-law while you’re at it.


John is owner of, based out of Cranford, NJ. John and his team of cash buyers have bought and sold homes, offices, and land across North Jersey, Central Jersey, and South Jersey.