Get your home ready to sell with this property prep checklist


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Property Exterior

  • Property painted, repaired
  • Front door & door area freshly painted, polish the door knob and house numbers.
  • Put a seasonal wreath on the front door.
  • Porches, stairs, and walkways swept at all times
  • Nice door matt at front and back doors
  • Trim freshly painted
  • Doors work easily and silently
  • Doorbells operate
  • Windows in good repair; clean
  • Consider a new mail box or slot


  • Fence in good repair
  • Walkways and driveways in good repair; swept
  • Clear leaves, newspapers, litter
  • Hedges trimmed-at windows, trim so windows are exposed
  • Trim low hanging tree branches
  • Eliminate dead branches, stalks and blooms
  • Add colorful flowers around the home
  • Weed flower pots and beds
  • Lawn cut & green
  • Plantings have been watered and look healthy
  • Put away toys, bikes, lawn tools, etc…
  • Upgrade or add exterior lighting for the property to sparkle at night showings
  • Clean gutters
  • Fences, gates and hardware in good repair

Living Room

  • Walls and ceiling freshly painted; clean; free of smudges, fingerprints and dents.
  • Window coverings clean and in good condition
  • Furniture aesthetically arranged
  • Fireplace clean; consider a fire in the fireplace for open houses
  • Appropriate temperature

Eating Areas

  • Set the table with pretty dishes, placemats, flatware and candles 


  • Range and oven clean and in working order
  • Clean kitchen hood
  • Fix slow drains
  • Kitchen cabinet faces clean and in good condition.  If they appear worn, painting them is a cost effective to make them look fresh and new.  New chrome hardware makes them sparkle.
  • Walls and ceiling freshly painted and/or clean
  • Sink and counters clear of dishes and kitchen appliances
  • Cupboards neat
  • Floors clean and in good condition-repair or replace if necessary-I can help you pick finishes if necessary.
  • Clean seals at oven, refrigerator and dishwasher doors


  • Walls and ceilings freshly painted; clean
  • Beds made-curtains and bedspreads neat and attractive
  • Clothing put away and hung neatly
  • Closets neatly arranged-remove extra items, make closets look like there is room for additional items
  • Toys, belongings put away
  • Window coverings clean and in good condition


  • Walls and ceilings freshly painted; clean
  • Floors/tile clean and in good condition
  • Replace or repair grout and caulk as necessary
  • Curtains/window treatments clean and in good condition
  • Shower or tub tile clean
  • Shower glass clean or new shower curtain
  • Faucets in good condition; no leaks
  • Fix slow drains
  • Toilet lids down
  • Vanities, sinks, and shelves cleared of personal items
  • Your best guest towels out
  • New soap in the soap dish


  • Stairways clear, painted and with handrail
  • Windows in good repair; clean
  • Floor clean, clear of obstacles
  • Area neatly arranged


  • Door(s) open easily and quietly
  • Paint fresh and/or in good condition
  • Workbench and tools neatly arranged
  • Floor clear of debris and free of grease

In addition:

  • Have presale inspections such as structural pest inspections, roof
  • inspections, and sewer inspections.  Get estimates of repair costs to present to the prospective buyer as part of your disclosures.  This will be a good way to pre-negotiate with buyers, making sure they are serious at the start of your contract.  I can help you coordinate this.
  • Pull together all warranties, appliance, and operating manuals to remain with the property to pass along to the new purchaser.
  • Tighten loose door knobs and hardware
  • Clean mirrors, picture frames and glass.
  • Electrical items, such as lamps, are plugged in and usable
  • Fix warped drawers
  • Tighten loose banisters
  • Turn on lights; make sure burned out light bulbs are replaced
  • Lamp shades in good condition
  • Make sure light switches and outlets work; replace damaged or discolored covers
  • Lubricate squeaky or sticky doors
  • Consider hiring a cleaning service; this will relieve pressure and have a more professional look.  Keep everything extra clean; for example, clean fingerprints from switch plates, mop and wax floors, clean the stove and refrigerator.  A clean property looks like a well-care for property.
  • Wash all windows, clean window sills, wash blinds
  • Have carpets cleaned
  • Consider replacing out of date light fixtures
  • Get rid of all items you will not be moving-reduce clutter, have a garage sale, donate to charity or hire a hauler to take unusable items to the dump.  Store seasonal closing, pre-move-consider a storage facility.
  • Remove some furniture to make spaces look bigger
  • Remove damaged or badly worn furniture
  • Consider taking on minor repairs that can make a bad impression.  Sticky doors, torn screens, cracked, or moldy caulking, or dripping faucets.  These are easy items that when not done, make the property look uncared for.


Preparing for showings

  • Heat or cool the property appropriately
  • Remove or isolate pets-they may be a problem for visitors
  • Air out the home; if there are any offending odors, like litter boxes, or pet stains, eliminate them
  • Hide valuables such as cash, jewelry, or other small valuable objects; it is not possible to watch everyone in the property.  If there are tenants, please notify them of this as well.
  • In general, consider how you would perceive your home if you were a prospective buyer
  • Open shades and blinds.  Consider changing to shear window coverings that allow more light into the property.
  • It is best to show your property if you are not present.  Buyers will feel more at ease to check out your property completely if you are not there.
  • At night, please light property appropriately for viewing and safety
  • Additional touches such as a fire in your fireplace or quiet music are always nice
  • Neatly arrange, or stack magazines and newspapers

Remodeling in 2014

Some tips to make the process a little easier to get started

I have done my share of remodeling; usually starting with a sledge hammer and a bottle of Chardonnay, but others may not have the same ease at starting that process.  I thought this article gave some good tips at how to break the process down into pieces so that it won't be quite as intimidating.  I am happy to give some tips as well, so don't hesitate to ask.  Are you planning any remodeling this year?

Should I remodel, or sell my property?

Personal circumstances generally will lead you to the decision between remodeling the home you’re in or buying a different, more suitable home. Perhaps a career or familial change is creating the need for more space.  You may be in a larger home already, and you don’t need the space, or taking care of it has become a burden. You may be on the track of accumulating properties as part of a retirement portfolio.

To help you move you forward with the decision between staying or selling, you should first obtain an understanding of the cost, time, and discomfort involved in the remodel; the second is learning how much you can afford in a new home, taking into consideration your current equity, and how your financial picture may have changed since you last purchased a property.

Here are some reasons you may want to stay in your location and remodel:

Remodeling may be easier than moving to another property.

You may love the location of your property and may not be able to find a better replacement.

You have an established property tax rate you want to keep.  There are options to keep you tax rate if you want to scale down and are over 55 years old.

You may be preparing your home for sale.

Before beginning, consider what you are doing to the property:

  • Are you creating value; i.e. adding a bedroom, bathroom, or updating the kitchen?
  • Are you building for yourself; i.e. are you doing improvements that are specific to your needs, not taking into consideration future resale?
  • Are you overbuilding; i.e. spending too much money that you will not get out of the property when you finally do sell it?
  • The bottom line is to do the things that are right for you; just do it with your future goals in mind.  Remodeling always costs more than you think, so make sure you have a good, reliable contractor who lives up to their promises.  You may have to pay more for a good contractor, but it will pay off in less stress and problems for you.
  • Get an outside opinion from an architect, home designer or design build contractor on things you can do to your home.  You may be surprised at options you may not ever have considered.   You may spend some money for this opinion, but the result could be a better project and money saved in the long run.
  • At the end of the information-gathering phase, you may find remodeling is not the answer, and a move up property may be a better option.

A really nice remodel shapes up in the Castro

I’m a construction geek; I can’t help it.  Here’s some beautiful concrete work.

Most people won’t appreciate this, but I am posting it anyway.  I visited a client at he and his wife’s home the other day to check on the progress of their huge remodel.  I’ll post some progress pictures as they go.  What struck me today was the beautiful concrete work on this retaining wall.

Eric Castongia To fully appreciate it, you really need to see it.  If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see that not only is the new retaining wall tall (probably 12 or so feet), so is the one right above it!  These walls support a very steep hill and a large two unit building right above! Congratulations Bea and Will on a great project!

There’s still time for government rebates-but not much!

Sorry, this is a little late and perhaps you already heard.  The Federal (as well as state and local) Government are offering rebates for qualifying home improvements for energy efficiency.  Here we are at Dec. 13th, so there isn’t too much time, but if you were thinking of taking on some improvements, such as a new furnace, appliances, or a tankless water heater, there may be time to get part of it paid for.

I’m guessing there will be more in the new year, but if this is the carrot that gets you moving-here it is!

Last month for government sponsored home improvement-SFGate