5 Easy Things to Do Before Showing Your Home to a Potential Buyer

We are in the buying and selling mode once again, as we prepare for our move to New York. We’ve prepped our house for sale–painting, yardwork, and other small details that needed to be done.  We just put it on the market, and we’re ready for buyers to come through!  I want the very best first impression for anyone that comes into our home, and there are five simple things that I do every single time a potential buyer is going to see our home that I’ve found to make a huge difference. They can be done in around 15-20 minutes, so even if you have a last minute showing, you can pull these off!

Easy Things to Do Before Showing Your Home to a Potential Buyer | oldsaltfarm.comIf you’ve ever walked through a home that’s for sale, you know that first impressions stay with you–good or bad.  The homes that smell good, look neat and clean, and are well presented are always the ones that stay on my list.  I also have six kids, and trying to keep a home completely clean and straightened is a challenge, but it’s important to me, and it’s all worth it when that sold sign goes up!!! I stick to my cleaning routine rigorously, because I know the extra effort will pay off in the long run. I want to be ready for the call that someone wants to see our house, even if it’s short notice–and not panic.

First, I recommend keeping your home basically clean all the time. I KNOW!!! It can sound overwhelming, but I believe SO much in the maintenance method that I know it can be done.  Wiping down bathrooms, vacuuming a little more often, keeping the kitchen floor swept and mopped if necessary, picking up the playroom often, and keeping clutter to a minimum will give you a good base.   It doesn’t have to be perfect all the time, because that’s impossible! But…if you keep it basically cleaned and straightened every day, and maintain your cleaning efforts, it will actually be easier. I’ve also had friends who work or have limited time at home hire someone to do a big, one time cleaning–then maintain it from there.

Then, I have found that there are five basic things you can do right before a showing that will make your home sparkle, and give it that extra edge that could make a huge difference to a potential buyer! About 15-20 minutes before we’re headed out the door to leave, I go through this checklist:

5 Easy Things To Do  Before Showing Your Home to a Potential Buyer

1.  Clean & Shine Sink and Appliances

The kitchen is the main focal point of many homes, and I’ve found that most buyers will focus a lot of attention in that area.  It also sets the tone for the rest of the house, so if the kitchen looks good, it will help make the rest of your house look good too! I have stainless steel appliances, and my favorite product to remove all the fingerprints and smudges is Steelmeister, and you can get it at Home Depot.  I LOVE it.  It shines them beautifully, without leaving a greasy residue. (2-3 minutes)

Is there anything better than a beautiful, shiny sink?  Dry off any remaining water spots with a clean towel or paper towels, than use a few drops of baby oil to bring it to the perfect shine! Keep it under your kitchen sink, then it will take just a minute to do. (2 minutes)

2.  Sweep Kitchen Floor

Someone may not notice that you swept the floor and it’s free of crumbs and dirt, but they certainly may notice if it hasn’t been swept.  It really only takes minutes to do, and it makes the whole kitchen look so much cleaner!! (3 minutes)

3.  Empty all trashes

This seems like a small thing, but an overflowing bathroom, office, or kitchen trash is very noticeable.  It just takes a couple of minutes to grab them all and take them to an outside trash can! I use liners in all my trash cans, and they’re easy to replace.  It makes a HUGE difference in the way rooms look, especially small rooms like a bathroom. (5-7 minutes)

4.  Make it smell good!!!

I’m sure you’ve heard lots of things about this–everything from baking chocolate chip cookies to apple pie, so that your home will smell good before a showing.  If you have the time, go for it!  I have a Scentsy warmer that I adore, and use everyday, and I make sure to turn it on about 15 minutes or so before I leave. Or, if I think I’ll be gone too long (more than 30 minutes), then I ‘ll turn it on a few hours ahead of time, let the house get all yummy smelling, then turn it off right before I go.  I WOULD NOT recommend lighting any candles and leaving them–it’s a big fire hazard.  I also suggest not frying anything, or making fish or any other highly potent foods the day of–those smells will linger, and nothing you do will get rid of it quickly.  If it’s nice outside, I’ll open a bunch of windows about 30 minutes ahead of time, then close them right before I leave.  Nothing beats the fresh air smell!! (1 minute)

5.  Remove all clutter from counters and floors

Even if your house is clean, clutter will distract people from noticing that it is.  The kitchen counter especially should be free of papers and other items. If you’re in a hurry, keep an empty laundry basket on hand, so you can run through the house and throw in anything that’s on the floor or counters.  We do cleanups every night before the kids go to bed, so I don’t have to worry about their rooms (they don’t play in them, or keep toys there).  When they leave for school, I shut their doors, and I know that room is done.

If I have any extra time, I vacuum as much of the house as I can.  I start with the main living and high traffic areas, and areas closest to the front door–our family room, the music room, and office.  Those areas lose their “vacuumed” look the fastest, and also have the highest impact.  We aren’t in our bedrooms much except to sleep, so I don’t have to do those nearly as often.  If I have time, I will do them, because I think it looks so much nicer.  (5-? minutes)

One last tip…thanks to reader for reminding me to mention it!  I like to leave out water bottles and a treat–chocolates, or something yummy!  It’s one little extra that will help people remember you.


You’ve got this!!! Hopefully a sold sign won’t be too far in your future…and mine.  ☺

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  1. I’m trying to sell my house right now, too, and these are great tips. I’ve never tried baby oil on the kitchen sink, but I will tonight before our showing! The smells are the hardest part for me since I am in the house all day. I usually have to go outside for a few minutes, then come back in and take a big whiff just to make sure nothing is funky. I also do a quick walk-through and look at all the switch plates and door frames. I have two little kids and I am amazed at how grimy those get in just a day or two!

    1. Oh yes–those darn light switches (and the wall just under them) definitely gather grime very quickly at our house too. It seems like I’m always wiping them off! Good luck with selling your home, and the showing tonight!!!

  2. Kids rooms with no toys? Have you posted about this? I’d love to know more! Playroom? Do you have a limit for each kiddo? Sooooo curious!

    1. I haven’t posted about it, but I need to! We do have a playroom, and all toys are kept in there. The only exception is for my girls, and their American dolls, which are kept in their room. Little brothers could really wreak havoc on those. :) I don’t have a limit for each child, but I consistently monitor how many toys we have, and try to add to their favorite collections for Christmas and birthdays. (Legos, lincoln logs, trains, small cars, etc.) I have large tubs with rope handles that are perfect for most toys, and I love them for larger items like big cars and trucks. They’re labeled so it’s easy to put toys away. I keep smaller items in clear plastic bins that are also labeled–Polly Pockets, Barbies, Lincoln Logs. etc.) We built a large shelving unit that goes across one wall of the playroom, and all the tubs and bins fit on the shelves. The very top shelf is for large items like Fisher Price houses, farms, and race tracks. It really works for us!!!

      1. I would love to see your playroom and the shelves you built! Hope you do a post on this before you move, or at least take pictures to write about it later. I really need to see how I could implement this idea in my house…not having toys in the bedrooms. Good luck with selling your house and the move! Exciting times for your family.

  3. Great tips!! I hadn’t heard of the baby oil in the sink…genius! I hope your home sell quickly!

  4. We are also in the process of selling our house. What’s your favorite scentsy smell? Also, do you leave a treat and water bottles on the counter for potential buyers to enjoy? Good luck with your adventures!

    1. I have two favorite Scenty smells: Coconut Lemongrass and Clove & Cinnamon. They are both AMAZING!!! I do like to leave water bottles and treats, in fact, I’m working on a tag right now to add to water bottles for our showings this weekend! I’ll post it early next week. GOOD LUCK to you too!!!!

  5. These are great tips, Kierste! As a Realtor, it’s so much easier to show clients homes that are cleaned up and look to be well taken care of! Just one word of caution, be careful with too strong of scents because sometimes it causes buyers to wonder if the scent is trying to mask something. It isn’t very common, but I have had clients ask if there is a cat odor or such that the strong candles are trying to cover up. And I echo the idea of leaving treats, even a bowl of chocolates, because everything is better with chocolate. Best of luck with your sale and move!

    1. Yes, too much scent can be overwhelming. I nice, subtle scent is best, for sure! That’s interesting that people might think it’s masking something–something to think about, thanks! And I totally agree–everything IS better with chocolate. ☺

  6. I just want to give out a tip that our realtor had suggested which I thought was genius. She said to put a few drops of scented oils on your air filter in your furnace and turn your furnace on, whether it be just the fan, air conditioning, or heat. It smells up your entire house instantly in every single room. I even do this anytime we have company. Its genius!

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