Whether it’s a spectacular Daniel Island condo worth $300k or a $10 million dollar beach front mansion, there are certain steps you can take get your property ready to sell and looking its best! Prepping a house is an investment of both time and money. Put in the extra care your property deserves by following the strategies listed here, and you’ll be rewarded with a sparkling, sellable home. Don’t worry, the effort will pay off! 

At Mave & Market, we try to help our clients understand that placing their home on the market is all about changing perspective. In one instant everything that defines your house - from photo filled bookshelves to pink accent walls - is looked at from a marketing point of view. Your house morphs from a place of comfort with your family’s touches to a more neutral space that will present your home as a place someone else can decorate and call home. In this article we cover the top preparation considerations and we'll discuss why minor repairs are a must. For steps to take to prepare for your home's photo shoot, see our article on Preparing Your Home for Photos.

Ready to sell your home? Schedule a consultation with our Charleston Home Selling Specialist or read more about important steps toward selling a house in Charleston SC.


As a general rule, homes show better with less furniture and more open space. Cluttered spaces have a distinct way of scaring away potential buyers. When selling your home, you only want enough furniture in each room to keep the house feeling warm and livable, and to demonstrate the room’s purpose.

Clutter heaps can distract and actually prevent many prospects from envisioning the home at its greatest potential. If prospects inspect your closets, will the family Christmas tree and Halloween costumes tumble out to greet them? This is the perfect time to reorganize and simplify your own life before the move. Clean up the clutter throughout your home and don't forget to inspect your home’s storage spaces including:

  • Coat, bathroom and bedroom closets. 
  • Kitchen cabinets.
  • Garage and attic: Although a mess in the garage and attic are usually acceptable and one of the last places potential buyers look, try to organize them as much as you can.
  • Remove anything that blocks pathways or districts views
  • If necessary, rent a storage unit and put your excess furniture,family photos, books, collectables, children’s toys and personal belongings somewhere safely out of sight.
  • If you have long tables, consider replacing them with smaller ones, or at least having their leaves taken out.
  • Above all, you want to make sure the house looks open, inviting, and full of potential – with plenty of room to move around.



Complete a thorough inspection of your house and make necessary repairs. Remember that a single negative impression can make all the difference – it’s worth spending a little more money to be sure everything is functional and looks like new. Do a full walk-around, taking note of every fault you can see. Here are a few items to check off the list as you go:

  • Replace cracked floor and/or counter tiles
  • Patch holes in walls
  • Replace burnt-out light bulbs
  • Fix doors that don’t close properly
  • Fix drawers/cabinets that don’t close properly
  • Fix or replace leaky faucets
  • Replace damaged and scratched windows
  • Patch visible cracks in concrete or brick work
  • Replace carpeting OR have carpeting professionally cleaned
  • Clean the walls thoroughly
  • Replace old or flaking wallpaper
  • Replace out-dated appliances
  • Replace out-dated fixtures


A new coat of paint radiates cleanliness and is one of the most affordable ways to spruce up your home. Neutrals and lighter earth-tones have a more broad appeal to potential home buyers. Consider repainting the walls in sophisticated neutral colors – wheat, mocha, white, soft gray. You don’t want the buyer to remember your house for its orange walls or purple bathroom! Look to these paint colors for inspiration.


Your home’s cleanliness will have a major part in the selling process. Your house has plenty of competition, so remember to compare it not only to the adjacent houses, but also to the best homes in the neighborhood. Minor details, like dirty baseboards or a cobweb in the corner, can give potential buyers the wrong impression of your home. When a buyer is searching for a new home, you want your house to stand out among all of the options.


  • Clean your home before every showing
  • Hire a professional cleaning service for monthly deep cleanings
  • Wash windows inside and out
  • Dust carefully, clean out cobwebs
  • Use a pressure washer to spray down sidewalks and exterior
  • Re-caulk showers, tubs and sinks
  • Polish faucets and mirrors
  • Clean out the refrigerator
  • Wax the floors
  • Replace worn-out rugs
  • Hang up fresh towels
  • Open windows to air out your home


A must-have home invariably has great lighting. In general it’s a good idea to open as many window coverings as possible and let in sunlight. The brighter the better; buyers love airy, sunlit rooms. If your interior lighting isn’t adequate, install new lamps and fixtures, and increase the wattage of your bulbs. Don’t go overboard on artificial light, however. A good estimate to shoot for is a total of 100 watts for each 50 square feet. Finally, try to use a variety of lighting in each room: ambient (general or overhead), task (pendant, reading) and accent (table, wall, closet).


Use common sense. No smoke odors, no mustiness, no incense, no pet smells. You want a neutral, pleasant scent – think about installing a bouquet of fresh flowers in a vase after you clean. Just make sure you change the flowers regularly.


The most important room in your home during a showing to potential buyers is your kitchen. An updated kitchen can produce a significant return on your investment. When making kitchen upgrades, go with styles that have universal appeal and simple charm. Understated kitchens look cleaner and appeal to a broader audience than colorful, gaudy spaces. Remember to keep your kitchen as open and airy as possible. Having a large, open-plan kitchen with an island at its center can make your home significantly more attractive to buyers. If considering remodeling your kitchen with resale value in mind, try to reinvent the space as a modern, appealing location where potential buyers will want to spend their time cooking, having their kids do homework and socializing. 


Another way to attract interested buyers is through your home’s bathrooms. Complete a quick spruce-up by replacing towel rings, mirrors and trash cans. If your faucets and cabinets look worn, replace them. Minor blemishes on bathtubs and showers should be caulked or waxed. Other upgrades to consider include a fresh coat of paint, new window treatments and new lighting fixtures. Complete your room with luxurious soaps in appealing dishes, tasteful hand towels and a fresh bouquet of flowers. Your bathroom should look like a luxurious spa rather than a traditional bathroom.


As with all of the rooms in your home, remember to keep your living room open and airy. The rule is: downsize your furnishings to upsize the room. Price per square foot matters, and the living room should show off the size and value of your house to discerning buyers. Mantels, ceiling fans, lamps, and coffee tables should all be strategically placed to bring out the size and elegance of the living room. If space is limited, a mirror or two on the wall can do a lot to create the appearance of openness and size.  If it’s a luxury property, it might be worth finding that perfect table or chair-set to bring out the room’s features. Even an elegant painting or two can really pull the living room – and the house – together.


Appeal to as many customers as possible with a clean, tastefully designed master bedroom, free of personal items and clutter. Install new linens, a reading lamp, modern artwork, and a soft-toned bedspread. Refresh the bedroom walls with a coat of paint in a soothing shade – soft blues, greens, khakis – and definitely something gender neutral. 

Lastly, think about storage space. If needed, enhance the closet with new doors or shelves. You should also open all closets. It’s virtually guaranteed that prospective buyers will peek inside your closets. Make it easier for them by keeping them open and making them look great. Closet space can be an important selling point for some buyers, so show yours off to their full advantage. Clean them out, replace cabinetry as needed, and leave a few well-placed personal items (a few jackets, some shoes) to really show them off.


Do you have an extra room in your home that you use as storage, keep as cluttered space or have sitting empty? Even the smallest room can be given personality and purpose by adding simple furniture or converting it into a basic study. The extra rooms in your home can really set your home apart from other properties in the neighborhood.


Great looking floors are an important part of the potential buyer’s experience when viewing your home. Whether tile or teak, all floors in the house should be carefully cleaned – and any damaged areas should be replaced. If a floor looks too plain or drab, add a splash of color with a pretty area rug. Also consider other homes in the neighborhood. If they have top-of-the-line floors, parquet and carpet just might not cut it – it might be worth your while to splurge on hardwood floors or quality tile.


First impressions are everything, so give special care to your entryway. All woodwork should be retouched and the front door repainted. Replace worn or broken doorbells, give the entrance little character – maybe some plants or a wind-chime – and put out a clean doormat. Lastly, light the space well. Day or night, you want the entrance of the house to be inviting, to pull the prospective buyer inside, eager to explore further.


Nothing resonates with buyers more than your home’s first impression. The second a prospect parks curb side, they survey the exterior, yard and even the front door to gauge if this is a place they feel they can proudly call home.  To deliver this impression, it takes a bit of effort. A prospective buyer will never make it inside if your house doesn’t look good from the street. Just as you cleaned and fixed up the inside of your house, it’s important to go over the exterior and make any changes that will spruce up its appearance. Here are some helpful tips to remember:


  • Pressure wash the home’s exterior, roof, driveway, porches and walkways leading to the entrance if necessary.
  • If pressure washing didn’t do the trick, consider a fresh coat of neutral paint (if it’s possible in the budget).
  • Paint the front door.  Even the color of a front door can characterize a home. Although you want to use discretion, a pop of color can make a house look unique from the street.
  • Change the doorknob and even the lock if needed. A flimsy, loose knob or a rusted lock can send negative signals to a buyer. When they open the front door you want them to think "secure" and "new".
  • Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered regularly
  • Trim hedges and prune trees regularly
  • Place potted seasonal flowers near the entrance
  • Install clearly-readable, elegant house numbers
  • Check the foundation, steps, and walkways for cracks and crumbling
  • Inspect doors and windows for peeling paint
  • Clean and straighten gutters
  • Replace damaged or loose roof shingles
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door
  • Sweep and wash down the sidewalks


Beautifying your garden and landscaping and can do a lot to make your house more attractive to buyers. For your front lawn, apply a product to get rid of weeds. Also be sure to trim the hedges, prune the trees, and clear any debris such as old leaves and branches. Add a touch of color by planting flowers or positioning potted blooms somewhere near the front entrance. Remember to water regularly and do what’s needed to keep the landscaping fresh during all seasons.


If you have a lot of outdoor space, showing it off is a great way to enhance a potential buyer’s opinion of your property. A tasteful collection of outdoor furniture looks very impressive to a buyer. If necessary, borrow some from a friend or purchase furniture that will enhance the outdoor living space your property boasts. If you have an old deck, have it re-stained. A well-placed hammock or a nice grilling corner can grab a buyer’s eye as well. 


Beautifying your garden and landscaping and can do a lot to make your house more attractive to buyers. For your front lawn, apply a product to get rid of weeds. Also be sure to trim the hedges, prune the trees, and clear any debris such as old leaves and branches. Add a touch of color by planting flowers or positioning potted blooms somewhere near the front entrance. Remember to water regularly and do what’s needed to keep the landscaping fresh during all seasons.


Staging is the final step in preparing your house for the market – and arguably the most important. No matter how well everything works, and how new the furnishings are, a tasteful, delicate presentation is what will actually sell your house. For this reason, if it’s within your budget, it might be worth hiring a professional stager to help you prepare the house for showings. 

Think of staging as creating a mood. The first step is to try to dissociate yourself from the house. See it through an outsider’s eyes by standing on the curb, approaching slowly, and then doing a full walk-through of the house and surrounding property. Maybe even ask a friend, neighbor, or real estate agent to come over and give you objective advice. This can be especially useful if you know someone with a good eye for design.


Staging requires the eye of a designer, the ability to evaluate your house and create dramatic scenery that appeals to all five senses. Here are a few things you can do for a well-staged home:


  • Arrange furniture in an attractive grouping (known as a vignette)
  • Light thoroughly, creating a warm, bright environment
  • Drape window coverings with simple lines and fine materials(silk, satin, etc.)
  • Add unique elements to shelving, bookcases, and mantel places so that they are not completely bare
  • Decorate each room with mirrors, plants, flowers, floor & table lamps, and throw rugs as needed
  • Re-stain cabinets and woodwork that appears dry
  • Put out large bowls of attractive, fresh fruit
  • In the kitchen, arrange colorful cookbooks on the counters or island
  • Place fresh flowers, towels, soaps, and a white robe in all bathrooms

Vacant homes often feel cold and empty. It’s essential to achieve the difficult balance between clean and lived-in. A well-chosen variety of clothing, books, flowers, and other accessories can be indispensable for this task – maybe a basket of fresh farmer’s market produce on the kitchen counter, or a vase of flowers beside the sink. Just make sure the dressing you choose fits the style and mood of your property.

With the myriad tasks that go into prepping a house for sale, it can be easy to forget one basic thing: you’re not just selling a property, but a home. Your house represents a lifestyle, a neighborhood, a place where someone may raise a family. Think about your ideal buyer, and prepare the house accordingly. Put in the time, the attention and the care – just like you might for a member of your family – and you will be rewarded.


Although preparing your home might take some upfront time, depending on its condition, it’s a process that has proven to decrease the time to sell your home.  Such minor repairs and improvements will help attract a buyer and make the home inspection go smoother - thereby keeping your buyer confident.


Although you’ve done your best to fix up your home, some potential problems may be revealed during the home inspection. If you’re worried about costly repairs on major items like air conditioners and other large appliances, consider purchasing a Home Warranty. Some companies offer home warranties for sellers that help cover the costs of expensive repairs while their home is on the market. If you’re interested in purchasing a home warranty during the sale of your home, talk to your Realtor to decide which one is right for you.


Please fill out the form below and receive an instant copy of our comprehensive Charleston Real Estate Sellers Guide via Email. One of our qualified Real Estate Agents will be in contact to help you get started in selling your Charleston home.