For Buyers and Sellers

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Oregon First, Realtors® & Washington First Properties


When considering serious remodeling projects, make sure you understand the limits of the return on your investment. Most projects aren’t going to pay for themselves unless you’re bringing the property up to buyer expectations or doing repairs the buyer’s lender is likely to require. We can help you decide which projects are likely to be demanded by the market given the price you’re seeking.

Be sure to always use licensed, bonded and insured contractors and pull all necessary permits. You may be surprised how many weekend projects require a permit. If it involves plumbing or electrical, a permit is almost always required, even for simple things like installing a ceiling fan or GFI.

In Oregon, check out the Oregon Construction Contractors Board consumer website. They have useful information like the ability to verify your contractor is licensed and see their enforcement history, if any. Another good site is You can look up whether you need a permit, how to get one, green building tax credits that are available to you, etc.

For Washington, here are links to the building and planning departments of the three main counties in the SW corner of the State where most of our clients live and work. This is where you can look up contractors and find out about permits as well as gather other useful informtion.


Laws are changing all the time. We work hard to keep up to date on all the laws and regulations home sellers must follow so we can protect our clients.

For example, there are laws that apply to home sellers regarding smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and woodstove certification. Below are links to pamphlets explaining seller obligations in Oregon, but the State of Washington has similar requirements. 

There are other ways you can get on the wrong side of the law—not knowing the Federal requirements regarding lead based paint disclosure and notification, not understanding your obligations to conduct well water testing, not complying with State requirements for abandoned underground tanks (oil or septic), etc. This is why it’s so important to have a good real estate agent helping you through the process. Educating yourself is great, but you can never have as much of the knowledge that’s vital in your specific situation as someone who does this for a living.



Once you’ve made sure you’re complying with the law, and completed any remodeling you and your agent feel is necessary, it’s time for the final touches. We’ve made a few suggestions below to get you started—but as always, be sure to talk with your agent about the best ways to show off your home’s unique advantages.

  1. Declutter
    Pack up 80-90% of your books, photos, knick-knacks and other décor. Leave your counters, shelves and furniture surfaces as spare as possible. Buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in your home – they want to see open, clean rooms where they can relax and imagine a space for their own belongings.

  2. Deep Clean
    Keeping your home absolutely spotless is one of the biggest factors in ensuring it sells quickly and for the best possible price. Consider hiring a professional to do a deep clean before you list your house so you can spend your time de-cluttering and packing away anything you don’t use every day. If you don’t want to hire a housecleaner, take it in stages. Once you’ve done your usual thorough cleaning job, focus on detailing every room. Pay extra attention to the interiors of cabinets and closets, window tracks and glass, underneath and behind furniture, baseboards, trim, moldings, picture frames, lamp bases and shades, inside light fixtures.

  3. Repaint
    If your house will be vacant, consider repainting the interior. Once you’ve moved your belongings out, every scuff on the walls will show.

  4. Rearrange
    Your house should be easy for a buyer to move around in without furniture impeding their tour. This may mean re-thinking room arrangements that are designed around the TV. Rooms should be furnished according to their intended use — no dining rooms as computer offices, for example.

  5. Repair
    Even if you're not doing any significant remodeling, you do want to make sure doors are easy to open, handles don’t fall off cabinets, toilets aren’t running, etc. You want to signal to potential buyers that your home has been well-maintained over the years.

  6. Get Your Yard in Shape
    Curb appeal is the first impression a buyer has of your home, and first impressions last. Plant colorful annuals in beds or pots, get rid of weeds, add fresh bark dust, and keep up on mowing and edging.

  7. Bring in the Light
    Open your shades and curtains so the rooms look as large and bright as possible. If it’s nice out, open a few windows. The current trend in window treatments is to have them as minimal as possible.

  8. Add Flowers
    A vase of fresh cut flowers in your entryway is a cheerful and homey way to welcome visitors. Bedrooms, also, can almost always benefit from some extra attention. You want buyers to imagine themselves waking up to pleasant surroundings. 

  9. Put on Some Soft Music
    Find a radio station that plays cheerful, relaxing music and play it quietly in the kitchen or living room. Background music masks the intimidating sounds of footsteps and private conversations in a quiet house.

  10. Consider a Scent
    People respond positively to natural scents, such as vanilla and lavender. Steer clear of synthetic or strong odors which many people dislike or may even react to.



We can help you with more specific advice, particularly about what repairs are likely to be demanded by buyers and/or required by their lenders. If you’re not yet working with an agent, please contact us! We'd love to help.