Step 3: Getting It Ready

The House

A home is nearly never ready to market immediately. There are always things to be done that improve the buyers’ experiences and thereby improve the odds of maximizing your sale price. But we understand, we don’t live in a perfect world, and it’s not always feasible to do “everything.”

We can help provide a hierarchy of priorities that will maximize your return and achieve your goals. Painting? Trim? A basement that floods? We think ahead – not just about the buyers’ first visits, but also about the inevitable home inspection. We can recommend great service providers. And we can be there if you can’t.

In our market, you are typically selling a home that is “done/redone”, “new” “up-to-date” if it has: granite/marble/quartz countertops, renovated baths with fixtures not more than 15 years old, floors that are in great condition, no cracks in the walls or ceilings, paint that is of a modern palate and unblemished, and window dressings that are tidy, tasteful and clean. Buyers expect a home that has older countertops, dingy carpeting or scratched floors, old/out-dated baths, and paint that is cracked or stained to be priced accordingly. Many buyers have a hard time seeing through these minor defects.

For some sellers, gut-renovating the kitchen, enjoying it for a year, and then selling is the right plan. For others, an as-is listing is the best option. We will talk through with you the ROI for each project you consider prior to listing. Regardless of the work your property requires to really make it shine, tackling what’s in the house is the hardest part.

Setting the Stage

“Staging” is extraordinarily important. The goal is to make your home look like a photo in Real Simple Magazine — which is what will maximize the buyer’s experience. It needs to be as impersonal, simple, clean, and serene as possible. We can help you hire someone at every step, whether you are planning to stay in the home or move out first.

Steps to “staging” a house you’re living in:

  1. Separate. The items you treasure, that are personal but not necessary until you’re in your new house, should be packed in boxes and stored for the move. Pack off-season clothes, knick-knacks, collections, photos, books, any art that is not “neutral”. Pack as much as you possibly can.*
  2. Pare Down. If it’s not important enough for you to take, and it doesn’t add anything, get rid of it. If it’s something useable, donate it (see below).
  3. Organize what remains. Organize inside your closet. Tidy your shoes. Buyers look inside your closets, open your cabinets, and see your linens. Tidy closets at about 30-50% capacity are the best. *
  4. Clean.*
  5. Rearrange. The way we live in our spaces isn’t always the way that takes the best photos. We can help with this part, and we always rearrange some during photos.

Steps to “staging” a house you’re not living in:

If you are not living in the house and you want to maximize what buyers will pay, we recommend fully staging. The price tag for that is high, so we can help you be selective if you need to.

  1. Move out. Clients have liked working with Olympia, they will even break your move up and store partial moves.
  2. Homework”. post-move is the best time for touch-up painting and any other necessary repairs like what’s described above.
  3. Clean.
  4. Stage. Most homes look better with some furniture. The options here are either to leave choice items (usually your dining room table, a few pieces in the living room, beds, and maybe patio furniture. We can typically augment these with our own staging at no cost, or you can opt for professional staging.

What to Do With All That Stuff

Pare Down: When you sort, organize, and pack, there’s always so much left over!


If you have a lot of valuable used items or antiques, we probably connected you earlier in the process to connect with an appraiser or services like Dutiful Daughter or Buy-and-Consign that do cleanouts along with sales. Another fun resource is Ramble Market for resale.

If you have a few items of value that you want to list for sale, online resources like eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or a local listserve are often the best options.


Our favorite donation resource for valuable items is the Lincoln METCO team of volunteers who’ll pick up items from you and sell them with all proceeds benefitting the Lincoln METCO Coordinating Committee (MCC) and its support of our Boston-based students.

Unfortunately, many donation programs are closed during the pandemic, including the MCC. However, Household Goods (formerly HGRM) in Acton is now open with certain restrictions! They are wonderful and take most useful household items. For clothes, Goodwill in Concord is open! 8-4! What they take is in the pic below.

Additionally, there are Planet Aid boxes around, as well as Goodwill in Concord or Savers in Framingham. Check websites for the most up to date info.

Donate to Goodwill Concord MA they accept clothes, artwork bedding household goods etc

Give Away

Another good option, especially when donation centers are closed or when you want items picked up (and you don’t care about donating them to a tax-exempt organization) is FreeCycle where you can list items you’re giving away. You may need to post them in a couple of neighboring communities’ lists. Of course, Craigslist and Facebook and local listserves are also good options even when the items you are listing are free.

Throw Away

No matter the size of the home or the circumstance, there will always be trash. Sellers can’t leave trash behind, and sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with it. If you’re using a professional moving company or one of the companies above like Dutiful Daughter, you will need to plan ahead for extra dump runs. Many folks end up renting a dumpster, or a Bagster, or calling a junk-hauling company like 1800GotJunk, All-Day Enterprises, or Concord Removal. There are a few others, let us know if you need help with this! We’ve got some great last-minute, all-night, trash-and-clean stories!