Getting your home ready to go on the market: Inspections, Painting, Landscaping, Floors, Staging, and More

Raziel Ungar

Raziel Ungar

November 10th, 2022 - 4 min read

Once your home is empty (which we are happy to manage for you!) and we've helped you decide what work, if any, you'd like to do position the home to sell for the highest possible price, the prep work begins so the home can look its best and attract as many potential buyers as possible. Much earlier though in the process, our team will do a comprehensive walk through with you and depending on which direction you choose to go, we'll provide estimates and inspections by trusted vendors we use often. Below is a list of some things that many of our clients will typically do prior to putting their home on the market:

  1. Home and pest inspections are completed in the beginning of the listing preparation process in order to identify any problems that we may be able to correct prior to listing the home. Sometimes an engineering inspection is recommended if there are questions about the foundation based on sloping floors, large cracks or what the the home inspection report reveals. Total costs for the home and pest inspections can range from about $950 to $1150 for both. The engineering inspection can cost about $500 to $900. These inspection reports are very important for full transparency and disclosure for potential buyers.

  2. Sewer Lateral test (and repair if needed) A test is required by many cities on the peninsula now prior to sale (Burlingame, Hillsborough, San Mateo, Millbrae, and South San Francisco). According to the City of San Mateo website:

Pipes that carry wastewater from private buildings out to the sewer mains can get damaged or become defective, making stormwater and groundwater seep into private sewer laterals which then gets carried into the citywide sewer collection system. Too much wastewater, stormwater, and groundwater can cause sanitary sewer overflows on our streets creating a public health hazard for residents, and destroy the water quality in the City’s creeks and lagoons. 

 A plumber of your choice performs a water test or a video test and determines if the sewer lateral is in good shape or if repair is needed. Costs for the test can range from $300 to $750 depending on the city, and approximately 50% of homes fail the test. Repair costs if needed can range from $4,000 to over $10,000. For more detailed information and a video we put together, please check out our post on all things sewer lateral related.

  1. Painting - We almost always recommend painting some or all of the  interior, exterior or both.  At the minimum, touch ups to some walls, baseboards and trim are typically done during the preparation process. Once all furniture is moved out, we often find areas that need attention that were not visible during the initial walk through. Fresh paint can provide the biggest impact and bang for your buck! 

  2. Hardwood floor refinishing is often needed due to normal wear and tear (dogs, spills, kids, furniture, sun fading). Occasionally, some repair with new hardwood or adding hardwood to keep the floors consistent may be recommended. We can help with replacing old stained vinyl on kitchen and bathroom floors too.



  1. Carpet replacement (or simply cleaning) may be recommended if the carpet is quite old or stained.

  2. Handyman fixes are a great way to take care of smaller repairs and help eliminate items of concern for buyers. Minor issues not taken care of often become major stumbling blocks for potential buyers. We recommend removing those distractions by fixing minor issues before they become major. Typical handyman tasks can include replacing dated lighting fixtures, replacing burned-out bulbs in canned lighting and chandeliers, installing code compliant smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors (required prior to sale), properly strapping the water heater and/or furnace (also required prior to sale), replacing outlets and faceplates to white for a more updated look, small plumbing fixes, bathroom, and kitchen caulking, repairing broken gates, etc… These things can easily be completed before cleaning and staging. We get a better idea of what is needed usually after the home inspection report is reviewed.

  3. Landscaping refresh is a wonderful way to improve curb appeal and make the home feel inviting before a buyer even steps through the front door. It can be as minimal as de-weeding and adding fresh mini bark to trimming trees and bushes, installing new sod, new plants and flowers, walkways and power washing.



  1. House cleaning once all preparation work is done is very important. This is a deeper cleaning than the regular weekly housecleaning. It includes wiping out all cabinets and drawers, cleaning all surfaces, light fixtures, appliances inside and out, all floors, deep cleaning bathrooms (grout if needed), removing exterior cobwebs, sweeping porches, and garage floors. Attics and crawl spaces are excluded.

  2. Window cleaning is also very important. Our window cleaners clean the window tracks and screens as well as the inside and outside of the glass panes and skylights

  3. Staging is the final task before photography. Occasionally sellers ask “Why should I hire a stager?” Here are some reasons:

  • Staging can help show the purpose and potential of each space and how it can be best used

  • Open empty spaces can feel cold and less than welcoming

  • Some buyers may not have the vision or ability to imagine how it will look furnished

  • Staging improves the online photography. It can help make the home look more appealing and inviting compared to an empty house

  • Most buyers are looking for homes online first and decide to visit a listing based on the first photos they see

The cost of staging can be a shock at first, though it is a labor-intensive job - to give you an idea of how the cost is distributed, it's broken down by the stager's design time, truck rental, the labor to move a whole home of furniture in and out (down to towels and art), and insurance. Prices range from $4,000 to over $10,000 depending on size of home, and the staging company. Savvy buyers today begin their home shopping online and expect to see homes staged. The online photography of a staged home tends to be more appealing.

For more helpful tips on moving out, check out our blog "What does “Moving Out” really look like?"

This article is copyrighted by Raziel Ungar and may not be reproduced or copied without express written permission.

Like this story? Share it with others.

Contact Raziel to find the right property for you.

With a team of experts guiding you every step of the way, our extensive knowledge and experience will ensure you have the best home buying experience possible.

Schedule a Consultation