Ravenna House // How to Get a House Ready to Sell

THE RAVENNA HOUSE The sale of our Seattle rental, the Ravenna House, closed yesterday (!!!) and I have to say, selling a house was way more effort than I had expected. We spent the better part of 6 weeks painting, cleaning, and spiffing and today we're running through exactly what we did and what we think was worth the effort. psst: we'll be sharing the final numbers and the master bedroom makeover next month. 

Before we get started, I should mention that the Ravenna House is located in a close-in neighborhood of Seattle. Property values here have sky-rocketed in the nearly 5 years we've owned the house. We bought in 2013, which was at the bottom of the recession, and then renovated every square inch of the home while watching double-digit yearly price increases. But in the last 3 months, Seattle's seen a $70,000 drop in prices and inventory has piled up. Multiple offers are no longer the norm and price drops have become more common (you can read more on that here). So we were more than happy to get a full-price, cash offer in 5 days.

Read on for all of the updates we made to the house in preparation for selling:

New Roof

We had a new roof put on the Ravenna House in the Spring in preparation for selling. It wasn't a necessity, but we felt that the decade-old roof would downgrade the move-in-with-just-a-toothbrush status we were going for. In the end, I'm not sure we got our money back in the sale price, but I do think it gave the buyer added peace-of-mind, so it was worth it on that front.


Everyone talks about how important decluttering is when selling a home and I'm going to reiterate that today. Every bit of decluttering we did was 100% worth it. Ravenna was already an Airbnb so there wasn't a ton of extra stuff in the first place, but we still spent a couple of days emptying closets and swapping around furniture. Decluttering is probably the most significant thing you can do...and bonus, it's free!


In addition to decluttering the house, we brought in some fresh furniture and decor. This took a lot of planning and preparation, but not a lot of money since most of the furniture and decor came from our Bryant rental and Farmhouse. I have to say, staging was 100% worth the effort. The most common feedback we got from potential buyers and look-e-loos was "this house is so cute and staged so well". So worth it! I'd definitely recommend talking to your agent about hiring a staging company if you're selling (and don't already have houses full of furniture ;).

Fresh Paint

We re-painted most of the walls and molding at the Ravenna House before listing the home. Paint works wonders for making a home feel fresh and new and is a relatively inexpensive, so well worth the effort.

Fresh landscaping and curb appeal

When we first met with our real estate agent, she recommended we spend some time on the curb appeal (scroll up to the roof section to see what the home looked like before we tackled this). Ravenna had vinyl siding on it when we bought the home so it's always been less attractive than the neighboring houses. We couldn't do anything about the siding, but we did prune the bushes, add some new plants and bark chips, replace the mailbox, remove the screen door, change out the hardware, paint the door (BM Hale Navy), and pressure wash everything. I can't believe what a big difference it made. The updates cost under $500 and many of the folks that came to the open house complimented the curb appeal. Worth. Every. Penny!

Servicing the furnace

We scheduled a furnace service while the home was on the market, since our's hadn't been looked at since it was installed a few years ago. Everything looked normal, but the mechanic swapped the filter and noted his service on the furnace itself. The service showed up on the inspection report so this was also worth the expense.

Master bedroom updates

I'm planning to write a separate post on all of the updates we did to the master bedroom, but I definitely think these changes were worth while. The molding, new paint color, and fresh decor made the room feel special and much more "master-ey". Adding a second closet also seemed to be a positive with buyers. Old houses are notorious for their lack of storage so his-and-her closets was downright luxurious. I'm not saying a mini-renovation is necessary, but making the master special was worth while for us.

Kids Bedroom Closet

We built-in an IKEA wardrobe in the kids bedroom to replace the closet we swapped to the master bedroom. We had to add this new closet in order to keep it a legal bedroom, but otherwise, I probably would have skipped this update. It seems like buyers prioritized the master bedroom over the other bedrooms and that's where I would focus more attention.


We had a pre-inspection done because we wanted to remove all hurdles for potential buyers. In the end, I think it was worth the effort and expense because we were able to address a few items that popped up. But then again the buyers ended up paying for their own inspection, so there's that. This is one of those 'maybe' items because it didn't increase our selling price, but it may have helped bring in our buyer.

I'd love to hear worthwhile things that you guys have done before selling a home! Next month we'll be sharing all the numbers on this sale, so stay tuned.