How to Prepare Your Home for a Real Estate Showing

As a real estate Broker, I spend a LOT of time and money concentrating on selling your listed property.  Over the years, we have developed a not-inclusive list that really helps my Sellers prepare for showings and/or for their first photography session.  You'd think that much of it is common sense, but my Sellers are very appreciative for this checklist to review when it comes time for photography and then for showings.   

One of the most important things to remember is:  you are hoping to actually MOVE!  So the more packing and decluttering you do in preparation for photography and showings, the less you will ultimately have to do when you have an accepted Offer and are ready to move.

Here is my comprehensive list for how to prepare your home for a real estate showing (or for your listing photography session):

General Interior

  • Please vacuum and /or clean carpets (we'll discuss if you need deep cleaning during one of our pre-photograpy meetings if you need it) and sweep and clean wooden and tile floors.  Take care to make sure throw rugs are clean and neatly arranged.  
  • Please ensure all beds are made neatly and that there is no laundry on bedroom floors.  
  • Please ensure all bathrooms have clean counters and sinks.  Please temporarily remove all toiletry items and store in cabinets until showing is completed. Please make sure towels are clean and neatly hung (or removed if for photography).  Please ensure toilet lids are down.
  • Inspect all rooms for orderly arrangement and placement of furniture.  If it looks cluttered, perhaps we can move some of the smaller items to storage until you plan to move.  
  • Verify that interior lights are working and replace burnt bulbs with new light bulbs (we will be turning some lights on for showings, or specific lights if there is ample sunlight during showing times, but for photography will will turn all lights on). Turn on all ceiling and wall lights. Turn on all lamps. For photography, we ask that you turn off fans so that fan blades are not moving.
  • Remove docking stations, cell phones, cell phone charges, newspapers, magazines from dressers and tables.  Please store TV remotes out of site if possible.  One thing I like to note, especially for photograpy, are dated magazines.  If it's spring, remove the holiday magazines.
  • Please remove cat litter boxes, cat and dog food/water bowels, and other pet-related items, especially large items (we promise you can put these back as soon as necessary). 
  • Please emove family/personal photos when practical, or at least scale back (we want your Buyers to be able to picture their own items in your home).  Remember, these photos will be used for internet media marketing, so we want to respect your privacy as much as possible.  
  • All blinds and curtains should be opened, and blinds should be pulled up so that just clear window is visible for the photography session or so natural daylight can be visible for showings. 
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, please make sure you have cleaned the ashes so it shows well.
  • Please lock up any truly valuable items, such as collectables, especially so they are not seen in photos. Please make sure bookkeeping materials, including bills and income statements, are put away in a secure area (your finances are not for your Buyers' review).  Also, it goes without saying, but please lock up any firearms securly.
  • Remember, the work you do now will save you time packing in the future.  It's also a good time to start thinking about items that you would like to donate or sell to not only declutter but to make the move easier.

 Ellison Bay Condominiums for Sale

Kitchen Specific

  • Remove everyday items from countertops such as toasters, coffee makers, white paper rolls, towels and dish rags, soap or dish detergent, cereal boxes, food, etc. until after the showing. Make sure that appliances are clean (including microwave and oven and refrigerator during showings--people will look).
  • Please lose all cabinet doors and drawers.
  • Please remove all stickers, magnets, photographs, notes, etc from front and sides of refrigerator, espeically for photography.
  • Please make sure all dishes are cleaned and any dish rack empty and that both the sink and counters are empty and wiped down. 
  • For photography OR for a showing, fresh flowers on the dining table are always nice. 
  • Remember, the work you do now (if you never use the Insta-Pot and it's on the counter--pack it away!) will save you time packing in the future.  It's also a good time to start thinking about items that you would like to donate or sell.


 Ephraim WI Homes for Sale


Bedroom Specific

  • Make beds and make sure pillows are orderly.  Verify that coverlets are clean and straight.
  • Please remove all items from underneath bed, if coverlet does not extent to floor.
  • Clean room and place toys, games, clothes, etc into closet or neatly into storage/dresser.
  • Please remove clocks, reading glasses, photographs, docking stations, cell phones and chargers, etc from night stands. We like neatly stacked books and magazines, but please remove any private reading material that someone may find offensive.
  • Please remove and lock up any medication kept in the bedroom.
  • For the rooms of your teens and pre-teens, it would be a good time to remove any posters from the walls (assure them it is temporary).
  • This is an EXCELLENT TIME to donate or sell clothes that you don't wear, shoes or toys the children have outgrown, etc.  The work you do now will make it easier to move in the future . 

 Door County Homes for Sale with 4 bedrooms

Bathroom Specific

  • Remove everyday items from countertops.  This does include hand-washing soap for photography, as well as all makeup, lotion, etc. Remove kleenex boxes, also, until photos are completed.
  • Please close water closet (toilet) lids.  We do NOT allow anyone to use "your facilities", but please make sure the sink, floor, mirror, commode and tub/shower are clean.
  • Remove soaps, brushes, shampoo, etc from shower and tubs.  This might be a good time to clean or replace the shower curtain.
  • Please remove rugs from floor.  This will make your bathroom seem larger for wide-angle lenses.  
  • Either remove towels or make sure they are hung properly and drying on racks.
  • Again, we would stress removing and locking up any prescription medication.  Although I or another agent will be present at every showing, showings and open house statistics obtained by police records throughout the nation note that presciption drug theft (when drugs are out and unattended) is one of the most common crimes in the United States.  

Door County Homes for Sale with 3 Bathrooms


Exterior Specific (if applicable)

  • Please weep leaves, dirt etc, from driveway, walkways, patios, decks.
  • Please move garbage bins, bicycles, boxes, landscaping supplies, etc. to the inside of garage or a storage room/area.
  • Park vehicles inside of garage or on street opposite side of your home, especially for the photography session. 
  • Please close garage door and open blinds in garage.
  • Coil garden hose onto garden hose stand or remove.
  • Please open patio umbrellas; arrange outdoor furniture for everyday use.
  • Clean pool and remove floating objects from water if applicable.
  • Please remove security signs, political or school yard signs, etc from lawns and/or flowerbeds.

When you are ready to sell your Door County home, please contact me for more details on what we will do to ensure a successful sale of your listed property.  Please also see my website's Seller Link for more details. A little bit of work now will assure that you will have an easier move, as well as making your home more attractive to prospective Buyers at showings and will also help us have the most successful photography for marketing your home.  

Sold homes in Door County WI

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All information is deemed reliable as of date of publication and is subject to change without notice.


 Thank you for reading!  MaryKay Shumway, ABR®, CRS®, Realtor® loves to laugh and enjoys working with people that love the Door Peninsula.  She is a full-time real estate Broker, mother of two and a senior Broker Associate at the Kellstrom-Ray Agency, Inc. in beautiful Sister Bay, Wisconsin.  She represents listings throughout the Door County Peninsula and also represents many Buyers that want to purchase the perfect property to make Door County a part of their lives.  CONTACT MARYKAY ABOUT YOUR DOOR COUNTY PROPERTY QUESTIONS TODAY.