Home Selling Tips

1. Plan Ahead

  • Walk through each room and criticize your home from a buyer’s perspective. Remember: Buyers will walk into your house and try to picture living there. Most people don’t have the vision to look past toys scattered throughout the house, dishes in the sink or pet food spilled on the floor. It doesn’t matter that they probably live the same way.
  • Consider getting a pre-listing home inspection to see if any repairs are needed. A qualified home inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs, if necessary, to help expedite negotiations and settlement.
  • Hire a licensed contractor to handle any major projects. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn out or will need to be replaced soon, such as your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.
  • Find your warranties. For instance, locate warranties, user manuals, etc., for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other fixtures that will remain (not convey) with the house. Make copies of key records and documents.
  • Hold a yard sale. Sell, donate or trash anything you don’t need.

2. Clean, Declutter and Depersonalize

  • Thoroughly clean the entire home.
  • Scrub tile in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Clean hardwood floors.
  • Steam clean carpets and drapes. Consider replacing carpet if stains are prominent.
  • Repair cracks and holes in the walls.
  • Paint interior walls with neutral colors, like beige, cream or light pastels.
  • Remove excess and oversized furniture.
  • Rearrange furniture to maximize space.
  • Organize room closets and store out-of-season clothes.
  • Remove all small appliances, toys, magazines and pet items.
  • Remove family photos, personal collections and medications.
  • Remove items from the garage and store them off site.
  • Secure valuable items, including cash, jewelry and medications.
As you declutter, pay particular attention to these:

  • Furniture: Keep it to a minimum in your living areas so that your rooms look bigger.
  • Entry: Clear out shoes, coats, umbrellas and other outdoor items from your foyer.
  • Equipment: Move out big pieces, such as drum kits or exercise equipment.
  • Bookshelves: Edit your shelves so that you have a neat, orderly space with books and perhaps a few decorative items, like a vase, globe or art.
  • Periodicals: Get rid of old newspapers and magazines, recycling if you can.
  • Photos: Take down your personal photos. Let the buyer imagine pictures of their own family on the walls, tables and shelves.
  • Cables: Organize the cords for your computers, printers, televisions and other electronics so that they don’t look sloppy or become a potential hazard or liability.
  • Plants: Get rid of sickly plants and keep only a few healthy ones on display.
  • Kitchen counters: Remove everything from your countertops, keeping only essentials like a toaster or coffee maker. Decorate sparingly (bowls of unblemished fruit look nice). Clear off all those magnets, coupons, and children’s artwork from the refrigerator.
  • Cabinets and pantry: Arrange the shelves neatly, with items and labels pointed in the same direction.
  • Bedrooms: Make sure beds are made and all clothes, toys and shoes are off the floor.
  • Computers: Secure IDs and passwords.
  • Nightstands: Take away the tissues, medicines and magazines and keep just lamps, clocks and maybe a book or two. Think proactively and remove anything that may be construed as “offensive”.
  • Closets: Clean and organize your closets.
  • Bathrooms: Secure your medicines, razors, toothbrushes, shampoos, etc., while your house is being listed. Spruce up the area with fresh soaps, towels or maybe flowers.

3. Maximize Curb Appeal

  • Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your “first impression” of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? Are esthetically pleasing flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments or other potential hazards? Keep a running list of features that differentiate your house from other comparable homes for sale. These features are your strongest selling points.
  • Consider painting the home’s exterior, including trim, doors and shutters.
  • Check front door, doorbell, address number and welcome mat.
  • Power wash the siding and windows.
  • Inspect the roof and make repairs as needed.
  • Repair cracks in the driveway and sidewalks or other potential hazards and liabilities.
  • Sweep the entryway and walkways.
  • Mow, water and fertilize the lawn.
  • Trim shrubs and trees and rake the leaves.
  • Plant colorful flowers and shrubs.
  • Store any toys or equipment lying on the yard or other potential hazards.
  • Clean up pet droppings.
  • Clean the gutters and downspouts.

4. Pay Attention to Kitchens and Bathrooms

  • Mop and wax/polish the floors.
  • Clear the countertops.
  • Replace outdated hardware.
  • Clean appliances and fixtures.
  • Clean and organize the pantry, cabinets and drawers.
  • Replace old caulking around sinks and bathtubs.
  • Remove stains from sinks, toilets and bathtubs.
  • Keep all toilet seat lids closed.
  • Hang fresh towels.

5. Appeal to the Senses

  • Bake cookies or burn scented candles.
  • Offer light refreshments.
  • Install higher wattage incandescent light bulbs to brighten rooms.
  • Turn on all the lights.
  • Open windows to let in fresh air.
  • Open curtains or blinds to let in natural light and show off views.
  • Turn off TVs.
  • Relocate pets safely to ensure showings go smoothly.
  • Refrain from smoking in the home.

6. Show off Your Home’s Best Features

  • Remove rugs to show off hardwood floors.
  • Pull back drapes to showcase nice views.
  • Stage the front porch or deck with furniture and potted plants.
  • Make sure fireplaces (if any) are in working condition.
  • Clean the backyard and secure pool area (if applicable; ensuring safety to others).