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House Selling Tips That Work

Updated on April 29, 2012

As a real estate investor I buy and sell homes on a regular basis and see all manner of condition. There isn’t much I haven’t seen or experienced in home sales. Looks are more important to people than mechanical soundness. Most people don't know much about plumbing or electrical but they are attracted to how a home looks; because of this it is imperative that you have your home in tiptop shape when putting it on the market so your house will sell.

With the growing number of houses on the market you need to make sure yours stands out and is noticed. I sold a house a few months a go and it was only on the market for eight weeks. It would have sold quicker but two of the couples interested couldn’t get financing.



How To Prepare Your House To Sell


Take pictures

Get shots of each room from all angels. Just like photos show our every flaw it will give you a different view of your home and show you areas that need addressing you might not see with the naked eye. Go outside and take a few of your yard, front and back. This will help you see what other people see when they look at your house.


  • Curb Appeal

This is your first impression. What do people see when they look at your home from the curb? Make sure there are no dead leaves, weeds, debris or lawn tools lying around. Do any necessary cleaning and plant some flowers. No matter what season, unless there is snow on the ground, you can almost always plant flowers. This adds color and makes the yard look cheerful and inviting.

Too many toys in the yard can look messy and turn people off. If possible put some of them away in the shed or storage or at the very least stack them over to the side to make things look neater.

Make sure you don’t have too many holiday ornaments. One or two tasteful decorations are nice but too much is… well, too much.

You may love garden gnomes or pink flamingoes but your potential buyer might find them distasteful so thinning them out or putting them away until after the sell might be a good idea. Remember, this is no longer your home; you are moving so it doesn’t have to reflect your personality while on the market.


  • Get Rid of Clutter


One of the biggest reasons people move is because they have outgrown their current abode and need to buy a bigger house. Unfortunately having an overfull house makes it look smaller and unappealing.

It is in your best interest to rent a storage unit for a few months until you sell your house. Move excess belongings that aren’t absolutely necessary for your daily living to a storage unit until you relocate. Having less things in your home will make it look bigger, roomier homes sell more easily and make more money.

Put as few items on the walls as possible. This will make the rooms seem larger.

If the house already looks overstuffed it gives the psychological picture of not being big enough for the buyer’s belongings either.


Protect Valuables


Unfortunately some people aren't honest and even go to open houses to steal things like jewelry or other small items of value. Make sure you have them locked in a safe or other secure location. Don't make it easy for thieves.

This is another reason to move most of your belongings to a storage unit until your house sells. Only furnish the home with bare necessities highlighting the assets of the house and not what you own.

  • Paint


If you aren’t great at painting hire someone or enlist the help of a friend who is really good. The only thing worse than walls in need of paint are walls that are badly recoated. You don’t want color slopped on woodwork or fixtures; take the time to tape off or use a tiny brush to go around edges before bringing out the big brush or roller.

Choose a neutral color like off white. I realize there are dozens of colors in the crayon box but you want to appeal to the greatest number of people. Pink was cute for your baby daughter but that gentleman that is interested in that room as his office isn’t going to want a girlie color. Neutral tones sell better. Each color gives us an image in our mind; white gives thoughts of cleanliness, new start and freshness.

Paint will cover a host of sins, flaws and imperfections giving a new clean look. If you are covering a dark color you may need a primer or several coats.


  • Repairs


Aside from the obvious major needs like any plumbing leaks or appliance repairs you also need to take care of any cosmetic issues like cracked and moldy grout or broken light fixtures. It is better to have a cheap nice looking sconce than to have a discolored or out of date upper end light. They don’t care that it was expensive back in the old days what they see is something they will have to pay to replace.

Take out the old grout (you don’t have to replace the whole thing) and replace with new. If it has become discolored and you can’t match it, you can paint all of the mortar with acrylic paint and seal with grout sealer. You will be surprised how nice this looks.

Make sure caulk around sinks and tubs is in good condition and not cracked, separating or discolored. If so you can replace it fairly easily. Just take a putty knife and scrape off the old and add new.

Make your home as appealing as possible to sell property quickly.



  • Clean


Make sure there aren’t any dirty dishes in the sink, laundry on the floor or other messes throughout the home. A dirty house isn’t an inviting home.

I can’t tell you how many units I’ve looked at that stunk: cat litter box, musty carpet odor and stinky diaper smells do not say, “Buy me.”

Scents have a great impact on a person’s perception of a place and gives a first impression that can affect their decision to buy.

If you deep fry foods often it will give your kitchen a musty odor that gets in the woodwork.

Cigarette smoke permeates all porous surfaces and is difficult to remove. People who smoke seldom notice this.

Statistics have shown that a house that smells like fresh baked goods sells well. Food smells give us thoughts of home, comfort and warmth. You can buy candles that smell like baked bread, sugar cookies and pie. It’s okay to cheat a little they aren’t coming to dinner. Don’t leave candles unattended; burn for a short while and extinguish before you leave.

If you have to, hire a cleaning company to come in and keep things spic and span until after you sell. That extra few hundred dollars could be worth it if you sell quickly.

If you can’t get that stain out of the carpet you may need to replace it. Even if it's clean it will give the impression of being dirty. The buyer will probably ask for a carpet allowance in the sell so you might as well replace it. You can shop around and find a good deal on floor covering that may be less than the amount the buyer wants knocked off the price so in the long run it will save you money.

If your furniture has spots on it, it will look better to throw a bedspread over it so no one sees the stains. Even though they aren’t buying your couch you want the overall appearance to be neat and orderly. If your furniture looks unclean they get the idea the entire house is unsanitary. Think Better Homes and Gardens.

Flowers on the table or mantel give an inviting look. They don’t have to be real. It adds a bit of color and looks inviting.

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