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Simple Free Fixes to Better Sell Your Home

Updated on September 1, 2011
black and white kitchen
black and white kitchen

There are many small details involved in making the big picture of a first impression. Those finishing touches can make a big difference to the way a potential buyer feels when they walk into your home. That first gut feeling is crucial when someone is making a decision as personal as selecting their future home.

The following are some simple steps you can do to give your house the best chance sell as quickly as it can:


You absolutely must make sure your house is as clean as possible, especially the bathrooms and kitchen. Spills and stains are distracting, and a sink full of dried toothpaste is sure to be a turn-off as well. You want them to imagine brushing their own teeth there, not imagine who just brushed their teeth there a few hours ago and forgot to rinse the sink.

Go through the house top to bottom. I know it takes a lot of time and can be a lot of work, but trust me it’s worth it. You don’t want an otherwise perfect buyer to pass you up because the are used to being in an immaculate home. A person who is a “neat freak” is far less likely to go for a messy home. However a messy person would be just as willing to buy a spotless home. The moral is… a clean house appeals to everyone.

Focus on fixtures, floors and countertops. Anything with a smooth surface should be wiped down. I wouldn’t hurt to wipe down the walls too. Look around door frames and walls that go up stairways. People often touch the walls in these places and leave dirty fingerprints. Wash the windows and mirrors; these things bring light into and around the room, the cleaner they are, the nicer it will look. Don’t forget the windowsills too.

A good rule of thumb: If you can clean it… go ahead and clean it. It certainly wouldn’t hurt.


Again, you want people to feel at home in the space. It’s very distracting when they see things that they would never have in their own place. This means it’s necessary to de-personalize. So pack up the knick-knacks and especially the family photos. You’re going to have to pack them anyway, so why not get it over with now. You can leave artwork on the walls provided it’s something relatively mild.

For example: One of my favorite paintings is Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” However, that work of art is uncomfortable to look at. That’s part of the painting’s brilliance, but that’s not the mood we’re trying to evoke when selling a house. The buyer is nervous enough already and we want them to feel calm and… well, right at home!

The Lava Wall
The Lava Wall

Another example is my "lava wall" pictured to the right. When we moved into our house there was paneling in the kitchen that was textured to look like stones. It had been painted over previously and we had a little creative fun with it while we were living there. We painted the area in between the "stones" bright orange and then painted the rest a charcoal black to emulate lava. It made the room fun and lively. However... it's not something that everyone would like in their own home.

For instance, my grandmother thought it was really cool. However I don't think she would ever do anything like that in her own home. So that's something that needed to be painted over with the remaining black paint before selling the house.


    Look in your cupboards closets and shelves. Does it look cluttered and disheveled? Neatly organize your belongings. A new buyer will and should look into the storage areas to see what kind of space there is. If your cupboards look like they’re overflowing with stuff, it gives the impression that they won’t have enough room for their stuff either.

    This is another perfect opportunity for you to get a head start on packing things up if your not going to use them. Having empty cupboards and extra closet space may seem like a waste of space, but it’s a wonderful asset. The buyer will see that you had plenty of room and still had space left over. This means they will have no trouble fitting their belongings.

Maintain the Yard

Let’s look outside. Mow the lawn. Sweep the steps, stoop and/or deck or porch area. Pull out any weeds in the garden and prune any plants that are growing out of control.  If you have an asphalt or concrete walkway or driveway, go ahead and sweep the dirt off of them.

Arrange the Furniture

Arrange Furniture
    This may not be a fun task, but it might really help. Look at the way you have arranged your furniture. Is it in a position that allows your rooms to look bigger. Less is more when it comes to showing your house. You want just enough furniture to show off the purpose and capabilities of the room.
    Example 1.: I had a lot of chairs in my living room because when my family comes to visit we obviously like to sit together. I also have a large bedroom with nothing but a bed it. So I moved one of the chairs to the bedroom. This shows that the bedroom has the ability to have a little reading nook, and it frees up some visual space in the living room, making it appear bigger.

    Example 2: We have a tiny tiny bedroom that we use as an office. We also have an average sized guest bedroom. It is very clear that the guest bedroom is big enough to be a bedroom. However, our office was so small that even I had doubts that a bed would fit in it. The solution was to move our office to the larger room and set up the smaller room as a bedroom. We had an extra bed frame in the basement and a twin sized air mattress. I set up the mattress on the frame and made the bed. I placed a small night stand and small chair in the room. Presto chango! Instead of a questionable 3 bedrooms, we have a definite 3 bedrooms.

This is just a very small sample of things that you can do to put your best foot forward. Your realtor is of course a great resource for advise on this matter. These suggestions only represent the simplest and of course least expensive (as in free) ways to improve the desirability of the home. Good luck with your home sale!


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I love watching HGTV when I get a chance and this is the same kind of advice given when staging a home for sale. Good job! These are things that people might not think to do...eliminating family photos and making a space more neutral regarding colors, etc. Nice job on this hub!