Get the Most Money When you Sell

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It's amazing how many home sellers neglect some of the simplest of projects that can mean the difference between selling their home and watching it linger in the marketplace. Take action now.

Written by Be Jane's
Heidi Baker

 You've just spent thousands of dollars on big projects with the hopes of getting your house ready to go onto the market. Your roof is repaired, your walk in closet installed, you new carpeting ready to show off, whatever - the point is, the big projects are done - assuming you had any to begin with.

So, now you might be thinking, you can just lay back and let the buyers come to you, right? After all, you've heard it's a seller's market, real estate is the hottest investment in the country, and you've heard the stories of owners with houses "just like yours," getting multiple offers in a single day!

Well, more likely than not, your property won't move within 24 or 48 hours. More often the case, homes usually take months to move. But, you can do something to keep from being one of them.

Take care of the details inside and outside your home and sweat the small stuff!

Skip to the pre-sell "To Do" list:

It's amazing how many home sellers neglect some of the simplest of projects that can mean the difference between selling their home and watching it linger in the marketplace.

You might have spent $4,000.00 on your new roof, but if you ignore the lawn and front walkway, it's possible that new roof will go completely unnoticed as buyers will often ignore an unkempt property.

It's the attention to detail that buyers will notice. If you don't bother to vacuum before prospective buyers enter your home, you're setting the tone for how the buyer will think you keep up the rest of the house. The end result of small projects can have a potentially HUGE effect on how fast (or slow) a property moves.

You might even want to take a weekend day and attend some local open houses. See what other sellers are doing (or aren't doing) to make their homes more attractive. There will certainly be a wide variance in the steps owners will take to help their properties move. You will see plenty of things you might never have thought of doing - and plenty of other things you will learn to avoid. Apply this research to your own home and watch the buyers flock towards you.

Okay, so now what...

First off, you'll want to be sure to spruce things up a bit, both inside and out, before listing your house for sale. Simple, inexpensive projects can go a long way toward making your property that much more attractive to potential buyers.

Here are some suggestions for those of you either considering putting your home on the market or, if you've already listed, these suggestions can potentially help increase the perceived value of your home and make a great first impression.

Obviously, not all the items on the list will apply to everyone, but any you do should help your home sell faster and hopefully, at your asking price.

Exterior Appearance

Get That Jungle Under Control!

If you can't afford to hire a gardener, spend a weekend getting to know your yard. If you haven't trimmed your hedges in months and your lawn has turned a questionable shade of yellow, you have some work to do.


  • Keep your lawn cut - mow it regularly.
  • If the lawn is dead - consider covering the area with bark or lava rock (both are available and most home improvement or home & garden centers.
  • Trim hedges and shrubs - make them as uniform as possible.
  • Weed and edge gardens - it's a job no one likes, but get down on your knees and get it done!
  • Consider planting new flowers - flowers cheer up anyone's day, and they offer up a sense of welcoming unlike any other plant. They're inexpensive and most are easy to manage.
  • Get rid of any old tree stumps - they can be a huge eye sore and potentially hazardous.

Walkway, Porch & Driveway:

  • Clear driveway and clean up oil spills - you don't want your house looking like a NASCAR pit-stop. There are plenty of solutions available on the market to help you accomplish this.
  • Add exterior lighting - for less than $50, you can add a set of solar lights to the exterior of your home. They add a sense of sophistication and warmth and are often as easy to install as taking them out of the box and staking them into the ground.
  • Old cars are for the junkyard, not your front yard - if you have old cars or other junk sitting out on your property, now is your excuse to get rid of them. Nothing will make a buyer drive away faster than seeing something like that from the street.
  • Clean out garage - even just a simple organization of what's inside will go a long way toward sprucing it up.
  • Power wash your home - if you don't have stucco (which won't hold up well under the pressure of a power wash), consider power washing your home with a simple garden hose and sprayer, or there are a wide variety of power wash units available. It's a cheap alternative to repainting the outside.
  • Touch up paint - If you still have your original colors lying around the garage, you might consider touch up any bruises, scrapes or gashes to the outside or inside of your home.

Front Door

  • At the Front Door - Even just by adding a welcome mat and cleaning up the area, you'll improve the overall "experience" of your home. Walk up to your own front door - does it feel inviting? Are your porch and foyer clean and inviting as well?
  • Double check to make sure your doorbell works.
  • Repair any broken screens - Especially if you have one on the front door. It'll be a hundred or so dollars well spent.
  • Fresh paint or varnish the door.?If the door hasn't been painted and needs it, consider doing this project. It's all in the presentation of the package.
  • Repair locks and key access - simply stated, make sure the front door is easy to open.

Make a Mood...

  • Create a Buying Mood - put on some music, light some candles - make your home a place people would want to "live!"
  • Make sure your home smells fresh and clean - pick up the dirty socks and put the kitty litter box in the garage. Nothing turns off a buyer faster than a strange odor.
  • Turn on lights - a) so your buyers can see what they're doing and b) so they can see what kind of statement the house might make after dark.
  • Turn on air conditioner/heat - Obviously, depending on what the temperature is outside. Just make sure you keep the house comfortable - as buyers will most definitely notice this.
  • Open drapes - natural light is an important aspect of homes that most buyers look for and most sellers forget to accentuate.
  • Light the fireplace (gas) - if applicable, but this will help give that cozy feeling you're going after.
  • Create Space - Open the room up so buyers can see, as best they can, the true dimensions of each room.
  • Clear halls and stairs of clutter - Put the kids toys, jackets and shoes away. You'll want to showcase your home as a five-star accommodation that your buyer could potentially have for the rest of their lives.
  • Clean basement of clutter - if you use your basement as a storage area, just keep it neat and tidy.
  • Clear kitchen counters and stove top - think like a restaurant owner during a health inspection. You want your kitchen to look like a place someone wouldn't mind actually eating in.
  • Clear closets of unnecessary clothing and "stuff" - make Goodwill's day by getting rid of the excess clutter and clothing.
  • Put away personal photos so buyers can envision the house as theirs - this is a common mistake many sellers make - but remember, you don't want people thinking they're taking your home away from you. You want them believing, you're giving it to them.

General Maintenance

  • Repair leaking taps and toilets - these are the things a prospective buyer would notice.
  • Clean furnace and filters - you want to avoid any funny smells filtering through the house, as well as you'll want your furnace to resemble how you maintain the rest of the house.
  • Tighten (or replace!) door knobs and latches, oil hinges - that squeaky cabinet may bother you, but it could potentially turn a potential buyer into a "lookie-looer."
  • Repair cracked plaster - A small can of spackle and a trowel will avoid those funny looks you might get when your buyers notice small cracks.
  • Just like the outside, you'll want to apply a fresh coat of paint or touch up where necessary
  • Repair seals around tubs and basins - one tube of caulk may be all you need to make your sinks and tub seals look like new.
  • Replace defective light bulbs - lighting can have positive and negative affects, more so negative when there isn't any.
  • Repair squeaking floor boards - in a 1926 Craftsman home, the squeaks might be considered part of the charm, but a 1987 condo, you have no such luck.

Keep It Clean...

  • Clean and repair windows - replace any broken panes of glass, and make sure to clean them thoroughly using a squeegee and soap rather than your typical blue window cleaner which might tend to streak.
  • Clean and freshen bathrooms - replace your toilet seats if necessary and be sure it doesn't smell mildewy or moldy.
  • Clean fridge and stove (inside and out) - they might never look in here, but you're better safe than sorry.
  • Clean around heating vents - You'll want to be sure to remove any dust that might be hanging out of a heating vent.
  • Clean carpets, drapes and window blinds - random stains and smells eminating from the carpet won't go over very well with any potential buyer.
  • Eliminate pet odors and stains - potential buyers will want to know that your pets and their odors will be going with you when you move.

A lot of these projects might seem pretty obvious at first glance. But like we said, it's more often than not that a vast majority of sellers overlook such "easy" tasks. Make sure you're not one of them!

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1 comment


What if your house _is_ stucco? I've seen directions online about using pressure washers to clean stucco walls, but here you don't recommend it. So how would you clean a stucco house, either for resale or for repainting? Thanks!
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