After a full day of house hunting, even the hardiest shopper has
difficulty remembering each home they visited. However, there are
some tips available to impress the nit-picky buyers, specifically
in those DMV areas, for which market favors the buyers.
1. Disassociate Yourself With Your Home
Make the mental decision to let go of your emotions and focus
on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours.
Picture yourself handing over the keys and envelopes containing
appliance warranties to the new owners. Say goodbye to every
room. Stand in each doorway and talk out loud about your
memories if that's what it takes. Don't look backward. Look to
Depersonalize the Space
Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. You
don't want your potential buyers to be distracted. You want
them to be able to imagine their own photos on the walls, and
they can't do that if yours are there. This goes for furniture
items, too, painful as that might be. Not everyone will share
your taste, so if you have your bright red sofa screams, "I'm
unique!" you might want to remove it for the time being. Try to
stick with your more understated pieces.
Depersonalizing Includes Decluttering
People tend to collect an amazing quantity of junk. If you
haven't used a certain item in over a year, you probably don't
need it. If you don't need it, why not donate it or throw it
away? Remove books from bookcases and pack up those
knickknacks. Clean everything off your kitchen counters.
Essential items that you use daily can be tucked away in small
boxes that you can place in a closet when they're not in use.
Think of this process as a head start on the packing you'll
eventually have to do anyway.
Rearrange Bedroom Closets and Storage Cabinets
Buyers love to snoop and yes, they will open closets and
cabinet doors. Maybe they're curious or maybe they legitimately
want to see how much space is inside. Think of the message it
sends if items fall out. When a buyer sees everything
organized, it says that you probably take good care of the rest
of the house as well. This means alphabetizing spice jars and
neatly stacking dishes. It means turning the coffee cup handles
so they're all facing the same way. Hang shirts together,
buttoned and facing the same direction. Line up shoes.
Consider Renting a Storage Unit
Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove
pieces that block or hamper paths and walkways and put them in
storage, along with that garish sofa that only you like.
Your bookcases are now empty, so store them, too. Remove extra
from your dining room table to make the room appear larger.
Leave just enough furniture to showcase the room's purpose with
plenty of room for buyers to move around.
Remove or Replace Favorite Items
If you want to take certain window coverings, built-in
appliances, or fixtures with you, now's the time to remove
them. If a buyer never sees it, she won't want it and they'll
be no dispute later. When you tell a buyer she can't have an
item, she'll covet it, which could blow your deal.
2. Make Minor Repairs
In some seller's markets, you can sell a home in lived-in
condition without much complaint. But in normal markets or a
buyer's market, repairs can make or break your sale. Replace
cracked floor or counter tiles and patch any holes in the
walls. Fix leaky faucets and doors that don't close properly,
as well as kitchen drawers that jam. Consider painting your
walls neutral colors, especially if they're currently hot pink
or purple. Don't give buyers any reason to remember your home
as "the one with the orange bathroom." Replace burned-out
lightbulbs and consider replacing those that have been in
service for a while as well.
And you do want light, as much of it as possible. Throw open
the curtains and blinds and turn those lightbulbs on. Houses
show better when each room is bright. Which leads us to the
next issue...you don't want all that illumination to reveal
dust bunnies congregating in the corner or under the sofa.
3. Make the House Sparkle!
Cleaning your home should go beyond the usual weekly or day-to-
day cleaning jobs, even if you have to hire someone to do it.
It could take all day to complete this job, so you might want
to pay for assistance. Wash the windows inside and out. Rent a
pressure washer and spray down sidewalks and the exterior.
Recaulk tubs, showers, and sinks. Polish chrome faucets and
mirrors. Yes, you're still living there so it's not going to
be absolutely spotless 24/7. But make it a habit to clean up
after yourself daily—maybe more than you would normally bother
with until the weekend. Vacuum daily instead of weekly. Wax
floors, dust furniture, and clean ceiling fan blades and light
fixtures. Bleach dingy grout and replace any worn rugs. Pay
special attention to the bathrooms and the kitchen. Hang up
fresh towels. Bathroom towels look great when they're fastened
with ribbon and bows. Make it a habit to keep the toilet lid
closed when it's not in use.
Kitchens are a big selling point for many buyers, so you'll
want yours to be as spotless and uncluttered as possible. Don't
forget those snoopers—make sure the interior of the fridge is
clean and orderly, too.
Above all, clean and air out any musty areas. Odors are a no-
no. This might also include not cooking anything particularly
odorous the evening before you know the house is going to be
shown...or, if you really want to be on the safe side, until
you have a purchase offer in hand. And if you have pets, keep
on top of those litter boxes and other potentially smelly
areas. Certainly, odors work both ways. Consider making a small
investment in some pleasantly scented candles.
4. Scrutinize Curb Appeal
A potential sale is toast if a buyer won't even get out of his
agent's car because the exterior of your home turns him off. So
open your front door and step outside. Look up at your place.
Does it make you want to enter? Does the house welcome you?
If not, start with the front door. Make it urge people to turn
the handle and come inside. Paint it and consider adding a
seasonal wreath or other minor decoration. Just make sure it's
not anything too overpowering. You don't want to intimidate
your buyers and create the psychological equivalent of warning
Clear the sidewalks and mow the lawn. Paint faded window trim
and plant some yellow flowers if the season allows. Yellow
evokes a buying emotion and marigolds are inexpensive. And it
goes without saying that you'll want to shovel and salt down
those walkways in winter. Trim your bushes. Make sure visitors
can clearly read your house number.
5. Staging to impress
A selling display featuring your property's benefits is a great
way to be sure your home stands out. You may consider using the
following marketing strategies to successfully sell many homes.
They could work for you too!
Your home's best attributes can be attractively displayed on a
poster, in a loose-leaf binder or photo album and displayed on
your dining table or near the front door entrance. Home
shoppers appreciate a memory-jogging take-home flyer,
summarizing the display information for later study. The flyer
should always include the property address, price, brief
description and the agent's name and phone number.
Focus on Features
Each home will have its own outstanding features. When we talk
about a marketing strategy for your home, we will consider what
to include in your display and on the flyer. Here are some
. Capital improvements. Include project description, year
completed and your investment in the improvements.
. Upgrades or replacements. List new appliances, paint, new
renovations, attic fan—anything you've accomplished that buyers
won't have to do after they move in. Mention special features
and benefits. For example: "High-Efficiency Front Load
Washer/Dryer, ENERGY STAR, Easy-care kitchen range with self-
cleaning oven, sealed burners, electronic ignition, digital
. Energy-saving features. Cite money-saving extra insulation,
high-efficiency heating/cooling system, thermal double-pane
. Average annual utility bills. Also mention affordable
property taxes. Buyers want to know.
. Floor plan. Provide room arrangement and dimensions. Home
builders and renovators can often provide floor plans, or one
can be drawn for your home.
. House illustration. Provide a picture of your home in your
display and on the flyer. Architect's renderings may be
available from the original builder.
. Gardening highlights. Sketch the landscaping plan to show the
work you've done. Identify trees and plants, especially if you
have unusual ones. Provide photos of bushes and flowers in full
bloom, if you're selling off season.
. Pre-listing home inspection report. Impress buyers with proof
of your home's excellent condition. Show receipts for
correcting any problems the inspector noted.
. Neighborhood map. Highlight nearby schools, convenient
transportation, shopping, parks, libraries, hospitals and any
other amenities or points of interest. Your kids can help color
. School data. Feature excellent schools. Mention honors and
awards, good student-teacher ratios, sports and athletics,
drama presentations and special programs (i.e. for learning
disabilities or English as a second language).
. Neighborhood information. List neighborhood association dues
(if any), annual community events, Neighborhood Watch programs
and the like. If yours is a friendly, quiet neighborhood, be
sure buyers know it!
. Community services. Include helpful information such as days
for recyclable material and bulk trash pick-ups, availability
of swimming pools, children's summer day camps, adult education
and so on.
Staging a house helps buyers imagine themselves living in it.
If you want to sell your home faster, staging is a clever way
to do it. Staging a house allows you to present it in its best
light, encouraging prospective buyers to imagine themselves
living there. It helps you shine in competitive markets, as
homebuyers are becoming accustomed to seeing staged homes—in
person, on home decorating shows, and in online listings. Your
listing agent should guide you staging your home all by
yourselves. Typically, staging requires some finishing
touches. People love to see fresh flowers in vases, a bowl of
fresh fruit on the kitchen counter, and folded towels in the
Good luck selling quick.