When Preparing Your Home for the Market, Spend Your Money Wisely

As a real estate professional, I am often asked about what actions will create the greatest bang for the buck. My answer is always to focus on those things that will increase your home's sense of spaciousness and cleanliness and improve curb appeal:

1.  Cut your grass, clear any toys, old lawn furniture, and any debris from the yard.  This will help create a nice impression as potential buyers drive up to your home.

2. Weed your flower beds, plant fresh flowers and apply an ample amount of mulch.

3.  Paint your front door if it is dingy and remove any cobwebs from the light fixtures by the front door. If your light fixtures are rusted, replace them.

4.  Make sure that there are no unpleasant odors in your home and take steps to remove them if they are a problem. If you are not sure, ask a friend to give you their opinion.

5.  Remove any collections, nic-nacks, and family photos. The less time that prospective buyers are looking at your stuff, the more time they will be looking at your house. Consider this an opportunity to "pre-pack" for your upcoming move!

6.  Clear out the clutter from your closets and pantry.  The effect should be that a prospective buyer will think that whoever is living in your home must have a serious case of OCD.

7.  Remove all magnets, photos, school papers, etc from the refrigerator. 

8.  Touch up any smudges or nicks on painted surfaces.

9.  Clear off all counters in the kitchen and bathrooms.  This will increase the perception of ample counter space.

10.  Make sure that all lights are turned on and curtains are open for each and every showing. This will make sure that your house shows to its best advantage.

You will notice that these steps cost very little and mostly require a little elbow grease.  But my experience is that these are the things that really make the biggest difference.
  • April 23 2010 - Chesapeake
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Answers (4)

Great tips--I've got a couple more to add:

- If something is broken, fix it or replace it. Prospective buyers will notice anything in disrepair.

- Make sure the walls are clean.  You can remove minor smudges and scuffs with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, but if it doesn't do the trick,  re-paint--it will make a world of difference.

- Make sure the floors and corners are clean and dust-free; they'll make the rest of the room look cleaner.

If you want an objective opinion, bring a professional home stager in for a consultation. Investing in an hour of a pro's time will be well worth it.
  • April 23 2010
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Great tips Ladies!  I always hire a professional stager for my sellers.  They come in and in one hours time, the house is transformed...or at least on it's way to being transformed.  The stager moves furniture around,  for a better flow and to make the rooms look bigger.  She takes down curtains.  She leaves the seller with a list of things "to-do".  All of this is done BEFORE the property hits the market, because first impressions are everything to buyers.
  • January 11 2011
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Add to that power washed and sealed deck and fence, which can do wonders for any home - it's like giving a home a face lift.

Most cosmetic improvements can be done for $1K-$3K and increase the market value greatly, and most importantly, decrease the days on the market.

All buyers love that clean, sparkling, almost never-lived-in feeling that comes with well maintained and properly prepared for sale homes.
  • January 14 2011
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Staging does go a long way as well as the other tips you all have posted! Great idea's ladies! Thanks for the post!

  • May 03 2011
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