Helpful Hints on Preparing Your
Home for Sale
a printer-friendly copy here (MS Word))
At List-4-Less, our goal is not simply to sell your house, but to
help you realize the best price obtainable for your property in the
shortest period. To help achieve this goal, we have developed the
following Home Enhancement Guide.
Based on proven marketing techniques, this information guide will
introduce you to practical ideas on how to successfully prepare your
house for sale. These suggestions require a minimum amount of time and
expense to complete and are designed to make your house stand out from
THE FIRST IMPRESSION
You have probably heard how important first impressions can be.
However, did you know that within 15 seconds a buyer has already
developed an opinion of your property? This is why establishing the
right first impression is critical to achieving a successful sale.
Following is a list of elements that create the overall first
impression, including suggestions on how to make sure the buyer reacts
as favorably as possible.
THE HOME FRONT
Your property's landscape is not limited to the lawn and shrubs but
encompassing everything from the street to your doorstep. For this
reason, you must make sure each component of the visual landscape looks
its best. The real estate industry refers to this as "curb appeal."
Make sure the street in front of your house is free of litter or
debris. If necessary, give it a fresh sweep.
Although you do not own the fire hydrant in front of your house, you
should still be concerned about how it looks. If it needs a freshening
up, get permission from your town and paint it.
Sweep your sidewalk if needed and remove weeds that may be growing
between the cracks.
A freshly painted fence gives a home a crisp look. You should never
let a peeling, tired-looking fence or squeaky gate stand between a
prospective buyer and a positive first impression.
A quick painting of an old mailbox will let the buyer know you care
about the details. If outdoor lamps look rusted and worn out, new ones
will cast a positive light on your property.
Neatly trimmed shrubs are essential. Taking the time to do this
costs little, but has a big impact. Besides being freshly mowed and
trimmed, a lawn should look healthy. If there are spots that look beyond
help, a little sod goes a long way to restoring the look of a
Like the sidewalk, the walkway should be clean and free of weeds. If
sections are badly cracked, consider having them repaired.
There are two elements of the driveway that should concern you. The
first is its surface condition. If stained or otherwise worn-looking,
consider resealing it with a high quality sealer product. Second is the
appearance of the car parked in the driveway. A newly waxed,
well-maintained automobile will make a much different statement about
you and your property than an unattractive, poorly cared for car. If you
think your car will be a detriment to the look of your property, park it
down the street.
A fresh coat of paint can be one of the best investments you can
make to increase the value of your property. If you do not want to spend
the money to paint the entire house, consider just the shutters or the
front of the house.
If you have vinyl or aluminum siding, have a cleaning service wash
or repaint it using a product designed for these materials.
Attractive windows can help increase the appeal of your property.
Replace any cracked or broken glass. Make sure the windows are sparkling
clean. Add shutters to the front of your house. Install window boxes
with bright flowers. Apply touch-up paint where needed.
The roof may be the single most important aspect of your home front.
A well-maintained roof will say a lot about the overall condition of the
property. Replace any broken or missing shingles or tiles. Repair
flashing where needed. Paint eaves and fascia boards. If the roof is old
and needs to be replaced, consider having the work done before showing
GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS
Neat and trim-looking gutters and downspouts make a house look
shipshape. Consider replacing highly visible ones if they are in need of
serious repair. If run off areas are eroded, you can install concrete
(or other) "spillways."
The doorway is the focal point of your house. Repaint the door.
Apply new door hardware. Install a brass kick plate. Replace house
numbers. Put a flower box or planter alongside the door. Install a new
front light fixture.
THE MODEL HOME EFFECT
The best way to make a buyer "feel at home" is to create an
environment similar to that found in a model home. Obviously, you can't
recreate the feeling of a perfect display home without starting from
scratch, but there are some valuable techniques to be learned.
When walking into a model home you will notice several key points. The
environment is neutral. The colors and interior decorating accent the
home's features. The smell is new and clean. The sound is either quiet
or enhanced by subtle background music. The details are looked after
from the manicuring of the lawn to a floral arrangement in the entry.
See our Staging Service in Additional
Products & Services page.
APPEAL TO THE SENSES
There are many ways to create a more exciting and saleable interior,
at surprisingly little cost. We will briefly discuss the sensory selling
tools that can have enormous impact, then provide you with suggestions
on how to improve each room.
It is proven that people react more favorably to property shown
under bright light than dark. The following steps should help you keep
your home as bright as possible:
륥p windows clean
峥 adequate wattage in light bulbs
㯮sider replacing older fluorescent lamps, which darken with use
峥 mirrors to magnify the feeling of light and space
峥 track lights to create a high-tech look
峥 light wall colors
ﰥn drapes and blinds and turn on lights prior to showings
A fundamental rule when selling your house is to keep colors neutral
and light. The following are specific suggestions:
White, beige and gray are the most popular exterior colors
Shades of white, off-white and Very light pastels are the safest choices
for the interior
Avoid highly patterned wallpaper whenever possible
Try to limit bright colors to accents like fresh flowers, towels, area
rugs, and shower curtains
The sounds of peace and quiet are some of the best sounds to have
when your home is being shown to a prospective buyer. However, there are
other considerations you should also be aware of:
Avoid barking dogs and noisy children, if possible.
Also, avoid sounds of work like vacuums, dishwashers and lawn mowers.
Make sure there are no sounds of mechanical problems like banging pipes
or faulty appliances.
Light classical or instrumental music can be effective in creating a
Smell has more impact than you might expect. It can work for or
The smell of newness is positive. This scent can be achieved by applying
a fresh coat of polyurethane to natural wood or latex paint to walls.
The smell of cleanliness is important to the selling environment of your
house. Beyond actually cleaning, lemon oil or lemon wax can help create
a lasting scent of freshness. Fresh flowers can also be effective.
For a real heart-warming touch, place a dish of vanilla in a warm oven
to create the aroma of fresh-baked cookies or bread. Sweeten the
refrigerator with a box of baking soda. Smells to avoid include strong
pet odors, tobacco, and cooking oil or gas.
PACKAGING THE INTERIOR
The entry is where the first impression of the interior is created.
Here you have the opportunity to make a big statement in a small area.
Repaint the entry using light, neutral colors. Move a prized antique or
attractive furnishing to the entry, where it will have maximum impact.
Install simple chair rail molding on the wall. Apply a fresh coat of
polyurethane to a wood floor. Tile or linoleum flooring should shine.
Replace plastic switch plate covers with brass or porcelain. A new hall
light fixture can make a great impression. Make sure the room is well
The kitchen is perhaps the most important room in the house. It can
have a major impact on the value of your property. If your kitchen needs
some real help, you may want to make extensive improvements. The
following is a list of ideas to increase the appeal of your kitchen
without spending a great deal of money.
Make sure the room is virtually spotless and smells fresh. Try putting a
quarter section of a lemon in the disposal and grinding it up.
Consider replacing outdated light fixtures with new track lighting.
If your appliances are dated by colors like harvest gold or avocado,
consider having them professionally refinished in a new color like
almond or plain white. This will make appliances look new at a fraction
of the cost of actually replacing them.
Spruce up kitchen cabinets by installing new knobs or hardware. If your
cabinets look especially old, you can have a professional replace the
doors or door fronts.
Organize your kitchen cabinets to demonstrate how much room you have.
Cabinet organizers are a good investment for this. Remove small kitchen
appliances and gadgets from countertops to create an uncluttered look.
Chipped or damaged countertops should be repaired or replaced.
If your linoleum floor is badly worn, replace it with neutral no-wax
flooring or tile.
A freshly painted kitchen may be well worth the investment.
The bathroom has become an important selling feature in today's
home. A room that has moved from the utilitarian to the exciting. There
are many ways you can improve deficiencies and create interest through
various levels of enhancement.
ଡce a vase of fresh flowers on the vanity
鮳tall a wall telephone for a high-tech look
⥰lace an old toilet seat with an oak one
⥰lace an old light fixture with a new style light strip or make-up
⥦inish an old porcelain tub using a porcelain finishing service
ଡce all personal care articles out of sight
沥shen the air with lemon scented products
⥰lace an old towel rack with one of brass or oak
ᤤ color and richness with new towels and shower curtain
The living room is an area where we do very little living yet it is
a major selling point of a house. Buyers look for elegant and impressive
living rooms to make the right statements to their friends and
Use mirrors whenever possible to enhance the perception of size. The
strategic placement of a mirror over a mantle or across from a window
can make a room look brighter and larger.
A fireplace is one feature that everyone can appreciate - show it off to
its best advantage. Sweep it clean and make sure the screen is in good
condition. If your house is being shown during the winter, make a cozy,
crackling fire. During warmer months, you can dress up the hearth with
fresh indoor plants or dried flowers.
Use inexpensive accent floor lights to create dramatic visual effects
behind large plants or pieces of furniture.
Use chair rail or cornice molding to create a feeling of elegance.
Professionally clean wall-to-wall carpet or large area rugs. Sand and
refinish stained hardwood floors. Clean windows and light fixtures.
Make sure all cosmetic plaster cracks are repaired. (This applies to
every room in the house.)
Use lemon oil on hardwood furniture to create the right look and aroma.
Liberal use of fresh flowers and plants will enhance the environment.
The bedrooms can do as much to sell your house as they can to turn
off a buyer. Make sure the bedrooms are spotless. Rugs should be
cleaned, windows washed and fresh smells from flowers or lemon oil
should be in the air.
Organize closets to increase their perceived size. Rubberized wire
closet organizers do a great job of helping fully utilize space.
Mirrored closet doors can add dramatically to the feeling of size in any
Bedrooms should be well lit. You may want to add track lights in the
master bedroom. A ceiling fan can be an attractive and practical accent
to any bedroom.
BASEMENT AND ATTIC
The look of the basement and/or attic can say more about the
condition of your house than you may think. A buyer who sees a
meticulously clean and organized basement and/or attic will have much
more confidence in your property than if it were in a state of disarray.
Paint a bare cement floor oil-based gray. Paint the stairway down to the
basement and the stairway up to the attic.
Clean the boiler of the furnace room as well as the heating plant.
Make sure there are no signs of pest infestation. If needed, call in a
pest control company to remedy the problem before the property is shown.
Hang as many objects as possible on the walls to minimize floor clutter.
Clean and organize your laundry area.
Make sure all lights are working. Eliminate dampness with a
A well-organized garage says a lot for your house. Keep the garage
neat and organized. Clean up any oil stains from your car. Paint the
garage floor oil-based gray.
Install a garage door opener. Hang gardening tools and loose articles on
Hold a garage sale to dispose of unused items that create clutter and
may distract a potential buyer.
The swimming pool or spa should be sparkling clean and in good
operating condition. Repair or replace broken tiles. Patio and concrete
decking around pool should be clean and cracks repaired.
Pool filter and heating equipment area should be cleaned. Replace worn
or broken pool equipment (brushes, hoses, sweeps, pool covers, etc.) If
your pool is stained, you may want to have a professional service drain
and acid wash or refinish the surface. By showing attention to detail
and understanding the buyer's needs to visualize your house against a
neutral backdrop, you can dramatically increase the salability of your