Getting Your Home Ready to Sell in the 2020's

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Real Estate

As a seller, you are competing with all the other homes on the market, including new construction. So it is critical to be the shiniest apple in the cart so a potential buyer will pick you. Everyone has heard the old advice on selling a house which includes baking cookies or putting vases of fresh flowers out. Those are nice to do, but buyers are making the biggest purchase decision of their lives.  A perfectly baked chocolate chip cookie will not sway them, unless the buyer is my husband.  :)

 Here are my four important areas of focus to showcase your home perfectly; Curb appeal, Light, Space and Repair/Maintenance. 

 Curb Appeal 

When a buyer pulls up in front of your house they are immediately taking mental notes. The exterior condition either excites them or raises concerns about what they will see when they open the door. 

1.    Keep the yard mowed and leaves raked

2.    Fresh dark mulch! None of the orange mulch. What is up with that stuff? 

3.    Use flowers to dress up the walkway, porch and patio

4.    Remove all toys, bikes, tools and worn out patio furniture, as well as make sure the garage is neatly arranged

5.    Roll up your hose and store neatly or put it completely out of sight

6.    Remove security signs from the lawn. You are telling buyers that it is an unsafe neighborhood

7.    If needed paint all entrance doors. That is where the buyer will spend a lot of time as the agent is struggling with the lock box. 

8.    Clean and shine all hardware and fixtures, (door knobs, knockers, lamps, mailbox, address numbers, etc.) 

9.    Remove all cobwebs

10.   Get a new doormat

11.   Power wash the exterior


Houses should always be light and bright. Buyers want to see sunlight coming in the windows.  Dark houses convey a depressing environment. And you want the experience to create a positive mood which leads to an offer to buy.

1.   Open the draperies, pull up the shades, and let in the sunlight

2.    Turn on all lights, day or night, and install higher wattage light bulbs to show your home brightly. Use the highest wattage your fixtures will allow. Buy soft white bulbs.  Remove any curly cue bulbs (twisted florescent bulb) and do not use the LED bright bulbs that have the harsh blue tones.  You want it to look as much like incandescent bulbs as possible.

3.    Clean all your light fixtures

4.    Wash all windows

5.    Remove all window screening.The exterior will look better and it will let more light into the house. Store the screens for the next owner of the home.

6.    If necessary, paint all walls a neutral color to brighten your home and make it look bigger.


Buyers typically want the largest house their money can buy.  Or at least be able to envision that all their stuff will fit.   If your house is packed to the rafters they will feel that the house is way too small.  

1.   Remove clutter from each room to visually enlarge them. This must be kept up the entire time you have your home listed.  No toys left out to step around. 

2.   Remove rugs and throw rugs. They visually break a room up in to smaller spaces. 

3.   Remove all tchotchkes and other collectibles. The general rule of thumb is nothing smaller than a grapefruit. 

4.   Improve traffic flow through every room by removing unnecessary furniture. Less is more.

5.   Put family photos, personal items, and of course valuables out of sight or in storage.

6.    Create the feeling of a spacious entry area by using decorative accents and removing unnecessary furniture that might crowd the front door.

7.   Remove about 2/3rd of the hanging clothes in a closet and nothing on the floors of the closet.

7.    Remove about 2/3 of everything in your linen closet and fold linens neatly

8.    Expand your counter space by removing small appliances and other miscellaneous items. 

Repair and deferred maintenance 

When a buyer sees a home where normal maintenance has not been done, even if it is something as small as dirty air filters, dust encrusted ceiling fans, or burned out bulbs they begin to wonder what other more serious maintenance items have been left undone. So it is important to make sure all areas that can be seen are in good repair. I recommend getting a licensed home inspector to do a pre-sale inspection.  This will alert you to any unknown, necessary repairs that may sabotage your successful sale.

1. Clean, Clean, Clean, no dust bunnies, no mildew in the showers. 

2. Putty over and paint any nail holes or other mishaps in the walls. 

3. Replace the carpet if it does not look great after a professional carpet cleaning.

4. Re-caulk the tub/shower if the caulk is not sparkling white. 

5. Repair or replace broken tiles in the shower/tub. 

6. Replace shower curtains and keep them clean.

7. Mend or replace torn screens.


So there you have it!  I know it is an extensive to-do list, but taking these extra steps will better position you in a competitive market and allow for you to be able to make your next step in your housing quest.     


Jennifer Donahue, Donahue Property Group of Keller Williams.