Set to Sell


Spring is around the corner, and along with showers and flowers comes the spring housing market. If you are preparing to sell your home, here are a few ideas for helping it sell as quickly as possible.



You’ve probably heard about the importance of decluttering before a sale. It is impossible to underestimate the importance of this task! Buyers are looking for a home with sufficient space for their needs. Since “enough” can be difficult to define, house hunters will look to see if a home is accommodating the needs of the current resident. To give the impression of space, make sure your home features:

  • Plenty of room for walking around and between pieces of furniture
  • Empty countertops, tabletops and desk surfaces
  • A bare refrigerator front
  • Cleaned off bulletin boards
  • Clear floors
  • Bookshelves with open space
  • “Extra” storage space in the cabinets and drawers
  • A well organized and roomy garage, attic and/or shed
  • A fireplace that is clean of ash and staged with a couple of fresh logs
  • No visible tangles of cords, cables or wires

In addition to helping sell your home, decluttering minimizes your moving expenses. If you want/need more belongings than comfortably fit in your current space, organize and itemize your excess belongings into boxes than can be moved into temporary storage until you relocate.



If your realtor tells you that your home needs updating, she is probably right. Home fashion lasts about a decade, so if you decorated your home more than ten years ago, it may appear dated. While homeowners are not buying your décor, they will automatically associate out-of-date surroundings with increased future costs. Without completely renovating your home, do the following to cast your home in the best possible light:

  • Remove old wallpaper, borders and faux finishes and paint with a neutral color. (Gray is a current “hot color”)
  • Take down old curtains and valances. (Bare windows can be a positive!)
  • Minimize old, dark and heavy furniture. If these are antiques that you love, store them offsite until your move. Otherwise, sell/donate them.
  • Pull up unfashionable or worn rugs.
  • Remove decorative items that have accumulated over time, including personal photos, souvenirs, dusty dried flowers, seasonal items, mementos, flyers and children’s artwork.
  • Consider switching out old cabinet hardware with something in a current shape and finish.

[Note: If the budget allows, consider hiring a home stager to professionally stage your space. This investment usually pays for itself by speeding up your sale.]



Closets are an “in demand” feature for today’s buyers. To make your closets look as spacious as possible, remember to:

  • Leave 20-25% of the space open
  • Make sure nothing is on the floor
  • Invest in matching hangers (this type offers a slim profile)
  • Organize the contents by type and color
  • Make sure there are spaces where you can see through to the wall
  • Feature any structure you have (shelving, shoe rack, built-in belt hanger, etc.) by making sure it is clearly visible



If you have a few repair projects that you’ve been pushing to the back burner, now is the time to tackle them. Be sure to:

  • Insert new, maximum wattage light bulbs
  • Oil squeaky doors
  • Replace broken tiles, dislodged roof shingles, cracked windows, broken hardware, etc.
  • Rehang anything that is crooked, dangling or doesn’t open smoothly
  • Clean carpets and floors
  • Wash cabinet doors and wipe down moldings (remember to clean around the trash can)
  • Clean kitchen and bathroom fixtures
  • Clear out anything creating a bad odor



The way your house looks from the outside matters, as potential buyers typically make a judgment in as little as 15 seconds. Unfortunately, a negative first impression is difficult to overcome, regardless of how nice your home looks on the inside. Walk outside and approach your home with fresh eyes, asking yourself:

  • Are trees and shrubs neatly trimmed?
  • Is the walkway clear and in good repair?
  • Are planters full of healthy/attractive plants?
  • Are bicycles, scooters, toys and lawn equipment out of sight?
  • Are the windows clean?
  • Is the house number easy to see?
  • Is the front door clean and in good repair?

*     *     *     *     *

Selling a house is stressful, and the longer your house sits on the market, the more the pressure builds. Online sites such as Zillow and have made it easy for potential buyers to track the history of your sale, including all price reductions and the number of times a home has been taken off the market and then later re-listed. To avoid the impression that your home has a problem, take the time before you list to hit the market with your best foot forward.

Have you recently bought or sold a home? What do you think helps make a positive impression on buyers?

34 thoughts on “Set to Sell”

  1. Great tips, Seana. Last year I sold a home (downsized) and bought another. I followed many of your tips to make the house ready for sale. The realtor was very happy with the way the house looked.

  2. Great advice, Seana. This may sound odd but I found that cleaning the light switch plates, door knobs, creating a small accent wall and cleaning the railings are something that people look at when walking around the home. So by cleaning these areas, it gives the “taking care of” look that everyone wants without doing too much work or spending a lot of money.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Last Minute Clutter Free Valentine’s Day Gift IdeasMy Profile

    1. I love these ideas, Sabrina. Definitely about attention to detail, especially the ones that are eye-level and noticed as people walk around. I never thought about the light switch plates, but I can see how that could really make a difference!

    1. Exactly… we don’t realize how our home looks to potential buyers. I know it can be difficult to think about spending the money on staging, but in my experience, it works every time. Most people have difficulty envisioning themselves in a space, or picturing how they could make it look the way they want, so a practiced eye is worth the investment to make your home look desirable.

  3. I work with realtors helping clients do just this, it is amazing how much difference it makes just be taking things down, and decluttering the closets, entryway coat closets etc. I usually advice home owners to take up thick rugs especially in the bathrooms, you are used to them but they could be a potential tripping hazard for people viewing your home for the 1st time.
    Jill Robson recently posted…Prepare now for a pleasant experience at tax time.My Profile

  4. I’ve helped a few clients get their home de-cluttered for sale and I tell each of them: The potential buyer of your home has to be able to picture themselves living there. It’s challenging for a homeowner to see past the imperfections of their home. Bringing a Professional Organizer and/or a Realtor in to be a second set of eyes is a wise financial choice for the seller. We can spot those ‘imperfections’ more easily and assist the homeowner in creating a space that’s ready to be sold. Great post for those ‘set to sell!’

    1. And we really can end up saving them significant $$.. both by reducing moving expenses, making it easier on the other end, and speeding the sale of the current home. It is hard to see your own home objective… for all of us!

    1. When it is mostly the little things that make the difference, there is just no reason not to. Listing with as strong a look as possible can make the difference between a smooth sale and a stressful, drawn-out experience.

  5. This is a wonderful checklist, Seana, for those looking to sell their home quickly, and at top dollar. It’s also a fantastic guide for those looking to spruce up their current home. I call it Staging to Stay! Why wait until you are moving to make a few home improvements that you and your family (and guests) can enjoy? The only real difference is that when you are trying to sell it is important to de-personalize the space (use neutral colors, minimize photos and collections). And when it’s just for you, it’s important to include personal touches.

    1. Such a good point, Hazel. So often we put off maintenance and improvement projects until a sale forces our hand. We get our house looking the way we always wanted it to, and then we move. Why not do that now? I know some home stagers who will help with this “stage to stay” idea. Such a great way to improve your home!

  6. You have such a good list here. I do real estate photography so I look at it differently than a realtor and I love their knowledge. I had clients recently who asked me for my wisdom and I had to say, “Well I’m looking at it my way but we have to factor in what the realtor says too!” It boggled the mind.
    You can really see the big picture here! Cassidy totally wants to sell our house eventually..
    Tamara recently posted…Another Mid-Winter $100 GiveawayMy Profile

    1. I think there is a great business to be had in photographing a home – especially a long-standing beloved home – before a family moves. Taking photos of the “special” things in the house, and then making a collage or a photo book. A book with photos of the unique doorknobs or the growth chart on the wall, I think it could be a great family memento!

    1. The value of a stager is significant. I think stagers originally only worked for wealthy clients with large homes, but I have come to believe they make a big difference at all price points. Of course, they can do their job once we’ve worked the client to do ours!

  7. Your points about the closets are spot-on! Having nothing on the floor gives off a spacious feeling. Potential buyers will check out every nook and cranny and closets are prime for snooping!

    1. Especially in today’s market, every inch really makes a difference. It is worth the effort to do all you can to make your space look spacious and inviting!

  8. Great tips! Now is the time to get this project started with these ideas.

    Some of my clients rent a storage unit to store items they are not ready to give away. It’s an extra step but can make sales easier.

    1. Yes, as long as you have “boundaries” on the storage unit, it can be a good place to temporarily hold items. In today’s market, it really is worth the time and money to get it right the first time you put your home on the market!

  9. This is such a great list, Seana! Many of my clients are seniors who are either downsizing & moving, or aging-in-place, and the tips in this post will help any of them even if they aren’t selling their home! I LOVE Hazel’s term of Staging to Stay!

    1. I’m speaking to a group of seniors tomorrow on this topic, so these ideas were “top of mind” for me! Please feel free to share with anyone you think might benefit. I love Hazel’s term as well!

  10. Some great tips and it is amazing how many people have their houses staged and even redecorated prior to selling them! My husband owns a house in England that we may try to sell next year, but here damp issues are common in the older houses which is a big problem when trying to sell as the house can’t not be lived in for more than a month or two.
    Jessica @ Independent Travel Cats recently posted…Our Wedding in Venice: A Photo EssayMy Profile

    1. I have become a big believer in staging a home to sell. It makes a big difference on the impression your home gives. It is funny, though, how many times people wait to fix up their homes until they are ready to sell! I can see that selling a damp home would be a challenge. Seems like there should be a solution to an issue like this in 2017!

  11. Although I’m not looking into selling a house, I find these tips really helpful and practical. I think that if I am the buyer, I’d consider these things too when looking for a new space. I’d never skip the bathroom. Years ago, when I’d look for an apartment, I would always check the bathroom/toilet first and see if it’s acceptable. 🙂
    Rea recently posted…8 Worldwide Destinations That Are More Stunning in WinterMy Profile

    1. Over 20 times? That is a lot of moving! Military families are certainly the experts on this one. On the plus side, it ensures that you travel light. I appreciate the affirmation from an expert:)

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