Home Preparation Advice

Buyers buy homes based on emotion - how a home "feels" to them.  Many factors come into play, many that the buyer isn't even aware of.  Buyers buy what they see.  Ask your friends and neighbors to view your home through "buyer's eyes" and give you their honest opinions.  In general: cleaner is better, brighter and more open is better, no odors is better, and neutral colors are best.  Make you home as appealing and uncluttered as the home you would like to buy.

Good "curb appeal" is imperative.  If people don't like your house from the outside, they won't want to come inside.

Make sure your front lawn looks neat and tidy to make the first impression favorable.  Cut the grass and trim the hedges and shrubs.

Plant some extra flowers for color - or just put some pots beside the front door.

Spruce up your landscaping with some fresh plantings.  Even a few items can improve the look of things.

Remove all dead limbs and debris.  Give the lawn a fresh raking and the sidewalk and driveway a good sweeping. Patch any holes.

Walk your fence line.  Repair broken areas and paint or stain spots in poor condition.

Put away lawn equipment.  Arrange outdoor items, such as firewood or outdoor furniture, neatly.

Take a close look at your front door. It's a focal point and one of the first things your prospects will examine.  If it's faded or shows signs of needing repair, clean it, stain it, or paint it.  While you're at it, do the same with the back door and garage door.

Repainting the entire exterior of your home is a fairly expensive venture, and really unnecessary unless the walls have bad blistering or peeling.  But you can do wonders by simply painting window sashes, trim, and shutters.

Replace faded house numbers with shiny new brass ones.

If needed, repaint or replace the mailbox.

Clean out debris in your rain gutters.  Touch up with paint if necessary, and realign if crooked.

Check the roof for shingles or flashing that needs replacing.

Fix any broken windows or screens, and wash them for a bright, sparkling appearance.

Test the entry light and the doorbell.  It's the little things that matter.

Haul out any "junk" in your side or backyard.

Clean out the garage.  The perfect garage contains only car - do your best.

After you've tackled the exterior of your home, head inside.  The goal here is to make everything look more spacious, more organized, brighter, warm, and homey.

No matter what the season, do your spring cleaning.  Clear houses sell a lot easier than dirty ones.

About the cheapest way to make rooms seem warmer and brighter is by buying higher intensity light bulbs, putting them in every lamp in the house, and then turning them on.  Also always open drapes and angle blinds to brighter rooms.  This gives the house a friendly glow.  Buyers will react positively, and feel good about your home.

Brighten things with fresh paint.  White, off-white, or beige walls make a room look bigger and lighter.  And you can be fairly certain these colors will go with the new buyer's furnishings.  Painting the inside costs very little, gives a "new" smell, and makes a big difference in buyer perception, so go ahead and do it.

Too much furniture can make a home "feel wrong."  So move out all your excess furniture, especially worn or outdated furniture, to make rooms seem larger and uncluttered, and take down pictures that hide walls.

Clean out all your closets to make them look bigger.  Store out-of-season clothes in the attic or basement, and get rid of excess items.  Neatly arrange everything that's left.

Have a huge garage sale with all your excess items.  Not only will you be reducing clutter, but you can use the money you earn to finance your touch-ups.  You'll also be reducing your moving costs.

Clean all your windows and mirrors so they sparkle.

Arrange the furniture so each room appears as spacious as possible.

If the carpeting looks dirty, have it cleaned.  If it looks worn, or is a loud color, consider replacing it.  You will probably recover the cost, and your home will sell faster.

Launder draperies and curtains, if needed. Dust blinds and furniture.

Clear off the kitchen counters - that includes small appliances and dish-draining racks.  Make the counters look as expansive as possible.

Clean out the inside of kitchen cabinets.  Leave them looking clean and spacious.

Clean the oven and all appliances.  Wash the grease splatters from around the stove.  Don't forget to polish the chrome on the sink.  Clean out the refrigerator, use a clear wax and polish the floors.

A grungy bathroom will kill sales.  Make each bath look like a guest bath.  Polish the tub, toilet, and bathroom sink.  Clean all tile, grout, and caulk, replace cracked tiles, and regrout if necessary.

Put out fresh towels and a new bar of matching colored soap when the house is to be shown.

Clean the furnace/air conditioner return filters and vents.  Then crank up whichever one is appropriate to make your home as comfortable as possible.

Get out your tool kit, and fix all those little things that you've lived with over the months or years.

Tighten loose doorknobs, drawers, cabinet handles, towel racks, switch plates, and outlet covers.

Tack down any loose molding, glue down any lifted wallpaper; replace any cracked switch plates.

Fix sticking doors and windows, squeaking doors, and wobbly stair banisters.

Fix leaky faucets and remove water stains.

If it's time to spray or bomb for bugs, don't wait until the last minute.


Before prospective buyers walk in the door, give your home the welcoming aroma of fresh-baked bread or cinnamon rolls. (A pot of cinnamon and water on the stove will give the same results.)  Do not smoke in the house!

Clear out the kids, their toys, the cat, and the dog.

Turn off the television, stereo, and radio.  Like kids and animals, they too can be distracting.

Turn on all your lights - open all the drapes and blinds - even during daylight.

Put out fresh flowers, your best towels, and a nice tablecloth.

Make yourself scarce.  Many prospects feel like intruders when the owners are present.  They tend to hurry away, or fail to ask the questions they'd like to ask.  Your absence will put buyers at ease, and give them a chance to spend more time looking at your house, absorbing its advantages and visualizing themselves living there.

Be polite, but avoid conversations with prospects.  Their agent needs their complete attention to increase their interest in your home.

Don't apologize for the appearance or condition of your home.  You'll only call attention to things the buyers might have overlooked.

Don't try to complicate the sale of the home by discussing drapes, furniture, appliances, etc.  If the buyer wants any of these items, the agent can ask about them later.

Keep your home on the market.  Let your home be shown even when you're not there.  If you don't, you're limiting the showings - and actually keeping your house off the market many hours a day.

Always keep your home ready to be shown.   We and other agents will try to give you as much advance warning as possible, but be prepared.

10 Features Of Your Home That Turn Off Potential Buyers 

Homebuyers can be fickle, turning their noses up at the smallest things simply because the house doesn’t fit every point on a dream home checklist. Not every home for sale will suit every buyer’s wishlist or needs. However, home sellers can take steps to make their property more attractive to potential buyers.

When selling a home, there are 10 basic mistakes that typically turn off potential buyers. Avoid these mistakes and there’s a better chance for a sale. 

 1. The Always-Present Homeowner
 It’s usually best for homeowners to leave when potential buyers tour the house. Hovering or offering tidbits of information can make buyers feel uncomfortable and even be annoying. Buyers don’t care if you installed the new bathroom lights for the Thanksgiving that year cousin Jane visited from Minnesota. 

 2. Hiding the Hardwood
While carpet reigned supreme for many decades, today’s homebuyer generally prefers hardwood flooring. Even newer carpet can appear dingy and cheap, especially in high traffic areas. If your home has natural hardwood floors hidden by carpet, consider removing it before placing the house for sale. 

 3. Eye-Popping Colors 
Many potential buyers prefer homes with neutral colors. You may love the bright yellow accent wall in your kitchen, but a buyer can see it as garish. This doesn’t mean you have to paint every room beige. But, consider redoing rooms decorated in themes, in particular kids’ rooms done in bright colors. 

 4. Obvious Eyesores 
Your family’s above the ground pool in the backyard may have provided hours of enjoyment throughout the years. However, to a potential buyer, it’s an eyesore.  Selling a house with a pool can prove to be difficult in some cases. Some buyers simply don’t want to deal with the maintenance required to own a pool.  Around the outside of the house remove old, broken patio furniture, that rusted out lawn mover you planned to fix, and clean up the dog’s messes. Inside the house, remove/replace broken window shades and blinds. Don’t forget to clean the fingerprints from all doors, glass, and mirrored surfaces. 

 5. Too Much Mess and Clutter
 The more stuff in a space, the smaller the space feels and looks. Before placing the house for sale, de-clutter and de-personalize each room, which can help buyers more easily “see” themselves living in the space.
We know it can be difficult to keep the house “company clean” in-between showings, but a messy home is a turn-off. Any time a buyer comes through, they should never see dirty dishes in the sink, laundry piled on the floor, pet hair clumps on the floor, or debris littering the counters. 

 6. Unpleasant Smells Greet Visitors 
Don’t let buyers step into your home and wonder, “What’s that smell?” It’s hard to eliminate all traces of cigarette smoke, but you can diminish pet and cooking odors by regular cleaning, vacuuming, and taking out the trash. 

 7. Obvious Pet Presence
It’s a wonderful thing to have pets, but when selling a home it’s often best to remove things like pet beds, toys, and food/water dishes from rooms. If possible, take the pets with you when you leave the house during a showing or crate them securely and safely. Make sure your real estate agent knows the animals are in the house or on the property. 

 8. Insisting Guests Remove Their Shoes
 The no-shoes rule is fine for friends and family, but buyers don’t want to walk without shoes through a stranger’s home. 

 9. Outdated Features 
Buyers don’t want to feel like they time-warped to another decade when stepping into your house. Ditch the shag carpet, bright brass fixtures, and popcorn ceilings. 

 10. No Parking 
Clear the driveway and make sure the walkways are free of any obstacles or trip hazards. Buyers want to feel welcome when arriving at the home and a driveway packed with cars may make them feel like they’re late to the party.

Top 10 Rules For Staging Homes

1. Grab them from the curb.  You've seen them. Buyers hunkered low in their cars in front of your house, doing drive-bys before deciding whether to request a showing or attend an open house. Make these potential buyers fall in love with your home from the street by adding potted plants and flowers, power-washing patios and walkways, weeding the garden and mowing the lawn. It's your first chance to make a good impression, so you've got to make it count.

2. Make it sparkle.  Pretend that your mother or mother-in-law is coming for a visit. Think hotel clean. Mop, dust, vacuum, wash windows, baseboards — even the cat. Remember that people will look in your cupboards, under your sinks and in your closets. Also, pay particular attention to odors. You might even consider consulting a neutral nose by having a friend come by for a smell test.

3. Pay attention to color and light.  You may love hot pink in the living room, but too-bright colors turn buyers off. Neutralize strong colors for the broadest appeal. A neutral home appears larger and has less chance of offending someone. Also, open up blinds and draperies to make sure there's sufficient natural light throughout the home. Remember, lighting is the most effective way to set a mood.

4. Depersonalize.  Few things deter buyers more than a cluttered home. They need to see your home, not your stuff. Excessive personal items like photos, collections, personal awards, electronics and collectibles will make it difficult for buyers to see past your personal style and may deter a sale. Taking yourself out of the picture makes it easier for buyers to imagine themselves, and their stuff, in your space.

5. Consider replacing furnishings.  Think about removing or replacing worn or outdated furnishings and get rid of extra pieces. The time has come to move beyond matching furniture, so break up your sets; dated can easily become eclectic with editing and rearranging. Consider consulting with a professional staging company for design direction and advice on rental furnishings to create an inviting home with broad appeal to a wide range of buyers.

6. Invest in new artwork.  Displaying new artwork is a great way to breathe new life into a room. Photography can be used to contemporize a room and add a splash of color as well.

7. Make repairs.  Make your home a high-maintenance zone. Repair squeaky doors, chipped or smudged paint as well as broken fixtures and fittings that you've neglected.Not only can an area rug hide shabby flooring, but it can also bring in added color and depth to a space.

8. Apply a fresh coat of paint.  It's the best bang for your buck that will quickly refresh a dull, dated room. Slap a fresh, neutral color on the space. Choose a beige or taupe for living spaces and a neutral green or blue for bathrooms.

9. Don't forget the floors.  Get rid of worn carpets, and consider refinishing shabby hardwood floors. An inexpensive new area rug is a quick fix and can disguise the look of old floors.

10. Spring for new light fixtures.  Renew the look of the room by replacing old or dated light fixtures, door hardware, light switches and outlets. If it's tacky and older than you, get it out of there.


1.  DO NOT PRICE TOO HIGH FROM THE START:  Statistics show that homes priced correctly when they first hit the market sell FASTER and CLOSER to the ASKING PRICE than homes that start too high, then have to adjust downward.

2.  DO NOT PRICE YOUR HOME BASED ON "ACTIVE" OR "PENDING" LISTINGS:  Use actual SOLDS for a true pricing guide.  A home can be listed for any amount.  Home appraisers only use SOLD listings as comps.

Many homeowners want to set their list price based on what they paid for their home, the balance of their mortgage, or on the profit they want to make so they can move into another home. In reality, your home is worth only what the market will bear. If you price your home too high, some potential buyers won’t want to look at it at all, while others will simply walk away without making an offer.  All a buyer cares about is paying the fair market value.  There is nothing that will blow up in your face quicker than an overpriced property.  In fact, overpricing a home is right at the top of the list for reasons why a home does not sell.


If you’re interviewing several agents to choose a listing agent, you may be tempted to pick the agent who suggests the highest price for your property (in fact, that agent who is "buying your listing" could be guilty of MISREPRESENTATION).  Sellers, like buyers, need to beware. The agent who provides the best comparative market analysis and explanation of how your home should be priced will be more likely to sell your home quicker and for a higher price than someone who tells you only what you want to hear.

A comparative market analysis should include sales prices for similar nearby homes that sold in the last month or so. In addition, many REALTORS include prices for homes currently on the market that will be your competition, as well as homes taken off the market because they didn’t sell. Other data REALTORS® can use to suggest a price range include how many days homes were on the market at various price points and the average difference between the list prices and sale prices on homes that have sold.

Your REALTOR® can help you estimate who might want to buy your house and what else those buyers are looking at so you can measure your price against the competition.

A knowledgeable REALTOR® can factor in all of these issues in the context of your local market conditions, including whether home prices are rising or falling and whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market.

Choose the right professional to help you with your home sale and then listen to your REALTOR®'S advice and your transaction is more likely to go through quickly and smoothly from the beginning.


“I actually have a buyer client that would be interested in your home, so you should list with me!”:  Good client relationships cannot be built on falsehoods, and when you realize that the agent has been less than truthful to you, the agent’s credibility is gone.

“If I can’t sell your home in XX days, I’ll buy it myself!*”: Note the asterik (*)!  This gimmick has been circulating for years as well, and the “fine print and conditions” gets the real estate agent out of buying your home unless you accept the agent's offer of FAR BELOW market value with possible other conditions as well (such as REQUIRING you to buy one of their OWN listings)!  The TRUTH is that almost NO agents actually end up buying your home!

REALTORS® don't establish value, the market does.

PLEASE REALIZE THAT IN A WAY EACH HOME MUST BE SOLD TWICE, once to a buyer and a second time to an appraiser who represents the bank that will grant the purchaser a mortgage to buy the home (unless it is an all-cash purchase).

BOTTOM LINE: The value of your property is determined by what a ready, willing, and able buyer will pay for it in the open market, which will be based upon the value of other recent CLOSED sales of similar sized homes in the nearby neighborhood.  BUYERS FIRST DETERMINE VALUE WITH THEIR OFFER AND THIS VALUE IS "FINALIZED" (OR REJECTED) BY THEIR LENDER'S APPRAISER (UNLESS THE BUYER PAYS CASH AND DOES NOT NEED A LOAN).

The "80/20" Rule Of Pricing And Marketing A Property

There are TWO major factors in selling your home:  PRICE and EFFECTIVE MARKETING.

80% is how your home is priced and 20% is effectively marketing your property to buyers and other real estate agents.

Because your home is not the only one on the market, pricing it comparably to the market is vital to getting it sold.

We CANNOT control:

We CAN control:

Activity vs. Timing

This chart highlights the importance of pricing correctly at market value.

This chart illustrates the level of excitement and interest in a new listing over time.  It also demonstrates the importance of pricing correctly.  When a property is first listed, it generates a very high level of interest from prospective buyers, which reduces dramatically over time.  It is important to be priced correctly from the beginning, during the peak of this curve.

The BEST DAY TO SELL your home is the FIRST day it's on the market!  The NEXT BEST DAY to sell your home is the SECOND day it's on the market.  So you see your best chance of selling your home is in the FIRST THREE TO FOUR WEEKS of marketing.  Your home is fresh and exciting to buyers and to their agents.  If you don't get many showings or offers, you have probably overpriced your home, and it is not comparing well to the competition.  Since you can't change the location, you will have to improve the homes's condition or lower the price.