Selling a home is no quick or easy feat, but you can certainly take action to move the process along and get a good offer. To ensure anyone who steps through your door (or simply passes by!) feels welcomed, we tapped designers and real estate professionals for their best advice on how to get your home ready to sell. From making sure all of the beds in your home are dressed in crisp, clean sheets to installing solar-powered outdoor lighting, you can craft an inviting atmosphere that’s sure to attract and win over potential buyers.
Let’s start with, perhaps, the obvious that’s worth restating: “Decluttering and removing some of your personal effects and collections allows potential buyers to imagine themselves there,” says designer Ghislaine Viñas, who recently put her Pennsylvania home on the market. That goes for both the interior and exterior. Remove any personal photos, awards, and knick-knacks. Keep art large and minimal. Outside, remove garden decor and put away outdoor toys or tools.
Another major step is to refresh the paint, making sure there are no marks on your interior walls or any chipping on your home’s exterior. Leia T. Ward—founder and principal of the staging design firm LTW Design—recommends painting interior walls white to help neutralize the overall color palette. For the exterior, do some research as you’re gearing up to sell. Certain front door colors, like slate blue and black, can make your home sell for more.
Staging should also involve removing any obstacles. “Potential buyers should be able to move about the home freely without running into furniture or the need to manipulate between or around pieces to get through the rooms,” says associate broker and realtor Kristina ODonnell of Realty ONE Group Restore.
Other simple interior changes that go a long way include letting natural light in by removing drapes, heavy shades, and valances. Updating hardware and fixtures (no one wants to see the dreaded boob lamp!) can be transformative. Think of everything from faucets and light fixtures to ceiling fans, switches, and cabinet handles. “Switching out old door knobs with new ones to match your fixtures can also make a big difference,” says realtor DJ Olahusen of Realty One Group Pacific.
Ensuring that all of the beds in your home have crisp, clean sheets can also do wonders. “Beautifully made beds immediately give a luxurious feel, so it’s worth spending some time to make the beds look comfortable and appealing,” Viñas says.
For the exterior, maintain a manicured lawn, trimmed plants, and well-kept flower beds. Ward recommends adding one or two large planters by the front door with live plants or flowers to create a friendly first impression. “Adding mulch to messy areas is an easy way to improve [them] and can add purpose to a backyard,” Olahusen adds.
Cohesiveness is also crucial. When Viñas prepared her own home for resale, she put a lot of time and energy into making the entry of the driveway and the entry to the porch feel cohesive and welcoming. “It helps to look at the house from a bird’s eye view to create a strong entry,” says the designer. For a bigger change, Viñas created architectural beds and planted trees including tulip poplars, ornamental pear trees, and magnolias, which magnify the home’s charm.
If you don’t already have it, Viñas suggests installing lighting in the driveway and landscaping, too. “It’s a great, often-overlooked detail, and solar lights mean you don’t need to wire for exterior lighting,” says the designer.
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Before making any of these decisions, Olahausen recommends looking at your competition. “The goal (especially in this market) is to have a competitive advantage,” the realtor says. He explains: “Make sure to view your competitors’ homes both online and in person, and choose the price point and renovations accordingly… Home buyers now have more leverage than they did before, and it is important to make sure you stand out!”
But keep it real. “The worst thing that can happen during a showing is to have the buyer ask if this is the right home or what magic the photographer did with the photos,” ODonnell says. She continues: “Often, this comes up when a wide-angled lens was used or the photographer removed some less attractive feature. A buyer who is disappointed or their image of the home is deflated is not as likely to make an offer.”
Throughout the process, try your best to take an objective approach. “It’s time to put sentiment aside and think of [your home] as a product you want to sell for the highest price and fast,” Ward says. Don’t forget: You want the home to appeal to anyone who even glances at it!
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