Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tips for Selling your House

I thought since now is the time for planning for a spring or summer move, this could be timely even though the weather is far from spring-like in this climate.  : )

When we sold our house last summer it was a bittersweet moment.  We had so many happy memories in that home and it really was a lovely little house.  What we didn’t care for was its urban location—something that we could not change.  We longed for a place where we didn’t feel like fish in a fishbowl.  But before we could move on, we had to sell our home first.


These tips aren’t rocket science (nor are they guaranteed to sell your house!), just little things I did that may have helped our home to appear attractive to potential buyers and sell in 2 weeks. 

In no particular order:


Make it smell fresh!  And I don’t mean plug in an air freshener…’cause personally if I were the prospective buyer I would really be turned off by that and I would wonder if they were trying to hide some awful smell!  Clean the carpet, wipe down everything with some nice-smelling cleaner, keep the bathrooms aired out, scrub around the toilets, make sure the garbage disposal is squeaky clean, and above all if you have pets make sure their litter boxes, beds, toys, etc are not smelly!  I don’t know how many houses we looked at that had a distinctive pet odor lingering in certain places (or everywhere!).  In our own home I even went as far as to run a hot shower for a few minutes with some Irish Spring soap on the shower floor to make sure our basement shower smelled as fresh and clean as could be just before every showing. 


Take down all personal pictures!  I had read elsewhere that having personal photos around makes it difficult for buyers to picture themselves living in the house and I think that is definitely true.  I took down all of ours and we found that we didn’t feel at home in the houses we looked at with lots of photos up everywhere.  Now, I don’t know if you have to be as radical as I was and take them all down, but it certainly can’t hurt! 


Declutter.  Take everything that you don’t need out of the house.  Less stuff makes your house seem bigger!  Plus, it is hard for people to see past all the stuff to imagine their own things there.  Moving is always a good time to get rid of things anyway and to pare down what you have too, so start early!


Spruce up the outside.  I went to Home Depot and bought a bunch of bags of fresh mulch to put down around our flowerbeds and around our garage.  It really made the property look well maintained.  We also made sure to keep the sidewalks swept and the grass trimmed.  In the winter make sure your walks are shoveled and de-iced (if you live where it snows).  A nice wreath on the front door always makes the house look loved as well!  We also seeded some parts of the lawn where the grass was thin to get the lawn looking lush and green. 


Go neutral.  Got a wall that’s bright orange?  Maybe you loved it, but most other people will remember your house as the one with the orange (or neon green, or bright purple) room.  Get a $25 gallon of paint in a neutral color and (carefully!) paint the wall. 


Try to sell in the spring!  Our realtor shared that spring is the best time to sell a house (at least in our area) as many people are looking to be settled in their new house before the next school year starts.  Plus, it is just plain easier to move when it is warmer out!  Your yard most likely looks its best at this time of year too.  I know though that often you don’t have total control over when you need/want to sell, so this may not be an option for you.


Make sure the pictures on your listing are a good indication of what your house looks like!  I ended up taking pictures of our house myself and submitting them to the realtor because I had seen way too many listings where the rooms looked simply awful due to the poor quality of the photos.  I never saw any pictures that our realtor took so I have no idea what skill he had in that area, but I knew I could do a pretty good job so I did it myself.  If your realtor takes pictures and they look bad, don’t be shy.  Tell him/her nicely you want them re-taken or take them yourself or get someone else to take pictures.  You will be paying said realtor thousands of dollars at the closing…you are the customer and you have the final say in this, so be proactive!


Prayer.  Moving is a big deal in your life!  We prayed daily during this whole process…that we would sell our house, that we would find the house God meant for us, that things would go as smoothly as possible.  I truly believe this played a huge part in it going as well as it did.  It certainly wasn't pain-free, but we definitely felt confident we were doing the right thing and that God was guiding us in our house hunt. 


Add a bouquet of fresh flowers to the kitchen table (or somewhere in the kitchen).  Alstroemeria last a long time, and they are pretty cheap so a few bunches of those won’t break the bank.  It makes the whole house seem more inviting!


Re-consider some of your d├ęcor.  Maybe you LOVE all your taxidermy, but others may not share your enthusiasm for deer heads peeking out of fake trees along your walls.  Enter some visuals of “What Not To Do”: 


Aaaannnd…it only gets worse:


Hellooooo deer!


(All photos courtesy of my husband from an actual house that we went to look at!  And there were even more non-pictured animals and trees!) 

In a similar vein, your “saloon” complete with lots of neon bar signs will only appeal to a small group of people and most buyers really just want to see if the room size will accommodate their furniture and if it is in good condition.  Not an easy thing to ascertain when you have to maneuver around novelty beer items and a mini fridge or two!  (Again, speaking from experience here!!)

Well there you have it…little tips that certainly won’t eliminate any big problems in your house, but may help you make your home just a little more desirable to potential buyers.  Wishing those of you who are in this process a speedy and fair sale of your home!  And may you quickly have one of these in your yard…


Linking up with Remodelaholic’s Anonymous Party, Tatertots and Jello’s Link Party Palooza, The DIY Showoff’s That DIY Party, Home Coming’s The DIYers,


  1. This is great, Liz! We're hoping to put our house on the market in the spring, so I needed to read this.
    And, wow, that taxidermy and plant look is something else. :)

    1. Oh that is exciting! What kind of house are you looking for?
      And YES, I could hardly believe it when we walked into that place!!! It was kind of creepy...I felt like animals were watching me!

  2. Thank you! I needed this! We've had our house on the market for almost six months. I'm really beginning to see what potential buyers are seeing - our loads of stuff in our eaves, the basement and cabinets. Time to purge!

    1. Purging is always great...and less to move then! All the best on your home selling : )

  3. Awesome tips! (And so true about the prayer.) I think the owner of that taxidermy house was trying to actually hunt in his house?? And that's the reason for all the foliage? (weeeeeird.)

  4. Great Tips! We are listing our house at the beginning of March. Its a scary process, but I think we are prepared.

    1. Oh it is definitely a daunting process...and one that involves lots of twists and turns. We’re glad we did it though. Happy selling! (and house hunting!)


I look forward to hearing from you!