Selling Your Home: Stand Out With Tips to Sell Quickly and for Top Dollar

You can make your home stand out from the others, sell quickly and sell for the highest dollar with some simple tweaks

Tips for Selling Your Home
Image: NCCC
February 08, 2018

Have you finally made the decision to sell your home? Have you been trying to sell your home but haven't had many offers? You could be a victim of a bad housing market or you might need to make a few simple yet inexpensive tweaks to make your home stand out from the others and make potential buyers want it.

the outside of your home is the first thing potential home buyers see

Your realtor has already told you, but we'll tell you again. Curb appeal is key to getting people into your home. If it doesn't look inviting, potential buyers won't come to see it. Since the first thing people see is the outside of your home, it needs to make a great first impression. If you skimp on the first impression, don't expect anyone to be interested or to pay top dollar when there are other homes nearby that look better.

Clean up and do a good job

Would you want to visit an immaculate house or one that looks neglected? Exactly. It's the same for your potential buyers. So clean up and make sure to do a good job. Don't have any loose or stray items lying around, whether inside or outside, such as toys, yard equipment, and trash bags. Less 'stuff' is better than having things cluttered because potential home buyers can see themselves in what is still your space.

Move out!

If you have already purchased a new home or if you have already secured other living arrangements, get yourself and your stuff out of the house! Realtors will tell you that when a showing is scheduled you should make yourself disappear, but that can be tricky when if you have nowhere to go. But if you do have somewhere to go, why are you still hanging around? Your house should look like a home to your prospective buyers, not like they are guests intruding in your home.

Freshen up the Paint and make minor repairs

If the outside of your home is faded, paint it. Yes it will cost money, but you'll likely reap some rewards for doing so. Most prospective buyers want a home that is ready for move in, not one they need to repair. Consider adding an accent color for the door or shutters to make your house stand out, but check with your realtor and homeowners association before throwing down color. Make any minor cosmetic repairs as these items add up during inspection time and can make the buyer second guess their decision.

Show your green thumb (or fake it)

There isn't too much you can do during the winter, but you can at least keep the lawn neat, keep flower beds mulched and keep bushes trimmed. If it's the growing season, invest in some colorful flowers to perk things up, such as the kind that attract butterflies and can dazzle would-be home buyers.

If you are going to plant things, you should plant them before listing your home to give them some time to get established. You don't want to have to run home several times per day to water a withering plant.

Make sure to plant flowers and shrubs that will do well in the environment. You wouldn't want to plant something that needs a lot of water in the driest month of the year.

Reseed your Lawn

There are three types of lawns in North Carolina: beautiful and green, dead and brown, and somewhere smack dab in the middle that isn't awful but also isn't great. Just like a pop of color with flowers can improve your home's appeal and value, so can a nice lawn.

You should figure out what type of lawn you have. If you need help, take a sample of the grass with you to your local home improvement store. Once you know what type of lawn you have, you can get more seed. Fescue lawns are green all year but require a lot of water in the summer to keep them that way. If you have a few months or longer until your home goes on the market, you can get an aggressively spreading and drought-resistant grass like Bermuda to take over. This is one of the grass types that goes brown in the winter, which may bother some buyers.

If you have weeds that need to be controlled, control them before listing your home and sufficiently before reseeding your lawn as residual weed killer can prevent your lawn seed from sprouting. Weeds can make the lawn look awful and make you look like you don't care.

De-clutter Your Mess if you're staying put

If you can't get our of your home just yet, make your home look less like home and move your personal affects out. No one wants to see your stuff in what could very well be their new home.

Potential home buyers are coming to see how much space there is, so don't make it look small by cluttering it up. Downsize your belongings. If you have a lot of furniture, put some in storage. Have someone else give an honest opinion if they think a room feels crowded. Remember that less is more and less stuff makes everything feel bigger.

what's that smell?

Everyone has been there at some point. You walk into someone's house and you're hit with some kind of pet smell, food smell, or just something not quite human. If there are any noticeable odors, get rid of them. You might have to have someone come over and give an honest yet brutal opinion since you're probably used to the smell of your home by now.

You probably shouldn't be cooking something pungent just before a showing, or maybe even cooking at all. What smells good to you might smell repulsive to others. Baking fresh cookies seems to be a good bet all around, especially if you leave them out for everyone.

If there are any obvious sources of odors, eliminate them either by cleaning the source or removing it altogether. You can try a candle warmer with a natural smell as opposed to some of the more artificial scents. But keep in mind people may have allergies and you don't want to leave a candle burning unattended.

Interior Wall Paint

As with the outside of the home, fresh paint can be important. Once you get potential buyers into the home, you need to find a way to keep them there. Pink walls do nothing to inspire a potential buyer, and incompletely painted walls do even less. It just means more work for the buyer, which could cost you a lower sales price or no sale at all.

It's always a good idea to repaint all the walls to give them a fresh look. It makes everything brighter and makes it feel cleaner. Choose a neutral color and leave the accent walls out. Your realtor can help you choose a good color. Light gray seems to be in right now.

Replace Carpet if it's not in great shape

Most carpet installed in homes today doesn't last long. In fact, some can loose their appeal in as little as a year. So if your carpet is worn, flat, stained or otherwise not looking wonderful, replace it. If you're not living there anymore, have the installers place plastic wrap over the carpet in the main walk areas. It will remind prospective buyers that they're getting brand new carpet, and who doesn't like brand new?

In a survey we conducted, we found that Lowes Home Improvement had the cheapest price and much better quality for the price compared to the companies that advertise heavily. You can also use a new mover 10% off coupon on most of the carpet job. Home Depot was a very close second, but we had a lot of trouble scheduling quotes and had to make six requests before finally getting quotes. Two companies that advertise heavily, Empire Today and 50 Floor, gave price quotes of at least double and half the carpet densities of those offered by the home improvement stores. You're essentially paying double and getting less since you're paying for the commercials and the commission of the person doing the quote. The representatives from 50 Floor were also very aggressive about getting upgrades and about getting a deposit on the spot.

Open things up

Who likes to sit in a dark room on a bright sunny day? Exactly, so open the curtains and blinds. Natural light looks better than artificial light and makes everything feel more open. But remember that more light can make more dirt visible, so keep it clean.

turn on the lights

Most realtors will do it themselves before a showing, but if you know a showing is scheduled you should turn on every light in the house. Not only does it make each room feel brighter and more open, the potential buyer doesn't have to figure out which switch turns everything on.

If you have a room that is very dark, upgrade the lighting. Bright lighting is extremely important in kitchens and very important in baths.

Clean, Clean and Clean

Many sellers seem to neglect this simple rule. The home needs to be clean, which means more than running the vacuum once or twice. There shouldn't be a spec of dust in sight. The cabinets should be clean since prospective buyers will open them. Counters should be spotless and all appliances should be given thorough attention. If your tubs and shower used to be white, you've got some scrubbing to do. Anything that isn't clean will get buyers thinking that you neglected to take care of the home.

Want to make sure it's cleaned right? Hire a professional cleaning service to come in. Make sure to choose one carefully as not all of them do a good job and not all of them are as detailed as others.

Hire a photographer

It can cost about $100-$200, but a professional photographer is well worth the expense. Many realtors will take photos of your home for the listing, but most realtors don't know how to take good pictures.

You've heard it before: a picture is worth a thousand words. So why not have great, professional photos to put on your online listing that will get prospective buyers rushing to see the home? It really can make all the difference. You can have a great home, but awful pictures will make people skip to the next listing.

Getting the biggest return on remodeling

Are you considering making more extensive upgrades and repairs? You may be interested to see the average return on investment for a number of home improvement projects. You'll typically do best in the kitchen and baths as these areas are most important to home buyers.

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