Stop Wasting Money When Getting Your Home Ready For Sale

I often see homeowners mismanage the staging process when getting their home ready for sale. They either over do it and spend thousands of dollars they’ll never get back, or they under do it and overlook things that keeps thousands of dollars out of their pockets.

Step 1 – Know Your Target Buyer

Your marketing strategy needs to be aimed at the right buyer. It will depend on the neighborhood you live and the type of house you have.

Do you have a:

  • 3 or 4 bedroom house, about 2000 sqft+ with a pool in a great school district – Target move up buyers with school age kids.
  • 3 bedroom townhome – Look for first time buyers with or without kids.
  • 2 bedroom condo – First time buyers, singles, divorcees are your likely buyers.
  • Single story home or townhome – Expect older and or downsizing buyers.
  • Lakefront home or condo with minimal yard – Aim for older buyers or buyers without kids.

Step 2 – Create a Great First Impression

Curb appeal is key. That means a green lawn, no weeds, bright flowers and lots of color. Make sure your front door looks good. Paint it or replace it f needed. Make sure there’s no water damage, and NO COBWEBS! I’m shocked how often I see cobwebs on the front porch. Have a planter with some colorful flowers right by the front door. Take down your NO SOLICITORS sign. It’s a negative first impression and makes the buyer think solicitors are a problem.

The decision whether or not a buyer would even consider your home is made in the first 15 seconds they walk in your house. You want it to smell good, look good, and be bright and open.

Step 3 – Make The Kitchen Shine

The decision to buy a home is usually made in the kitchen. It’s the heart and soul of the house. The kitchen and family room is where the vast majority of people spend their time in the house. If the buyer falls in love with the kitchen/family room, the rest of the house is simply to affirm that feeling.

Step 4 – Reduce, Reduce, Reduce

There’s a booming trend towards minimalism – especially with younger buyers. They don’t want to see large furniture that overtakes a room. They’re not fans of built-ins. They prefer clean surfaces, a couple pictures on the wall, and open space. Go look at a staged or model home and you’ll notice that less is more. If you have a lot of furniture, you may want to consider putting it in the garage. No buyer turns down a house because of a full garage, but I often see buyers get turned off by a cluttered house.

Step 5 – The Rest of the House

Same applies to the rest of the bedrooms and bathrooms. However give special attention to the master bedroom and bath. It’s the second most important part of the house.

Step 6 – The Backyard

For some buyers, the yard is equally (or more) important than the rest of the house. Generally speaking, buyers don’t like cement or dirt yards. If you have an area for grass, make sure it’s green and looks inviting. If you have a pool, keep it sparkling. Again, declutter this area too. You can hide stuff on the side yard if necessary. Plant some color around the base of trees if you can. Add some flowers to some pots on the patio. These are inexpensive and easy improvements that make a big difference. And if you don’t have the time or the knack for it, give your gardener a budget and an idea of what you want and he’ll do it for you.

Step 7 – Know Where to Spend Money

Outside – Flowers, sod, touch up paint, high pressure water cleaning (if needed).

Inside – Deep professional house cleaning, shampoo carpets, handyman work.

A handyman is often your best investment when you go to sell your house for a couple reasons.

1) Buyers often overreact to minor issues. I’ve seen buyers go through a house and point out maybe a few hundred dollars worth of handyman work and feel justified taking thousands of dollars off their offer price.

2) As an agent, I’ve often raised red flags to buyers when I’ve noticed larger than normal cracks or stains on the ceilings. These may be very minor repairs or even a stain from a leak 10 years ago, but the buyer/agent doesn’t know that and they may get spooked. It’s in your best interest to have issues addressed and fixed properly upfront rather than hoping a buyer makes an offer (which will probably be low) and the inspection goes well down the road.

To Remodel or Not to Remodel

Either do a full remodel or almost nothing at all. The Appraisal Institute puts out an annual report showing which remodels actually return more money than they cost. You’d be surprised to see what upgrades actually make you money. It’s often not what you would think. It’s typically not a kitchen or bathroom remodel. It’s things like front door replacement, vinyl windows, or garage door replacement.

Then why does a full remodel make money? First of all, they often don’t unless the seller bought the house below market and/or did a band-aid remodel vs. quality craftsmanship. But when they do, it’s often because many buyers (especially first time buyers) become enamored with the look of the house, make an emotional decision and pay above market price. They do that so they can add the cost of your remodel to their 30 year loan vs. doing an out-of-pocket remodel over time if they bought a fixer.

Shameless plug: Now you know the the general guidelines. When you’re ready to start getting your home ready for sale, I’d be happy to come by and give you my input.


I’d love to help you sell your home

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