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If you want to sell your house on the traditional real estate market you will have to do more than put the keys in a lockbox, stick a For Sale sign in the yard and wait for the offers to roll in.  Even in today’s seller’s market, you are going to have to make an effort.  

Even the most conscientious homeowner will either have let some things go or will have the home set up to their specific tastes.  If you want to really make your home stand out to potential homebuyers, you are going to have to get the house in selling shape.

When you sell your home with the help of a real estate agent, they will, pretty quickly, let you know what you have to do to sell the house fast. If you are going the For Sale By Owner route,  There are some things that you might not think of that you can do to get more offers and a better selling price.

The first thing you will have to do is step outside of your house.  I am not talking about going into the yard.  I mean you are going to have to disassociate yourself from the house.  Pretend that you haven’t been living there and you are seeing it now for the first time. 

Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer.  What are they seeing? You will be immediately surprised to find things that could be fixed that you, as the current owner, just didn’t think about.

You might even consider inviting in a third person.  Ask a friend that isn’t afraid to be frank with you to come by and take a look at the place with you.

The goal here is to take note of things that you as a homebuyer would want to replace or repair and take care of it first.

De-junk, Declutter, and Organize

Firstly, you are going to want to de-junk, declutter, and organize the house.  The last thing you want a buyer to remember about your house is that they had to climb over piles of laundry, or cluttered hobby areas. 

If it’s useless, throw it out. If you think it might be useless, you should probably throw it out. 

If it’s something you need but aren’t using right away then box it up.  Your plan is to move anyway, so why not get started?  Get stuff packed away and out of the line of sight.  Just remember not to leave the packed boxes all over the place.

If you have a lot of stuff you don’t need, but don’t think that it’s actual trash then you should consider selling or donating it.  Maybe even give some of it to someone else that might want or need it.

But don’t get bogged down.  The most important thing is to move the clutter out.  If you spend too much time trying to decide what to do with each item, you are never going to get this project finished.

Your goal is to present your house as a clean and organized space with a lot of room.  Even the most spacious of houses can feel claustrophobic if they are crammed tight with…stuff.

Curb Appeal

Now you should step outside your house, literally.  What does the place look like from the street? You never get a second chance to make a first impression, right? The home’s exterior needs to be on point.

When a homebuyer pulls up to your house they are going to make some decisions almost immediately after seeing the house.  How they see the outside is going to, for better or worse, influence how they see the inside.

What we are talking about here is “curb appeal”. 

Do you have overgrown bushes and trees in the yard?  Has the grass been cut? Is the grass even alive? Pick up any sticks or trash from the yard.

If the plant life is unruly then you are going to have to tame it.  Trim up or remove any problem bushes, put down some mulch and sharpen the borders around flower beds.

Oh, and here is a tip for your grass.  Most people looking for houses spend the weekend doing it.  If you can, cut your grass on Thursday or Friday so it looks its best for those drive-by shoppers.

Finally keep the porch and deck swept and clean, wipe down all of the outside furniture and get rid of any spider webs in the corners of a covered deck or patio.

When you have tamed the yard take a good hard look at the actual exterior of the house.  At the very least I bet it could use a cleaning. You should also touch up any other blemishes like torn screens or chipped paint. Can the house number be seen clearly from the street?

Do what you can to make your front porch friendly and inviting.  Add a couple of ferns and a new “WELCOME” mat. 

Make sure the hardware is clean and functional on the front door.  Home Buyers are going to get a really close look at this when they ring the doorbell. By the way, make sure the doorbell works.

Very often a buyer will arrive at your house before the agent gets there. They will most likely wait in the car.  This means they have nothing else to do but look at the outside of your house.  This is the best time to make a good impression.


Now that you have cleaned and touched up the inside and outside of the house. You should take a look at the lighting.  Yes, you should make sure that there are no burned-out bulbs and that all of the switches work. You definitely don’t want any broken light fixtures, but lighting covers much more than that.

A dark house is a hard sell.  If you have an older house without many windows you are going to want to keep all of the overhead lights and lamps lit when showing the house. A brightly lit house energizes the buyer. 

Before an open house or you show your house to a buyer, open all of the blinds and curtains to get as much natural light in the house as possible.  Then turn on EVERY light in the house. You want them to feel welcome in each room. 

Don’t forget the closet lights. A well-lit closet just looks bigger.

So there you have it.  3 quick and relatively inexpensive things you can do to help sell your house.  There may be bigger things like your roof, plumbing, or electrical work that you will have to get done but at the very least you can take care of these areas yourself.

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