If you have ever been in model homes, you know how good they look.  The thought might have even crossed your mind that you would like to have, not only the home, but all of the furniture, the pictures, the flower arrangements and even the knickknacks on the shelves.


There are some individuals who really know how to make a home look its best without spending a lot of money.  There are things that can be done to give it that “model home” look, so prospective buyers will want it and everything else in the house that you are willing to sell.


When homes have this kind of appeal, they sell quickly and usually for the highest price possible.  Another interesting characteristic of homes that look this good is that usually the transaction is remarkably free of problems.


What more could you want than to get your home sold for top dollar in short order without any hassles?  If you read through this list of suggestions before you put the property on the market, you will be on your way to a successful sale.


One word of warning, though.  Don’t wait to see if the house will sell first before implementing these ideas.  Once you do decide to do something, don’t do the bare minimum.


The property needs to look good from the street, up the sidewalk, on the front porch, throughout the house, in the darkest closets and even in the attic.  You definitely want to give the impression of a well cared for home.


You want the prospective buyer to feel that this home is quality all the way through, not just on the surface.


You will never have more activity on the home than you will in the first three to four weeks of the listing.  The reason is simple – there are buyers out there who have seen everything available and, for one reason or another, have not bought.  They are just waiting for something new to come on the market.  Also, the property will usually sell for the highest price during this time.  After the initial surge of interest, the only people to look at it will be those buyers new to the marketplace.


Besides all of the reasons listed above, competition is fierce.  Don’t be naive with every other home that is currently for sale – new and pre-owned, your area or other areas, those listed with agents and those trying to sell themselves.  You are even competing with the foreclosures in the market.


Homes have proven to be one of the best investments for individuals.  They have outpaced inflation and, in many cases, had exceptional rates of return.  Experienced investors who have rented out a property for long periods of time, know that to get the highest price for the property, the property has to look good.


You have to appeal to owner occupants who will pay the highest price for the property because they are going to live there.


Typical buyers put all of their savings into the down payment and closing costs and don’t have anything left over to improve the home, such as, replacing the shag carpet.  Those buyers will just have to live with that carpet, until they can afford to replace it.


If buyers have a choice of two comparable properties similar in price, they will choose the one in the best condition.  Similarly, if two properties are similar in condition, the buyers will choose the one that is less money.




One of the frustrations a professional agent has to deal with is, after having made the appointment on a home that will meet the buyer’s requirements, driving up in front of the home and having the buyer say, “I don’t want to look at this.  I don’t like how it looks from the front.”


It takes a lot to overcome a statement like that, so the first place we are going to start with is the front of the house.  Stand at the street and look at the house.  If all you can see are trees and shrubs, you have some yard work to do.


Landscaping is to enhance the home, not hide it.  One of the easiest things to do is trim the shrubs that are overgrown.  They should be lowered to a height near the bottom of the windows.  If there is ivy growing on the side of the home, get it off.  If there are branches hanging low in the yard, you will need to prune them.  A simple rule of thumb is to have all the limbs high enough so that you can walk under the tree.


The next thing on the list is to clean out the flower beds and make them look good.  This means getting all the weeds out and having a distinct border between the beds and the yard.


Everyone dreams of a “Home & Garden” type home with flowers in the beds.  Why don’t you invest in a few flats of flowers, such as petunias or periwinkles that will last the entire growing season and will add color and beauty to the front of your home?  You might even consider putting some nice looking flower pots on the porch with some red geraniums or some other blooming plants in them.


Next, take a look at the front door and the area around it.  If you paint nothing else, at least give it a fresh coat of paint.


If the doorbell is broken, replace it.  Wash the mailbox.  Keep the porch swept.  Get an attractive mat for people to wipe their feet.




Start by airing out the home.  You are the last person to notice any peculiar odor in your home that may be blatantly obvious to visitors.  Go on a search to find the offender.  It may be a kitty litter box or a dog bed.  It might even be a mildewed shower.


Next, wash all the windows in the house, inside and out.  While you are at it, clean the window sills and the bottom of the window jambs, and wash the blinds.


If it has been over a year since you have had the carpets cleaned, now is the time to do it.  The bare floors should also be waxed or polished.


Put bright light bulbs in every socket made for a bulb.  Buyers like bright and cheery, so you have to keep it from looking like a dungeon.  You will also want to keep the drapes and shades open during the day, even if you are not in the habit, because it will make the property look better.


The next item on the required list, is to clean out the garage, the basement and all of the closets and cabinets.  Get rid of things you haven’t used in the past five years and pack up everything that you haven’t used in the last year.  My motto is “When in Doubt – Throw it Out!”  Do it without conscience or remorse.  The main reason is that it will make everything look larger.  Surely, you don’t want to pay a mover to haul things you never use.


Closets should look as if they have enough room to hold additional items.  You might need to box up off-season clothes to make it look that way.  Get everything off the floor and don’t have the shelves piled to the ceiling.


Another basic requirement for home preparation is to be sure there is not too much furniture in a room.  Even though it may be inconvenient, you will be far better off by selecting the pieces that look best and putting the others in the garage, basement, or better yet, in storage.  You can rent a storage unit for a few dollars a month.


You need to go over the kitchen like a health inspector.  Clean the oven and keep it that way, even if it means eating out more often.  After cleaning the range, put new drip pans under the burners, or at least, cover the old ones with foil.  Clean around the seal of the door to the dishwasher.  Remove everything off of the counter except for those absolutely necessary items. 


Bath tubs, showers and sinks should be freshly caulked.  All the grout should be clean and in good condition.  There should be no leaks in the faucets or traps.  Put fresh or new towels out in the bathrooms and replace the shower curtain, if needed.


Keep children’s toys out of the front yard and off the sidewalks and front porch.  Get the children to understand the importance of keeping the house looking good while it is on the market.  Take down any posters until the house is sold.


Recognize the difference between decorator touches and clutter.  Less is definitely better.


Clean the ashes out of the fireplace during the season that it isn’t being used.


Keep the television turned off while the home is being shown.


Go over the woodwork with a polish or cleaner.  It brightens the wood and covers scratches.


If you don’t have time for a garage sale, consider donating items to charity.  Make a list of all the items and their estimated value, and be sure to get a receipt.  The donation is tax deductible and may be worth more to you than the time and effort you would put into a garage sale.


A final note...Having your home on the market can be a very stressful and trying time.  Please keep in mind the importance of preparing your home for sale, and keeping it in “Showtime” condition.  Think of it as “MONEY IN YOUR POCKET” because that is what it literally is.  The better you have your home staged for showing, the more money it will command from a prospective buyer and in a shorter period of time.  The better prepared everything is, the quicker it will sell.


Many of my customers have each member of the family assigned to a “get ready” task for when an agent calls for a showing.  That way you won’t all be doing the same things to get ready.


I know all of this work will be hard and just plain boring...IT WILL PAY OFF IN DOLLARS.