Services for Real Estate Pros with The Office Grapevine

Working as a virtual assitant to Realtors® for the past five years, I've received some great (and suprisingly consistent) insight into the things successful sellers do when preparing their home for sale.  Especially as people talk about the "current economy," below is a list of steps any seller can take to get their home ready without breaking the bank.

Before Image of Cluttered SpaceCleared Space Clean out your stuff. You might think the treasures you've accumulated over the years are the best but other people don't want to wade through your stuff to see the house. Get rid of newspapers, magazines, knickknacks and clutter. If people can't walk around your home and see the actual space, they won't want to buy it.

Tip: If you haven't used it in more than six months, throw it away. Put valuable items in temporary storage while you try to sell your home.

Before you sell, take a smell. Walk outside your house and come back inside a few minutes later. Does it have an unpleasant odor? Eliminate odors by cleaning with natural cleansers. Don't attempt to mask odors with strong perfumes that may irritate potential buyers.

Tip:  Try not to cook smelly foods right before the buyers are due to arrive.

Get off the wall. Take photos, personal pictures and children's artwork off the walls before you show your home. These distractions keep buyers from seeing the house as their own.

Tip:  Remove as many personal items as possible so buyers can personalize the home in their minds.

Brush it up. Grab a paint brush and roller to refresh your walls, ceilings and baseboards. A simple coat of paint can give your house the boost it needs.

Tip:  Repair and update moldings to make walls, windows and entryways look more inviting.

Get rid of the bucket. Get rid of buckets and bowls catching drips from leaking ceilings and faucets. Patch thatLeaky Faucet hole in the ceiling and fix that leaky faucet. While you may not be able to afford to replace walls or renovate the bathroom, taking care of small repairs makes a big difference.

Tip: Go to the How-To website for quick and easy tips or instructions for these small jobs.

Don't hide it under the rug. Fix broken floor boards and tiles rather than hiding them under a worn rug. Update carpeting and keep the floors clean. If a buyer lifts a throw rug to discover a faulty floor, they will wonder what else you are hiding.

Tip:  If the buyer doesn't lift the rug, it will definitely happen during an inspection.  Do it now so the inspection doesn't delay or wose yet, prevent a closing.

Add elements to create a green house. A green house refers to environmental efficiency rather than a color. New windows, energy efficient appliances, insulation and other green updates save you money today and help you get a better price for your home tomorrow.

Tip:  The government has incentives for updating your home with green efficiencies.

Take it to the street. Walk to the curb to see what your house really looks like upon arrival. Weed the gardens, trim the lawn and tidy the entryway for greater curb appeal.

Tip:  Have realistic expectations. Like the inside of your home, the outside should also be clutter-free.

Discuss the value of your home with a professional. While you don't want to lose potential profits, if your house is listed at an unrealistically high price it may not sell.

Tip:  Ever hear the addage, "A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client?"  Take the time to interview more than one Realtor®, find the one who is best for you, and listen to his/her advice.

With a few budget-conscious updates, your house is easier to sell in today's competitive marketplace. Good luck to all sellers because I'm seeing homes sell every day!!!

Comments (4)

Patrick Saltz
Saltz Realty, Inc. - Springfield, VA

A lot of great tip's...remember first impressions are ever lasting.  I ask my clients to step back and look at their home as an investment and express the importance of depersonalization.  I'm usually pleasantly surprised on my return visit and if not, I always have a "stager" in my back pocket if I can't seem to get my message across before the property hit's the market.

Oct 08, 2009 05:08 AM
Catherine Mallers
The Office Grapevine - Chicago, IL

Patrick, great point about using a home stager if your client is unsure where to begin.  I've also seen where a Realtor will pay for the staging upfront as a benefit to their seller.  The important thing is for the agent to let their seller know this is part of their dedication to getting a home sold and goes a long way to cementing a long-term relationship.

Oct 08, 2009 06:26 AM
Skye Hawk
At Your Service! Virtual Assistant Specialists - Fountain Hills, AZ
NAR Cert. REPA "Rockstar REVA"

Catherine- Being an assistant to top producing agents can and will have advantages. Getting the "inside" dirt on all things real estate is always great. Great post!

Oct 12, 2009 05:54 AM


Thanks so much for the kudos.  And yes, working with top producing agents definitely gives a different insight, fortunately :)

Oct 12, 2009 03:53 PM