Six Must-Do Seller Tips - from a Showing Agent's Perspective

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty Alabama Gulf Coast LLC

Ok, so your home is's on the market. Now what? You've prepared well. Probably cleaned out closets, had the carpets cleaned, removed the clutter from the kitchen and bathroom counters, etc.  All of those things your agent suggested you do.

So, why is it I am repeatedly surprised at some of the "little things" sellers don't do that can very often make a huge difference in the mind of a buyer. Such as:

Cleaning up around the front door/entryway.  I have come to believe that most people don't enter their home from the front door, but rather from the back, side, garage, etc., so they don't often see the front door or realize how awful it looks.  First impressions mean everything! So, my first tip is to is to take a walk around to the front of your house and look at it!! Is the paint dull or chipping? Is there mildew, dirt, leaves, etc., that have built up around it? Is the kick-plate worn out and dull? Does the door knob even work?  These are things I see on a regular basis, and it always surprises me that the first thing a buyer sees is generally the most neglected.  Recently, I was showing a home (very pricey one) and I got to the steps of the front porch and there was a HUGE banana spider in its humongous web! I was not sure I would be able to get around it to open the front door!

Turn on Lights!  This isn't always possible, as showings sometimes occur during the business day and you can't leave to go turn on lights. But, if you know a showing is planned, please turn on the lights in the main living areas, hallways, etc.  Again, it's that first impression. Walking into a dark house and trying to locate switches ahead of the buyer is very frustrating, and takes the focus away from the buyer. Also, open the blinds. Let some natural light in. Here, in South Alabama, it's HOT in August, just open them enough to let some light in.

Replace Light Bulbs that don't work!  Nothing says, "Neglect!", like light fixtures with dead bulbs in them.  It is always funny to me to walk into a house and the living room ceiling fan has 4 bulbs, but only 2 of them work. Or the breakfast area fixture where 1 of 4 work.  Change the bulbs!! Light is important, and a house full of dead lights bulbs looks cheap!

Clean the light switch covers.  Not sure why, but home owners are BLIND as to the condition of their light switches. Now, I don't consider myself a germiphobe (is that correct spelling?), but even I look at some the switches/covers I see and go, "Yuck." Just a little 409, windex, whatever, and a cloth goes a long way in making those look "touchable."

Get the cobwebs out of the corners. I see this so often. Do sellers never look up?

And, finally...(I have more, but I will stop for today)...

Make arrangements for the pet.  I know, because I have one, that our pets are like our kids. We love them, and we don't want them to feel the pain of adjusting to new circumstances that come with having strangers enter our home.  But, if you want to sell your house, you MUST anticipate what to do with the pet for a showing.  And, delaying showings because of pets is not one of the options! There are many options, but since the variables are many, such as inside dog, outside dog, big dog, little dog, mean dog, cat, cat litter box...You see what I mean. I can't give you all of the answers. Just know they need to be dealt with.

If you have any questions about selling or buying a home, feel free to contact me at 251-510-1466


Posted by

Karen N. Singleton

Residential Sales Specialist, Team Leader
South Alabama Home Connections Team
Keller Williams Realty, Alabama Gulf Coast, LLC
Cell: 251-510-1466
Office: 251-928-9890
Fax:  251-378-3758

Comments (45)

Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

The cobwebs get me every time!  I'm talller than most of my clients, and my hair is perfect for collecting all of them so that my clients don't have to.  :)

Sep 03, 2013 01:59 AM
Bill Reddington
Re/max By The Sea - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Great list. The pet thing seems to be a huge issue here lately. Had one owner that always caged the dog and the dog was hugely friendly.

Sep 03, 2013 02:39 AM
Christine Farkas
Keller Williams Western Realty - Bellingham, WA
Awesome Customer Service Experience

All these need to be done before every showing, the burnt out light bulbs are a big one for me.

Sep 03, 2013 03:39 AM
Trisha Bush-LeFore
Preferred Properties Land & Homes - Walla Walla, WA
Providing Realtor Services in the Walla Walla Area

All great suggestions! Thanks for this post! I'd love to show all my clients. :)

Sep 03, 2013 04:35 AM
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe .Just Call. 408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

So true-cleaning, lighting and a fresh-smelling home all make a big difference.

Sep 03, 2013 05:04 AM
Kim Peasley-Parker
AgentOwned Realty, Heritage Group, Inc. - Sumter, SC

Great points.  So many times the light bulbs are ignored or you turn on the lights to see something spent the last moments of it's life in the light fixture.  I also always look at the cold air return.  Is is t clean?  Is the filter clean?  If it isn't that means the house really hasn't been cleaned even if it is now and how over taxed has the hvac unit been with clogged filters.  

Sep 03, 2013 06:47 AM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

It's not a normal cleaning but a cleaning on steroids, when you're trying to sell - .

Sep 03, 2013 07:06 AM
Jim Beitz
Keller Williams Success Realty - East Layton, UT

All very good advice.  The first impression a buyer gets walking into a house is far too often the only impression they need.

The spider in the entry reminded me of a story showing a vacant home - during the winter in Utah so there was nearly 3 feet of snow in the driveway.  I was at the house first so I went ahead and opened it. I only had to walk through the front door to be glad I was the first one through the door...There was a dead mouse laying on the steps.  Of course I disposed of the mouse before my clients got there - but really it was just the first impression and the rest of the hosue lived up to it...

Sep 03, 2013 07:32 AM
Yvette Chisholm
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Rockville, MD
Associate Broker - Rockville, MD 301-758-9500

Karen, so easy, but so hard to see.   What is that expression, can't see the forest because the trees are in the way.   We get so comfortable living in our own spaces that we can't often see what is obvious to everyone else.   Professional stagers can help people who need a little more than sweeping the cobwebs out of the corners and putting some live plants in the planters.  Nice post.

Sep 03, 2013 07:46 AM
Steven Barks
Worth Clark Realty - Chesterfield, MO
Director of Operations

All very true. Sellers need someone to point this out, as they have come accustomed to how their home looks and do not notice the 'little things'. Such as the cobweb on the dining room light fixture, the burnt out light bulb, the clutter on the counter, or slightly jammed drawer. I always tell my clients to take care of the little maintenance items. Little things tend to snowball into a much bigger problem for buyers as there seems to be one thing after another. If I was a buyers agent, that would be my feedback to the listing agent.

Sep 03, 2013 11:48 PM
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Karen great list!  It is often curb appeal and first impressions that make all the difference.

Sep 04, 2013 01:35 AM
Mike Crosby
Mike Crosby Realty - Placentia, CA
Placentia- Yorba Linda Real Estate - 714-742-2897

The cleaner the hose the easier to sell.   Of course if people are living in the house the harder it is to keep it clean.

Sep 04, 2013 01:59 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

These are all great points.  Replace burnt out bulbs is a no brainer, but does not get done.  

Sep 04, 2013 02:36 AM
Muriel Lawty
Keller Williams Downtown Seattle - Seattle, WA

Clean the toilets!  and make sure there is toilet paper.  Yes, you do not want your potential buyer to leave due to a "call of nature" and no TP.  AND, please, no filth.  I have had buyers just leave because of dirty bathrooms.

Sep 04, 2013 02:49 AM
Beth Lester
Beth Lester Designs - Torrance, CA
Home Staging & Interior Decorating

Sellers typically are great about listening to their home staging consultation, which covers all these things and much, much more!

Sep 04, 2013 03:59 AM
Ric Mills
Keller Williams Southern Az - Tucson, AZ
Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge

Great post. It can be the little things that make a difference.

Sep 04, 2013 04:15 AM
Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Broker/Owner
Travis Realty - Enterprise, AL
email: / cell: 334-494-7846

Light bulbs...light bulbs....light bulbs!!! Sooooo many times have I seen some fan fixtures with one light bulb out. I carry a few generics in the car in case I'm showing one of MY properties.

Sep 04, 2013 08:43 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Karen,

Cleaning is such an inexpensive & effective thing to do. Pulling away the beds & cleaning the baseboards, all the shelves in the pantry & such really makes a difference. Definitely provide a lot of light & clean all surfaces that will be touched.

Sep 04, 2013 12:39 PM
Kimo Jarrett
Cyber Properties - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Clean and cleaner or hide and store most of your stuff from prospective buyers and real estate agents. I always tell my clients that to expect a higher price for their property requires an immaculate home. Additionally, if they are unwilling to get their home in immaculate condition, buyers will with big reductions in their offers. What reaction would you prefer to see from buyers because the choice is yours, isn't it, a reasonable offer or a ridiculous offer?

Sep 04, 2013 03:40 PM
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

I especially like your light bulb tip. On my last listing I replaced many bulbs and upped their wattage one step to make everything look brighter.

Oct 27, 2013 01:54 AM