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Ann Downing
Your Realtor, Master of Home Sales

Selling your home: Where to begin?

First Impressions
Remember what first attracted you to your house when you bought it? What excited you about its most appealing features? Now that you're selling your home, you'll need to look at it as if you were buying it all over again.

A spruced up house makes a great first impression on potential buyers. An attractive property grabs their attention and makes them excited about finding a house that looks and feels well-cared for. Because buyers know they’ll encounter fewer problems if they buy it, your house becomes more appealing and stands out from the competition. So if you prepare your home correctly, you’ll save time selling it when it’s on the market.

A good first impression makes an impact on a number of levels. It’s not just the way your house looks to potential buyers, but how it feels and smells to them, how their friends and family will react, how they imagine it would be to live there.

With simple improvements throughout your house, you can grab the attention of potential buyers and help them see why your house is right for them.

Prior to selling there are several tips I give to sellers. You have to spend money to make money!

(1) Clean up the yards. First impressions are important. The "curb appeal" will stick in the buyer's mind. Spend $200 for plants and colorful flowers at the local home improvement warehouse store, spend a day cleaning up the yard and another day planting the new flowers/plants and fixing up last minute details.

(2) Paint. Paint is inexpensive. On average it costs $25 a gallon to cover up years of kids fingerprints or dullness.

(3) Pack up all trinkets and most family photos. De-clutter your home. Rent a storage area or put the boxes in your garage. The buyer wants to see themself living there and a depersonalized space will sell quicker than one with trinkets everywhere.

(4) Flooring not so nice? Can you afford a quick fix?


House Appeal / Curb Appeal

Ways to win over buyers


In today's market, curb appeal goes a long way. Creating an ideal home for buyers can be as simple as painting the walls, installing new carpet, steam-cleaning the upholstery, remove wallpaper, adding more flowers and vegetation to the gardens, rearranging furniture or clearing the countertops. If you have brass fixtures, shine them up, including the doorknobs and kick-plate.

Make all necessary repairs. Buyers expect everything in their new home to operate safely and properly. Picky buyers definitely will notice-and likely magnify -- minor maintenance problems you've ignored for months or even years. Leaky faucets, burned-out light bulbs, painted-shut or broken windows, inoperable appliances and the like should be fixed before you put your home on the market. These repairs may seem small, but left undone they can lead buyers to question whether you've taken good care of your home.

Other basic necessities to do once your home is for sale:

· Keep counter tops cleared

· Sweep or vacuum floor.

· Replace all burned out lightbulbs

· Open all drapes and window blinds

· Put pets in cages / kennels

· No dirty dishes in the sink

· No laundry on the washer/dryer

· Clean or replace dirty or worn carpets

· Put on soft music

· Burn wood in the fireplace on cold days, otherwise, the fireplace should be clean


First step is to de-clutter your home. Houses are filled with various cherished objects, books, photographs and so on.

When it comes time to sell a home, those cherished are clutter to prospective buyers. The buyers cannot visualize what the home would look like if it belonged to them. A few interesting accents are always much better than a lot of knick-knacks that say "clutter" rather than "charm."

When selling your home, it is good to think of your home now as a product. It has pluses and minuses, as well as competition. To be competitive, your house should be priced right and look better than the others

Setting up your house to sell, or home staging, is not about remodeling or making your home look sterile. Home staging is the process of preparing a home for sale, regardless of price or location.

For starters, since you're going to be packing to move anyway, get a head start by making your rooms look larger and box up excess items and furniture. This allows the buyer to mentally move their furniture into your home. By removing some of the clutter,

First impressions:

Never truer is the statement "you never have a second chance to make a first impression" than when trying to sell a home. From the moment a potential buyer drives up, they should see a manicured lawn with no debris in sight; a clean carport or garage as well as a clean car; and clear gutters and downspouts in good repair. Positive first impressions often create immediate sales.

o Put new paint on the front door.

o Buy a new door mat.

o Replace door knob set if necessary.



A great looking kitchen can be a selling point in a house. The kitchen of a home for sale should only have the bare necessities. Think "what can I live without" and pack those items up. This will also save you time later in the moving process. The kitchen should have good aromas or no smell at all. Sinks and floors should be clean and dirty dishes out of sight. The cabinets should be wiped down and the appliances free of food and crumbs.

The kitchen is often the most important room in the house. Make it bright and attractive.

o Put a vase of fresh flowers on the table.

o Replace curtains or clean existing ones.

o Remove appliances from counters.

o Create a pleasant fragrance in the kitchen (i.e. vanilla, cinnamon).

Bathrooms: If there is a leaky faucet or toilet, get it fixed. If the tub or sink has a chip in it, get it repaired. Replace worn out or dirty grout. Make the fixtures sparkle and clean the mirrors and vanities. Put out fresh towels and coordinate them in one or two colors. Have a clean shower curtain or doors, with no mildew. Remove any unnecessary items from countertops, tubs, shower stalls and toilet tops. Keep only your most needed cosmetics, brushes, perfumes etc..., in one small group on the counter.

It is important that bathrooms are clean, bright and smell fresh.

o Install a new shower curtain and replace worn throw rugs.

o Polish all fixtures.

o Open windows.

o Hang bright, fresh towels.

o Remove stains from toilets and bathtubs.

o Use air freshener.

o Display colorful soaps.

Closets: They look larger when there are fewer items stored in them. Neat, well-organized closets show there is ample space available for the new homeowner and their things. This is a great area to get ahead on packing.

Garage and basement: Keep everything neat and uncluttered. Put everything away that is not part of the decor. Oil squeaking door hinges, tighten loose cabinet knobs and fix faulty wall switches. Organize or pack away tools not in use and discard boxes and scrap materials.

Small rooms, problem spaces
Dealing with small spaces seems to be one of the most common decorating dilemmas, according to Winter. It is not true that small items in a small room will make it appear bigger. In, fact three of four deliberately over scale items in a room will fool the eye into thinking the room is larger than it really is.

An oversized coffee table, two large upholstered chairs and a love seat will make a room feel spacious, yet cozy. Keep backgrounds even and consistent. Whatever window treatments or wall color is on one wall, keep it the same on all walls. Uniformity is a must in small rooms.

Also, be deliberate with your selection and use of accessories.

Since the eye goes to color, choose consistent accent colors and disperse them around the room evenly.

When considering a small room makeover, be clear on the room's exact purpose. Is the space a quiet reading spot or a busy home office area? Work out your furniture arrangement and color scheme according to its function. You can actually change the visual size of your room by changing colors, lighting and furniture arrangement.

Small rooms are not the only problem in staging a house. A problem room is any room or space that is difficult to arrange with furniture or accessories. It may have too few windows, not enough wall space, or just looks outdated. Renovation is an option if you are willing to spend the money, but it is more practical and affordable to make problems disappear through good interior decorating.

Any room can get a facelift with a fresh color scheme, different furniture arrangements, new paint and a few well-placed accessories. If a flaw can't be disguised, draw attention to something else in the room. A large picture or mirror with accent lighting and a nearby table draped in fabric is a great eye-catcher.

On the outside

The outside of the home is one of the most important areas because it is what the buyer sees first. A clutter-free yard and well-maintained house are essential in luring the buyer inside.

It is a great idea to stage the front of the house where the eye is drawn toward the entrance. The front entrance of the house should be clean, including the front door mat. Also, make sure the doorbell works.

Here are some more tips on staging the outside of a home:

1. Go around the perimeter of the house and move all garbage cans, discarded wood scraps, extra building materials, etc. Throw away anything not needed or not in use.

2. Check, repair and clean gutters.

3. Look at all plants. Prune bushes and trees. Keep plants from blocking windows. You can't sell a house no one can see. Weed and then mulch all planting areas and remove dead plants and shrubs.

4. Keep the lawn regularly cut, edged and fertilized.

5. Clear patios or decks of all small items that clutter, such as small planters, flower pots, charcoal, barbecues, toys. etc. A few large items work best in these types of spaces.

6. Sweep all walkways, including the ones in the backyard.

7. Wash the outside of all windows.

8. Check paint and wood conditions of the house - especially the front door and trim. Repair all wood rot and paint what is needed.

9. Park extra cars away from the house so the buyer can have a clear picture of the home when pulling into the driveway.

10. The last leg in staging the outside of a home is the neighbors. Fortunately, or unfortunately, they are part of the picture, too. If there is something untidy about the property next door ask the owner about taking care of it or offer to help. A purchaser is buying into the neighborhood as well as buying a house.


On the inside

1. Clear all unnecessary objects throughout the house.

2. Keep decorative objects on the furniture restricted to groups of one, three or five items.

3. Clear all unnecessary objects from the kitchen countertops. If it hasn't been used for three months, pack it away.

4. Clear refrigerator fronts of messages, pictures, etc. A sparse kitchen helps the buyer mentally move his or her own things into your kitchen.

5. Rearrange or remove some of the furniture if necessary. Thin out a room as much as possible to make the room appear larger.

6. Take down or rearrange certain pictures or objects on the walls. Patch and paint if necessary.

7. Get the carpets cleaned or replaced.

Showing your house

1. If possible, have all family members out of the house while a potential buyer is looking through it.

2. Leave on certain lights during the day.

3. During showings turn on all lights and lamps and open all drapes and curtains.

4. Have light music on during the day

5. Have light music on during the day for a viewing.

6. Pets and their odors turn off many prospective buyers. If possible arrange for the pets to be out of the house during a showing. A simple solution is to put the animals in a laundry room or garage while the home is being shown.

7. Fragrances help sell homes too. Some people bake apple pies or cookies before Open Houses, others use candles.