Prepare Your House to Get Top Dollar

Getting top dollar for your house begins with understanding how to see your house through the eyes of a buyer. To be a successful seller you must have your house looking its best!


The moment you decide to sell your property the “home” you love so dearly turns into a “house”. This shift in vocabulary is the process of “letting go”. It is the emotional detachment all sellers eventually experience. Home is where the heart is. Houses, on the other hand are commodities sold on the open market. Keep in mind……. You are getting ready to sell a HOUSE. If you make the right improvements when preparing your house to sell you increase the odds of selling it quickly for top dollar. If, conversely, you do nothing or make the wrong changes to your property you prolong the sale and reduce the ultimate sales price.


Most buyers make snap decisions about your house. Their first impression, good or bad, is usually lasting. Buyers generally decide if they want to see the inside of a house within 20 seconds of viewing the external attractiveness (curb appeal) of your property. No matter how magnificent your house is on the inside many buyers will drive by without even stopping if the curb appeal isn’t inviting.
Keep the lawn cut & edged. Trim the bushes. Weed the gardens. Freshen pine straw. Plant fresh annuals. Keep the porch swept.
Pressure wash the driveway, sidewalk & deck.
Paint the exterior siding and trim.
Keep children’s toys out of the front yard, sidewalks and front porch.
If you have pets, clean up their debris daily.
The front door greets the buyer. Make sure it is fresh, clean and paint the trim.


Curb appeal draws buyers into your house. Appealing, well cared for interiors make the sale. You don’t usually have to spend thousands of dollars on your house prior to putting up the For-Sale sign. Little things you do generally give the biggest increase in value. Concentrate on the three C’s: Clean, Clutter and Cosmetic.


Scrub your house from top to bottom. Buyers will notice strong smells as soon as they walk through your front door – eliminate odors.
Clean all appliances inside and out. Stains and dirt make them appear old.
Scour walls, floors, bathtubs, showers and sinks until they sparkle.
Check grout in bathtubs, showers and on the floors.
Clean your carpets to reduce stains and eliminate odors.
Wash all the windows in your house – inside and out.
Use a dehumidifier to help must basements.
If you smoke clean ashtrays daily and smoke outside!


Clear out the clutter – it can reduce the value of your house.
Keep kitchens counters clear – put unnecessary items away.
Keep dirty dishes out of the sink.
Recycle stacks of old magazines and newspapers.
Clean out the closets. They should look like they have enough room to hold additional items. Get everything off the floor and don’t have the shelves piled to the ceiling.
Make sure rooms are not overcrowded with furniture. It makes them appear smaller.


Making minor cosmetic improvements could increase your sales price.
Pay attention to everything anywhere in your house that could cause the buyer to “reduce your price”. Find it and repair it before you put it on the market.
Repair sheetrock cracks over doors or windows. Repair nail pops.
Locate ceiling stains and the cause of leak.
Touch up walls and trim where needed.
Repaint bold color, non-neutral walls and rooms.
Check that windows are working properly and look for cracked panes.
Put bright light bulbs in every socket. Buyers like bright & cheery surroundings.
Repair loose knobs and doors that stick or don’t close properly.
Observe bathrooms for signs of mildew, stains in sinks & toilets, missing tiles or grout and inadequate caulking.
Check for drippy faucets, slow draining sinks and tubs.
Remember buyers consider any of the above problems a sign of poor maintenance. More often than not, they are correct. Their solutions – either don’t buy or reduce the price by thousands!

Show Your House to Get Top Dollar

With a little extra effort on your part you can make your home more inviting and appealing, get it sold more quickly and at a better price. The following tips have proved invaluable to sellers and are worth your special attention.

Showing your home

When you leave the house in the morning or during the day, leave it as if you know it is going to be shown.
Keep good scents in the house, such as potpourri or simmering pots or candles.
Make sure all the lights are on.
Let the sun shine in. Open window treatments and blinds.
Make the beds and remove items from the floors.
Wipe down the counters, sinks, tubs and faucets.
Keep the kitchen counters uncluttered and remove dishes from the sink.
Clean up after your pets. Clean litter boxes frequently and vacuum their hair.
Turn off loud, noisy and disturbing television shows.
If possible, play soothing background music like jazz or an easy listening station. Keep the level low to avoid disturbing the buyers.
Keep pets out of the way – preferably out of the house. Many people are uncomfortable around some animals and may even be allergic to them.
Leave your premises. Take a short break while your house is being shown. Buyers are intimidated when sellers are present and tend to hurry through the house. Let the buyer be at ease, and let the agents do their job.
If you must stay – remain in the background. The agent knows the buyer’s requirements and can better emphasize the special features that may appeal to the buyer.

If You Were the Buyer

What attracted you to your house when you purchased it? What have you done since then to make it more attractive (upgrades/improvements)? If you were the buyer, what would you find exciting about this home?