Get Neat and Tidy to Sell Your Home

Straighten and stage your home to make a great first impression on prospective buyers.

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. It’s an old saying, but it’s true—especially when it comes to selling your home in a market where lots of houses are available.

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Fortunately, getting your house ready to sell is easier and less expensive than you may think. Unless your kitchen or bathroom is in poor condition or at least 40 years old, don’t invest the money to remodel, says Ron Zate, a Realtor® with Keller Williams Realty. In most cases, smaller fixes will do the trick.

Conquer clutter

“The most important thing you can do is de-clutter,” he explains. “When you live in your house, you don’t see the clutter other people do because it’s yours.”

Zate suggests having a friend come over to point out things you could put away in each room to eliminate clutter. Personal items can make it especially hard for prospective buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. “You want your house to look as much like a model home as possible,” he says, “so people can put their own personality into what they’re looking at.”

If you do just one thing, make sure the bathroom is always spotless. Also consider small touches like a new shower curtain or bath towels.

Don’t ignore clutter in areas like drawers and closets, including in the kitchen. People will open them, says Zate. Put items you don’t use often in boxes and store them out of sight, which will help you prep for your move, too.

Invite buyers in

If your living area is small, consider removing some furniture to make it look more spacious. Also, think about making bedrooms as cozy as possible, so people can imagine themselves waking up there every day.

A fresh coat of paint is also an important and inexpensive choice. Switch to neutrals in rooms painted unusual colors. “I read that a $20 can of paint could bring you as much as a $5,000 return on your asking price,” says Zate.

One last piece of advice. If your home is vacant—which makes it much harder to sell—it might be worth paying to have it professionally staged. If that’s not in your budget, peruse décor magazines for ideas about ways you can stage your home yourself.

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