By Jill Pretzel
Selling a house can be a big job, and stressful too! There’s so much to think about regarding the market, home staging, repairs, and more—it’s no surprise sellers find it so overwhelming.
So in the interests of winnowing it all down to the true essentials—the tasks that can make a real difference—we asked home sellers to reveal only the very best home-selling advice they have heard. From when to put your house on the market to how to price and present your place just right, here are some top home-selling tips for the bandwidth-challenged that are truly worth the trouble.
Pony up money on repairs
“When it came to selling my house, the best advice I ever got was to get repairs done before buyers start poking around. Every house is going to have at least a few things wrong with it, and since you’ll probably have to do them anyway before you close, you might as well do those little fixes upfront so that buyers can see your house at its best.
“My last house was a pretty new build and I hadn’t had many problems with it, so I didn’t think there would be much to fix up when it came time to sell. Still, I knew that if buyers saw a bunch of small problems, they wouldn’t be wowed by the house, or pay my full asking price. So, I ended up walking around my place and sticking Post-it notes to things I thought I might need to fix. I looked for loose door handles, leaky sinks, hard-to-open windows, and things like that.
“I ended up making a bunch of little improvements, and while it took a bit of time and cost a few hundred bucks to fix everything up, my work paid off and I sold the house at asking.” – Dustin McCaffree, Salt Lake City, UT
Spend your reno dollars wisely
“In my last house, we wanted to change the color of the fence in the backyard, but we knew we were moving soon and backyard fences don’t sell houses. We knew that money would be better spent on something buyers really care about, like the kitchen.
“So, before putting my house on the market, I took the money I would have used on the back fence and painted my kitchen cabinets. Installed in the 1960s, my old, shiny oak cabinets dated the house, so I painted them gray because it was trendy to have gray cabinets at the time. It cost me under a thousand bucks to do it, but the people who ended up buying the house told us they chose it in part because they loved the color of the cabinets and how modern they made the kitchen look. They didn’t even mention the backyard or the fence. I’m glad I put my money where it would count!”
Spring is not always the best time to sell
“People will tell you to sell in the spring because the weather is usually pleasant and the flowers are probably blooming, making the yard look warm and pretty. However, not everyone’s house will show best in spring.
“The last house we lived in, in fact, wasn’t great during the warmer months. It was small and stuffy, so when it was hot outside, it was extra-hot inside. Plus, we didn’t have much of a front yard and very few plants. We were afraid buyers would think our house was dark compared to the lush, green gardens they saw on other home tours.
“So, we decided to sell in winter. Our living room was small, but when we decorated for the season (like putting blankets on the couch and lighting a fire), the house warmed up and seemed more like a romantic cabin than a small two-bedroom. Plus, during Christmas our whole neighborhood really got into decorating their homes with lights. It was beautiful to see all the houses lit up, and we knew some buyers might really value that, too. In the end, it worked out and we ended up selling our house at a great price.”
Photos sell houses
“The best advice I heard was to hire the right real estate photographer so you have great pictures for online listings. Unfortunately, I ignored this advice at first. I’m sort of a DIY kind of guy, and I was thinking that hiring someone would be a waste of money. Why couldn’t we just take them ourselves?
“So, I took it upon myself to snap some pictures on my phone … and immediately realized that I was not at all qualified to do this. Our house was bright and open, but looked so dark and small in my pictures. I knew we had to hire someone.
“So my wife and I got a list of recommended photographers from our real estate agent and started narrowing down our choices. We ended up picking one photographer and were completely happy with her work—her stuff was a hundred times better than anything I could have taken on my phone. We knew that those pictures really helped drum up interest from buyers.”
Curb appeal and bathrooms are 80%
“Before I sold my house, I remember my parents telling me to focus my energy on making the front yard and the bathrooms look their best.
“They told me to hire a gardener before I started showing the house because they said lots of people make home-buying decisions based, at least in part, on the front yard or garden. I found that this is completely true: When I was going on tours myself, looking for my current home, I started to notice that I would often make my decision about a house before even stepping through the front door. So I ended up hiring a
gardener, putting more plants in, and was pleasantly surprised with how good the front of the house looked.
“With the yard looking great, I tried to fix up the bathrooms as much as I could, too. I didn’t have a big budget for this, but I ended up going on Pinterest and watching some HGTV to get some inspiration. I ended up getting the master bathroom shower retiled, repainting the guest bath, and adding some stylish wall hangings and towels to both of them.
“I was really happy with how both my yard and the bathrooms turned out—and apparently so was my buyer!