Tips for selling your home

Tips for Selling Your Home*


Landscaping tips

Curb appeal. You have heard it before. The right landscape design can make all the difference to a prospective buyer, especially when it’s beautifully and carefully executed. In fact, REALTORS® and landscape professionals estimate that a well-landscaped yard can add 5% to 15% to the selling value of a house. Houses that look good from the road carry higher price tags—a fact that turns landscape investments into money in the bank when selling a house. Here are a few ideas on how to improve your landscape:


  • One of the best investments you can make is a glorious stand of healthy trees as part of a well-landscaped yard. REALTORS ®  across Texas and the rest of the country know that healthy trees can increase the property value of a home, as well as provide years of aesthetic benefits to owners. Trees also cut down on energy costs. When Kiplinger published the 25 best ways to invest $1,000, buying a big tree was at the top of the list. If your selling timetable doesn’t allow for planting and nurturing a tree to maturity, remember this advice for your next house.
  • Since a tree is a long-term investment, it’s important to start with a high-quality plant. In the case of trees, money definitely buys quality. Trees that are 8 to 10 feet tall—either balled and wrapped in burlap or established and growing in containers—are usually the best buy. Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $1,000 for a quality tree.


  • Add a few plants around the foundation of the house and in “curb appeal” areas such as near the front door. Or, consider using more permanent bushes, especially those that flower in the summer and have colorful buds in the winter.
  • Gardeners on a budget can buy a few plants, then, add more as your budget allows.
  • For an especially inexpensive jolt for your yard, flowers are a homeowner’s best friend. Bright splashes of color add visual appeal, though they’re usually temporary. For this reason, they’re great if you suddenly need to put your house on the market and need a quick landscaping fix. At that point, it’s best to stick to the basics, leaving more costly and permanent landscaping to the new owners.

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Less equals more

Here are a few tips to make your home more attractive to a potential buyer:

Reduce clutter

  • Clean out closets, pick up clutter, and pare down what’s inside. That goes for those treasured family photos and mementos, too. The reason? Besides adding a spacious feel to the home, pared-down surroundings can help potential buyers better envision themselves and their family photos in the house.
  • Pack away items and special collections usually displayed in cabinets and hutches, and move a few pieces of furniture out of the house. This will help buyers to better see where their furniture might go in the house.   
  • Don’t forget to keep the house clean every minute it’s on the market. This takes great effort, but the buyer may need to see it in the next five minutes, and you’ll need to be prepared.

Tone down your creativity

  • So, you like your house to “say something” about your personality. Well, it’s time to tone it down. Go buy some plain-vanilla paint to cover those red-and-purple walls in your boudoir—it’ll make a difference when you’re trying to sell your home. Many buyers can’t see your Picasso genius (and just can’t get past the splatter-paint wall in the living room) to visualize colors they’re more comfortable with.
  • If you’ve got an Italian fresco on a living room wall that stops people in their tracks, they may lose sight of the rest of the home’s wonderful features. If you’re resistant to do anything about it, ask someone you trust to give you an independent view of your home. Better yet, ask your REALTOR ®  or an appraiser if the house looks cluttered or if any colors are too bright. Some may see bright colors as gaudy. Listen to their answers and take their advice.

Get organized

  • By “paring down,” organizing, and carefully sorting your possessions, you’re ensuring that your home will appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers. Remember to remove about half of the items stored in closets and cabinets and toss or give away things you don’t use. Not only will de-cluttering and cleaning help to sell your house quickly, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to packing up and moving to your new location.

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Tune up the carpet

Quick fixes for new-looking carpets
Follow these tips, and your carpet will look almost good as new again in no time.

  • First, to really get it clean, sweep the carpet with a broom, which will make
    the nap stand up and loosen embedded dirt. Next, vacuum the carpet. Your
    carpet should show a noticeable improvement just from taking these two
  • If you have pets and need help neutralizing strong odors, mix one cup
    Borax with two cups cornmeal. Sprinkle the carpet with this mixture. Let
    stand one hour, then vacuum. To freshen the carpet, combine
    three-quarters of a cup baking soda, two tablespoons cornstarch, and
    one-quarter cup perfumed talcum powder. Sprinkle on dry carpet, let stand
    five to 15 minutes, then vacuum.

Spot-cleaning tips

  • DO
    Use a clean white, absorbent terry towel
  • Blot or tamp the spot
  • Pretest the carpet in an inconspicuous area
  • Clean the stain from the edge to the center
  • Apply cleaner to the towel
    Clean with modest amounts of cleaning solution
  • Adhere to product safety guidelines and general instructions
  • Remove the stain as soon as it is noticed
  • Remove the dirty excess before cleaning
  • Use cleaning compounds at lukewarm temperature


  • Saturate the carpet with cleaning compounds
  • Apply heat or vigorously scrub the stain
  • Leave the stain until later
  • Fail to remove dried excess stain prior to cleaning
  • Forget to pre-test the carpet or stain

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*Tips provided by Texas Association of Realtors

17 steps to a more marketable home

1. Make sure your entranceway says “Hey, look at me!”
2. Prune dead limbs from trees.
3. Paint (or touch up) exterior, and repair screens and windows.
4. Clean your windows.
5. Check A/C and heating systems.
6. Fix leaky faucets, toilets, and faulty lights.
7. Vacuum drapes and carpets.
8. Repair wall cracks, re-caulk bathrooms and kitchen.
9. Clear out closets.
10. Remove excess furniture.
11. Keep cats and dogs out of visitors’ way.
12. Mow lawn, edge driveway and walkways
13. Ensure windows, doors, and locks work smoothly.
14. Weed flower beds and trim shrubs.
15. Throw out junk from garage and storage areas.
16. Clean lawn furniture.
17. If you have a pool, make it crystal clear.

Staging your home

Staging is another term for preparing the presentation of your home. You know you should clean everything and get rid of clutter. But aside from that, how do you broaden the appeal of your house? Here are a few tips:

  • Walk through the house and prioritize things that, if changed, would increase the value of your home. For example, repainting a child’s bubble-gum pink bedroom may attract more buyers than something not as apparent, such as replacing an old dishwasher.
  • You can direct a potential buyer’s eye away from something negative or toward something positive. Use artwork or a room’s own features, such as a fireplace, to capture a buyer’s attention. However, there’s a fine line. You want buyers to be able to appreciate the room and not just focus on the items in the room.
  • Remove any furniture that tightens spaces. If a couch or chair makes you turn your body as you walk by or just makes a passage look small, get rid of it. Everybody wants more space.
  • Rid the house of personal effects, and don’t forget simple things like magnets on the refrigerator. Small distractions to the buyers’ eyes will disturb their thinking, preventing them from picturing the house as theirs. And while you want the rooms to look well-decorated and spacious, avoid turning the house into a perfect home. Try to balance the brand-new look with some of its lived-in warmth.
  • Potential buyers often feel uncomfortable in bedrooms and bathrooms because they are, by definition, personal and private places. To counter this reaction, make bedrooms and bathrooms look like a model home (toss the lived-in feel out the bathroom window). Clear off all surfaces of the bathroom—remove even simple things like toothpaste and soap. Put out nice, fresh towels instead. The goal is to make these rooms comfortable for buyers. When they’re comfortable, they’ll linger and picture themselves in the house.
  • Consider hiring a professional to improve your home’s visual appeal. The fee charged by a “stranger” can be worth it if the changes bring a quicker offer or a higher sales price.

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Right pricing

So, how do you set the right price? That's where I come in. To give you an accurate assessment of your property's value, real estate professionals typically do a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). I provide this service free to my clients and prospects. You may also pay for a professional appraisal if you choose. That option will depend on your budget and sales goals.


Common mistakes

Let's explore some common mistakes sellers make when choosing a price:*

  • Not choosing the right price when a property is first listed. In other words, thinking "we can always come down". Not everyone will assume that you are negotiable.
  • Putting the property on the market at an unrealistic price. A property must be priced on a comparative basis to other similar properties. Once others view your listing and determine the price is too high, you have lost opportunities to sell.
  • Calculating brokerage fees on top of the sales price. A home is worth what it's worth, with or without a commission.
  • Thinking that buyers are not comparing your home, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, with every other home on the market. The internet has made comparative shopping almost an entertainment event. Buyers are usually well informed on the market.

Now, let's look at some inherent dangers to sellers in overpricing:**

  • Listing becomes shop-worn. Many agents and buyers become suspicious that something is wrong with the property if on the market too long.
  • Extended time on the market entices lower offers because seller "must be desperate".
  • Property is hard to keep in top condition as market time increases.
  • Other properties will sell faster in comparison depleting the existing buyer's supply. Seller's with right-priced properties use overpriced listings as a way to sell their property faster.

* Provided by ProspectsPLUS
** Texas Association of Realtors

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