32 answers

Selling My Home - Denver,CO

We are putting our house on the market soon...Does anyone have any tips for showing their home? I am trying to stage the house--get rid of the clutter, personal pictures, etc. I would love some tips and does anyone have a sense as to whether it makes much of a difference? Any other tips would be appreciated! We are only moving down the street, so there won't be a change of schools or friends for the kids.

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K.,
with my husband being a finish carpenter, and us renting a house,
I know that right now the "market-time" for selling a house is not good.
It will be better , though.
If you still need to sell it soon and fast, I wish you good luck;
otherwise, a bit later you'd get it sold sooner for a much better price...
All the best to you!!!

More Answers

Our house had an offer in a week after putting some fresh flowers in the planter. Also, if you don't have time to bake, I've heard you can put a cinnamon stick and some sugar in a tea pot with a lot of water and leave it on low for the same effect. There is research on which smells are the best for selling, but I'm not sure where you'd find it. I know cinnamon is high on the list, but not at the top. Good luck!

Hey K.,

My husband and I are currently in the "home buying" market (in Idaho). My realtor, is also my co-worker at my "day job", and she said that people have a hard time visualizing themselves in a house when the house they are looking at, has a lot of "stuff" in it.
She warned me on a couple of homes that we viewed, because there was a ton of stuff. Fortunately, my husband and I are able to look around all that and visualize without everything that's there, but not everybody can.
So, keep everything as spacious and simple as you can, is my only suggestion. All the other stuff in the 2 previous suggestions is really important and excellent advice, too.
Good luck & God bless,

L. Amason
www.sowing4health.com

Bake cookies or bread - the smell creates the feeling of home. Getting rid of the clutter is huge. I wouldn't take all the personal photos out because then the home becomes stale. Create an environment that they can see their family in- a place they can call home. Curb side appeal is HUGE!
Some pretty planters or colorful hanging baskets is a great touch for people wanting to look into our home..

Fresh paint is always good too- try to give it a current modern look because that is what everybody seems to want to do. They want to be able to move right in with little remodel.

This advice come from selling 2 homes - our first was gone in 4 days in a fast market and the other 30 days in a slow market.

Hope that helps!
C.
www.AHomeCareer.com

K.,
with my husband being a finish carpenter, and us renting a house,
I know that right now the "market-time" for selling a house is not good.
It will be better , though.
If you still need to sell it soon and fast, I wish you good luck;
otherwise, a bit later you'd get it sold sooner for a much better price...
All the best to you!!!

In my opinion, the staging, decluttering, lack of personal pictures, etc is not as important as the price. We just bought a house after looking for 10 months, and when we walk into somewhere, we're looking at the house, not the clutter. I didnt' care about paint colors, appliances on the counters, photos on the walls as much as the actual structure and condition of the house. So rather than paying for storage, or spending too much time making it staged, I would suggest fixing up the little things that tend to go wrong with a house in time. For example, if you have a broken door, fix it. If there's outdoor trim that's peeling and falling apart, paint it. If there's a loose screw or nail in a railing, tighten it. Make it look well cared for rather than staged and organized. The absolute most important part to selling a house, though, is the price. If you have a perfect house, but the price is higher than comparable houses in the area, yours won't go as quickly as it would if the price were right with or slightly below the others. Those are my opinions on the matter having just sold a house last Nov. in Phoenix, and bought one last month here. I've been on both ends very recently. Hopefully that helps some. Good luck!

K.,
We just sold our house in Febuary (without a realtor!) We had a fairly small house, and wanted to accentuate the space, so we rented a storage unit, and moved out all the non essentials. We were actually lucky enough to be able to stay with my parents which made it so much easier, b/c I wouldn't have to clean up every second after my 18 month old. We actually sold our house to the first couple that looked at it. They kept saying how clean and neat it was, compared to the other houses they had looked at. We got full asking price!
In addition to making the house spotless, we fixed all the little things, like the squeaky door, ect. I think all in all we only spent around $50 on supplies for all the little projects that needed attended to. We also painted our blue living room to a nuetral color. Which I think paid off b/c the buyers said all the colors were perfect for them, and they were not going to have to do any maitance just move right in. About a month later my best friend sold thier house, (again w/out a realtor) they also had a smaller house, so they went through and cleaned out all the closets, cupboards, and extra pieces of furniture. They had to live there while showing it, but they got an offer during thier first open house...full price as well. So I think it is very important to clear out as much as you can. In our rooms we had 2 dressers, and we got rid of one to create a more open feel. We also got moved out a couch and huge coffee table in the living room. It is amazing how getting rid of a few pieces of furniture can make your home all the more spacious and allow the buyers to see how their things will fit. Good luck!

I think it does make a difference. Removing the clutter and personal items is huge. You want people to be able to picture their items in your home - they can't do that with your personal items in the house. Remove furniture to make rooms appear larger (like taking a leaf out of a dining room table, etc.) Also, just make sure the house is really clean. Have your carpet cleaned and put a fresh coat of paint on if needed.

Good luck!!!!

Hi K.,

It's a very competeive market right now any any way you can stand out may make a difference.

I have worked with Courtney Amens of Amen Interiors with my home and she has the touch! She is flexible and can work with your budget. She specializes in real estate staging.

She may have some great advice since she is in the industry.

Amen Interiors
###-###-####
www.ameninteriors.com

L.

When I sold my home, I made sure I had baked something yummy like brownies, homemade bread, not candles, before open house day or even if you have a scheduled showing one afternoon. Often buyers think you are covering something up when using candles. Organize cupboards and take most everything out that you do not use (it makes them look much bigger). Clear bathroom counters everyday, clean toilets often, open curtains, empty garbages (all of them). Clear the linien closet and bathroom cabinets. I think most of those things mae a huge difference. Anything you can do to make your space, wether it be storage or counter space, bigger. Keep the air on if you have it. Once I started boxing stuff up even sheets and towels, more offers came in..........Best of luck!

yes, the less "personal" the space is the better. When we were looking for our house it was in a buyers market like it is now. and I have to tell you how surprised I was at how many people didn't take the time to care how their house showed. If you need to have a trusted friend go through it with you with a critical eye. don't take offense, it is to be helpful--but your babies picture can be a huge turn off, especially if the couple has no kids or can't have kids or hates kids you get the idea you have no idea who is coming to look at your home, what their lifestyle is like so you want it to appeal to as many people as possible within reason. A huge turn off for me was appliances on kitchen counters. and when I opened cuboards to look at spaces if I felt like I just opened someones private life I felt akward and just wanted to leave the house. it didn't feel like it could be mine. look for things that are "unfinished" there was a house where the kitchen was BEAUTIFUL but then when I looked at the back door going outside there was a horrid paint line and all I could think about was that I was going to have to fix that and what else was there I would have to fix? you want best price on the market you don't want to be selling a "fixer uppper" when we walked through our home we put in an offer that day and closed on it within a week at the sellers asking price because we knew it was fair and we loved the house. we are still ahead on equity in our home and have never regretted that decision--so it can be done in a buyers market where it works out for everyone. Good luck!!

I don't know if you have cable tv, but HGTV has a lot of good shows about quick fixes and staging. Some of the things they talk about a lot are things like removing the personal family pictures. Getting rid of the extra furniture and making the room feel bigger by creating a focal point.

If you have a fireplace, show off the fireplace. Arrange the furniture so it makes a cozy seating arrangement around it. Hide wires and minimize the tv, VCR, or DVD player. They also talk a lot about paint color. Make your rooms a color that is neutral, but don't necessarily go with white. Tans, light blues, or light greens are colors that go well with most furniture.

They also suggest that bedspreads be attractive to a wide variety of people, so things like tiger stripes or leopard prints be tucked away in a closet. Same thing with really "girly" or lacy stuff. The house has to appeal to guys too.

We went house looking about 6 months ago and most of the houses we saw were unstaged. Based on my experiences, a staged house is really nice and easy to look at and go through. The unstaged houses were frequently cluttered or had dirty clothes or dishes piled up everywhere. When we were in houses like that, we felt like we were interrupting the family's routine and we didn't stay long or look at that house seriously. It just felt really awkward.

Good luck!

Box all the stuff up that you don't absolutely need. Take out more than you think you need to. You'll have to pack it up to move, anyway, so why not do it now? If you can afford a storage unit that's close, get one to store extra furniture and all those boxes, so no one even sees them in the garage. But since you're just moving down the street, that may mean too much extra work.
Try to just keep enough furniture in each room to give it a "purpose." If it's a bedroom, only leave a bed, a dresser OR nightstand, and a small chair (if there's one in there already). If it's a living room, leave enough seating that you could have a comfortable conversation, and end table or two, and a bookshelf or two. You don't want anyone to walk in and wonder what they would do with that room that's totally empty.
Also, when you're deciding what to box up, take out anything that doesn't look new and shiny, or that doesn't quite coordinate with the rest of the room. Only leave out the best of the best. The prettiest books that harmonize color-wise, the furniture that shows the least wear, etc. If it looks at all shabby, pack it up!
If you have a dining room table, set it, or artfully set out stacks of dishes, cloth napkins with rings, fancy glasses, etc as if you were about to get ready for a fabulous dinner party at a moment's notice.
If you can, buy new, fluffy towels and hang them in the bathrooms. But don't use them! keep yours under the sink for a while or something.
I did most of those things and we sold our house in a bad market, in a not-so-great part of town (it was in decline, which is one reason why we left) in just 3 months! We had lots and lots of Realtors tell our Realtor that our house was in their top 2 or 3, too.
And don't rely on the Realtor to take great pictures. Go ahead and take pictures of your rooms as you get them done. Try different angles. I even got a step stool and stood high in the very corner of a room, smashing myself up against the wall. It's amazing how much bigger the room looks. If the Realtor wants to take more pictures, let him/her, but yours may very well look better!
Oh, and when you take the pictures, turn on lamps, etc. for warm lighting.
Good luck!

Try taking out half of the clothes in your closets and linen closets too...it makes your closets look much better and bigger.
The other one that makes a difference is recaulk you bathroom and you kitchen counters...it makes such a difference to see a new white line.
Good luck.

getting rid of the clutter makes a huge difference because the buyers can see the walls, outlets, etc. and imagine how the house will meet their needs. we also love to see pictures of a house and each of its rooms online. that way when we go home and think of all the questions we didn't ask when first viewing the home, we can look again and figure it out ourselves. and if you have pets, find a way to get them and their food, litter boxes, etc. out of the house before showing it because the smells can be a big turnoff to many people.

We are trying to sell our house, too. We extended our line of credit and cashed out on the equity. We got a storage unit and moved a bunch of stuff into it so the house looked less cluttered. Go to HGTV.com to get other tips. We painted the walls and did yardwork to make the house look nice. Our realtor advised us not to spend a bunch of money. You need to "neuter" your house. That means neutralize it so it doesn't show your style. Buyers want to be able to visualize their style in it. Clean your house. Fix anything that needs fixed. If you are just moving down the street, can you move into that house asap? The house will show better if you aren't in it. We fell into a housesitting situation. So, our house remains clean and the realtors can show it whenever they want. They don't have to work on our schedule. Be realistic, it is not a sellers' market. It is very important to get the list price right at the beginning. Have your realtor do a market analysis. Set your price 10% below comparables. Offer buyer incentives. We are probably going to end up renting our house. We've heard that there just aren't buyers out there. Due to the economy, people are playing it safe and renting. However, there are people like us out there that have to move because of a job and would rather buy than rent. Set your price at a competitive level. Don't expect to make a bunch of money. Choose a realtor that does marketing on the internet. Good luck!

Hi K.- Selling your home is such a major undertaking. Just a few tips that I found helpful when selling my home and also attending many Open Houses. Make sure that the house is clean- inside and OUT!! First impressions are very important. Spray down the outside walls and make sure all the windows are crystal clear. The yard needs to be kept green and tidy(flowerbeds, trees trimmed, grass cut and any Pet droppings picked up). If you have a garage or separate storage spaces like yard barns, they need to be clean and organized to show maximum space. Inside- make sure all floors whether carpeted, wood, ceramic, etc are as clean and free of debris as possible. If you have carpeting, a professional cleaning can make all the difference by removing ground in dirt, traffic wear patterns and any odors that may be trapped in it. Make sure appliances are clean and in good working order. Cabinets will be opened to check for storage space so make sure they are neat and organized. Bathrooms should be spotless. Bedrooms should have beds made, closets cleaned up to show storage space. Well placed lit candles or vases of fresh flowers will provide a welcoming sight and scent that may push potential buyers into a sale.
I hope these few tips help. Good Luck!

K., I have personally bought 5 homes and sold 4 (we are living in the 5th). Each home has sold in less than a month.

First impressions matter the most. Fresh flowers in the flower beds, Mowed lawn...curb side appeal.

Second Make the inside look like a model home. I know this is tough...I have 4 kids! Most of my sold homes have been done with babies under foot.

The main smell you want is clean! If you put in different smells(cookies & Such) they will think you are covering something up. 5 years ago it was cookies. Today it is clean!

The last main advise I have is watch your price. It is a buyers market. If you expect to get a great deal, expect to give a great deal. If there are a lot of homes for sale in your area. You need to stand out on price...not saying you have to be the lowest, but the best value for the price.

Good luck!

My name is B. and I am one of the owners to Off-BaseHousing.Com and would be happy to help you stage for FREE.

We have been envolved in Military Real Estate Services for about 5 years and over the years spent a lot of time watching HGTV. We often catch ourselves making comments about homes before the Real Estate Agent show up to mention the same things that need to be done.

My email is ____@____.com
Let me know if you are interested and I will set up a time to visit and give you some advice.

My husband is in Real Estate. He says the rooms that make the biggest difference are the kitchen (#1) and the bathrooms. Keep them clean, organized, and looking their best. Then then next most important thing is the first impression. Make sure the room they walk in to first is clean, clutter free, and decorated nicely. The more you can make your house look like a model home, the better chance you have at selling it and for the most money possible. Also don't forget about the yard. Keep the lawn mowed, edged, weed wacked, really green, etc. While I was selling my house most of the people who came to look came on Fridays and Saturdays. We usually mowed on Saturday's but when they would call without much notice, we didn't have time. I recommend changing yard work (and touch up house work) to Thursdays.

Also, know that it is better to have a clean home then a tidy one. For example, they can overlook kids toys on the ground, but if your house isn't vacuumed or washed down, thy might think you don't take care of it very well. If I only had time to pick up or wash down, I would wash it down.

Good Luck selling your home. :-)

When we sold our home we packed up a ton of stuff and put it in the garage before we listed it. It allowed us to thin out our belongings and made our house look a lot more open. We packed toys, extra furniture, clothes, and all sorts of odds and ends; anything we could do without for a few months. Also pack up most, if not all, of your decorations; particularly anything highly personalized. We also had an antenna and we packed that and got cable for 3 months. The house looked really great for showing once we did that.

I have beens staging homes over the past 3 years with Simple Solutions. The best thing you can do is to remove any extra pieces of furniture & clear out stuff! People want to remember a home's features & not your stuff. Examples, reducing the size of dining room table, removing extra chairs, clearing off top of table, leaving only one or two items per glass frame in china hutch, pulling up extra rugs to show off hardwood floors & making rooms seem larger, clearing all all items on countertops in kitchen & baths....etc. Good luck!

we just went under contract on our house over the weekend after only one month on the market. staging is a huge deal! the realtor who showed the house to the poeple who bought it said she loved our staging and that it made the buyers fall in love right away. defitnitely clean out bookshelves, remove unused appliances form kitchen counter tops, organize the cupboards (they will openthem all!) make sure kids toays are put away. get little storage boxes that can be used to clean up quickly and stuck under a bed before a showing. it is hard to keep things clean all the time, but decluttering will help you get a head start on packing at least. HGTV.com has lots of tips on staging. you may want ot check your furniture lay out and make sure it flows well, so people can walk through your home without tripping or feelign liek they're in a maze. clear the bathroom counters too. kitchen and bathrooms are really important to buyers, plus make your master bedroom look very inviting and romantic. buyign new linens can really make a difference if your current onces are great. also try setting the kitchen table before a showing, it gives it a more elegant look. buying a new set of dishes (i recommend looking at big lots for a good deal) can be well worth the investment if like me, i didn't have a full set of matching dishes! good luck with everything!

before someone comes to view the house, take a little oven safe dish and add vanilla essense to it. put it in the oven on 325 just for about 10 min or so... It makes your house smells like you just baked a cake. Or fry a little bit of onions. For some reason the smells make people feel at home.
hope this helps.

Hi K.. I am a residential planner and the biggest thing I tell clients is to remove the clutter, nick-nacks and personal items. Another trick is to remove any excess or oversized furniture. This really opens the space up and makes it appear larger. If you have a good neighbor have them come by and look at the home to give you a critque. Others will often see things you have not noticed. One last thing is to make the home inviting to "guests" at showings. If you had a guest over you would offer them information and a drink, so do the same for your showings. Simply type up an information letter, that includes things your realator would not know to share, and place it with your other selling specification information. Then put a pretty bowl with ice and 3-4 bottled waters in it before you leave. This sounds like a little much but I can tell you we had a house that before it was staged was on the market for over six months, they took it off staged it with the above suggestionss, plus some others given after my walk through, and they had two offers within the first two weeks. Good luck and if you would like further help you can contact me at ____@____.com. - B.

You're on the right track of getting rid of clutter and personal pictures. People need to see the house as their house not yours. Don't leave anything out - countertops in bathrooms and kitchens clear (except for maybe one appliance that you use daily like a coffee maker). Clean out and organize your pantry and closets because buyers will look at them. Fresh flowers in rooms make a HUGE difference (and you can buy carnations really cheap at Wal-Mart and they'll last a week and I always had them in the bathrooms and kitchen) as does always keeping the house super clean because you WILL get the "Can I show your house in 20 minutes?" call. Take our your trash daily (even if it's not full, it will make a difference with buyers), don't cook anything that will potentially leave an odor like fish or bacon. Burning scented candles that smell like homey things like cookies, cakes, bread, etc make your house smell like a home. It really does make a HUGE difference having a clean, clutter-free home. Just look online at homes for sale and you'll find that your attracted to homes without clutter, that showcase their potential, not the homes that have rooms stuffed with junk. I suggest going to some model homes and seeing how they have the homes staged and you'll get an idea of what to aim for.

Good luck in selling your home quickly!

My mom sold her houses in one to three weeks five times. I have sold one in three. So yes, do it. Paint walls nutral color. Romove all personal photos that are not artwork. Pack stuff or toss it. We had a little two bedroom and the garage was full of boxes with enough for one car to pull in and part of the basement was stacked. do make sure that the back walls can be seen either over the boxes or you can walk around them. Make them clean and look nice though. I hung whit sheets infront of the ones in the basement. Also, only a llow one box or drawer of toys for the kids. Sounds rough but if you sell in a month...awesome. Set up wipes in the bathroom and teach your kids to clean one each. So like the realator calls, you have a 10-30minutes so wipe the toilets and counters..smell is nice too. windex the mirrors if necessary. Vaccum everyother day and tell you family to not go in rooms they don't need to, like a guest room or office. then when you are heading out, take a broom and sweep your feet prints out the door. Don't forget the yard either. Set it up as a second living space and get rid of toys, etc. don't let your pets inside if you have them and keep their poop cleaned up daily in the yard...have a as a quick job for a kid if a relator calls. Oh, if you have your relator cards...set them out on the counter especially on saturday. When somone views your home, they leve their card, if they see there are other cards, they think their is more pressure because others are looking too. Speaking of kitchens, clear out everything off the counter but maybe one live plant. fold down leaves of the table to make it smaller and have it set for dinner for an open house. Keep things simple but livable. The house we purchased was staged. she had a lot of silk flowers that were removed. Also, they packed up one office and put a twin bed in it on an angle staging it as a bedroom. he cleared the closets of most of the clothing and even left open the one they still had staged as an office. So clean up, simplify, and yuse this as a good time to get rid of "junk." Make it so the shoppers can see the potenial in your space...move themselves in as they are looking...imagine their stuff instead of yours.

We are in the same process. I think what helped me the most was to take digital pictures of my house. It helped me see what my buyer might see. I got the idea from when we were searching online for a rental. The houses that had clutter, I just couldn't see myself in but the ones that were simple and clean I could see moving right into. When I take pictures of my house I can really see things that even when I was cleaning I was overlooking. It might help to enlist the help of friends for their opinion. I've also watched a lot of "designed to sell" and having a clean house is really important to most buyers. Our big dilemma has been to re-carpet or leave it for the buyer to decide.

We just bought a house. When we were looking at each house I was appalled at how many of the homes were filled with junk! I think it's great that you're getting rid of the clutter! My suggestion might not be needed, but I would strongly suggest (since you will be the new owner's neighbor) that you leave the home in as good of condition as possible. The people we bought our home from left it a wreck. They even left the side door open and there was dog poo on the floor in the dining room! Needless to say we ripped out that carpet! We naturally have less than charitable feelings towards the previous owners. We moved from out of state and I hadn't even seen the house before we moved in and my husband had only seen it once. It was in waaay better condition when he looked at it than when we got here or we wouldn't have considered it. We bought it as a short sale (paying less than they still owed) and so there wasn't anything in the contract saying that they had to clean it before they left. It was just hard for me to think that there are people out there who could be so very inconsiderate! Sorry to vent. I guess I'm not completely over it yet. ;) Good luck with your move!

I went to school for interior design and recently helped my sister stage her home to sell it. She sold it to the first people who walked through it. It definitely does make a difference. I somewhat agree with what other people have said. The only thing I don't agree with is painting everything neutral. Most walls should be neutral but you also have to make your home different from every other house the buyer will see so that they will remember it. My sisters house had a living room with a red wall, and one bedroom with yellow and blue walls and clouds on the ceiling. We also redid her kitchen. It had really dark cabinets with yellow walls and very old appliances. The lighting was also very outdated. We painted the cabinets a crisp white the walls tan and added fun IKEA lighting. So we neutralized the room but added excitement through the lighting. She also purchased newer appliances through ksl.com. I think in total she spent about $500 on her kitchen. Kitchens and baths are what sell houses. They need to be in top shape. You would be wise to have someone who knows what they are doing go through your house and tell you what to change. It is hard to be objective when you are the one who lives there. Let me know if you would like some help.

staging definitely makes a difference. It's easier to picture what your home would be like (as a buyer) with furniture arranged...it looks lived in. It really plays to the buyers' emotions and makes them feel like they're already home. Be aware, though, there are some ways of staging that are more effective than others. You might want to seek some professional help.

Hi K. right now selling homes is very hard...alot of them are styaing on the market for over a year. I know this because my husband does home loans...Its a great time to buy a house....But anyways.....Heres some ideas, clutter need to be removed all closets need to be cleaned out and organzied. When someone comes to the house turn on all the lights even in the closets...if you have dogs remove the dogs when someone comes by to see it....any neat, different features your house may have be sure to let the showing agent know..For example hidden storage areas ect...Of course the house be clean dust free...if you need to to touch up paint ect on the inside do.....But like I said its a bad time to be selling a house right now...But good luck....
J.

Hi K.,
Do you have a real estate agent? I have an excellent agent that I've been using for over 10 years. She hires a professional stager to come in and do your house, at HER cost. She closes transactions pretty much every month, even in this difficult market!) I'd be happy to refer you, if you wish. Drop me a note and I'll give you her name and number.
Best,
M.

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