September 2, 2008

WFMW: Help Me Sell My House!

This week's edition of Works for Me Wednesday (hosted by Rocks in My Dryer) is a backwards edition! Here's my dilemma that YOU get to solve: we would like to sell our house next year. The housing market is not very good. A few facts about my house:
  • I live in a 1-story townhouse
  • 936 sq ft; 2BD/2BA
  • separate laundry room, pantry in kitchen
  • carpet in both bedrooms and adjoining walk-in closets
  • hardwood (brand new!) flooring in the living room
  • kitchen/baths/laundry room have linoleum (or is it vinyl?)
  • windows have 2" white blinds
  • washer/dryer/refrigerator/built-in microwave were included with our house; we're willing to leave them
  • flat-top stove and dishwasher
Get the idea? Good. I've read a lot about making the house appealing to buyers. I want to know what works for you. Have you sold recently? What would you recommend that other sellers do? Or not do? I'd really like some good input before we spend a lot of time (and money) on our house. I hope to hear from a lot of you!


  1. 1. Clear out clutter. I think this should be at the top of everyone's list for selling a house.

    2. Remove the majority of family pictures. People want to be able to see themselves living in a house; it's hard for them to do that if there are tons of pictures of your own family there.

    3. Paint in neutral colors.

  2. The key to selling a house is selling the image that it could be the buyer's house. Buyers want to imagine themselves in your house, and they can't do that with lots of knick-knacks around. Even if everything is picked up and clean, there is more to be done.

    Look around--probably 50-90% of what you have out could be hidden away. Put that toothbrush in a drawer. Clear off the dresser. Replace the bathroom items with a simple candle. Less is definitely more when it comes to selling.

    And, of course, no pictures and lots of neutral colors.

  3. Get rid of clutter. That was a big turn off to me when I was looking to buy. Make sure that pets are locked up or out of the house. No one wants to be tackled by a dog, even if they are friendly. Make sure your house smells pleasant. Set a reasonable price.

    Good luck selling your house!

  4. I would agree with the above tips, and add - fresh flowers. There is something about a vase of flowers on the dining table, the bathroom counter, etc. But definitely pack as much as possible now, and get the boxes out. Best wishes!

  5. If your linoleum/vinyl patterns are outdated/wildly colored (like mine!) then it may be worth it to neutralize/update them as well. You don't have to use tile to replace it, but if tile is popular in your neighborhood then you may want to keep in line.

    Also, if you get a lot of natural light, you may want to remove or lighten up any window treatments. For example, if you have heavy drapes, you may want to replace them with sheers.

  6. When we decided to put our house on the market a couple of years ago, we were blessed with a wonderful real estate agent. The house sold in 16 days - mostly due to her suggestions - and did lots of house hunting during that time.

    1. Light - let the outside light shine in.
    2. Smell - bake cookies or have a yummy smelling candle/wall plugin thingy to make your home smell like home.
    3. Clean - some of the houses we looked at were nasty dirty.
    4. Clutter - get a storage unit if you have to. Better to box it up and get it out of your small space, than take up precious square footage with stuff your buyer will not be interested in seeing.
    5. Update where necessary - we painted inside and out, but the house we were selling really needed it. The house we bought hadn't been painted recently, but it didn't need it.

    I wish you all the best. I know how stressed out I got during the whole house selling/packing/moving time. I hope you'll find many moments of calm and peace. :)

  7. I have a friend whose job is "staging" houses for sale. She has a few hard and fast rules. Though some comments here recommend removing most of your family photos, my friends says remove them ALL. People feel like they are intruding when they see the faces of other folks in a space they are trying to imagine as their own.

    Another thing she says is to make sure AT LEAST 40% of all of your storage space in each room is empty, but most especially in the kitchen. That means you'll likely have to put things in storage somewhere, but it gives the illusion of plenty of storage space as opposed to there not being enough space because every drawer and cabinet is full.

    A third thing she says is to consider the curb appeal. Plant some new flowers, hang an American flag... do small and inexpensive things that make people want to look at the inside of the house. If the drive-up isn't appealing, they won't bother to go inside.

    Good luck!

  8. As a former Realtor I've had the opportunity to see the interiors of more then my share of homes for sale. Many of the tips above are fabulous and I especially agree with the last post. I have a couple extra thoughts.

    1. Keep your house clean ALL the time. Go through your house a couple times a day and clean up after your family, pets, etc. You never know when someone is going to want to come by to view the house. Vacuuming before you leave is also a good idea.

    2. Making your house smell nice can be as easy as keeping a shallow dish with water and cinnamon in it in your oven set to warm.

    3. Light is so important! Open blinds, turn on lamps and keep your windows and mirrors clean and streak free.

    4. Handle all minor repairs. If a cabinet knob or hinge is loose get it tightened. If a drain clogs up easily get Liquid Plumber and get it flowing again. You'd be surprised at how many buyers turn on the water, open cabinets and drawers to check for space, etc.

    5. I know it's been mentioned before, but I'm going to reinforce. Declutter, declutter, declutter! It's so important! Don't hide it in a closet or the garage or basement. Get it out of the house. Having closets that are stuffed to the gills will make buyers contemplate if there will be enough room for their own storage. Having closets that are mostly empty of clothing, shoes, linens and towels helps storage space seem bigger. Clean out your pantry, get rid of outdated food. Don't over-fill your refrigerator and freezer, etc.

    I'm sure this comment is long enough so I'll stop here. Best of luck in selling your home!


  9. We bought our home a year ago and it had been on the market for over a year, we got a great deal. Now the sellers would have done better if they had done a few things:
    1. Any project you start FINISH. If the paint doesn't cover the maroon underneath people will see. Don't skip one room because it was hard work. Its better to leave wallpaper up than start removing it and not finish. Oh, and don't take up the vinyl flooring unless you are planning on replacing it. And if you do, it must look professional. We found out the utility closet had no flooring, but because it was covered in stuff we had no clue until we did the final walk through.
    2. Clean and tidy! I am talking scrubbing the place top to bottom. All the time. If you have kids, some things may be expected, but hard water deposits/cobwebs are not.
    3. Remove all signs of pets. People that don't have them, don't want to smell or hear them. If the neighbors have dogs, put it in the disclosure. We didn't know until we moved in that there were 5 dogs living behind us. I was 8 months pregnant and not sleeping well as it was. I wanted to shoot those dogs.
    4. I agree with the lights thing: don't have burned out light bulbs. Get high wattage lights as well. Light makes places look larger.

    I am sure as long as you price your home reasonably (for the neighborhood) and get a good Realtor you will do fine. Good luck!

  10. We just sold our house this month and the first thing we did was call a realtor. If you know you have time, call the realtor and ask them to do a walk through of the house. They will be able to walk with you and point out EXACTLY what you can do in your space to make it more attractive.

    It saved a lot of time because there were things I thought of that she said were unneccesary and things she thought of that never even crossed my mind.

  11. I prefer FSBO. There is much time to have and pay your house. And I like FSBO sites too. And I found really great site!!!!! It was called Fizber. I think the best service was real estate forms at


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