86 Awesome Home Selling Money Tips

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September 21, 2016 by Jeff Lowen

All this talk of a seller’s market, low inventory, and multiple offers makes some real estate agents soft. Without doing anything to your home and just putting it out there on the market – even in the hottest of markets – may fetch you a fair price; but what if you wanted to maximize the market and get the very best it has to offer.

It’s not just about price, either. It’s about the offer and buyers you choose. Believe it or not, as a seller you have the right to discriminate. Not about the fair housing list of items, of course, but when it comes to the price, the terms, type of financing, amount of money put up as a deposit, whether to accept home inspection contingencies, you can even put a cap on inspection issues in the initial offer (Advanced negotiation strategy), and just as important, the presentation of your home. Most people perceive a well-kept home that’s bright and shiny to be of a higher quality value than one that isn’t. HouseKeysBlue-930x1024

At the very least, here is somewhat of an exhaustive list of things to consider before you get the offer (or hopefully “offers”) to WOW buyers into the emotional trigger, “I just have to buy your home!”

  1. Buy it Right – This is an age old investor rule of thumb. You’ve heard it said before: you make your money when you buy – so one of the best ways to ensure you’ll sell your home is to buy it right in the first place. Don’t overpay for a property, or you may find yourself underwater when it comes time to sell. If you didn’t think about this when you bought, and most buyers do not, then the rest of this list and a great agent is your best strategy.
  2. New pulls on kitchen cabinets and drawers– Replacing the pulls and handles on kitchen cabinets and drawers give an overall new appearance to older cabinets. This is one of the easiest and lowest cost replacements you can do to make your kitchen pop.
  3. Pressure wash driveway and any decks – You probably haven’t noticed just how much dirt has slowly accumulated on your driveway and deck over the years – but trust me: it’s not clean. Having a pressure washed driveway and deck are inviting and can be one of the first things potential buyers see when walking up. First impressions are everything – so make sure your first impression shine and reflect the quality of life they’ll find inside.
  4.  New mailbox – The mailbox is often overlooked as a trivial part of the home- but having a brand new mailbox is another simple and inexpensive way to show potential buyers that the house is fresh and updated. A creative mailbox will also help distinguish the home from the hundreds of other homes on the market. Just make sure you clear it with any HOA that might want to call the shots.
  5. Fresh mulch, grass, or plants outside – Landscaping is a small cost, yet is one of the most important things to do to help sell a house. The good thing is it generally just requires some sweat equity and an afternoon to turn a boring front lawn into a beautiful work of art. Get creative if you live in a seasonal area.
  6. Spray and plug-in air fresheners – I’m sure you’ve heard the claims before – the human sense of smell can trigger powerful emotions in a potential buyer. A fresh scent signifies “new” – which everyone loves! Stick with unobtrusive scents like cinnamon and vanilla. Additionally, a good smell can hide the old smell of the house, if there was any. Don’t be offended if your agent tells you about the smell. It’s not personal. Only 15% of the population smokes, too. So if you do, be prepared to paint, clean the HVAC ducts and change the carpet.
  7. Keep it free of clutter – If you are trying to sell a property that is not vacant, it’s important to clear away the clutter. By getting rid of junk and putting all your extra stuff in storage, you bring out the beauty of the room and help the room look larger, cleaner, and all around awesome. Additionally, by clearing out the clutter, potential buyers can see the flow of the home and begin to place their furniture there. Clean out those junk drawers, too. Yeah, they will be looked at.
  8. Drop Your Price – Don’t hold on to a high price if you aren’t getting any offers. Drop your price quickly and accept that your original price may have been wrong. The best agents have strategies for the number of showings you get before you can expect an offer. If you go over that number, you’re just selling the neighbor’s house.
  9. Stage a Neighborhood Clean Up Day – This probably won’t work… but you never know! Encourage your entire neighborhood to clean up their properties on a given day … maybe even give each person a gift certificate for the local dump. If you’re working with a great agent, they are already canvassing and speaking with the neighbors, anyway!
  10. Replace light bulbs – Make sure that darker rooms have higher wattage bulbs to brighten them up. It’s good for presentation and they’re very affordable to replace. Bright rooms = happy rooms.
  11. Fresh paint – You can’t go wrong with fresh paint on trims, doors, or windows. You’d be surprised at how new you can make a house look with just fresh paint.
  12. Update the front door knobs and hinges – If they seem outdated, update them! Every prospect will subconsciously notice these small things each time they open the door. If the knobs already look good – just keep them clean.
  13. Have all windows cleaned – Do the cleaning inside and out. It gives better lighting and view to the outside. A $.99 bottle of window cleaner and a roll of paper towels can do wonders!
  14. Do a quick clean on everything – Sometimes, right before a showing, you just need a “quick clean” if time is limited. Things you may want to consider first are the bedrooms, bathrooms, and the kitchen sink. Is it a nuisance to do this? Perhaps, but if it means another $500 to $5,000 would you do it?
  15. Price it right in the beginning – Nothing beats doing your research and setting the right price. You’ll need an expert agent to help you calculate what that perfect price is. Sorry, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, etc, etc… There are just too many unknown variables with an automated valuation model (AVM). You deserve better than that, anyway!
  16. Hiring the right Realtor – A great Realtor is your answer. Make sure you choose one who’s good at marketing, advanced negotiation strategies, full time and is “hungry” to sell your property. If you are selling an investment property, focus on finding an investor friendly agent.
  17. Spread the word whenever you can – This is where you can work with your real estate agent – they will appreciate your efforts! Spread the news on social media, inform everyone you know in your community, at work, and at your extra-curricular activities that you are selling your home, and encourage others to share the news as well.
  18. Leave neutral furniture and accessories – Naturally, you want to get rid of all personal items and all family pictures from around the house (clear the clutter, remember?) However, having neutral furniture and accessories in the home can help a buyer visualize what the home will look like for them. For more on “staging” your properties, check out this article.
  19. Turn on lights – Makes a good presentation by turning on all the lights in the home when having a showing. It’s a simple trick – but it works. Yes, even in the daytime.
  20. Open blinds – This is great for letting the light in. It also gives buyers an idea on how they can set the mood of the room with your blinds. If your windows don’t have blinds or curtains, consider staging the home with some to add softness and dimension to the room – but keep them open!
  21. Create a flyer – Flyers are great for marketing! Your agent will have some awesome ones. They will work with you to accentuate the features of the home. Get a few copies you can keep with you to share.
  22. Play some good music while showing – Turn on a stereo or iPod with speakers playing some soothing or popular music during showings or open houses. This may or may not have any effect on potential buyers, but breaking the silence with some soft, soothing music will encourage them to stay longer.
  23. Clean and paint the closets – Women buyers always look at closets and visualize their clothes or shoes in them. Since the typical closet is for women; it’s not a sexist thing, even double closets are subconsciously labeled ‘Hers and Hers!’ Women often have the final say when it comes to buying a home, you can understand the importance of not neglecting the closet. If your clothes are bigger than your closet, consider a storage option off site.
  24. Clean and re-do the laundry room – A dirty laundry room is like a dungeon – it’s dark and creepy. Even if eventually the new buyers will turn it into a dungeon, everyone wants a lovely laundry room, and it doesn’t take a lot to spruce it up. Some paint, new towels, a couple baskets, and fresh flowers can transform a room. Keep the colors light and airy.
  25. Put in new kitchen cupboard doors – You don’t need to completely replace your cabinets – you actually just replace the doors for significantly cheaper. Or for even more savings, you can simply paint the doors to make them look brand new. Check out this product from Rust-Oleum to easily transform your cabinets (I’ve used it – it’s great!). Ask your contractor about it.
  26. Clear fridge of all magnets – Make the kitchen special without those personal items. As odd as it sounds – buyers have a hard time buying a property that has “Little Johnny’s T-Ball Photos” all over the front. This is actually one of the things that most sellers forget to remove- so stand out from the pack and pack those magnets up! Remember the rule: How can a potential buyer imagine their own kids’ photos on the fridge, if there’s no space to see them?
  27. Clear all kitchen and bathroom counters – There’s certainly no need for your own toothbrush hanging around when presenting the house. Remove them whenever buyers are coming over. Clear off the kitchen counters, too. Believe it or not, when you have the coffee machine, the can opener, the this, and the that on your counter, it appears you don’t have enough cabinet space. Clear them off 99.9%.
  28. Remove evidence of your pets; pet bowls, toys, and beds before showing – This is usually missed out if you have pets. Although you might love your little cat or dog- the next buyer might not want to be reminded that you have pets. Yes, the cat box, the dog toys and I really didn’t want to say it, but find a friend to take your pets off your hands until you get a ratified offer!
  29. People look in medicine cabinets – Don’t leave your medication out for the world to see. Once again, remove personal objects as much as possible. I’d like to say that everyone is honest and all your stuff is safe. Unfortunately, you just never know. Stash the meds.
  30. Beware of nasty pet odors – You may be used to the smell of your pets, but your potential buyers are not. If you have pets, get all rugs steam cleaned and be extra vigilant about vacuuming and washing surfaces. Especially if you’re stubborn about taking the pets to your friends’ or the local pet motel. Just reiterating #6 and #28.
  31. Organize pots and pans – Pack up and store the bunt, angle food cake pans, waffle iron, fryer and other large items not used often to clear out the kitchen cabinets. Without all those random items – your cabinets will look much larger.
  32. Always follow the “clean clean clean” rule – Cleanliness is next to godliness, they say – and this is especially true for buyers. You can’t go wrong with a solid cleaning of the house, even the tiniest detail. Pay special attention to light switches, door knobs and other areas that hands are always on.
  33. Have a complete information sheet of the house – It should be accurate and mentions anything important. You don’t want to miss any of the crucial details, so have several other people look at the information sheet and make sure it’s up to par. Have enough copies so they can take the information sheet with them when they leave. Your awesome agent will want to work with you to highlight what made the home so amazing for you, so be prepared to share that info.
  34. A new mat at the front door – It’s cheap and it shows the home is fresh. Check out discount stores like Marshalls, Big Lots or Ross for nice, inexpensive mats. Or, if you’re an Amazon junkie
  35. Park a luxury vehicle in the driveway or garage – This might not apply to everyone, and it works better for more upscale homes, but taking a picture with an expensive car in the garage or driveway sometimes subtly gives buyers a feeling that the home is also a luxury item.
  36. Update the outlets and switches to coordinate – Make sure they match in color, not broken or missing – and make sure they work. Buy an outlet tester here to check.
  37. Ensure that any little “dings” or dents in the wall are taken care of – These are quite noticeable. Depending on the severity of the dents and dings, it may cost you to do a full repair, but if they are minor you can do the repairs on your own with just some wall mud (spackling) and paint.
  38. Do your own assessment – Go stand in front of your house and take a quick look: what stands out? You’ll be surprised to discover a lot of things to improve just by trying to get a new perspective. If this doesn’t work – as your friends to stop by and ask them what they notice. Multiple perspectives are great. Ask your agent to be brutally honest.
  39. Have an accent on the front door – Paint or repaint your front door. This is your chance to draw people’s eyes, and a freshly painted door can do wonders for the property. A nice contrasting accent color is a good one. Just an FYI – According to the Cost vs. Value report, replacing front doors or entry way fetch the best return on your investment when it comes time to sell.
  40. Make sure the lawn is mowed – This just requires about 30 minutes of your time but the results are spectacular. Hire someone. Your agent will know a great landscaper, too. Once again, landscaping wins. If you are unsure you can maintain the lawn yourself, make sure you hire a local landscaping crew to maintain it for you while the house is on the market.
  41. Never cram furniture – Staging is good … but cramming a room full of furniture will make it look small and uninviting. Leave the ones that you think are necessary that show off the best features of the room, but get rid of anything that makes it look old or too “busy.” Staging is somewhat underrated. I true stager or interior designer is worth their weight in gold. However, if you talk with an agent that’s a stager too, bartends on weekends and delivers pizza sometimes… You get it. It’s best to work with a professional that takes his or her vocation serious.
  42. Clean or replace the carpet – You may try to steam clean them yourself using a Rug Doctor or you can bite the bullet and have a professional take care of it. When living in a property, it’s hard to notice how dirty a carpet can become – but after a good cleaning, you’ll be glad you did. If a cleaning won’t do, it’s time to replace it! In an average household of about 2-4 residents, carpet lifespan is usually about 3-5 years.
  43. Fresh flowers on tables – Fresh flowers are great to include on a table. Just having this simple piece of art can brighten an entire room.
  44. Have a little snack at open houses – It encourages people to mingle and get a feel for the place. The longer they spend in the home – the higher chance they’ll make an offer.
  45. Clean the stoves and ovens – Prospective buyers spend a lot of time in the kitchen at open houses and showings – and you can bet they are going to open up the oven to see how large it is. Make sure it’s fresh and clean for them.
  46. Clean the baseboard trim – It may seem silly, but you can lose a sale just because a potential buyer sees dirty baseboards! Take some time to dust and, if needed, repaint any baseboards that need it.
  47. Appeal to a woman first! – Again, it’s usually a woman that makes the final decision to buy, or not buy, a home. Even single guys house-shopping tend to look at it from a perspective of “I’ve made enough to afford this place, but would I bring a date here?” If you are a man, you might want to ask help from the women in your life to check out your home and make sure it appeals to other women.
  48. Aim for the “WOW” – Every room or space in a home should be a “wow” of some sort, providing something that is beyond what’s expected. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small or large “wow” – just be sure there is always a “wow.” For example, “Wow, look at these old beams and tall ceilings in the living room” or “Wow, cookies in this bright but small bedroom”. Let the buyer stroll through the property and discover those “wows” on their own – from front property line to the back area of the garage. Every room should have a “wow.” Don’t forget about the curb appeal WOW, either!
  49. Smell or stink? – Many agents and home sellers recommend certain smells or scents that are pleasing. Apple cinnamon, vanilla, fresh baked cookies… There have actually been studies done on this. Read here.
  50. Don’t ignore the back yard – Backyards are a big deal for buyers with families. The back yard is where the “entertaining” happens – and is a huge source of pride for homeowners. Be sure the lawn is kept short and well defined, and include space for kids to play. Remember, WOW?
  51. Check fences and trim boards – Do they need to be replaced or painted? Don’t let the fence tell a false story of how you have maintained the property.
  52. Pressure wash the siding – If the home is not being fully painted on the exterior – at least take the time to clean the siding with a good pressure washing.
  53. Hang easy-to-read house numbers – Sometimes, just the number of the house matters. New numbers are just a couple bucks each, but help a buyer feel that the home is “new” just by seeing the new numbers. Additionally, many building code jurisdictions require easy to read house numbers, so if you got crazy with the numbers while you lived there, come back to Earth and replace them.
  54. Take the right photos – Is your agent taking the photos themselves? Ask about the cost to spring for a pro photographer. The first place your prospective buyers will see the home is in the pics, so great photos accentuating the style of your rooms, is worth the money. It may be a good idea to actually open up the closets, making the room seem larger. Of course- these closets better be clean, neat, organized, and mostly empty. Different angles, the time of day, and taking interior pictures at night, are all techniques that make your home images POP!
  55. Pull your furniture off the walls – No, I’m not assuming you mounted your recliner on the family room wall! Although this technique seems counter-intuitive, pulling your couches away from the wall actually makes a room look larger and more inviting. Try it.
  56. Make it easy for buyers to live in – Ask yourself, would you live in this house? Sometimes a house that buyers can picture themselves living in is the key. If there are any drastic reasons why you wouldn’t live in the home – try to fix them before taking pictures and marketing the property.
  57. Style your dining room table – A dining room table is great for staging – but if it’s empty, it just looks out of place. Besides the flowers we talked about earlier, consider setting the table with nice plates, silverware, wine glasses, or knick-knacks.
  58. Symmetrical arrangements usually work well – Consider this when rearranging your furniture if you have no idea how to do it. If you have two couches in the room, they should either be perfectly perpendicular or perfectly parallel. Or perhaps it’s just time to lose one of them.
  59. Practice the “Rule of Three” – Knick knacks- such as candles, books, lamps, etc – tend to look the best when placed in a group of three.
  60. Put up signs – A great agent will understand the value of directing traffic from the neighborhood to your home using “for sale” arrow signs at the nearest intersections. Make sure they know the local laws and HOA rules. Also inside the house, small, unobtrusive signs to grab the attention of certain “Not to miss” features of the home your buyers will appreciate.
  61. Create comfortable conversation areas – When staging, create areas that are conducive to conversation. For example, place a couch, chair, and bean bag around a coffee table – to make a nice conversation area in the living room. The same applies for the dining room, the backyard, the family room, the front porch, and more. You want your buyers to feel comfortable in the home enough to stay and talk. Encourage conversation!
  62. Appeal to everyone – Try to appeal to everyone who might come through your property by using minimal design. A six-foot painting of dogs playing poker, or even a large statue of the Buddha or Jesus, might appeal to you – but it’s probably a little too “taste specific” for selling a home.
  63. The Underprice to Create a Bidding War Technique – If you are in a hot market, try listing your house a little below the average … and let the buyers fight in a bidding war to increase the price. This way – you not only get to pick the best offer, but a great agent will cherry pick and pit multiple buyers against each other to get you the best possible scenario. This can be very market specific.
  64. Organize Kid’s Rooms – If you have kids – you know how tough it is to keep their stuff organized and clean. Send them to a boarding school while you sell the house. Hahaha! Just kidding, really… Help convince your buyer that this house is great for that – by organizing your own kids’ toys neatly. You might have to set up a reward system for your kids to get them to play along.
  65. Give every room a purpose– No room should be without a reason for existence. This is why staging is so important- because it allows you to show potential buyers what a room could be.
  66. Demonstrate purpose in awkward areas. – If you have an awkward room beneath the stairs or a nook or alcove anywhere in your home, try to find a unique way to show it off. Again: staging is key. Even storage areas need some love.
  67. Promote a lifestyle – Most buyers are not shopping for a home – they are shopping for a lifestyle. That lifestyle could be “luxury” or “simple” or “lavish’ – so try to create a feeling around your entire house of that lifestyle. Your local market and a closer look at the hyper-local market can help identify these attributes.
  68. Plan for the Season– Your home should be staged to complement the current season. If it’s winter – go ahead and show off the storage area for snow boots. If it’s summer, bring out the canopy in the back yard.
  69. Double check your agent’s online marketing – Although we like to believe our real estate agents are super men and women – the fact is, sometimes the homes they list are just one in dozens that they are listing – so it’s easy for them to post your house on the MLS without any style or hint of promotion in it. Remember that the vast majority of prospects come from seeing your listings online, so be sure that listing looks great.
  70. Network with the neighbors – Invite your neighbors and their friends in your open house – or send out mailers that let they can “pick their new neighbors” by sharing the house listing with their family and friends. Your agent will (or should) be doing this. A great agent will get to know the neighbors near any listing they have.
  71. Social media is a good way to sell your house – Post your house pictures on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Ask your agent if they’d consider using Facebook Ads to sell the home. For an in-depth study on how to do this, send them my way.
  72. Leave some good stuff behind – Consider what you could include with the sale of the home – that the homeowner would probably need to buy. Could you offer to include the washer and dryer? How about the kid’s swing set? The gas grill? Get creative! Some areas traditionally take the refrigerator or leave the washer/dryer, so talk with your agent.
  73. Offer a Multi-tier pricing strategy – This is a tactic I’ve used and it works great! I simply made three price levels for the home that included different features. For example, there was the “base price” but they could also upgrade to could have a new heat pump for an extra $5,000, or the heat pump and granite counters for $10,000. By doing this – you are able to shift the buyer from comparing your home to others in the neighborhood to comparing yours to the other feature price points on your home – by itself. Keep in mind, this is jibberish to many agents because it’s out of the box thinking, so make sure you reach out to me to find a great agent.
  74. Offer an Extended Warranty – Home warranties are much the staple in just about every real estate market. It’s a year long and good for the new owners, but rarely gets renewed. Talk to your agent about multi-year home warranties. This can be an added benefit you offer the new buyer that separates you from the competition.
  75. Beat the competition by offering quality – There may be a lot of homes on the market – however, you can stand out by offering quality. For example, you may be the only one in the area to offer a current termite report, a pre-home inspection or a lifetime roof warranty.
  76. Check out the competition – Drive around and look at other homes that are on the market. Get your agent to give you a tour of your most similar comps – and work together to find ways to beat them!
  77. Choose sophisticated neutral colors. – It doesn’t mean that you need to go all white. Rich mid-tone neutrals like mocha and “gray” create a sophisticated backdrop that can make everything look pulled together and modern. For examples, go see some new build homes in the area.
  78. Don’t act desperate – Selling a home is largely about negotiation. If you are desperate to sell, you may end up getting significantly less than what the home is worth. Don’t put yourself in desperate situations through over leveraging or obtaining too much debt. If you are desperate – at least don’t act like it! You better have an agent that is skilled in the fine art of negotiation. The ‘reluctant seller’ always gets better results than if you appear desperate.
  79. Keep a good mindset – Always focus on maintaining a positive mindset. There are buyers out there looking exactly for your property – you just have to find them. Look at the sale of your property with “business eyes” – and try not to take it personally.
  80. Consider your agent’s opinionFind an agent you trust and follow their advice as often as you can. Remember, all agents ARE NOT created equal.
  81. Walk in the shoes of the buyer – Start by shopping online for local houses similar to yours. Learn how they price and present their house. What stands out to you? What makes you turned off? Take note of how you react, and then make adjustments accordingly. Your agent should have lines of communication open for you to offer feedback. If your agent doesn’t want to hear it and wants to do things their own way, you might want to think again about your choice.
  82. Sweeten the Deal – Throw in extra incentives for those who submit offers. I’ve heard of sellers including fancy cars, vacations, flat screen TVs and other perks like drawings or raffles to incentivize people to buy a property.
  83. Never over-upgrade – Only do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. See the Cost vs. Value report. Overdoing the repairs won’t always raise the total price of the property but it might just make you owe more than it’s worth. Look at the competition and seek to be slightly better than them – but don’t over do it.
  84. Always be up for a showing – You never know when your buyer is going to walk through the front door, so be prepared at all times. Keep the home organized, clean, and smelling great 100% of the time. Some sellers don’t want to be bothered by showings and do the “By Appointment Only” thing, or want their listing agent to only show the property with no lockbox. Some even don’t want the neighbors to know so they don’t want a sign. Really? This is not someone who wants to move.
  85. It’s about first impressions – Sometimes, the first impression is the only impression. In fact, most buyers decide if they’ll place an offer on a house within just seconds, so make sure it counts. I think I mentioned this before, but I need to hear things three times before I get it.
  86. Make all necessary repairs BEFOREHAND – A leaky faucet or chipped paint on a baseboard can suggest to buyers that you might not be maintaining the house well. Do quick fix for these before any open houses or showings.

Believe it or not, there are more tips I could share with you. Many of these will demand much from you and your agent. I cannot stress the importance of finding an agent that thinks outside the box, is great at marketing and negotiation strategies and has an excellent bedside manner to work with you through the process and the emotional ups and downs of a transaction.

Just because they’re a friend or your neighbor’s cousin’s uncle used them, doesn’t mean that you’ll have a successful outcome. Unless of course, you want to be average and potentially lose out on tens of thousands of dollars in sales price or pay for items you don’t have to. If you don’t have someone picked out, I can help you find someone who will be amazing. Click here

Just remember, the “best” agent isn’t necessarily the best one for you. That’s why analyzing your situation before you meet with an agent can be better for you in the long run.

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