Ten Things to Do to Prepare Your House for a Quick Sale that You Would Never Think of in a Million Years

By Diane Silverman

Much has been written about “Staging” a house for a quick sale at the best price. There are books, TV shows, even “Staging Experts” who will come to your home and work with you to get your house ready for the increasingly discerning and demanding marketplace.

If you’ve been thinking about moving, you probably already know the basics, because most of it is common sense: remove the clutter, clean, bake some cookies and have classical music playing. Now it’s time to go one step further and discover the little details that can make a big difference.

This report will provide you with the well-known tips and techniques that you can use, as well as things you would never think of in a million years.

  • Curb Appeal
  • Clutter
  • Lighting
  • Functionality
  • Spring Cleaning
  • Professional cleaning
  • Bedrooms
  • The bathrooms
  • Plants
  • Every moving part
What you probably already know:Since the outside front of the house is the first thing that a prospective buyer sees, it’s important that the lawn is nicely landscaped; nothing is overgrown, everything has been trimmed and pruned. The exterior of your house needs to be in good repair, too. Peeling paint, cracks, mold and mildew are all warning signs that the house has not been properly cared for. Have your home power washed and repaired. Make sure the lawn is routinely mowed to create a good first impression. And, of course, plant flowers to create a warm, welcoming view.

What you would never think of in a million years: Mulch. Use a dark mulch in your garden and you’ll be amazed at how the flowers pop. The colors look brighter and even the house looks nicer. So nice, that you might even consider staying instead of moving.

What you probably already know:Eliminating clutter accomplishes three goals. It makes your home look like it’s well maintained, it helps the buyers visualize themselves living in your home and most importantly, it makes the rooms look bigger. You can start by removing bulky and superfluous pieces of furniture. Then move on the mess of papers and stuff that you’ve accumulated over time. But remember, clutter isn’t just the ugly stuff. It’s also collectibles, knick knacks and other dust collectors. Yes, they have charm and value to you, but to the buyer, your personal stuff is just getting in the way.

What you would never think of in a million years: Once you’re removed some of the furniture you will have some wide open spaces. The problem is that the furniture has left indentations in the carpet. The quick, easy way to remove the dents is with ice cubes. First test the carpet in a hidden area to make sure it is colorfast. Then let an ice cube melt in the dent overnight. Then dry the spot and fluff it up with the edge of a spoon.

What you probably already know: Dark, dreary rooms are a turn off to prospective buyers. To insure that you set off each room to its best advantage, make sure that it is properly lit. Use floor lamps and table lamps liberally. Make sure all light switches work and place the maximum wattage bulbs in every fixture.

What you would never think of in a million years: Clean your light bulbs, shades and fixtures. It’s one of those details that might escape your routine cleaning, but you’d be surprised at the dust and dirt that can build up. Use a lint brush on your shades and remove your bulbs and carefully wipe them off. For overhead lights, remove the fixture – or any removable parts – and wash it thoroughly with warm soapy water. For chandeliers, instead of removing it, submerge each pendant in a container filled with a mixture of one part denatured alcohol and three parts water. Let it air dry. (Don’t forget to protect your floors with drop cloths or newspaper.)

What you probably already know:Every room should have a purpose that is immediately apparent to every prospective buyer. Everything should have a reason, everything should flow. The layout of the entire house should be deliberate. The prospective buyer should never wonder, “Why did they put this here?”What’s more, every purpose should have a room. There should be a place to eat, enough room to cook, a place to relax and watch TV and a place for the kids to play.

What you would never think of in a million years: The home office is getting more and more popular. Make sure your computer in set up in an area that will appear to buyers to be as completely functional. Ask yourself the following questions: Is it in a quiet area so they will be able to concentrate on their work?Is there enough room so they can spread out their work?Is it situated in such a way that it doesn’t disturb the other purposes of that room? Additionally, if you keep your bills and other paperwork in the kitchen, move all that stuff to your home office or work area.

What you probably already know: A clean, orderly home will appeal to neat and messy buyers alike. If your home is not white glove clean, it’s time for a good going over.Consider hiring a professional cleaning service if you don’t want to do the job yourself.

What you would never think of in a million years:Clean or replace your switch plates. Those lovely light switch plates that were specifically purchased or covered with wallpaper to match the rest of the room had a nice, custom look … five years ago. Now they are dirty or faded. It’s such a little thing that you may think that many people will never notice it. But, it’s a cheap, easy fix that will enhance the room and send a subliminal message to the buyer that everything in the house has been taken care of.

What you probably already know: Having your carpets professionally cleaned can make a dramatic improvement to your home… especially if you haven’t had it done in a few years.

What you would never think of in a million years:Send all the large domestic fabric items to the dry cleaners. That includes curtains, drapes, bedspreads and slipcovers. If you have fabric tablecloths in your kitchen or dinning room or even on end tables in your living room, send them all to the dry cleaners for a nice fresh look.

What you probably already know: Make your bed. Create a nice, neat impression with a well-made bed. Don’t just throw a comforter on the bed. Make sure it has a dust ruffle and shams for the pillows or use a bedspread to cover everything.

What you would never think of in a million years:Pay attention to scale. Place the bed in such a way that it doesn’t overpower a room. On the other hand, an over-decorated bed can affect the scale of a bedroom, too. I once saw a beautifully decorated Master bedroom, but the bed had so many pillows that it looked like a day bed, not the Queen size bed that it was. The impression that it gave was that the room was too small to hold a real Queen size bed.

What you probably already know: Make sure the bathroom is free of mold and mildew. All the grout and caulking should look bright and clean.

What you would never think of in a million years:You should be aware of functionality in the bathroom. A hair dryer perched precariously on a vanity sink sends a message to the buyers that there is always going to be stuff that’s in the way.I keep my hair dryer hidden in a wicker basket under the sink. It’s convenient, yet out of the way.

What you probably already know: Plants make a house come alive. They bring nature indoors, they soften hard edges and they create a great energy in any room.

What you would never think of in a million years:Dead plants do just the opposite. They depress the room and create bad energy. If you’ve been trying to nurse a sick or dying plant back to life, give it up and throw it out. Invest in some new, lush, healthy plants. Not only will they help sell your house, they will make you feel better about your surroundings.

What you probably already know: Everything in your home should be in proper working order. This pertains to not just the appliances, but also the plumbing and even the windows.

What you would never think of in a million years: So many people never think about their doors. But buyers do!Make sure all your doors open all the way and that there’s nothing blocking them. Also make sure that there’s nothing hanging from them, that there are no squeaks, that they don’t stick, and they close properly. Clean the door knobs and the area around them to remove fingerprints and grime.

And finally, once you’ve implemented all of these items, remember to maintain your home in this beautiful, pristine condition. Yes, this takes constant work, but it certainly makes a difference when those last-minute buyers come to visit. While your home is on the market, it should never be more than a half an hour away from being presentable.

The good news is if you’ve implemented all of these items, then your home shouldn’t be on the market for long!


Keller Williams NY Realty

(914) 437-6100

120 Bloomingdale Road, White Plains, NY 10605