Selling Your Home: Where to Begin

A spruced-up house makes a great first impression on potential buyers.

An attractive property grabs buyers’ attention and excites them. People love a house that looks and feels well-cared for.

Buyers know they’ll encounter fewer problems if they buy a well-maintained property, so your house becomes more appealing and stands out from the competition if you prepare your home correctly. If you put enough effort in, you could sell your home faster than the other comps on the market.

Do you remember what first attracted you to your home when you bought it? What excited you about its most appealing features? Now that you’re selling, you’ll need to look at your entire property as if you were buying it all over again.

A good first impression makes an impact on a number of levels. It’s not just the way your house looks to potential buyers, but how it feels and smells to them, how their friends and family will react, and what they imagine it will be like to live there.

With simple improvements throughout your home, you can easily grab the attention of potential buyers and help them see why your house is the right one for them.

What To Do With the Interior

Clean Everything

Buyers expect a spotless home, inside and out. So clean everything, especially your windows and sills. Scrub walls and floors, tile and ceilings, cupboards and drawers, kitchen and bathrooms. Wash scuff marks off doors and entryways, clean light fixtures and fireplaces, vacuum lint, threads and dust from all the corners in the laundry room, and put away your clothes.

Cut the Clutter

People are turned off by rooms that look and feel cluttered. Remember, potential buyers are buying your house, not your furniture, so help them picture themselves and their possessions in your home by making your rooms feel large, light, and airy.

As you clean, pack away your personal items, such as pictures, valuables, and collectibles. Store or get rid of surplus books, magazines, videotapes, extra furniture, rugs, blankets, etc. Consider renting a storage unit to eliminate clutter in your garage and attic.

And don’t forget to make your garage and basement as tidy as the rest of your house. Simple tasks like storing your tools and neatly rolling up the garden hose suggest that you’ve taken good care of your home. Don’t let anything detract from making your best first impression.

Decluttering is hard work, but cleaning and clearing out years of stuff can really pay off in the end. Boxing up your clutter also gets you started packing for your upcoming move!

If you list with Julie, she’ll give you a complimentary staging consultation, which includes advice on where to focus on decluttering, how to rearrange furniture to maximize available space, and what to repair or replace.


Removing excess clothing will make your closets look more spacious and inviting; however, you won’t lose a sale because your closets are stuffed. In fact, as long as they aren’t the main feature of a room, feel free to use your closets to temporarily store items as you declutter the rest of your house.


A new coat of paint cleans up your living space and makes it look bright and new. To make rooms look larger, choose a light, neutral color that appeals to the most people, such as beige or white.


If your carpet is worn, replace it. It’s an easy and affordable way to help you sell your home faster. As with the walls, light, neutral colors sell best. If you prefer not to replace it, consider offering a reduced price, allowing your buyer to select and install their own new carpet. Buyers love to hear they’re getting a deal! And since some prefer to replace carpet upon move-in anyway, a discount could be the extra incentive that seals the sale.

At the very least, have your carpets cleaned.

Repairs and Renovations

Unless you’re flipping, it’s best to avoid making major renovations just to sell a house. You’re unlikely to recoup those costs from your selling price, so stick to minor repairs like leaky faucets, slow drains, torn screens, gutters, loose doorknobs, and broken windows. And make sure repairs are high quality! Buyers will suspect deeper structural problems if your home-improvement efforts look messy, shoddy, or amateurish.

Leaks and Moisture

Water stains on ceilings or in the basement alert buyers to potentially expensive hidden problems. Don’t slap cosmetic cover-ups over water stains. If you’ve fixed the water problem, repair the resulting damage and disclose (in writing) the nature of the repairs.

What To Do With the Exterior

Curb Appeal

The “Wow” factor, that first visual, high-impact impression your home makes on potential buyers, can turn a browser into a buyer. To assess your home’s curb appeal, drive through your neighborhood and note the condition of other properties—especially the ones marked “for sale” (those are your competition)!

Then, when you pull in front of your house, look at it through the lens of a potential buyer. What do you see? Does it “wow” you? Do you think it will attract buyers?

Note what needs improving, such as trimming trees, planting shrubs, or painting gutters. Those little details convey that you’ve cared for your home, and this is your opportunity to sell that important message to buyers who are shopping from the street, cruising neighborhoods looking for the perfect home to buy. To get them through your door, do what you can to make your property look like a dream home.


If your siding is peeling or blistering, and you can’t remember the last time you painted it, your house needs some attention. That goes for fading stain, too. A newly painted or stained exterior will help you sell your home faster and increase it’s value, regardless of whether you do it yourself or hire someone else. If the job seems too big, or you simply don’t have time, a well-connected agent like Julie can help you find the right professional to take care of it for you.

In the Yard

Grab buyers’ attention by enhancing your yard and landscaping. If your property looks inviting and well-maintained from the street, people will assume it’s attractive on the inside, too. Prune bushes and hedges, trim trees, mow, edge, and fertilize the lawn. Dispose of pet messes, weed the garden, and plant colorful flowers.

In winter, keep your driveway and sidewalks shoveled, de-iced, and well-lit. Stack firewood, clean out birdbaths, repair and paint fences.

The Front Door

An attractive entry catches a buyer’s eye and says, “Welcome!” Highlight this area of your home with decorative touches like a wreath on the door, or new shrubs and flowers around the steps. To create a grander entry, clean and paint your front door, or spend a few hundred dollars to replace it. Polish or replace old doorknobs, repair torn screens, and put out a new welcome mat, too. 

Attracting buyers means creating a space that draws people in and makes them feel warm, welcome, and safe. Offering a home free of dirt and defects is a good place to start, but to really wow prospective buyers, elevate their viewing experience with extra touches. A few hundred dollars and some elbow grease can turn “this is nice” into “This is our next home!”

When you’re ready to buy or sell your next home, call me. I’ll help you navigate the complex Silicon Valley real estate market and help you get into the home of your dreams.


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