You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the truth is– home buyers DO. They almost always base their decision about a house based on how it looks. It’s important to make your home look good, or you’ll end up settling for a much smaller check at the closing table.

Here are some things you can do to ensure that your home will sell for the most money possible.

1.) Increase Curb Appeal

If your home doesn’t look good from the street, many buyers won’t even get out of the car. Try to look at your home from a buyer’s perspective, and make sure you consider each of the following items before offering your home for sale.

• Remove anything that looks messy or doesn’t need to be in the yard, like kids’ toys, tree branches, trash cans, or stray lawn furniture.
• If you have a pet, be extra vigilant in picking up after it while your house is on the market. There aren’t many things that will turn a buyer off faster than stepping in a pile of dog doodoo.
• Trim all your trees and bushes neatly, weed the plant beds, and put down fresh mulch.
• Plant some inexpensive flowering annuals for a pop of color.
• Rent a power washer and spend an afternoon washing your home’s siding, gutters, doorways, and walkways.
• Take a close look at your front door and outside entry area. A fresh coat of paint and new hardware will go a long way towards making your home look fresh and inviting. When a real estate agent brings a buyer to your home, there’s always a moment spent waiting at the front door while the agent opens the lockbox and unlocks your door. Don’t let the buyers see spider webs and chipped paint while they’re waiting.

2.) Beauty ISN’T Just Skin Deep

Presenting a well-maintained exterior is critical to getting the most money when you sell your home, but you can’t stop there. You still need to “wow” buyers after they step inside. Walk through your home, looking at it as though you were seeing it for the first time. Consider each of the following items to see if they need attention.

• Attack clutter. If you don’t need it, put it away. Box up all nonessentials and store them in the garage or a storage unit. Even if your garage is stacked high with boxes, buyers understand that. They know that you’re preparing to move, and most garages look pretty much the same anyway. If the rest of your HOUSE is stacked high with personal items, that’s another matter. Many buyers will assume that your house is too small to accommodate their stuff. De-Cluttering can make your house look much bigger.
• Clean like crazy. Cleaning your house doesn’t cost much, but it can dramatically increase the amount you’ll make on the sale. Wash the windows, wipe the baseboards, and dust every horizontal surface.
• Paint. Most homes would benefit from a fresh coat of paint. Take your cue from model homes: paint everything a neutral, non-offensive color. If you have an accent wall with a dark or very bright color be sure to paint that a neutral color.
• Rearrange. The way you’ve had your furniture arranged for years isn’t necessarily the most appealing way. Experiment to see if moving a couch or removing a chair might make a room appear more open.
• Get rid of any odors. If you smoke or have a pet, ASSUME that your house smells like it. You may not notice it, but others will—and it can cost you thousands of dollars. Clean the carpets, change air conditioning filters, and do whatever you must to eradicate all unpleasant odors.

Your goal isn’t to just make your house look nice, but to plant a seed in the buyers’ minds. Let them imagine that if they lived in THIS house, their lives would be better. If they bought THIS house, it would be clean all the time, the lawn would be beautiful, and their closets would be meticulously organized.

Of course, that’s not likely to happen in real life, but you can’t help it if that’s what they IMAGINE, right? That’s the sort of thinking that allows them to justify paying more for it. And that’s exactly what you want.

You want potential buyers to have good feelings, minimize anything that can be looked at negatively. If you hire me to sell your home these are things we will go over to ensure buyers have good feelings, I’ll talk about that in another post.


Jason Vizzini is a Realtor with Van Dorm Realty in Olympia, WA  as well as main contributor on He specializes in marketing homes using the web, social media and advanced marketing strategies.