Use these 14 tips for selling your home to give you an edge in today’s competitive market. After all, you are not only competing with the other homes for sale – you are competing against all the real estate professionals aggressively marketing those other homes. To beat these odds and score a sale, you must be at the top of your game.

Is Your House For Sale or Sold?

For Sale or Sold?
Credit: The truth about by CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons,

1. Make A Great Impression

You only get one shot to make an impression. The appearance of the exterior of the house and especially the front door is essential—it's the first thing prospects see—as they wait for you to open the door. Clean the door or paint it if necessary but make it attractive and appealing.

2. Turn On the Lights

The exterior should be well lit at night and the street address clearly visible. Adding some extra low-wattage lighting to illuminate walkways is an excellent idea. These are typically inexpensive to buy and easy to install but you get a big return on your investment.

Light is like a flashing neon sign that says “Welcome!” so make sure all the light sockets have bulbs and use the highest possible wattage that can be used safely. Illumination creates an illusion of spaciousness and make even small spaces seem large.

3. Landscaping Counts

The lawn and the outside of the house must be immaculate. Mow the lawn, trim and edge around flowerbeds and other landscaping, and trim shrubs. Haul off all debris and store items like bikes and lawn mowers out of sight. Make sure all walkways, ramps and stairs are hazard free and well lighted. Fix any wobbly railings.

4. Wash Those Windows

Take down all the curtains and window treatments and give them a good cleaning. Use a squeegee to get the windows sparkling clean and spotless, and rehang the freshly laundered curtains.

5. Squeaky Clean Bathrooms

Sparkling bathrooms sell houses. Do the following:

  1. Paint if necessary and display a set of fluffy bath towels and wash cloths. Have a set that you use only for house viewings.
  2. Light a lightly scented candle or set out some aromatic potpourri but do not go overboard on fragrances as they could trigger allergies in sensitive people.
  3. Give the porcelain and faucets a high gloss shine by applying a small amount of furniture polish. Buff with a soft cloth until the surfaces gleam.

6. Kitchen

The appearance of the kitchen is just as important (if not more so) as that of the bathrooms. Wash the dishes, clear the countertops, and give all the appliances a coat of furniture polish to make them shine. Paint if necessary because it is better to spend a couple of hundred dollars on paint than to lose a sale because the kitchen was not in move-in ready condition.

7. Make the Beds

Here's a checklist for bedrooms:

  1. Make the beds.
  2. Replace the comforter or bedspread with a brand new model if the one you are using is tattered or torn.
  3. Fold and put away the laundry.
  4. Tidy up closets. Are they well illuminated? If not, swap out the bulbs for ones with higher wattages.
  5. Remove all clutter from the tops of dressers, nightstands and other furniture. 

8. Confine or Remove Your Pets

Never have your pets in the house when you are showing the house to prospects. Some potential buyers could have allergies to pet dander; others might be so distracted by the animal that they don’t pay attention to the house and so on. Consider getting a friend or neighbor to keep them for the short period you are showing your property or board them at a kennel. 

9. Arrange for Child Care

Your children should also be somewhere else when you show the house because you want to be able to focus your attention on selling the benefits and features of your home. If they must be there, it is important for them to understand that this is a time for them to be "seen and not heard". Try hiring a babysitter for the time of the home viewing; the price is well worth your peace of mind.

10. Conduct Private Viewings

Show the home to one prospect (or prospects) at a time. As a for-sale-by-owner seller who may be pressed for time or anxious to sell, it can be tempting to double up on showings so you can get back to your real job, but this is a definitely deal breaker and will usually backfire on you. After all, what will you do if one of the potential buyers decides that there is something wrong with the house and becomes focused on discussing the perceived defect? Even worse, what if one prospect convinces the other one of a defect or problem with the house?

11. Accent the Benefits

Always focus on the positive aspects of your property, and never apologize for the condition of the house as it simply draws more attention to the matter. For instance, if you do not have time to clean as completely as you wanted, just center the discussions on the features and benefits of the house that your prospects will love.

12. Advertising Buzz Words That Sell

Today’s home buyer wants to buy a home that is ready to be lived in, so avoid using negative terms such as “fixer up” and “handyman special” in your marketing pieces like advertisements and flyers. Use terms like “move-in ready condition,” “set up housekeeping immediately” and similar phrases. Create the image in the prospect’s mind of a home that is just waiting for them to move in and start enjoying a new home.

12. Snap Some Pictures

If your photography skills are minimal, consider hiring a professional to get you a few exceptional images of the house and property. Use these images for:

  1. Flyers
  2. Newspaper and magazine advertising
  3. Take ones
  4. Brochures
  5. Other promotional materials

Again, it is better to invest $100 or so into awesome pictures of the home than to risk losing a sale because of a poor quality, grainy photo.

13. Aromas Create Ambience

While it is important not to go overboard on scents and fragrances, and you don’t want to have candles burning in every room of the house, a judicious use of aromatherapy can make or break a sale. Here are some time-tested tricks:

  1. Simmer a few cinnamon sticks in a pan of apple juice.
  2. Pop a frozen apple pie into the oven to bake.
  3. Bake a loaf of bread (use frozen or refrigerated dough from the grocery store).
  4. Bake chocolate chip cookies.

These aromas appeal to almost anyone, the effect is easy and inexpensive to produce, and it makes a great impression.

14. Always Negotiate If Necessary

Don’t refuse any offers even if you feel insulted by an extremely lowball offer price. Counter all offers and if the buyer is not too far off the mark in price, try to split the difference. It is better to give a few hundred dollars to get a full price offer than to have your home sit on the market too long and get stale.

Make the best use of these tips for selling your home, and you could be replacing that “For Sale” sign with a “Sold” sign quicker than you thought.