12 Secrets Every Savvy Home Seller Needs to Know

Whether a town’s market is hot or not, certain homes seem to effortlessly attract packed open houses and multiple bids. What’s the secret behind these brisk and brilliant sales? From pricing to staging, here are a dozen proven strategies for winning at the real estate game.

By Debra Immergut

Find the Right Agent


Find the Right Real Estate Agent

When a home sells quickly, a top-notch real estate agent might just be the hidden ingredient. Savvy sellers shop around for an agent who knows the local market inside and out and understands exactly how to position the house for potential buyers.

Price It Right


Don't Price Your Home Too High

Every homeowner thinks his or her humble abode is worth a whopping price, but it’s not always the best tactic to charge top dollar. To prevent your home from sitting on the market too long, hit the perfect price point by carefully studying the local comparables and following the advice of that well-chosen real estate agent.

First Impressions Count


Cultivate Curb Appeal

Drive-by browsers often turn into open-house attendees. That’s why smart homeowners focus on maximizing their home’s curb appeal. It pays to freshen up landscaping with mulch and annuals, trim overgrown shrubs, repaint the front door, and install attractive new entry lighting.

Update Kitchens and Bathrooms (Cautiously)


Update an Old Kitchen or Bathroom

tired kitchen or bath will scare away scads of prospective buyers. The best strategy is to make judicious upgrades: Consider painting cabinets, swapping out faucet hardware, or replacing the oldest of the appliances.

Deep Clean


Deep Clean Your House

Homes that move quickly tend to be clean and tidy. Though it’s a ton of work, clued-in sellers invest the time and elbow grease needed to scrub the house from top to bottom. And because they know that home buyers love to poke their noses into every nook and cranny, smart sellers don’t neglect closets and basements.

Fix Potential Inspection Snafus 


Repair What You Can

While it doesn’t make sense to invest in huge renovations before a sale, it’s wise to address any major problems that might crop up during inspections—roof leaks, sticking windows, outdated wiring—as they can torpedo a deal at the last minute.

Send Pets on Vacation


Send Pets Away for the Open House

Resident dogs or cats aren’t a selling point—even if open-house attendees happen to be animal lovers. Pet owners who are serious about nailing a sale bundle their furry pals off to a friend or relative’s place or their favorite pet-boarding locale, then hide away toys and bowls and thoroughly air out the premises.

Hire Professionals


Hire Professionals Before Listing Your House

The most successful sellers understand that certain up-front expenses can really pay off, so they hire floor refinishers, painters, and landscapers to make their place shine. After that’s all done, they hire pro real estate photographers to show off their spiffed-up home in the best light possible.

Have Great Timing


List Your Home in Spring

Spring is the optimal time to enter the real estate market, and that’s when the savviest homeowners take the leap. By putting a place up for sale from March through May, you’ll attract more potential buyers, your home’s curb appeal will be at its peak, and you’ll have more to choose from when it’s time to find your next address.

Refresh Your Home


Update Your Home

In a crowded market, canny sellers know that a few spruce-ups can turn a ho-hum house into a standout. Newly painted walls in warm neutral shades, stylish furnishings brightened with brand-new textiles (remember, you can take them with you when you go!), and decluttered shelves, cabinets, and closets will help a home sell quickly.

Talk It Up Everywhere


Use Word of Mouth to Sell Your House

A real estate agent will usually take care of the major marketing outlets, including online listings on Zillow and Trulia as well as in local newspapers. Still, word of mouth can be an extremely effective tool, so shrewd homeowners also post about their place on Facebook and spread the news everywhere they can, from the dentist’s office to the local playground.

Always Be Ready to Show It Off


Always Be Ready to Show Your Home

It’s hard to think of crowds of strangers trooping through your private space, but astute sellers understand that the more shoppers they get, the greater their chances of snagging a buyer. To make sure that their home can be shown at a moment’s notice, wise sellers set up a key box (or have their agent do it) and they keep the place neat as a pin—all the way down to fresh flowers on the dining table and fluffed-up pillows on the bed.

The Best Things You Can Do for the Value of Your Home

Your home isn’t just a house—it’s where you unwind, work, play, and spend time with those you love. So, every remodel or renovation you tackle should take into account how you live in and use your space. There is, however, another side to home renovation—and 

By Donna Boyle Schwartz

  1. Backyard Deck: In warm weather, backyard decks function as open-air rooms—and that additional square footage makes it an attractive feature for buyers. Wood decks cost less to install, but if you opt for composite materials like Trex, EverGrain, or TimberTech, you’ll save time on maintenance—and be able to add a bit more to the asking price come sale time.
  2. Finished Attic: A common rule of architecture is that if you can’t build out, build up. Homeowners can capitalize on this principle by adding an attic bedroom, growing skyward to make the most of their living space. Just be sure to add insulation to keep the room cozy in all weather and install proper flooring material to deaden the sound between floors.
    Related: Under the Eaves—10 Arresting Attic Rooms
  3. Kitchen Remodel: Ask a realtor—beautiful kitchens sell homes. Because modern, functional kitchens are a top priority for home buyers, make sure your remodel focuses on sure-to-please components like strategic storage, new cabinetry, state-of-the-art appliances, and durable, easy-to-clean countertops. If you can’t afford to go all out, even a minor kitchen renovation will help boost your home value.
    Related:  7 Ways to Skimp on a Kitchen Remodel
  4. Bathroom Addition: Having too few bathrooms in a house spells trouble for even the closest, most companionable families. Maybe that’s why home buyers look more favorably on listings that have a roughly equal number of bedrooms and bathrooms. So, if you can swing it, plan for a full bathroom or half-bath addition. If there’s no space to add a bathroom, renovating an existing bath is a close runner-up in terms of adding home value.
    Related: 7 Ways to Skimp on a Bathroom Renovation
  5. Basement Overhaul: When considering possible renovations, don’t forget what’s right underfoot: your basement. A basement has virtually unlimited potential—you can transform a musty, unfinished space into a home theater, workout space, or rec room, complete with pool table and wet bar. Whatever you decide, a finished basement will command a higher asking price when it’s time to put your house on the market.
    Related:  Life Underground—10 Beautiful Basement Makeovers
  6. Home Office Space: A home office may not be a necessity for every home buyer, but this small amenity can boost your home value—even if you simply end up remodeling a closet to squeeze an office into your house. When planning your home office, pay attention to lighting, storage space—and security. 
    Related:  10 Space-Smart Ways to Squeeze In a Home Office
  7. Vinyl Siding Replacement: What homeowner doesn’t want easy maintenance? For that, you can’t beat vinyl siding, which offers significant benefits in cost, value, protection, and durability. Today’s vinyl siding is available in myriad designs, textures, and colors. You can even find vinyl siding that simulates the appearance of wood or shake siding—so you get the look without the upkeep.
  8. For More… If you’re interested in more about renovations, consider:
    Renovating a Small Kitchen? 10 Questions to Ask Before You Begin
    Worth It: 8 Renovations That Pay You Back
    7 “Money Pit” Home Improvements You Might Regret
  9. See the House of the WeekDiscover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!