9 simple tips Realtors recommend to get top dollar for your listing

Selling a home in today’s market certainly isn’t as difficult as in years past, but agents still want to be sure their sellers are putting their best foot forward. From simple upgrades to easy tasks and repairs, we asked Realtors for their tips for getting the best offer for their sellers in this historic market. 

Taking a thorough walk through the home and the property before listing and noting what needs to be done is something Realtors we spoke with do each and every time. The first thing Barbara Alavi, an agent with William Raveis, does is go through the entire property and create a punch list of what needs to be done to get a home ready to sell. 

From making minor fixes to curb appeal issues and everything in between, here is what the experts we spoke with suggest for getting the most out of your listing. 

Exterior curb appeal: One of the first things potential buyers notice is the exterior curb appeal of the house. It’s their first impression of your property. Alavi suggests mulching the flower beds, cutting overgrown bushes and shrubs, seeding the lawn and even adding seasonal flowers or plant arrangements in planters or adding cute accent solar lights by the walkway.

Declutter: Clutter can be a major turnoff for potential buyers and can take away from all a home has to offer. From removing personal items to taking bulky things out and putting them in storage, decluttering is key before listing a home. 

Alavi says “less is best.” From clutter on kitchen counters, in the closets, in the cabinets or in the basement she says “get rid of it.” “I always say, ‘Pretend you are going into a furniture store when you go into a room that is staged,’” she said. “That is what you want your property to look like. Like no one lives there.”

Jill McTague, a Realtor with REMAX/Andrew Realty Services and Deb on the Web Realty Group, says you want the buyers to come in and want to live there. 

“I always say the number one thing is to have a clean house and I tell people you have to declutter,” she says. “Take the personal stuff away; rent a storage unit to take bigger items out. The goal is to make the room look bigger, and if you have a ton of furniture in it, it won’t work. The old expression ‘less is more’ is true. The less furniture in a room the better.”  

Make the most of outdoor areas: If you have a nice backyard, deck or patio, Alavi says stage it with outdoor furniture to make it inviting. “Get nice cushions and planters to make that space look really nice. Maybe add some accent lighting or string lighting to create a welcoming environment,” she said. 

McTague says you can have two houses right next door to each other that are identical, but if one is clean, decluttered and spruced up, it will sell for much higher than the one that isn’t. “People just get anxiety going through a house with too much stuff,” she said. 

It’s also important to make sure the exterior of the home is also decluttered. 

“The yard is a big deal, and it doesn’t take a big expense to rake and throw trash away,” McTague said. “Be sure to declutter the yard as well. If it’s something you want to put a little money in, that is one of the things you’ll see a return on.” If the yard isn’t in the best shape and it’s too big of an expense, McTague says stage it. “Even if the grass is terrible add a little seating area out there.”

A fresh coat of paint: Tracy Spaniol, Realtor with RE/MAX Encore says a fresh coat of paint is a must before listing. “It makes the home feel clean and new,” she said.

Alavi suggests always painting the ceilings and getting a neutral color on the wall. She also suggests removing wallpaper if necessary. 

Make basic repairs: Don’t forget to take stock of basic repairs from a ripped screen door to leaking faucets or an off-track closet door. “These are basic things people look at,” Alavi said. “I recommend if anything is peeling — a garage door, window trims, deck — sand or stain or paint them. It just looks bad and that’s what the buyers will see.” She also suggests fixing any loose roof tiles, cleaning the gutters and having some masonry work done if the home has any loose bricks or stonework. 

“If you have a new roof but had a leak previously and never fixed the ceiling, you want to paint that,” McTague said, adding that these minor repairs are important because it’s the small things like a loose railing, loose floorboard, chipped paint that make people think the house hasn’t been taken care of. She also suggests cleaning the grout in the tile or regrouting the tile in the bathroom. 

Service all the systems: “I always say service all the systems,” Alavi said. “Make sure the air conditioning, furnace and water tank are all working properly. Get them serviced and have the current records attached to that equipment. Buyers love that. That’s what I always recommend.” 

Remove carpeting: If the home has wall-to-wall carpeting over beautiful hardwood floors, remove it. “Get rid of it, it’s worth every penny and you’ll get your money back all day long,” Alavi says. 

Security systems and smart thermostats: Consider installing a wireless security system. Alavi says people love the Ring Alarm systems, and since they are low-cost, it’s easy and it’s something buyers would love to see. She says buyers also love smart thermostats, another inexpensive install. 

Bring in professional cleaners: Once everything is done, get your listing ready to roll by bringing in a professional cleaner to make sure everything is sparkling and ready for its next potential owner. 

For more on getting a home ready to market, see our post on the 5 main areas agents focus.

Home staging takes center stage over last year

Home staging, especially over the last year, has proven to be a good way for buyers to visualize and help Realtors sell homes faster. Not only that, buyers are turning to television shows depicting the homebuying process to help guide their decisions.

According to a new survey from the National Association of Realtors, 82% of buyers’ agents said that staging made it easier for a buyer to see the property as a future home. More than 7 in 10 agents find that photos, videos and virtual tours have become more important since the start of the pandemic.  Also, agents said television shows have impacted their business.

“Staging a home helps consumers see the full potential of a given space or property,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights, in a press release. “It features the home in its best light and helps would-be buyers envision its various possibilities.”

Both buyers’ and sellers’ agents agree that home-staging is important, according to the survey. Photographs, videos and virtual tours were also important according to buyer’s agents. Sellers’ agents noted that home staging increased the dollar value of a residence between 6% and 10% and none reported a negative impact on the property’s dollar value.

While deciding on what parts of a home to stage, living rooms (90%) and kitchens (80%) proved to be the most common rooms to display. Master bedrooms and dining rooms closely followed. Also, since the pandemic, staging of the office space or home office has also become popular.

Television shows may set unrealistic or increased expectations for buyers, according to the survey. Nevertheless, television shows greatly influence a buyer’s perspective of the home.

It is always important to find a trusted Realtor to get a reasonable sense of what’s out there, said Charlie Oppler, NAR president and a broker/owner of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, in the press release.

For more on boosting the chance of selling a home quickly, watch AgentEDU’s course on preparing a listing for the market. AgentEDU offers a 7-day free trial to let you start learning and start selling.