Ty’s Tips and Tricks: Get your house ready to sell fast!

When Ty was selling our house earlier this year we had lots to do so we could be ready to receive the best offers. We took selling our house very seriously because we needed to move ASAP for an out of state job offer. One of the things we thought would be easy was preparing and staging our house to be shown. We had people over all the time so our house looked pretty good to start. But we learned lots during the process of multiple showings that Ty was able to get us every week. When we first started the process Ty walked through the house with us and gave us lots of great advice about how to make the house look “bigger”, “brighter” and “theirs” – meaning,… potential buyers could see themselves living in our place rather then feeling like they were intruders walking through someone else’s home.

This article and attached 26 minute Better Homes and Gardens video (see below) teach clearly and in detail things Ty taught us about getting our home ready for him to list,… and we wanted to share all of this with you in an easy 3 stage process to help you receive a good offer early and not need to leave your house on the market longer than necessary.

House Ready to Sell, STEP ONE: Do Maintenance

There were several things you can do before you call Ty or another real estate agent. You want to make sure your house will show well and sell quickly!

  • DECLUTTER THE ENTIRE HOUSE. My wife is in major declutter-er mode on a normal basis, so our stuff was already uncluttered, but we still took time to walk through our house and donate items we didn’t need. The less stuff you have when trying to keep your house clean for showings the better.
  • BRING IN A CLEANING CREW. We have someone come once a month but asked them to come and paid extra to get a very through cleaning job done, including grout cleaning and dust under essential etc. and having someone do it for us was a life saver! Find a cleaning service to do a super thorough deep clean before your house goes on the market, and have them come about once a month for maintenance until it sells. This makes it so much easier for you to keep everything neat between showings!
  • HAVE YOUR CARPETS CLEANED.  We had a company come in and do our carpets, and the results were incredible. At one point I thought we may have to replace carpet before we sold, but once the carpet cleaning people had done their thing, it looked almost like new… and smelled great too!
  • TOUCHED UP YOUR PAINT.  We have repainted the entire interior of our house in the past two years, so the paint was in fairly good shape, but there were still some scuff marks here and there that I went around and painted over. Be sure to check exterior spaces as well– I ended up re-painting the outside doors to our deck because the paint was chipped and worn in places.
  • FIX BROKEN STUFF.  There were a few small things– like our smoke detectors. that needed to be replaced and a garage door that didn’t close all the way – we took care of things like this to give a better overall impression of our house and to comply with California laws.
  • ADD MISSING DETAILS.  Sometimes you do a home project and those details just never seem to get done? We replaced a broken piece of tile that we had placed a rug over and fixed up some moldings here and there.
  • CLEAN AND LANDSCAPE YOUR OUTDOOR AREAS.  Before our move in June we lived in a two bedroom townhouse so most of our outdoor space was taken care of by the HOA (Home Owners Association), but there were also small patio and outdoor balcony areas that needed work. Ty suggested adding some inexpensive flowers or potted plants to make the space look newer and give a good first impression.

TWO: Decorate and Stage

We needed to do tweaks and changes to make our spaces more buyer-friendly.

  • REPLACE THE WORNOUT.  Our place didn’t have to be totally repainted, but my wife replaced some of our couch pillows, throws, and other stuff to make things a little more neutral, calming, and less “lived in”.
  • ELIMINATE THE BUSY.  Doing this made me realize how my visual clutter stresses me! I removed some busy personal photo areas and replaced them candles and impersonal decor. Basically, we tried to make the space feel more open and relaxing instead of having too much busy “personal stuff” on our walls. 
  • MAKE SPACES LOOK AS LARGE AS POSSIBLE.  Our condo was only 1,350 detectors. ft., so it needed help! We worked this and removed some furniture, and re-arranged other pieces to make our areas look big and open.
  • CREATE A CONSISTENT FEEL AND COLOR SCHEME THROUGHOUT YOUR HOUSE.  Ty thought our place was good here,… If you do any repainting etc., make sure all of your paint colors, flooring choices, and finishes should feel cohesive and as if they belong together. This way buyers can feel like they can just bring in their furniture, set it up, and be moved in without much work.
  • GIVE EACH SPACE OR ROOM PURPOSE.  Our condo had lots of levels with a few stairs between each area. For example, the entry has steps into the family room, more steps into dining area, more into the loft, bedrooms, down to garage etc. Your place may be different but we attempted to use furniture placement and stuff on the walls to define the spaces so buyers could see potential for their own areas and to meet their own needs. Ask friends, do research, and ask your agent.
  • ADD PLANTS – FAKE AND REAL.  We like really nice “fakes” because we don’t have a lot of time and my wife has anything other than a “green-thumb”. Fake or real, decorative plants help freshen up your space and make it more visually pleasing.
  • SIMPLY STAGED.  I do the decorating at our home and we like to style shelves and surfaces with conversation pieces and interesting items but not anything emotionally charged, like political posters or graphic religious items of any faith. When getting your house ready to show you might use a few pieces to make the spaces look “planned” and uncluttered as possible while still feeling polished and complete. Example: Nice coffee table book near an antique box or tray.
  • USED TRAYS FOR EASY STAGING.  Trays can be a lifesaver! Another example, we had one on the coffee next to our hardwood chess board. A decorative tray can have fake antiques and older books that you will be able to leave out for showings. Find something that fits your furniture and helps with the ‘consistent feel’ issue.
  • PLACE NEW WHITE TOWELS IN BATHROOMS.  Nice new white folded towels can make your bathrooms look clean and fresh like a hotel. Place these out when you are prepared to “show”.
  • GET DEPERSONALIZED.  One of the things you will see when looking for articles about selling your house is to take down ALL your family pictures. We asked Ty about this, and he said leave just a few up and take the rest down.
  • MAKE TOYS AND PLAY SPACES LOOK CLEAN AND NEAT.  Ty recommended we put them in boxes and on a shelf down in the garage, where people expect to see boxes. Not in closets. This way closets appear big and open.
  • HAVE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS TAKEN.  We looked at other listings from our neighborhood before our condo went on the market. Some of the photos were dark, blurry and depressing. I thought about taking the photos myself, but Ty uses a professional photographer who does retouching, can add metadata to make images more searchable online, and even has people to do video for “arial views” of house, yard and neighborhood. We didn’t need the video. Ask your agent if video would help. Lots of agents will do a video of your home if it will show better online. We were happy with the photos Ty had done of our place and made sure all lights were turned on and the drapes and blinds were open before the photographer took the pictures.

THREE: Be Prepared to Show

Finally, there were several things you will need to do before each showing. It’s worth it. Make your house look as good as possible! After about the third showing you will have it down to a science.

  • CLEAN OFF SURFACES.  Example: Before every showing we put the microwave in the garage so it looked like we had more counter space in our kitchen. Removed everything “personal” (toothpaste etc.) from bathroom counters and removed almost everything from the tops of dressers, nightstands, and desks to make spaces look uncluttered and as large as possible. I also made sure to lock my filing drawers in the home office where we keep important paperwork.
  • CREATE A SPACES FOR EVERYTHING.  Because there were some things that we used on a regular basis (like our microwave and refrigerator magnets) that we had to be put away for every showing, we created “safe zones” locations or boxes for them so they could be stored away easily without making a big mess, put back and then stored in the safe zone again for the next showing.
  • KEEP ALL CABINETS, DRAWERS, AND CLOSETS NEAT AND CLEAN.  Every space in your house is fair game for people to open, look around and close when viewing your house. The buying agent might not always be in the same room. So try to make sure every cabinet, drawer, and closet they could possibly peek into was clean and neat. Don’t leave any medications or personal items in drawers where a potential buyer might open a bedroom drawer or medicine cabinet and find something they shouldn’t see!
  • KEEP YOUR BEDS MADE EVERYDAY.  It’s a good habit anyway but absolutely make the beds when showing your house. We had the habit of making the bed every morning so we wouldn’t need to do it when rushing around to get the house ready to show on a moments notice. 
  • KEEP YOUR DISHES CLEAN.  We tried to be super diligent with the dishes so that the sink and dishwasher would both be empty for showings.
  • KEEP UP WITH YOUR LAUNDRY.  We did laundry more often every week so that it was folded neatly in drawers and closets rather than in hampers or in the washer and dryer. It’s a good idea to spray a deodorant in these areas before showings also,… some people have a very sensitive nose!
  • KEEP YOUR COUNTERS CLEAN EVERYDAY.  We wiped down all of our counters in the kitchen and bathrooms every night before going to bed so they would be ready if we got a call in the morning for a showing.
  • SWEEP AND/OR VACUUM.  We also swept and vacuumed once or twice a week so our floors maintained that level of clean after Step One: Maintenance.
  • WIPE YOUR BATHROOM MIRRORS DAILY.  I never realized until we were selling our house how much finger prints, toothpaste and water gets on our mirrors every day. It only takes a minute to give them a quick wipe down every day.
  • KEEP YOUR BACKPACK HANDY FOR “EXTRAS.  I learned this trick from a few friends who sold their place. At times you need to get out of your house quickly for a showing (especially if you work at home like I do), so I kept a backpack close by and loaded up any projects and paperwork that was laying around my home office every day that couldn’t be put away easily or other stuff that looked out of place. I then put the backpack in the trunk of my car as I left for the showing.
  • OPEN ALL CURTAINS AND BLINDS. Open all curtains and blinds before you leave your house for a showing so rooms look light, bright, and spacious.
  • TURN ON ALL LIGHTS. For the same reasons as opening curtains and blinds.
  • LEAVE YOUR HOUSE IN “SHOW CONDITION”. Any time you are out for the day, you should do this to allow Ty and his team, or another agent to show your home on a moments notice.

And finally, there were a few instances where we were leaving for a weekend or even for just a full day, and we were sure to leave the house show ready in these instances in case someone would call last minute and want to see it.  Some of this was a big pain to say the least, but looking back it was well worth the effort and we owe Ty and his team so much for their help in getting our property ready to show!…  Do you have any tips or tricks to add to this list? Every property is different, share some of the things that the Ty Wallace team or another agent suggested you do. Help someone else get their property ready to show and share your tips and tricks with us in the comments below!