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10 Top Tips Realtors Want You to Know Before Your Home Hits the Market

Between record low interest rates, low inventory, and an influx of new homebuyers, the real estate market has been intense the last few years. While it’s been a seller’s market for quite some time, prices may be dropping soon as interest rates climb. This may make it more difficult to get top dollar for your home. 

We reached out to real estate experts and asked for the one tip they wish every seller knew before listing their home on the market. 

As in most things, first impressions count

Curb appeal and your home’s entryway need to excite potential buyers. A bad first impression is often hard to overcome regardless of how beautifully the home shows on the inside. – Tom Marryott, Century 21 New Millennium, Annapolis, Maryland

You only get one shot at a first impression. Make sure your home looks as neat and clean as possible for pictures and showings. If you need a reference, go look at a model home nearby. Remember that most buyers can’t picture themselves in your home unless you depersonalize. – Cassandra Clemons, Coldwell Banker Realty, Austin, Texas

Give your home a proper staging

The way your home shows has a huge impact on the timing of the offers and the offer itself.  If you can, I would stage the home. Staged homes sell quicker and for higher prices. Oftentimes buyers cannot envision what to do with the space. At the very least paint areas that are needed, walls and trims. Make sure your home is meticulously clean and neat. Please no clutter. – Jennifer Fox, Century 21 Bay Benjamin, Bayside, New York

Staging is not like staging! To get the most amount of money for your home it needs to be staged for walk-through appeal and alluring photographic composition, not for how one would live in it. – Karina Christensen, Denver Luxe Team, Denver, Colorado

Buyers don’t shop for a new home the same way they will live in a new home. One of the most important things homeowners need to remember is that buyers look at a potential new home through a much different lense than the one they use when living there. Buyers want light and bright rooms with wide open walkways. As homeowners, there may be some rooms we always keep dark for sleeping or watching TV, and we might place furniture in a way that doesn’t allow for the best traffic patterns but works for our family gatherings. Remember, you want your house to become someone else’s home. In order to get the best possible result, sellers must appeal to the largest buyer pool possible. – Tracey Chavis, Ebby Halliday, Flower Mound, Texas

A way to a buyer’s heart is through curb appeal

a new wooden front door on a home with a front porch
Impress buyers from the get-go.

Nothing else matters if the curb appeal is lacking. From pergolas to create a porch effect to shutters, dramatic painting and trim; from garage door jewelry to must-have awesome landscaping with bushes and willowy-breezy-always-green plants – every dollar spent will return 20-fold if done correctly. Replace the front door and its hardware. – Doris Snipp, Savvy Property Group, Houston, Texas

Make your home unforgettable

If you’re looking to get your home sold this selling season, make sure your home is memorable. Plant flowers and plants in your yard that provide vibrate colors. Use different heights of plants as well as lots of colors. Remember curb appeal is amazing, but providing the buyer with lots of colors and arrangements that they will remember is also very important. – Margaret McPhail, Mark Spain Real Estate, Raleigh, North Carolina

Create a story that is unique to your home. Why is your home different from the rest? What features make it stand out amongst the competition? As a Realtor, it is my duty to create a story and a brand message that attracts potential buyers and co-operating Realtors to our home. The business today has such a dependency on digital presence and marketing. Having a unique story to tell, across all platforms, can help your listing stand out. – Matt Baker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties, Marietta, Georgia

Let the forces of supply and demand work for you

Price ahead of the market (at or just below market value based on comps) and then let the forces of supply and demand bring you a great sales price. Also, focus more on terms that are beneficial to you as a seller. These strategies will ensure a win/win  and a successful transaction. – Zack Bonczek, TRANSCENZ Real Estate Group, Lake Norman / Cornelius, North Carolina

Get your home checked out

a home inspection looking at an electrical panel
Get your home inspected before listing.

Have the home inspected for any repairs needed or defects that need to be addressed before the property goes on the market with a licensed professional. It will save time and energy once you do have a buyer’s offer in hand, and you can feel confident that your home will have a smooth home inspection, which will get you to the closing table. – Alicia Burr, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Burr & Associates, Alpharetta, Georgia

Get the home’s major systems a clean bill of health 

Before listing, have your big-ticket items looked at by a professional. Have a HVAC company come out, service your system, and give you a receipt of a clean bill of health. Apply this idea to hot water heaters, etc. This will allow you to show potential buyers that you want to give them peace of mind when they make an offer and/or do their own inspection. – Alex Lee, ERA Cornerstone Realty, Denton, Texas 

Because of the shift in the market, the disappearance of many financed buyers due to the increase in interest rates, and the decrease in ultra-competitive multiple offer situations, it is wise to be proactive with any repair issues that may show up on a buyer’s inspection. A $400-$500 for a pre-listing inspection may be well worth the money to identify repairs concerned with structure, safety, or function and to address them ahead of time. This reduces the likelihood of further or different issues being revealed by the buyer’s inspection, makes it easier to list the house with a “selling as is” caveat, and eliminates the need for lengthy or frustrating negotiations on repairs. – Chris Roberts, Keller Williams Austin SW, Austin, Texas (TREC Information About Brokerage Services, TREC Consumer Protection Notice 2022)

Beware of stenches

a person cringing with their fingers pinching their nose
Will your home pass the sniff test?

Have someone who does not live in your home take a “sniff” of your space and identify if you have an odor issue. One of the things that turns my buyers off is when they enter a home and it has strong food or pet smells. Chances are they will turn around and walk out if the smell is overpowering. – Lisa Kenny, Real Estate Driven Enterprise LLC, Houston, Texas

Vanilla or chocolate scents! Apple pie and baked bread! If they don’t buy your home, prospects will head to the nearest restaurant and think it over while having a treat. – Woody Jarvis, Jarvis Realty, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Don’t forget the windows 

Get windows professionally cleaned inside and out. It will make your entire home feel bright and clean. – Kyle Gunter, Realtor®️RE/MAX Premier, Dallas, Texas

Declutter your living space

Declutter your home.

Selling your home is a great time to declutter and get rid of items that you actually may not need. No point in moving them to the new house. (It’s also a good time to update photos in picture frames.) A cluttered house will give potential buyers the idea that the house was not well taken care of. – Alex Lee, ERA Cornerstone Realty, Denton, Texas

As realtors and home stagers, I supply five 52-quart bins to my sellers. The next day, they make three piles – must keep, maybe, and giveaway. They fill a bin with “must-keep” items, a bin with “maybe” items (to go through one more time), and a bin with “giveaway” items for charity. 

The remaining bins are for the kitchen pantry and/or a nearby closet. When there’s a call for an immediate showing, I tell them to take the empty bin into kitchen and fill it with everything on the counter. Slip that bucket back into a closet and clean the counter. Total time for an immaculate, uncluttered kitchen – five minutes. Stress-free decluttering! – Judy & Allan Wagner, NextHome Mountain Realty, Boone, North Carolina

Get more expert tips about today’s market in 6 Surprising Secrets to Help You Buy or Sell Your Home Fast

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