Designed to Sell


The process of showing and selling your house can go much more smoothly if you get everything ready. As your Realtor, I can advise you how to get your property ready to impress buyers for the best offers and the top price for your house.

The most important thing you can do to prepare your home for sale is to get rid of clutter. Make a house rule that for every new item that comes in, an old one has to leave. One of the major contributors to a cluttered look is having too much furniture. When professional designers or stagers descend on a home being prepped for market, they often whisk away as much as half the owner’s furnishings, and the house looks much bigger for it. You don’t have to whittle that drastically, but take a hard look at what you have and ask yourself what you can live without.

Preparing your home for sale is a bit like designing a stage for a play. Everything is in just the right place, perfectly arranged and comfortably set.
There are television shows like “Designed to Sell” focused exclusively on, not decorating a home, but getting an otherwise drab, cluttered, boring house ready for a quick and profitable sale. Homes that are properly prepared sell faster and at a higher price than similar unprepared homes.

The professional organization Staged Homes, trains real estate professionals and other interested individuals in the art of “Home Staging” and issues a certificate as an “Accredited Staging Professional ™.”

Just what do “Home Stagers or Designers” do and how can their theory help you sell your home?

Get out the cleaning supplies, boxes, and get ready to sell your house fast! You’ll love how easy it is to transform a languishing, slow-moving house into a quick sale with just a bit of elbow grease and an eye for beauty.

You may be lucky and just need to do some long-neglected simple home repairs, get rid of clutter and add fresh flowers. Or you might have to repaint or re-carpet your house to give it a fresh look. If you are handy, you will be able to do most things yourself. However you may need to hire a plumber to install a new faucet in the kitchen or other professional to replace outdated light fixtures or window treatments.

You need to keep in mind that you are not going to make the changes to live in your house. Your only goal is to show your house at its very best to potential buyers. Without being distracted by clutter and dirt, they will be able to picture themselves in the house you are trying to sell. Buyers will find it hard to resist making an offer.

If you are skeptical about the benefits of going to all this work or doubt that it will make any difference in selling your home, put yourself in the place of a home buyer.

Have you ever toured through a development of model homes? The paint is fresh, appliances are shiny, there is artwork arranged around the house and fresh flowers stand on the kitchen counter. Mirrors are sparkling, towels fresh, and there are no toys on the floor. The rooms look spacious and the furniture comfortable.

The kitchens and bathrooms are polished, smelling fresh, and clutter is not to be seen. The closets are empty or organized. The garage floor is clean and neat and looks much larger than you would need for two cars.

Now leave the development of models and go down the street where the homes are several years old. Children’s toys are stacked in the family room. So many boxes are piled in the garage that you couldn’t park even one car there. Clothes fill the bedroom closets and boots and mittens fill the hall closet. The house is not dirty, but there are dishes in the kitchen sink and toothpaste stuck on the bathroom vanity. Homework is spread out on the dining room table. The family dog is barking because of the strangers in the house and the floors are scratched. Dead plants welcome you at the front door.

With all other things being equal, which house would be more appealing to you? Of course, the first one! The houses may be the same size, but because of the clear layout, the first home seemed much larger. The house was prepared to show off all the good points and none of the bad.

To start the process of selling your house

Rent a storage unit or borrow a friend’s garage for a few weeks or months and fill it with boxes of collectibles as well as sports equipment, holiday decorations, seasonal clothing, and extra furniture.

Then begin to fill it with things that are unsightly. Add pre-packed items, boxes of garage clutter, and items pulled from storage areas including the attic. You are going to have to move it sometime anyway, so get some of it out of the way before you begin showing your house.

What Goes, What Stays?

You know that people will open your cabinet doors and closets. Be sure they are organized neatly and not packed to the point of overflow. They will look more spacious if you don’t try to show off your whole wardrobe or collection of china. Buyers are not buying that! Let potential buyers envision their own personal items there. Will they fit, or will the space seem too small, since your own things don’t fit?

If your closets are stuffed, it is time to weed through things. You can either sell or give items away or pack them up for your next home. Every storage area in your house — including display shelves — should be neat, clean, organized, and clutter-free.

Remove Personal Items

Take down your wedding photos, religious items, the kids’ school pictures, and your collection of refrigerator art. Buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in the house. It will be more difficult if your personal photos, awards, and mementos are evident everywhere. It will not take long to remove these things. Be sure to wrap them carefully and put them in the storage unit.

Remove All Valuables

During the time your house is for sale, you will have several people coming through, including potential buyers, groups of realtors on walk-thru, open houses, inspectors, cleaners and handymen. Before they do, pack up your valuable art collections, crystal, silver, and anything that could be stolen or broken. You will be moving it anyway, so you might as well get it ready ahead of time.

Make a List

As your realtor, I can help you put together a list of items that need fixing. We can walk slowly through every room and look for obvious defects, such as loose door handles, burned out light bulbs, leaking faucets, or stained carpeting. Add to the list little irritants or eye-sores, such as slippery rugs or dangling extension cords. You might as well take the time to make repairs before buyers knock on the door.

Anticipate the Home Inspection

Most buyers hire a third-party inspector to check out the systems of the house prior to purchase. Whenever possible, repair items that could be cited on the report. You will probably not be able to anticipate every inspection item, but you’ll have another chance to fix these later, after the report comes back.

Clean and Repair Tile Grout

You might have lived with gray tile grout or moldy caulk around the tub, but these items may turn off a potential home buyer. Take a good look at your kitchen and bathroom tile. Clean and bleach white grout to remove any stains. Scrape out and re-grout any badly damaged or mildewed areas. Caulk corners, cracks, and gaps around the sink and tub.

Clean like you have never cleaned before

Once the clutter is out of the way, you can really get to some thorough cleaning. Cleaning for home staging goes beyond a regular house cleaning routine. You will want to really concentrate on bringing a sheen to every surface of your house.

Make a list and do the work yourself or hire a cleaning crew to come in after you have moved out the clutter and just before your home goes on the market. Check every surface including windows (inside and out) and window sills, ledges, door knobs, ceiling fan blades, mini blinds, ceiling and floor corners — and make sure they are clean. It might be helpful to make a list of things to be done in every room. Check off the items as you complete them.

Create a Welcoming Entrance

Remember the outside of your house when you are getting ready for buyers. After they see your house from the street, they will notice the front door and porch. Spend some time and money getting this area beautiful.

Wash, scrub, or repaint the front door so that it shines. Replace the door handle if it is weathered and unsightly. Clean any windows in this area until they sparkle. Add a fresh topiary or planter and keep it watered and trimmed. Put a pretty wreath on the door. Stand outside and look into your entry area. It will be the first thing buyer’s see of the inside of your home. Is it welcoming, clean, uncluttered?

For additional advice call Don Thomas 214.641.7001 or email


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