7 Ways to Make Your House More Attractive To Home Buyers

Provided by Kevin McVicker of Carolina Realty Brokers

Email: kevin@kevinmcvicker.com Phone: (919) 369-4926

The Importance of Staging

One of the essential steps that must be taken to quickly sell your home is to stage it well. It’s surprising how many folks overlook this necessary part, but the presentation of your home is of the utmost importance. We know. It sounds scary even thinking of tackling such a huge project, but just trust us on this. You’ll be glad that you did.

We’re going to give you a few steps that will help buyers get past just viewing your home as a potential and dreaming of it as their picture perfect home. I know what you’re thinking. You’ve seen all of these articles and blogs about revamping your house to make it sellable, but you just don’t have that kind of cash. It’s okay. Stay calm and take a deep breath, because the fact is that we can lead you to staging your home perfectly know matter how large or small your budget is!

Essential  Step #1: Make it Sparkling Clean

The very first, and possibly most important tip we’re going to give you is to simply clean, clean and clean some more. We all get used to our homes. Most of us don’t keep show places in our day to day lives. We really, truly, actually live in them. That usually means stacks of mail on the table, unfolded laundry on the dryer and hidden unknowns in closets. Did we mention the kid’s toys and litter box? That’s what living in a house is all about, right? Right, but the goal is to convince another couple or family that your home is just perfect for them. That’s tough when they’re surrounded by your stuff.

You see, living in your home also means that you don’t see your home as potential homebuyers might. You just don’t notice what you stare at every single day, but take our word for it, people trying to see if this could be there new haven do notice and are turned off by seemingly innocuous clutter. Not a problem, because this is a task that we can manage with just some elbow grease and time.

First of all, get out your pad and pencil. Start at your front door and do a walk through just as though you were being shown around by your friendly, neighborhood realtor. Put on your fresh eyes and take notes of everything you notice that is unpleasing. It’s not a bad idea to keep track of what you find that is quite pleasant to look at, as well.

Typically, you’ll be starting in the foyer or entrance. Simply make a list entitled foyer, and note everything that needs to be tackled. For example:

Foyer To Do's:

  • Cobwebs in the corner
  • Fingerprints on mirror
  • Spot on carpet
  • Declutter junk basket
  • Take down all but one photo frame
  • Polish table
  • Put up shoes
  • Keep fresh flowers looking and smelling nice

Hall closet To Do's:

  • Funny smell – Go through old shoes and air out
  • Clean off shelf
  • Get rid of mouse trap

See how that works? It’s really simple. You’re quickly taking note of all of the things that need cleaning, straightening and decluttering. Go through your entire house this way, making your notes and keeping your fresh eyes open to the possibilities. Envision just how beautiful your home can really be with a little sprucing up. After all, you want your potential buyers to envision your current home as their future one. Your stinky socks and sneakers won’t help with that, but a bright and shiny entrance will!

Now, once you’ve made your extensive To Do list, you need to make a second list of the supplies that you need to accomplish your tasks. Cleaners, garbage bags, paper towels, polish and even light bulbs might be on this list. The best part is that you’re going to have almost everything that you need on hand, so this spectacular and important tip is nearly cost-free!

Handy Tip: Smell Matters

Smell is incredibly important when you’re trying to sell your home. Some would even say that people buy homes with their noses. It doesn’t matter how beautiful something is, if it smells bad, it just isn’t inviting. You’ve got a handle on this, though. Follow these tips for a home that smells as lovely as it looks.

  • If you’re a smoker, consider going outside for smoke breaks until your home is sold. Non-smokers have noses like bloodhounds, and they often detest that lingering scent.
  • Avoid cooking greasy or incredibly spicy dishes, particularly if you know someone is coming to view your home soon. Stick with the oven! It’ll be better for you, too.
  • Empty the garbage religiously. We all forget sometimes, but make that concerted effort to get it outside every single day from every single room. Make sure fresh bags are in the cans before a viewer is scheduled to visit.
  • Watch the pooches. Believe it or not, some folks just aren’t animal people and they detest the smell of dogs, hamsters and litter boxes. We know you can’t just throw your babies out! Just make adjustments as you can until your home is sold.
  • Keep scented candles handy. Light them a couple of hours before you’re expecting someone to help mask all of those scents that are hard to get rid of. Keep in mind that you don’t want your home to look as though you’re about to have a séance. Just a candle or two will do nicely.
  • Another way to get a pleasant aroma without going into overbearing mode is to add a little cinnamon or vanilla to a tea kettle of water and warm it. It’s lovely.
  • Shampoo the carpet. Some smells just linger, and they get into your carpets just to stay put and torture you. If you don’t have a shampooer, they can be rented fairly inexpensively at department stores, or you can buy a low-end one for about a hundred bucks.
Wash the curtains. It’s the same principal as the carpets. Smells linger in fabrics, so if you can, wash your curtains and any other offending fabrics, such as linens, that can trap odors

Essential  Step #2: Don’t Forget the Yard

Again, this is an important step in the staging of your home and many people simply fail to really see their yardfor what it is. It’s okay. Get out your handy dandy list again, and go to town with your newfound note-taking abilities. Maybe even do a drive-by, since that is the first impression a potential homebuyer is going to have. The neighbors might think you’re a little odd at first, stalking your own house and all, but you’re on a mission. After all, they won’t be your neighbors much longer!

Drive by slowly and just drink it all in. Are the bushes neat? How does the grass look? Is there debris lying around? What you’re trying to see is whether or not your home and yard look like invitations to come on in and have a looksee inside. Or, on the other hand, if they look as though they would send a potential buyer screaming for the nearest exit out of your neighborhood. Chances are there are areas that need some improvement, and that’s just fine. You’ve got those kinds of skills, after all. If you can declutter a whole house, you can absolutely make your yard inviting.

Keep in mind, that neat and simple landscaping is much preferred to elaborate landscaping that is a mess. Don’t feel compelled to put tons of money into this project, but rather declutter and clean just as you did inside of your home already. After all, you want to make as much money off of this sell as possible. Investing tons of money into something that isn’t necessary is essentially eating away at your eventual profit. With that being said, neat shrubs and fresh mulch go a long, long way.

Don’t misunderstand. There may be areas that require a little monetary push. For instance, if your porch light no longer works, it’s advisable to update that. Your steps are broken in a place or two? Go ahead and replace them. But now is not the time to add an underground pool. You see where we’re going with this?

Handy Tip

  • Start at the curb. Is it clean, neat and well kept? Is it littered with garbage, cigarette butts and grass clippings? Clean it up, because this is the first glimpse potential buyers get of your home.
  • We’ve already mentioned checking your bushes for trimming needs, but go a step further. Are your flower beds overgrown? If so, weed them out. Make sure and trim away all dead foliage, as well. It just isn’t pleasing to the eye.
  • Do your walkways need repair? Often, walkways can be mended rather than having to be completely replaced if there’s just crack or two.
  • Take a good look at your outdoor furniture. It can either make or break the look of a patio or porch. A good washing with bleach water might be all that they need to look like new, or they might need a fresh dose of paint. A small amount of cash and effort can go a long way with this.
  • Wash down the outside of your home. Unless you’ve already done so recently, it can likely use a going over. If you don’t have a pressure washer handy, a garden sprayer with bleach water, a hose and sponge mop work great.
  • Don’t forget your outbuildings! Wash them down, as well. Make sure everything is nice and tidy around them.
  • Put up the toys every single day. It can be tough to keep a yard neat when little hooligans are wandering the premises. But simply putting unused toys neatly out of the way can make a yard look much more groomed, and more like a home for couples who don’t have children.

Essential Step #3: Home Improvements to Boost Value

Believe it or not, just the cleaning and simple mending of a yard and home go a long way to making its salability rise astronomically. However, in some cases it may be advisable to take that next step and do some serious updating. This could be advisable in areas where many homes are on the market similar to yours, and you need yours to be distinctive. It could also be the case if you are upside down in your current mortgage and need to get the most out of the deal as possible.

Believe it or not, just the cleaning and simple mending of a yard and home go a long way to making its salability rise astronomically. However, in some cases it may be advisable to take that next step and do some serious updating. This could be advisable in areas where many homes are on the market similar to yours, and you need yours to be distinctive. It could also be the case if you are upside down in your current mortgage and need to get the most out of the deal as possible.

For times like these, you are prepared. The single most inexpensive project you can take on that will both improve the look and the value of your home is fresh paint. You can do it yourself if you’re on a budget, or you can hire painters if you’d rather not tackle such a time consuming affair.

It is essential to remember that you are selling this house, so you need to make sure you choose colors that are going to sell rather than cater to your personal tastes. Neutrals tend to work best. They are clean, open spaces up and allow a fresh pallet where potential buyer’s minds can play out their home ownership fantasies. Neutral, mind you, does not mean all white. Sure white is a neutral sort of color, but it is also sterile. You want your buyers to feel homey rather than hospital-like. Warm it up a bit. Beiges and creams work well. Greys are also nice and seem to be the newest go-to in this area.

Another thing that you can look at updating that carries a little more bang for your buck is replacing old worn floor coverings with hardwood. No, this is not dirt cheap. However, if you really need to raise the value of your home, this is a great way to do it.

Handy Tips

Here’s the conundrum. What do you do if you’re on a tight budget and you need to make some of these higher cost projects happen? Well, it is going to take more money, and there’s no way around that. However, you can cut your costs by being frugal and using your imagination.

  • Shop the paints that have been mixed incorrectly for other customers. They’re often half the price of original paint, and the colors aren’t necessarily horrific, but rather not specifically what someone else wanted. The worst that can happen is that there is nothing of use to you when you browse.
  • Buy paint, rollers and accoutrements in bulk. Did you know you can buy a five gallon jug of paint? You can, and it costs less than buying five separate gallons.
  • Go to local discount stores for your flooring, lighting and hardware needs. You can often find steals just because something is from last year and is being discontinued.
Don’t be afraid to shop for flooring on social media either. Countless times there are people who have bought excessive flooring and want to sell it inexpensively just to get it out of the way. There are even moments where folks just up and change their minds about the floor they want to put down, and they sell huge lots on the cheap.

Essential Step #4: Organize and Declutter

Decluttering can be daunting. After all, you’re still living in your house. You might need your stuff! The goal of decluttering is not to empty your house but to selectively remove anything that distracts buyers from seeing what they are getting with your house.

Here are some tips for decluttering room by room:


  • Clear counters of small appliances.
  • Keep towels and potholders in drawers, not dangling from the oven handle.
  • Corral sponges and cleansers in a shallow bowl under the sink.
  • Pack rarely used appliances (crockpots, fondue pots, roasters), tools and pans (see you later, Bundt pan!)
  • Collect teacups, plates, pitchers, molds or anything else? Pack away all but a few. Leave up a handful of strategically placed accessories to call buyers’ attention to the decorative shelving.
  • Pot racks, utensils hanging on walls and other open kitchen storage can be unsightly and even dangerous, if people are in danger of hitting their heads or brushing up against sharp gear. Take it all down and swap in plain wallboard.
  • Pack away rarely used staples and gear like seasonal cookie cutters, extra aprons, and unusual spices to air out pantries, drawers and cabinets. People need to envision their own stuff in the storage spaces.
  • Remove evidence of problems, such as ant powder, from closets.


  • Corral prescription drugs in a child-safe area or, better yet, secure them in a different location to keep them from harm’s way.
  • Find a different or temporary home for jewlery, perfume, and rarely used toiletries.
  • Pack or toss all but three changes of linens to create an airy look in your closets.
  • Refresh shelf and drawer liners.
  • Remove evidence of mothballs.
  • Corral cleaning gear in a single, child-safe spot.
  • Clean and repair grout.


  • Pack out-of-season clothes and linens and store off-site.
  • Choose a pretty, light set of linens for each bed, with crisp decorative pillows. Now is the time to wash comforters, duvets and quilts so they glow.
  • Keep only a couple family photos on display. Pack the rest and secure off-site.

Living, Dining and Family Rooms

  • Edit your book piles. Clear away all but a few volumes: what you’re currently reading, and perhaps a few for accessorizing.
  • Clear out stacks of magazines and hobby materials. Stacks, even if neat and straight, add weight and visual clutter to rooms.
  • Is there sufficient lighting for reading and tasks? Rearrange lighting to ensure that the rooms are well lit at any time of day or night.
  • Clean the window treatments and the windows. If your window treatments involve numerous layers, consider leaving only the decorative layer.
  • If your walls are covered with attention-grabbing artwork, shrink your arrangement to a tasteful few.
  • Examine walls and woodwork for dirt and chips. Will cleaning be enough, or do surfaces need to be repainted? Ditto for switchplates.
  • Choose only a few pillows for accents. Ditto for tables and shelves holding collections.
  • Reconsider throw rugs. The last thing you want is for a throw rug to throw a potential buyer, figuratively or literally. Either secure them with floor grips, or pack them away.
  • Make sure you have a safe, consistent landing spot for TV and sound system remotes, far from the hands of children.
  • Limit the number of toys kept in any room, and create a place where the remaining toys can quickly be collected, such as a large basket. If you have a baby or toddler, consider laying a large, light blanket on the floor as a temporary play area. When it’s time to tidy for a showing, you can just gather the four corners of the blanket and voila, the toys are collected and can be plopped in a basket or box.

High Traffic Areas

  • Front halls set the first impression. Yours should offer an obvious spot for setting down purses, umbrellas, totes and coats.
  • Remove out of season gear from the hall closet.
  • Make sure the doorbell and entrance systems (locks and security systems) work smoothly and consistently.
  • What is the view from the front door? Remove extraneous furniture so the sightline is as long as possible. The more of your house that visitors can see from the front door, the more intrigued they will be—and that will draw them into the house.
  • Remove hooks and hanging things from halls, especially if the halls are used as storage for coats. The hall will seem narrow and even dangerous to visitors who are dodging hooks as they walk through.

Essential Step #5: Focus on Functionality

Nobody is fooled by clever staging that camouflages worn-out appliances and systems.

if you are not sure that all electric, plumbing and structural work complies with municipal codes, request an inspection. If you have to bring your house into code compliance, better to do so on your own terms with contractors you choose, than to have compliance forced on you in the midst of negotiating the sale.

If your appliances are more than 10 years old, they might look outdated, even if they are perfectly functional. Tour a few open houses in your area to see what finishes and functions are commanding top price. Focus on the basics: a high quality stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, and solid faucet. Don’t get carried away with gimmicky add-ons such as built-in espresso makers, which are costly and have limited appeal. You will probably not get your money back on those.

Essential Step #6: Make It Inviting

Your goal is to help potential buyers envision your house as theirs. To do that, they need to see the details of your house. To do that, they need to spend time in it. Your goal in staging is to entice visitors to linger in each room so they can absorb its features and see its benefits.

  • Consider the view from each doorway. How can you encourage visitors to step in each room? A small scenario often works, such as an arrangement of an easy chair and lamp that is partly visible from the door.
  • Fresh flowers only partially visible from the door will entice visitors to enter the room.
  • Make sure seating is arranged so it is open to visitors, not with backs to them, which prevents them from entering the room.
  • If your furniture is badly outdated or worn, consider storing it and bringing in a few bright, clean rental pieces.

Essential Step #7: Stage a Friendly Walk-Thru

Unless you are a rigid minimalist, you probably have quite an accumulation of things if you’ve lived in your house for any period of time. Pictures, books, accessories, knickknacks, small appliances, toys, pet gear, hobby materials… The piles can seem endless.

Get a friend whose decorating taste you admire to tour your house with you and give you constructive criticism about where you need to pare back. Your goal: to help buyers see the house you are selling. Any furniture or decorating that prevents them from seeing the best features of your house should be your first staging priority. For example, the master bathroom might have classic fixtures and cabinetry in excellent condition…that buyers look right past because they fixate on the tropical-fish shower curtain you purchased as a vacation souvenir. Fun for you, but a distraction when selling the house.

Ask your friend for a no-holds-barred critique. Then, put the free feedback to good use.

We’d love to help you out with any other questions that you might have. We’re here for you! Give us a call if we can be of any further assistance to you.