And They Want How Much For This Place?: Home Selling Tips Realtors Need To Reinforce & Owners Need to Hear.

Russell Riendeau
Updated 12/7/2020 10:36 AM

You want the best price to sell your home and you want to sell it yesterday, right?

Regardless of your home's listing price and all the pretty pictures online with expensive staging, Realtors still show your house live with buyers. And this is when too many deals fall apart or the offer you receive is way below what you expected.


Why? Because the home is not clean and appears not to be maintained with care. And this is the responsibility of both the homeowner and your Realtor.

Consistently, we read about surveys and horror stories about how little effort sellers invest in how their property shows. Dirt, rotten food in the fridge, pet odors (cats have caused more deals to go south than any animal on the planet), water leaks, mold on walls, dead mice behind washing machines--the list goes on. If your home looks, smells, feels unmaintained, the home inspector will not be on your side and the offer--if it ever is written--will not be what you expect.

As a former homebuilder, investor buying and selling and consulting on how to sell properties, I, like you, realize what critical areas in a home can cause heartburn and trepidation in buyers not wanting to have to fix/replace broken stuff in your house for sale.

If you're selling now or thinking about selling, here's a checklist to insure your home is looking it's best to secure the best offer. And if you're a Realtor, it's your responsibility to hold your client accountable to present a home that shows respectfully, and doesn't hamper your reputation of presenting a good product. If the homeowner doesn't realize what's important--it's your job to coach them, pure and simple. No excuses.

1.Clean the house to an inch of its life. Hire a crew if need be, but clean it. Every single corner should shine. No cobwebs, bugs, dirt, pet hair, soap scum, or grime under/behind appliances, tops of cabinets or under sinks. Show pride in the home.

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2. If it smells like cat urine, get rid of the carpet that stinks and find a place for the cat to live for a while. Cat urine kills every deal. If it smells like cigarette smoke, do what is needed to eliminate it. Listen to your Realtor.

3.Dirty carpet gives the perception you don't care about how you take care of your home. True or not, that's the impression. Clean sells.

4.Dirty windows, screens and tracks need attention. Clean, lubricate and make them sparkle.

5.Front door damage, scratched, threshold dirty? Entries tell what condition the home will be in what pride a owner takes. Paint it, clean it.

6. If something is broke, fix it. Invest a little now or get a lowball offer later.

7.Utility rooms: Wipe and shine up the furnace and water heater like a new car! New furnace filter, clean behind it, wash the floor, add a brighter light bulb, clean the dryer vent and make sure it's hooked up properly. Wipe the washer and dryer too, clean the shelves of supplies and wipe out the utility sink. If your mechanicals are not spotless, they look like they don't work properly. Does the water softener even work? Is there salt or a dead body in the salt tank?


8. Sump pump pits: Spray paint the cover to make pretty, clean out the pit, wipe the discharge pipes to look white again.

9. Window wells: Have you looked in window well in the past 10 years? It's a jungle and cemetery in there. Clean out the bones of mice and frogs, clean the window and well cover so the sunlight can actually get through. Add more stone to level the area to look clean.

10. If there is any leaking faucets, drains under sinks, shut off valves, get them fixed now. If a shut off valve is frozen, this dangerous and it will cost you a lower offer. Run drain cleaner in every sink and clean out the hair balls hanging from tub and sink drains. Make sure drains run properly.

11. Label every shut off valve, every breaker, damper, etc. with a fresh, bright label to show you care and make it easy for the owner to see where things are. It shows you are aware of these simple things. This scores points with home inspectors.

12. Clean out ceiling vents and return air grills. Wipe the dirt, replace rusty ones and level every outlet cover to make things look crisp and well kept.

13. Crawl spaces. Clean out junk and add a fresh plastic liner to keep moisture and odors to a minimum and to show you take care of your home. Add a brighter bulb and remove any old dirty insulation hanging from the ceiling or side walls.

14. Check for mold in your attic. You can't hide it and if you don't fix it now, you'll have to fix it later. Bite the bullet and repair it.

15. Replace toilet seats that are ancient. Clean the caps and rinse out the water tank with bleach so it looks cleaner, working order and smells better.

16. Fix sink drains and dripping faucets. Secure towel bars.

17. Re-caulk bath and shower tile. Filthy scummy, hard water stained fixtures are not appealing.

18. Kitchen: Clean and level every door, every hinge and wipe out under every cabinet and make it shine and get rid of anything that is not pretty or clean. Run vinegar thru the dishwasher and clean the fried interior like your mother-in-law was going to inspect this weekend.

19. Closets: Clean it, deodorize it and your 30 pair of shoes too.

20. Vacuum under the beds and make sure closet doors work.

21. Clean the fireplace and make sure the damper works, the hearth is clean and the doors are clean, working and are safe. Make it appealing, not look like a fire hazard.

22. Do bath and bedroom door locks work? Are they loose, sticking or missing? Fix them now. Door bumpers broken? Holes in the wall? Closet pull chains not working?

23. The garage: if it looks like a disaster, buyers presume it will take too long for you to get out after closing. Clean it out, paint the walls and brighten the lite bulb.

24. Clean your gutters and downspouts, trim bushes from windows and clean the sidewalks and outdoor light fixtures. Does the front door lock work easy? Does the doorbell work? Make it look inviting, clean and safe.

25. Information accessible: Have warranty cards, instruction booklets, HOA info all neatly placed in a folder. Make it easy for buyers to see you care.

The cost and investment in completing these items is far less than what the offer on your home will be discounted to when you see it.

Show buyers you take pride, take care and are proactive in maintaining your home. Realtors don't like being embarrassed showing properties that are not kept up and they won't work hard to get you the best offer either. Realtors don't want to make excuses for a poor looking property and won't bring their best customers to show your house. They're paid and incented to sell the sellable houses for the best price. Don't blame the realtor if you home doesn't look as good as it could. Tough love conversations, but no one else is going to tell you the truth you already know.

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