Tips for a Quick Sale

When it comes to selling your house, it can be tempting to ignore some of your Realtor’s advice, especially when they want you to do a bunch of work that may seem unnecessary. The fact is you are not objective about your house. No one is. A Realtor can help you see your own blind spots and get the house in tip-top shape so it will sell quickly.

Declutter – Go through your home and remove at least a third of the stuff. If you cannot do this without help, get help. There are professional stagers who will let you know which furniture to keep in the house and which to sell or store. You want the house to feel spacious. When it’s crammed with your stuff, that cannot happen.

Deep clean – You may not think your house needs a deep clean, but I assure you, it does. Someone who is not familiar with your house will notice the dirt that’s accumulated in the tight spot between the couch and the wall. They will notice the brown spot behind the toilet that you don’t see anymore because it was there when you moved it. They will care about the stovetop that doesn’t sparkle. Buyers look with a critical eye, even more critically than your mother-in-law.

Repair drywall – You may have forgotten about that time when your 14-year-old son punched a small hole in the drywall behind the door, but a buyer will certainly notice it. If you do not know how to repair drywall in workman like manner (and most of us don’t), hire a professional.

Replace shingles (or the whole roof) – If your roof has one or two damaged shingles, you can simply replace those. If the majority are damaged, now’s the time to get an estimate to replace the roof.

Clean carpet – If your carpet shows discoloration, wear patterns, and/or smells funny, get your carpets cleaned. You may not recognize how dirty your carpets have become, but a discerning buyer will. Most carpet cleaners have a minimum charge. Some do pricing by the room, others by the square footage. Check around for competitive pricing.

Regrouting the shower – If your grout is chipped or discolored, consider hiring someone to replace it. Trust me when I say that removing old grout without chipping the tile isn’t as easy as it looks.

Touch up interior paint – If you only have a couple of spots you need to fill the hole where a nail used to hold up a picture, you may be able to spackle and add a little touch up paint yourself. Hopefully you saved some paint from the last time you repainted, so it’ll match. Otherwise, go to Mendo Mill for paint matching so you don’t end up with surprises once the paint dries.

If you have a lot of retouching spots, and it’s been several years since you had the house painted, you’ll probably be happier if you just get the whole interior repainted. Another reason to repaint the whole interior is to replace a color you love but others may not. Neutral colors are best when selling.

Depersonalizing – A close cousin to decluttering is depersonalizing. As you prepare your house for sale, now is a good time to store (or get rid of) knickknacks your child made in third grade. It’s also time to pack away the ceramic figurine collection from your grandmother for two reasons: 1. Prospective buyers may not find your collection as intriguing as you do, and 2. If it’s valuable to you, don’t put it within reach of the strangers who will be walking through your house.

Landscaping – Try to evaluate your landscaping with an unbiased eye, and if you can’t, ask your Realtor for recommendations. Your landscaping will influence a potential buyer’s first impression. Curb appeal is important.

Before you undertake any of these activities, talk to your Realtor. Discuss whether, and to what extent, you need to make improvements. It’s only worth spending time and money on changes that are likely to impact the salability of your property.

If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.

Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 45 years.

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