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April 29, 2024

Getting the Most Out of Your Used Home Listing

Recently, I got a request for a blog – Getting Houses Ready for Resale. Initially, I didn’t think this was relevant for me to talk about – since most of our readers are focused on selling new homes – not “used homes”. But then it occurred to me that many of my readers may have a house that they want to sell at some point. Additionally, many new home buyers may have a house they need to sell in order to buy a new home. Sounds like a good enough reason for me!

Oh – and I just so happen to be getting ready to list my own home, so a quick refresher is useful for me as well!


Perhaps the biggest obstacle to selling your own home is you and your stuff. Many of us become blind to how much “stuff” we have but don’t need or use.  Decluttering will make your house feel larger. Few want to take this very important first step. But if they don’t, they will just add to their moving expenses with an unnecessary number of boxes. And sorry – shoving things into closets isn’t the acceptable alternative since would be buyers will open all the closets to see how big they are. A closet that is overstuffed looks small – just like a house full of clutter.

It’s Not Personal

Now that step one complete with the clutter removed, take a hard look at what’s left. Just like polite conversation, avoid anything political and religious. Sorry, no presidential paraphernalia – whether its books on the bookshelf, hats in your closet, or mugs by the coffee station. Some realtors have suggested you remove all pictures of family. I believe this is discretionary, since one interior merchandiser goes out of her way to add a few family pictures around the house.

Clean Up – Touch Up

The more stuff that you take away from the house – the more you might see a stain on the carpet or that scuff on the wall.  Yes – that drywall corner that is chipped needs to be repaired.


And don’t forget to get the windows cleaned.  Once your deep cleaning is complete – you must keep it clean. Not sure how to get that done if you have a house full of kids – short of shipping them off to the Marines.



Light it Up

The first thing your realtor should do is to turn on all the lights before the buyers arrive. That means every light fixture and lamp should have a working light bulb – duh.  Maybe it is not a light you regularly turn on – but all the light helps to make your house look bigger. It will also reveal if your house isn’t clean – which takes us back to the previous point.  And while you’re checking your light bulbs, feel free to increase the brightness – which is now possible with the amazing light bulb choices available today.  Pull up any blinds around the house – pull back the drapes to let the sunshine in and enable the expansive view to the outside.

Make It Like a Model

To really make the house feel special, think about it as a model home. There should be music playing – especially if your house has a sound system that the would-be buyers might not notice. It should smell good, so go ahead and have some scented “plug-ins” around the house. If you have a pet – make sure buyers can’t tell from the smell. Have an image on the TV. If it is an Apple TV, there is a wonderful series of images the TV can cycle through. If you have a gas fireplace that comes on with the click of a button – make sure it is on.

If there is a pool and spa – make sure they are running – especially if they include the sound of water moving.

Lights, Action, Camera

Now that the house is decluttered, cleaned, and well lit and staged with flickering fire and TV’s  – what a great time to take pictures. Make sure to hire a good photographer and be sure to scrutinize the shots they take.  Have a few accessories ready to embellish the shots including a bowl of fresh fruit in kitchen, fresh flowers in key rooms, wine glasses in the sitting area.

Be sure to include the view from the kitchen sink to allow buyers to understand how the house will live. If you have a big closet – take a picture of it along with the walk-in pantry. A few evening or dusk shots will allow would be buyers to see the house at different times of day.

Lively Listing

Remember, most buyers will see your house on the internet first. This is all about that first impression. Assemble your amazing photography starting and ending with a couple of great shots. Then you can organize them as if they were walking through the house.  It will help them understand the house better. This means the master bath should follow the master bedroom, the kids’ bath should be after the kids’ bedrooms, and so on.

Make a list of all the amazing features in the home not apparent from the photos like the convection feature in the oven, the nest thermostat, and the reverse osmosis water purifier. Be sure to capture the community amenities in your description. Don’t forget to list the nuances of your location including proximity to shopping, dining, school and even the means of transportation. (Just 20 minutes to the beach or international airport).

Don’t Forget the Floor Plan

I realize this may be a difficult step for many, but it is so worth it. Sorry – a set of the working drawings will not cut it. If you know an architect and entice them with a bottle of wine, you may get them to embellish the drawing including adding color and furniture so buyer can understand how the house lives. Better still, have a 3D tour of the home so that the prospective buyer can “walk” through the house online. Include the site plan. If the house doesn’t have a pool but has room for one, you could delineate how big a pool and where it could be located.

Bottom Line

Let’s be realistic. A resale home is a used home. There are many steps you can take to make it look like a gently used home. Remember buying a home should be an emotional decision for your buyers. Think about all the ways they should fall in love with your home. Putting in the effort will improve your chances of standing out in a sea of used homes.

What Else?

If you’re in the business and have some tips and tricks – please pass them along. This one is personal to me because we are about to put our current home on the market!

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This post was written by Housing Design Matters