Dollars and Sense

Cash in on Your Home Sale

You hear a lot of talk about “the housing market”: It’s a buyer’s market…it’s a seller’s market…the market is soft…the market is active. All this chatter might lead you to think that as a seller you’re simply at the whim of all-powerful economic forces. But you do have some say in what your home sells for, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Taking a few simple steps can help you realize a higher selling price for your home than if you just let it loose on the market.

Get a good real estate agent
You may be tempted to try to go it alone, but remember that top real estate agents have a wealth of knowledge. They can give you practical area-specific tips that are easy to implement and can make you thousands of extra dollars when it comes time to close the deal. Unless you are an experienced seller of homes, you will likely find that the benefit is worth more than what you paid in commission.

Get the latest comps
Housing markets in some areas can change rapidly and all it takes is one high seller to raise the bar. While top real estate agents will be plugged into what comparable houses have sold for recently, it can’t hurt to stay up on these numbers on your own. The multiple listings service published by is a great way to keep up to date on the latest sales, as are sites and

Have your agent at the appraisal
A low real estate appraisal of your home’s value can kill your dreams of realizing a high price on your sale. Get an appraisal from a qualified professional, but make sure your real estate agent is there to point out important features and to remind the appraiser of the most recent comparable sales. A little “helpful information” in the appraiser's ear can make a big difference.

Time it right
If you have the option of waiting for a top price, be open to that possibility. If your agent or your own research tells you the local market is a bit saturated right now but showing signs of building serious steam, weigh the option of holding off a few months to sell. Of course there is inherent risk in doing this, but it could get you a much better price in the right situation.

Fix it up
If there are annoying little repairs around the house that need to be made, get them taken care of. A cracked wall plate might seem minor to you, but if unfixed it can contribute to an image in a buyer’s mind that the place is a fixer-upper. Using a few dollars to fix small items like these can keep thousands of dollars from evaporating from the offers you receive.

Always remember that a buyer doesn’t want to move into your home, they want to move into their home. Your personal Beanie Babies museum might hold a lot of sentimental value for you, but buyers want to have an empty palate to create their own environment. Always keep the K.I.S.S. acronym in mind: Keep It Simple, Seller!

Beautify inside and out
You’ve probably already thought about scrubbing down your kitchen and vacuuming in the living room to create a nice presentation for a potential buyer. But don’t forget about the exterior aesthetics. A roof covered in leaves and various sports equipment, or an unkempt lawn can be as off-putting as a dirty kitchen floors.

Sweeten the pot
Everybody wants to feel like they are getting something extra in the deal. Offering to cover closing costs, pay for a year of home owner warranty, or ensure a quick closing can set you apart. Plus, these things don't actually cost you a lot.

Maximize online tools
Studies have shown that pictures are vital to getting potential buyers out to see your home. More great pictures in online listings = more viewings = more bids = better offers for you. And don’t just use real estate listing sites. Put pictures on your Facebook page too. Just don’t show or list the address for safety reasons. Recently, some sellers have even created YouTube videos to paint for potential buyers a picture of the virtues of the home and surrounding area.

Home sales by nature are very competitive. Taking a few relatively simple steps to set your property apart can get you the price you want.

10 more inexpensive ways to squeeze some extra dollars out of your selling price

  • Highlight available storage space by emptying out closets and utility areas.
  • Emphasize any energy efficient measures you have taken in the home.
  • Adding a few potted plants around the front or back door can create an inviting transition between indoors and outside.
  • Be willing to leave a few of your non-essential personal possessions behind if will help entice a buyer.
  • Keep rooms as gender neutral as possible since you don’t know which members of the new family will be spending the most time in them.
  • Invite over some friends to smell-test your home. You may have gotten used to its aroma over the years, but it may not be appealing to a general audience.
  • Buyers like to the picture the happy times they will spend in the home, so add patio furniture to a deck or patio to help them envision fun get-togethers.
  • Make sure you home is well-lit to create feelings of warmth and spaciousness.
  • The front door is usually the first thing a potential buyer touches and see up close on a house, so make a great first impression with a new door.
  • Remove family pictures so potential buyers don’t feel like they are intruding on your space.

Recommended Reading

Sell Your Home Fast - 201 Home Staging Secrets, Thea Olsen, 2012
It’s easy to look around your home and collect visual reminders of cherished memories: laughs with loved ones; occasions of triumph; quiet times of simple bliss. But those aren't going to transfer over to the next people to live in there. One of the biggest challenges of successfully selling your domicile is creating an environment in which a potential buyer can see the home’s ability to help them create those same kinds of special moments for their family. Without a doubt, you could hire an interior design expert who specializes in staging homes for sale. Or you could save several hundred dollars and buy Thea Olsen’s eBook and get the same information on creating an inviting feel to the home you are selling.

Olsen helps you get out of the mindset of seeing your home as a place you have lived and into the framework or seeing it as a buyer wants to view it. Thankfully in Olsen's techniques, this doesn't involve adding crystal chandeliers and expensive antiques. The advice she gives is definitely geared toward the budget-conscious. Going through the entire house, Olsen will point out little things that can make a big difference is attracting loads of buyers to your property. That is certainly worth a few dollars for this eBook and the time spent to read it.

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