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  • Lori Jean Buongiovanni


Updated: Dec 18, 2020

If getting the most money for your house is important to you, check out these simple, low cost tips for how to get your house ready for sale. Most of the country is enjoying a sellers market, so why bother with any home readiness at all? The more people who are interested in a home, the more money it will fetch. The nicer the home looks, the more buyer interest you generate and the price will go up. If you are interested in getting the most for your home which is in good condition, up your game with these tips.


You have heard it before, declutter your home. But what does that mean exactly? Clutter can be organized or disorganized. Disorganized clutter is stuff that does not have a place or is not in its place such as mail, extra food, small appliances, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, pet supplies, vitamins and medicine.

Take it room by room and make sure all flat surfaces are 90% clear of anything. Kitchen is key. Coffee maker or toaster can be left out, but no other appliances. No sponges or other cleaning gear even at the sink should be visible, no food out, no mail or papers, no phone chargers or other electronics. Inside the kitchen cabinets should also be organized and clutter free. Spices lined up, boxes of food organized, bags of food put in plastic or glass containers neatly organized in cabinets. The pantry should be stripped of excess, take it down to the bare minimum. Use baskets on the shelves for food in bags or small packages, but don’t throw them in the basket, put them in neatly! Same for the bathroom. Have one or two items on the vanity at most. Fold all the towels neatly in the linen closet. Ideally, nothing should be on the floor in any closet. Clothes should hang freely, not be bunched up so it is hard to get a garment in or out.

Organized clutter is a home that is over decorated. So undecorate your home somewhat to sell it. Your adorable items become clutter to the potential buyers. Take out at least 50% of it to sell. It is really hard to see the house with so much cuteness. People tend to forget the house with too much decor because they never saw the house. Definitely remove furniture that is old, tattered or falling apart. Everything in your home creates a feeling and an image even if it is not conveying.


Clean up like Oprah is coming to visit. Baseboards, window sills, windows inside and out, use Murphy's oil soap to clean wood cabinets or scrub down painted cabinets and get in the grooves. An electric toothbrush is brilliant for this task if you have detailed cabinets. Have your exterior power washed or do it yourself. Powerwash cement, brick, asphalt or wood walkways and decks. Get all the rust out of the bathroom by using Whink which you can purchase online. It’s amazing for getting the rust out of the toilet and tub.


Nothing sells a home like fresh paint. I don’t recommend all white walls. Greige (cross between gray and beige) is ideal with white trim. You can do a paint touch up if your colors are already good and the paint is not in bad shape. You don’t have to have the entire house repainted. Focus on the front entry for a good first impression then the main living area, kitchen, master and master bath. Of course, the more rooms you paint the better your payoff. I recently spent $6,000 for the dining room, kitchen, main hall, back hall and exterior trim touch up on an historic home and boosted the sales price by $18,000. That’s a great return on investment.


This is a high impact area that most sellers do not invest in. Replacing dated ceiling fans with modern fans or lights is a huge boost to the feel of the home. The effect of lighting is also key. Every light switch in the main living area, dining room, and master should be dimmable. Kitchens need lots of bright work lighting. Adding under cabinet lights can be an inexpensive way to add lighting to the kitchen. Bathroom lights and mirrors can be replaced to update an otherwise nice bathroom. Change out the wall outlets if they are the old ivory color, painted, or just groudy. Change every switch and outlet plate in the home to white. I paid $600 to change out most of the outlets, switches and plates in a home and it made a huge difference in the clean factor. Changing the handles and pulls on kitchen and bathroom cabinets to a simple stainless steel or even bronze per your color scheme is super cheap, easy, and effective.

Faucets are not that costly and can make a huge impression in the kitchen and baths. The vanity faucets do not have to match the shower faucets. Changing the shower/tub faucets can be costly.


If your yard already has nice gardens, shrubs and lawn you may need only to tidy it up. Make sure the edging around garden beds is crisp. Use a flat shovel to re-edge your gardens. Dig a little trench around the bed then fill in the bed and the trench with brown mulch. If you are in need of flowers and shrubs, you can even create a flower bed by turning over the grass in your selected area, top off with a few bags of soil, plant new plants, and mulch. Use the edging technique for a crisp edge. If gardening is not your thing, go to a good nursery and get advice. Nandina is a perfect plant in my area (Maryland) because it moves nicely in a little wind, looks good 12 months a year and fits nicely into any garden. I usually spend $200-300 on each of my listings to bring them up to snuff for sale. You can often relocate plants from another area or consolidate them for better effect. I use pots to make the front porch and deck look great. I buy end of season plants for this. I got several Knock Out Roses at half price in September, put them in pots and upped the charm factor for the listing. Hanging plants are perfect to increase curb appeal. If you can’t buy nice big flower pots even indoor plants such as spider plants can work. Impatiens with some vinca vine or other trailing vine mixed in is always a winner.

Weed whack like a crazy person. Clean up messy areas around trees, driveways, sidewalks, along the edge of the road, telephone poles, sewer or well caps etc. Trim dead branches off trees where possible or obvious. And last but not least, if possible, cut the grass on the diagonal the day before the professional photos for your listing photos. Selling your home is all about the impression. Most buyers know if they want to buy a home within the first few seconds in the property So essentially, you have a nano-second to make that impression.

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