Get Your House In Order – 6 Ways To Sell Your Home On Your Terms

| By Peggy Crowe |

Selling your home isn’t something you do on a whim; it takes time, energy, effort and the willingness to take advice from professionals who know what it takes to sell your home quickly, for the price you want. I doubt that any REALTOR® has entered a house that didn’t need a makeover in some form or fashion. This can range from putting away personal items, de-cluttering, staging, bringing out the best in your yard, and addressing structural maintenance.

Peggy Crowe

Your goal is to see your home through the buyers’ eyes where it is so appealing that they have to have it. Buyers must initially be wowed by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) photos that reflect the ease they will feel once they walk in. However, beauty is only skin deep. Ensuring your home has few maintenance issues to address will seal the deal, leaving you with more cash in your pocket. Here are 6 ways to sell your home quickly on your terms.

1. Depersonalize

In order for a home to hit the MLS it must be in the best shape possible. This is critical for the photographs to immediately catch the eye of buyers. This means that clutter is gone (not just hidden) and that the home is an inviting open space that buyers can’t wait to see and will feel at home once they get there.

In my September, 2016 article, (see online) I wrote about how depersonalizing your home feels like ripping the life out of your house. It’s true and here’s why. You want your potential buyers to be able to visualize their things in your space. If all they can see are family photos everywhere then your potential buyers just saw YOUR home and NOT theirs.

It’s not just photos either. All of those knick-knacks that you have been collecting for years may look wonderful to you but they only serve to cloud the judgment of even the most savvy buyers. What you are looking for is elegant simplicity. Take your best pieces of furniture, art, etc., and configure them so it is easy for prospective buyers to imagine your good taste translating into their good taste.

2. Declutter

De-cluttering has many benefits for you and your buyers. This is the perfect time to decide what’s important enough to move. Go through one room at a time, especially junk rooms, garages and basements ¬– the worst offenders. Put things into piles: keep, donate, throw away or maybe. Have your children outgrown those toys? Have you worn that outfit in the last few years? Would your items be a godsend to those in need? Having boxes labeled and ready to go is a strong signal to potential buyers that they can move in quickly. Want to know the best part? You will be amazed at how freeing this process can be, leaving you with less to move or put into storage (where you will never see it again).

The hardest part for most active sellers on a day-to-day basis is virtually clearing everything off the kitchen and bathroom counters. (Look at photos of homes that you like online to see how often the star power homes are like this.) Once again, this goes back to getting rid of appliances, etc., that you no longer use to make room for what you do. Start getting used to putting things away where you can easily get to them and then “hide” them again. Make sure that things you use on a daily basis, like your coffee pot, are easily accessible. Otherwise it will become tiresome quickly.

Don’t forget to clean. You may have overlooked cobwebs in the corners or dust bunnies under the couch but your potential buyers will notice them right away. Ensure that the kitchen and bathrooms are especially spit shined and that your refrigerator is clean inside and out. Sorry, no magnets and notes allowed. (That’s hard, I know!) Cleaning doors or touching up paint, especially around the handles that get the most use, seems like a small thing but can have a huge subliminal impact.

4. Staging

If you are unsure of what to do, as most sellers are, ask your REALTOR® . They will know how to help or know an interior decorator who can rearrange what you have and possibly rent a few items to make your house pop. I listed a home that had furniture in most of the rooms but not the entry living room. I simply rented a couch, lamps, coffee and side tables, adding a nice piece of art. Viola! We’d just created an appealing room that beckoned buyers in that showed off the fabulous original hardwood floors and huge living room. It was under contract in 24 days.

Staging may also include other time consuming tasks such as painting. If your interior is showing obvious signs of wear and tear, a paint job in neutral colors can overcome all kinds of “color blindness” that all buyers seem to possess: if they don’t like your paint color (especially bright colors) then your home may have just dropped from their “Most Wanted” list. Often, just patching holes and painting them is enough to give your home a totally refreshed look.

4.Yard Appearance

When you think of clutter, don’t forget your yard, especially since it is the first thing prospective buyers see. Get rid of all dead plants, branches or brush piles. If you have walkways or retaining walls, check to make sure all materials, like railroad ties, are sturdy.

Structural maintenance

If you neglect to address the visual issues, it will only make potential buyers wonder, “If this is how they keep their house, what is wrong that I can’t see?” That is truly the biggest threat of all. Anyone who has ever owned a home knows that most of the money spent for upkeep is for structural maintenance, the things that buyers don’t look at until later.

When you list, you will have to honestly fill out a Residential Property Disclosure, which notes if there are any problems with the house and the age of your systems. An old roof and HVAC are strong red flags while newer ones automatically put buyers at ease. If you know there are leaks, electrical problems, or other systems that don’t work as intended, fix them now if at all possible.

You may have spent a bundle on upgrading the house so that it looks great but if the systems aren’t in good shape, it will cost you. There are two levels of negotiation; the initial one is mainly based on price and terms. The most important one, a potential deal killer, is after the home inspection where every problem has been exposed. If you don’t have the money to address problems on the front end, be prepared to negotiate for a lower price, so build this into your sales price. If you have taken care of the most obvious problems, then the buyers will have less room for negotiating things that will lessen your net from the sale and they will have a higher comfort level in the home they are buying. Win!


You need to be cautious here and enlist the help of your real estate professional. There may be a few changes that are cost-effective, such as replacing old appliances with new ones (stainless steel is the new trend). But unless you are completely retrofitting, don’t go overboard with remodeled bathrooms and kitchens. The new owners may well have plans of their own and will tear out your expensive makeover. Changing out hardware and light fixtures, however, can be a cost-effective way to make the old feel new again.

If you have that perfect place for a firepit, then potential buyers can visualize themselves having a wonderful evening outside. When you taketh away, then you giveth back. Add flowers or plants, whether artificial or real, to brighten your home. Evergreens in pots outside, warmly lit rooms and fireplaces can go a long way to give your home that perfect touch to get those prospective buyers to say, “This is the one!

At the end of the day you want your home to stand out from the others on the market. By de-cluttering, cleaning, staging, and upgrading the essentials you have exponentially increased your chances of a quick sale and a nice profit. You’ve got this!

Peggy Crowe is a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker King. While based out of downtown Asheville and living in West Asheville, she is familiar with Buncombe and the contiguous counties and is happy to give you no charge tips on how to best sell your home. Don’t hesitate to call her at 828-318-4423 or email:

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker