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January 12th, 2009
How to sell a home in tough times

San Marcos Area Board of REALTORS®

Real estate experts say that the three most important factors in selling a house are location, condition and price. As a seller, there isn’t much you can do about the location of your home and pricing should be a something that you and your Texas Realtor discuss in earnest.

You do, however, have direct control over ensuring that the home is appealing to buyers when it’s on the market. Here are some tips to get you started:

Showing the house

Many great homes sit on the market because the house doesn’t show well. Luckily, there’s a lot a seller can do to improve the way the house shows.

 Make sure the house smells good. You don’t have to bake cookies, but pet odor, tobacco smoke or the stench of greasy cooking are a negative. Buyers may get a negative impression of the home, even if the odors are temporary. Air out the house well before the scheduled showing or ask your Realtor about services you can use.

 Shed some light on the situation. Buyers like a house to be light and bright, so accommodate them! Turn on as many lights as possible and open every window covering. All drapes, curtains and blinds should be positioned to let in maximum light.

 Get rid of the magazine stacks, piles of mail and anything extra. Clutter is not a good thing when showing a house.

 Make sure that everything is spotless. Pay particular attention to the bathrooms and the kitchen. In the bathrooms, towels should be fresh, sinks and baths scrubbed, and the floor cleaned. In the kitchen, make sure all dishes are put away and countertops and sinks cleaned.

 Leave Fido or Muffy with a neighbor. Not everyone is comfortable around animals.

 Last, and perhaps most important, get out of the house! Nothing detracts from a buyer’s experience more than a seller who makes no effort to leave. If leaving is not an option, at least make yourself inconspicuous.

Maintenance – through a buyer’s eyes

Even if you’ve diligently performed maintenance and upgrades since you’ve owned your home, listing it for sale requires looking at your home with more critical eyes. You may have a friend or relative help with this (it’s usually more helpful if the person helping doesn’t live in the home).Your Texas Realtor can also offer perspective and may give you advice on how to make it more appealing to buyers.

The first step is to make a positive first impression – and that starts with the exterior. It’s your buyer’s first introduction to the house and it needs to look great. Stand at the curb and look at your house as a buyer might. What stands out and catches your eye? Is it the great landscaping and gently arching oak trees? Or is it the shabby exterior paint job, the tree roots pushing the walkway out of the ground or the cracks in the brickwork you always meant to fix? First impressions count. If your house’s exterior is unattractive, your buyers will move on to the next house.

Here are exterior “polishing” tips that will go a long way toward a great first impression:

 Remove any junk or clutter from the yard, including tree limbs and leaves, and especially those junk cars and heavy machinery. If the exterior is dirty or moldy, power-wash it. If it needs paint, get competitive bids.

 Trim all shrubbery and plantings. Trim trees if necessary, especially dead limbs. Re-seed any bare areas of the lawn.

 Power-wash and seal, stain or paint decks and porches. Also check gutters and downspouts to make sure they are clear and working properly.

 Make sure that all exterior lights are operational.

 Add mulch to planting beds and around trees, and plant colorful flowers. Both are inexpensive, effective ways of freshening the look of the home.


If you need major improvements or renovations, do them before you put the house on the market. The average buyer simply doesn’t want to deal with extra work, and with the glut of houses available in some markets, they may not have to.

Locked down

Finally, make sure you give your Realtor the okay to use a lockbox. Without a lockbox, Realtors are forced to set appointments with you to see the house – and that can be very inconvenient for everyone. Your listing contract usually specifies whether you allow a lockbox, so to avoid missing out on selling opportunities, most Realtors will recommend that you have one on your house.

Trust me … following these tips will increase your chances to sell the home more quickly. For more helpful information about real estate in the Lone Star State, I invite you to visit

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