Top seven things to do before you sell

  1. Clean up the front yard. You must get buyers out of their car. Get in your car and park at your curb. What do you see? Rake the rock, trim the trees and shrubs. Replace that broken mailbox. These are inexpensive ways to add value and curb appeal.
  2. Paint the front door. Use a high-gloss finish. This is your first impression and promise of good things to come. If you get a buyer leaning the right way, they may forgive things. Start them off on the wrong foot and there is no flaw that they will miss.
  3. Replace the carpet. As that front door opens, the first thing you see is the flooring. It is right there under your first step inside and then it is everywhere. Tired carpet costs you money. New carpet smells fresh. You may want to consider wood or tile replacements but use restraint. The moment you lay that tile, you lose someone who prefers another finish. Plus, flooring can be expensive. Remember, we are turning dimes into dollars, not the other way around.
  4. Paint the interior walls, trim and woodwork. Like carpet, paint is inexpensive and it covers many flaws. Be sure to keep the colors neutral. When it comes to woodwork, ten cents worth of paint can save a dollar’s worth of new cabinets. Like tile, the wrong cabinet replacement can lose as many buyers as it gains.
  5. Replace laminate counter tops. With some homes this should be number one. Old, out of style, horizontal surfaces can seem daunting to the buyer. Go with granite, corian or quartz. Tile squares may be a step up from laminate but they are much closer to replacement than enhancement.
  6. Make the back yard inviting. We all imagine ourselves spending time outside. Set a table for dining, consider the lighting. Selling in the summer, you might install misters. In the winter, buy an outdoor heater like your favorite restaurant has.
  7. Address the eyesores. It is face-the-music time. If you are going to turn dimes into dollars, you must be honest with yourself. Walk your home with a buyer’s eyes. Would you buy this home? Eyesores can be anything from an old appliance to a tired light fixture from the seventies. Be brave, be bold, but remember to be thrifty.

There is a story about one of the old masters whose paintings were already in museums during his lifetime. The story goes that the night watchman would find the elderly artist sneaking in at midnight to touch up his work. You must find a stopping place. Many profits have been spent after the work is complete.


Joseph Callaway is co-owner of Those Callaways Real Estate, Arizona’s leading independent brokerage located in the Magic 85254 Zip Code.