Thursday, March 7, 2013

Top 3 Free Things You Can Do to Sell Your Home

Do you ever watch "Hoarders" on TV?  I think it comes on HGTV.  I'm not sure why it would be on that network, but it serves as an inspiration for those of us that fall into the "almost hoarder" category. 

When folks are thinking about listing their homes for sale, some of  my colleagues are able to convince their listers to hire a stager, rent furniture and spend lots of money, while my clients tend to want to hang on to their hard earned money and spend as little as possible. My job is to figure it out, give them a list of what they can do at little or no cost and get it sold for the most money in the least amount of time possible. 

Placing a home on the market instantly changes its status from home to product.  Think about buying a new dress or even a new car.  A new dress that's missing a button or has a dirt spot or a ripped hem will be discounted by the merchant or it will never sell.  A car with dings or dirty carpet will not sell for full price.  It just doesn't happen.  So why do people think that they can get top dollar for their home when it is cluttered and even worse dirty and in a sad state?

My top three things you can do if you seriously have no money to invest in prepping your home for sale involve the 3 C's.  Clutter, Cut and Clean.

1.  Your first step should be to de-CLUTTER.  Seriously.  Hoarders - get rid of your junk.  Less is more and yes, that does include your garage.  Breaking up is hard to do, but If you haven't used it in 6 months, you probably don't need it. Buyers will open drawers and closets and refrigerators. They will see your clutter and the accompanying dirt.  That clutter could cost you a few coins when they bring an offer.  You should be able to walk around the furniture on easy paths in the living, sleeping and dining areas.

 Minimize the decorative items.  Kitchen counters should be cleaned and all but 3 functional items removed.  Maybe a toaster, a coffee pot and your knives will be enough for most except for the very largest kitchens.  Buyers will want to see the countertops. 

Bathrooms follow the same rule.  Flush the toilet (yep, some sellers don't) and put the lid down.

Remove shampoo bottles , soaps, lotions  bathtub toys and just about everything.  Minimize and put what you absolutely must have under the sink or grouped in a decorative basket or box. Simplify!

The same rules apply for the dresser, armoires and any furniture with a horizontal surface anywhere in the house.

 Remove any religious, political and personal pictures and decor.  Fair housing laws require that agents show the home to any and all protected classes, but that does not prevent a prospective buyer from discriminating when comparing your property with others.

Think about all the time for fun activities when you don't have to spend time cleaning and dusting all your chachkies (also know as bric-a-brac), not to mention how quickly you can be ready for an unexpected last minute showing.

2.  CUT the grass! That means mow the lawn. Water the grass and at a minimum rake the mulch, trim the shrubbery and pull the weeds.  If your city has a brush site like we do in San Antonio, you can get free mulch.  If the raking was not enought to "dress up the place", add the mulch.  If possible a dark color will make the yard "pop".  Red mulch is better than no mulch, but probably not the best choice.  When it comes to nature, think of the colors we really see in nature.  Flowers are nice, but to add them will cost money so that will be addressed in another blog.  This article is all about what you can do for FREE!

3. CLEAN If your house is really clean, you won't  need to cover up with candles that "smell good", or baking cookies or bread before someone comes over for a look-see.  Clean is clean.  That means wash the baseboards and walls, wipe the switch plates, move the couch and clean underneath.  Dust the ceiling fans and make sure the lightbulbs are all working.

 Windows should sparkle.  (There is a recipe for sparkly windows in a previous blog.)  You can take the screens off the windows in the front of the house for additional sparkle. Keep them in one spot in the attic, basement or garage, so the inspector doesn't give you a ding for not having screens. 

If your window treatments(curtains and drapes)  are dated, faded, or  torn, just take them down.  Leave the privacy treatments such as blinds or shutters, but make sure they are clean and in good repair.  If your curtains or drapes are stylish and you plan to leave them with the house, just make sure they are washed and pressed, or cleaned.  Drapes and furniture absorb odors, so if they are not clean, the house will not smell fresh. 

Vacuum and clean carpet. All of that decluttering that you did earlier will help make this job alot easier.  Be sure to check what I call the "gray edge" that I have seen in many houses that will develop along the edges of carpet on staircases or in corners.  It comes from an accumulation of dust over time. If the carpet is badly stained, the sad news is that the remedy for this condition is not free.  Offering a carpet allowances may help, but you only get one chance to make that first impression.

Setting out a bowl of vinegar overnight will help to remove lingering odors.  Be sure to get rid of the bowl before you have a showing! If the weather is accomodating, open the windows and "air the house".  Hanging pillows and throws on the fence to soak up some sun will improve the level of freshness when you bring them back in the house.

One more note - I mentioned first impressions.  The first thing a potential buyer sees is the walkway up to the entrance and the front door. They are standing there looking around while the agent accesses your property or while you come to the door.  The door, porch, any light fixtures  should be sparkling clean and in good repair. Remove any damaged or faded door mats, make sure the porch is swept and hosed off before any showing.  People should feel welcome when they come to your door.  Remove any personalized signs.  You want them to think of it as their own home.  

Of course the most important thing to consider is pricing your home appropriately.  With the help of your agent, you can consider comparable properties and their condition.  There are many other things to do to make your home "sellable".  Unless you are planning to discount the property, the home should be in good condition. 

These "FREE" suggestions are what I consider to be the most important and can be done without taking funds from your account.  Please let me know if you have more ideas, or if I can answer any questions about selling your property.

I am Stephanie Kelley, Realtor® at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio, Texas. If you have questions about San Antonio real estate or just want to chat a bit about our wonderful Alamo City, please call me at or (210) 867-8743, or E-mail me at Our experienced Realty Solutions Team is always ready to help you with your home buying or selling needs. Visit me at

Friday, January 11, 2013

Boosting your Home Value in the New Year

Time for the procrastination to be over - It's already mid January and I haven't even gotten back on my new year diet and exercise program yet!

Its been a long time since I posted.  Fun flies when you are having time, and I just didn't take the time to continue on my posts after about the middle of last year.  My weight loss program, some traveling and yes, even real estate took precedence over the blog and for that, dear readers,  I apologize.

Its the new year and this year will be even bigger and better than the last.  (The last was actually pretty good, and I am still about 16 pounds lighter than I was in 2012). I plan a better blog schedule to keep you informed on fun stuff, and real estate developments  around San Antonio, my weight loss ideas and encouragement, and of course how to improve your Texas home if you are thinking of selling, renting or just improving for your own enjoyment, 

As super bowl rapidly approaches, folks begin to think not only about football, but about moving.  Maybe they just need more wall space for a bigger screen TV or better entertainment areas or a major life change, but thoughts of a new living space for the new year just seem to happen, particularly in an improving economy.  Here from a recent survey are 5 low cost ideas to improve your homes value without breaking the bank.

  1. Clean and de-clutter     The average cost is $290. with a $1,990 increase for a 586%  ROI
  2. Lightening and brightening The average cost is $375 with a $1,550 price increase for a $313% ROI
  3. Home staging  The average cost is $550 with a $2,194 price increase for a 299% ROI
  4. Landscaping  The average cost is $540 with a $1,932 price increase for a 258% ROI
  5. Repairing electrical or plumbing  The average cost is $535 with a $1,505 price increase for a $181% ROI
If you are planning to sell, you should at a minimum do #1.  People don't want to buy other peoples dirt and all of that clutter makes it almost impossible to see the good features of a property.  Besides that, its just good feng shui to get rid of the junk and simply your life in the new year, even if you don't plan to sell.  It's the reason the container store runs the Elfa shelving system on sale every January. 

For more information, check out the website or call me!  Real Estate is always local, and prices for improvements may vary.  Any repairs or improvements that you can do yourself will save you money in the long run, provided you can do those repairs in a safe environment and provided that the results are professional in their appearance.  Consult with you real estate professional before beginning any projects. 

I am Stephanie Kelley, Realtor® at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio, Texas. If you have questions about San Antonio real estate or just want to chat a bit about our wonderful Alamo City, please call me at or (210) 867-8743, or E-mail me at Our experienced Realty Solutions Team is always ready to help you with your home buying or selling needs. Visit me at