Five quick tips to prepare your home for sale

There are so few homes on the market right now that you might think you have nothing more to do than place a sale sign in your backyard and the offers will come in. While some Erie County homes are selling in a few days, many homes are having a little more trouble. A few have been on and off the market for years, according to

So imagine you are the seller. What’s wrong? HGTV,, and other sites have plenty of suggestions on how to prepare your home for sale, but sometimes sellers overlook the details and forget to heed buyer feedback. Here’s what I’ve always looked for in the thousands of homes I’ve walked through for three decades.

A family enthusiastically looks at a house with a sign for sale on the lawn.

It must smell clean

You can do whatever decorating you like, but if your home smells of smoke, animal smells, mildew, or mildew, it may need professional attention. People have told me that no one has smoked in the house for five years, but the carpet, furniture, wall coverings and window treatments tell a different story. They hold a stench of smoke for years. Before you are ready to sell, ask someone who is objective and has a sensitive nose to come through your house.

On the plus side, professional cleaning might work. On the downside, I once passed a house of longtime smokers who paid to have their carpets cleaned, and it smelled like a wet ashtray. My advice is to get rid of any soft smelling surfaces.

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Take great photos

Every time I look on I marvel at the great photos of houses and squeak out of fuzzy rooms. Your rooms should look like they belong in the hotel photos. This is your opportunity to attract people to you. Clean each room before taking the pictures and take them from different angles.

There shouldn’t be any junk. No garbage bags. No trash cans. No unmade beds. No pets.

Take multiple photos of your home from multiple angles and make sure buyers can see your entire home and front door.

Outside, do not take a photo from the driveway, especially if your driveway is cracked and in need of repair. Photograph the exterior from multiple angles and make sure buyers can see your entire home and front door. Ask a friend to help you choose the best photo for your house.

I have taken photos of houses on an iPhone for years. It’s not hard. Whatever your price range, your photos must be exceptional. If you don’t know how to take them, ask a really good friend to take them. Some real estate agents ask professionals to take pictures. This is the only chance you have to show your house. Don’t settle for bad photos.

List of prices

This is the number one reason why houses are coming onto the market. It’s a sellers market, but make sure your home matches similar homes in this price range.

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The exteriors need to sparkle

Get an objective opinion from someone who will give you an honest assessment of your exterior. Right now, most homes are not looking their best. The landscapes show winter fatigue, but a good spring cleaning and Mother Nature will take care of it. The big picture here is what your windows, trim, doors, roof, sidewalks, siding and shutters look like.

The easy solutions are to clean and paint (or replace) discolored doors and shutters. I cannot stress this enough. These are the accessories that dress your home. Make them shine. And clean windows are a really nice touch on any home.

Find your next home:Search homes for sale in and around Erie

Make peace with what you don’t have

Based on your price range, write down what house hunters are looking for. So get real about what you don’t have and how to deal with it. Here are some examples:

Thermal baths: Most buyers want more than a full bathroom. You can’t just add a DIY tub in an instant, but you can make sure the basement is sparkling clean so people can consider building one there. I have seen some of the finest baths appear in the lower levels. Also, if you are going to add a bath, add a full bathroom. Don’t skimp unless you have to. According to a November 2020 article, the National Association of Realtors suggests that adding a second bathroom attracts buyers, especially buyers with children.

The kitchen should be neat, clean, and clutter-free so that home buyers can imagine what they might want to do.

Kitchens: If the next homeowners have to empty your kitchen, admit it before you put your house up for sale. But it still needs to be neat, clean, and clutter-free so that home buyers can imagine what they might be doing. Remove all magnets and papers from your fridge and make sure the range is clean. All this will also help in the photos.

Take the clutter out of your home by renting a storage unit.  Make every room, closet and corner look as spacious as possible.

Each room is restricted to space: Get a storage unit and use it. Make every room, closet and corner look as spacious as possible. Don’t shovel trash in your garage, basement or attic. Buyers want to see the whole house. Make every corner welcoming.

After you’ve cleaned and shined your home, ask a friend if they see anything that really needs attention before you put your home on the market. If you’ve done everything to attract buyers, your home will sell quickly.

Pam parker

Pam Parker is a freelance writer who has written about homes and real estate for over 20 years.

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