Simple Steps Can Decrease Market Times and Increase Selling Prices

February 9, 2009


In this market of long listing times and high inventory, there are a few ways to make your home stand out and sell quicker.

You’ve Got to Start with Price, Price, Price

A Clean Well Lit Place Sells
A Clean Well Lit Place Sells

The absolute most important item is price.  If your price is not competitive and realistic to what the market will bear, then you’re behind from the beginning.  Reviewing recent comparable home sales and listings in your neighborhood from the previous 3 to 6 months with your real estate agent is of the utmost importance when listing your home for sale.  Research shows that in the first two weeks of listing, most properties will achieve the highest possible sale price.  After four to six weeks, you may need to consider a lower price (based on recent, comparable sold properties), which will in turn re-energize your listing by reaching a new pool of buyers.

In addition to the pricing strategy, there are several inexpensive ways to make your home shine and rise to the top of a buyer’s list.  Get ready for some sweat equity.

Neutral Decor Sells Homes

For starters, take a good look at your home…an unbiased look, I should say.  Walk into your house like you’re seeing it for the first time and rip it apart…just like you do when you go over to your neighbors or friends houses.  Then decide what decor is your taste and what decor is more neutral. Then keep the neutral and minimize/remove your beloved decor…even if they’re so comfortable it’s impossible to see them go.  You’d be surprised how many buyers cannot look past the furniture or wall color, thus immediately eliminating your home from their list, even though it make fit all of their criteria.

When we grow accustomed to our space, we become blind to our own things.  Eventually, everything needs updating, and a quick brainstorm of new ideas can have a big impact on updating your home’s look.  But, remember to be honest about outmoded design elements. The following tips can help get a home up-to-date without breaking the bank.


Re-energize a room by simply rearranging the furniture. Be creative and mix and match with other rooms in the house to make the living space be its most spectacular.  A few items to consider are lamps, rugs, accessories, and mirrors. You’d be surprised how much depth a simple mirror can add to a room, thus creating a whole new feel.

Be Green and Plant

Indoor plants add texture, warmth, and color to any room. And don’t forget about decorative planters?they make a statement on their own.  It will be important to maintain the plants, which yes, means watering them weekly and doing a bit of pruning. While you’re pruning, but keep in mind that you’re efforts are to recoup the highest sale price possible. Positive thinking goes a long way.


One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to make a substantial change is by painting. It doesn’t even need to be a whole room, unless of course your room happens to be chartreuse green or bright orange!  Use more neutral colors in living spaces and consider just doing an accent wall if you can get away with.  Take it from my experience, always do a test before painting the whole room.


You want your home to have a lived in feel, but there’s a fine line between “lived-in” and messy.  Clutter just happens – the daily mail, kids homework, baseball bats, toys?you get the picture.  Organizing will make a space feel polished while maintaining utility. Hooks and shelves inside the door to hang coats and keys, canvas bins or natural baskets contain magazines and mail, and shelves neatly display collectibles and pictures.  The added value is that you benefit from the organization immediately.


Again, take an honest look at your home; would you buy your house in its current condition.  Some people can say, “yes,” and for that I congratulate you.  While others…not so much.  Look at your floors, corners, nooks and crannies in every room?a buyer does.  Present your house in its best condition.  Scrub grout, seal natural stone, rub out scratches/nicks on wood floors. “Get down on your hands and knees and detail the floors,” Birdsong says. “It takes a little elbow grease, but the results are well worth it.” Vinyl flooring is a bit harder to spruce up but usually can be replaced easily and inexpensively.


Look for worn, outdated, or just boring old handles, hinges, switch plates, lights, faucets, toilet seats, bathroom accessories, etc. and repair or replace them. The cost is minimal and gives a big, but subtle bang for the buck.

Light it

Most people don’t like a dark or too bright home?both present as a harsh first impression.  Accent lighting, such as lamps, sconces, or lighter curtains, can make a big difference and set a mood. You can also add dimmers in the dining room, bathrooms, kitchen, and even the hallways for less than $5 each. Then adjust the lighting to create the mood you want.

With a little work, your home will have a better chance of selling, and selling at the highest price possible. Take the time to be honest with yourself and do a thorough evaluation of the home. Or, ask your real estate agent to be honest; they usually have no trouble if you give them permission to be brutal!

Photo by Marya

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About Robert John Anderson

Robert's knowledge and expertise from 15+ years of experience have made his business tremendously successful. He eats, sleeps, and lives real estate, which has catapulted him into Chicago's 1% of Top Producers for the last 8 years with $320+ million in sales, earning Baird & Warner's prestigious Founder's Club distinction. His voracious appetite for the Chicago market, its neighborhoods and trends keeps his knowledge current and growing. He focuses on high-quality marketing and service along with working to think outside of the box for all his clients needs. Robert specializes in sellers, buyers, luxury homes, developments and relocation; he also has experience in land acquisition, commercial, and retail sales. You can reach Robert at 312-980-1580 and or visit him on Facebook, Zillow and LinkedIn.

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