Sell San Francisco Real Estate: 14 Tips to Help You Sell Your Home

14 Improvements to Help You Sell Your Home

After holding hundreds of open houses over the years, we can assure you that curb appeal and first impressions are critical for the successful sale of your home. Your best strategy is to create a positive first impression for potential buyers, and then make sure not to undo that as they see the rest of your home. It’s very hard to reverse a negative first impression.

You can spend a fortune remodeling, but you often do not recover your investment: New owners usually want to add their own touches to their new home and may just tear out your expensive remodeling.

A smarter plan is to present a home that looks and feels like it has been faithfully maintained over the years. So take care of details that may weaken the buyer’s confidence and especially trust.

Here are 14 steps (7 indoor, 7 outdoor) to make sure that buyers can imagine buying—and living in—your home. And we’d be happy to make specific recommendations for your particular home, of course. Just ask.

Inside Your Home

  1. Fix, refinish, or replace damaged flooring such as torn vinyl or cracked tile.
    If you can’t afford to replace damaged flooring, consider offering the buyer an allowance for renovation up front. And clean any nasty spots in the carpet—especially in high-traffic areas.
  2. Fix any drains, faucets, or plumbing fixtures that aren’t operating.
    Fixes can range from replacing a faucet washer to replacing the toilet. And few fixtures are more appealing than a polished or shiny new faucet.
  3. Paint the interior as needed.
    Often you can repaint just an accent wall—not an entire room.
  4. Replace burned-out bulbs and broken electrical sockets. Clean all visible light bulbs.
    Agents in the Bay Area routinely turn on all the lights when showing a home to the public, and a burned-out bulb will look sketchy. (Keep 1-2 replacement bulbs in a kitchen drawer for the agent.)
  5. Clean the inside of the oven and fridge.
    Buyers don’t want to see a mess here. They will think the worst.
  6. Fix nonworking locks and doorknobs.
    Make it easy for a buyer to navigate around your home without getting irritated.
  7. Fix any doors that don’t open easily, including the garage door.
    It’s often just a matter of tightening the screws in the hinges. If the garage door is noisy (and they often are), try lubricating the wheels and tracks and tightening the dozens of nuts across the interior surface of the door. You’ll be amazed how much quieter it operates!

Outside Your Home

  1. Replace cracked windows and torn screens.
    Buyers really pay attention to these, and not in a good way.
  2. Clean up stains in the driveway and entryway.
    That’s one of the places where buyers form their first impression as they walk toward your home.
  3. Paint the exterior, but only as needed.
    Touch up peeling or cracking paint, window frames, porches, and shutters.
  4. Clean, reattach, or replace broken gutters and downspouts.
    Clogged or leaking gutters and downspouts can lead to serious water infiltration, dryrot, and mold.
  5. If you have a lawn—especially a front lawn—water the heck out of it for 7-10 days before the first open house.
    Grass usually responds and re-greens amazingly quickly with watering, especially if a bit of plant food is thrown in for good measure. If you’re putting down sod, don’t buy the cheap stuff! And get that sort of project started early so the sod has a decent chance of rooting. (After you lay the sod, keep an eye out for ravenous racoons, who just love to roll up new sod to look for insect snacks underneath!)
  6. Reseal the deck if the budget allows.
    Also replace splintered or cracked decking … especially if the deck is in a warmer part of town and is actually used.
  7. Make sure the outdoor lighting is clean and in working order.
    It can add really dramatic effects if done properly.