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It’s true we’re in a seller’s market, with a limited supply of houses for sale. So, if you’re putting your house up on the market, how exactly can you get the most attractive offers?

First, hold off on baking that fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. The long-standing idea that the baking aroma can warm up potential buyers to your home is a myth debunked by Washington State University consumer researchers.

But, there are plenty of other ways that you can get your home to sell for top dollar. We consulted real estate professionals to come up with a comprehensive checklist of what exactly you should do to make sure you sell your home for the most. Here’s what they have to say. 

1. Clear out your home of your belongings. The closer you can get your home to looking as though you don’t live there, the more money you’ll get for your home, says Dave Nelson, managing broker for Metrowest Real Estate Services in Colorado. Most buyers are visualizing how they’d use the space, and imagining their own belongings in the home. You don’t want the home to look too cozy. Rather, go for “bright and open,” Nelson says. 

Jeff Miller, co-founder of AE Home Group, a team of Maryland real estate agents who help buyers and sellers navigate the Baltimore real estate market, says when you clear out your home, you give potential buyers a clean slate to let their imaginations run.

“Services like Closetbox are a great way to store away your items during showings, while having them accessible when the need arises,” Miller says.

While your house is on the market, let Closetbox help by coming and picking up your belongings. Bonded, licensed and insured professionals will move your belongings to a secure warehouse. (Translated, that antique dresser that’s been in your family for decades or those family photos are safe while your house is on the market). When you move into your new home, Closetbox will return your items to you. The idea? You’ve got enough to worry about when you’re selling your home; use a service that is there to help.

clean home

2. Don’t get caught up too much on when you put your home on the market. Sure, if you’re selling a home in the mountains, it’s probably not best to list it in the dead of winter. But, depending on your market, you may want to consider putting your home up for sale in December, Nelson says. It’s a misconception that there’s a big real estate slowdown in December. In fact, because there tends to be less inventory on the market in December, and there’s high housing demand, you might gain even more of an advantage. It’s definitely worthy having the conversation with your real estate professional to help you determine whether it’s advantageous to list in the winter months. 

3. Give your home some curb appeal. When you get this right, potential buyers will be drawn to your home over another one nearby, explains Allison Bethell, a staff writer for Fit Small Business who specializes in real estate investment.
“Replace that old faded welcome mat, spend $100 on flowers to put in decorative pots near the front door and make sure the lawn is always tidy,” says Bethell, who has fixed and flipped more than 100 properties and is a licensed real estate broker in Florida.
And if you’ve cleared out your furniture for staging, don’t clutter up your curb by storing it in some ugly metal pod container in front of your house. Use valet storage to keep it out of sight until you need it back.

front entry

4. Show off your storage space. “Homebuyers love closet space,” Bethell dishes. It’s important to make sure that your closet is minimalistic, and not overflowing with clothes and shoes. Get a jumpstart on packing and let Closetbox come pick up your off-season clothes or pieces from your wardrobe that you only wear on special occasions. 

5. Hire a creative realtor. You’ll want to hire a realtor who does a great job advertising your property, advises Bethell. Make sure your home is advertised to buyers across a variety of channels, she suggests. Some questions to ask: Is your agent having videos of the home done and put online? Is the home on social media? Are they holding organized open houses? “The more people see your house online or in person, the higher probability that one of them will buy it,” she says.
open house

6. If it’s broke, fix it. Here’s the thing, if you’ve got a home repair that needs to be done, it will come up in the home inspection, says Jennifer Susanne Sommers, a luxury estate specialist in Florida. Rather than letting the inspector put a hefty price on a small fix, it’s best to be proactive and knock out the repair beforehand. 

7. Take time to stage your home. Home stagers may have been a novelty in the past, but these days they are a necessity for any seller who wants to get top dollar for their home, says Romana King, sales agent with Zolo. You can consider spending about $250 for in-home staging consultation. Or, you can opt for a more expensive package that includes personal purchases by the stager.
“One key trick is to purchase the largest dining room table, complete with chairs, that your space will allow. A larger table, with more chairs, screams entertainers’ delight that helps sell the entire house as a place to gather and entertain,” King says.
staged home

8. Open up those windows. “Bright rooms appear larger than they really are,” says Megan Brann, content marketing specialist for Bryan David Group at Keller Williams along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. On the flip side, dark rooms don’t make your home look welcoming. 

9. Consider giving rooms a fresh coat of paint. That citrus orange bathroom may have been fun for you and make you feel energized when you wake up. But, it can be a shock to potential buyers, Brann says. “Neutral colors can appease a broader audience,” she says.

Simple, modern bathroom
10. Be sure you don’t have any smelly parts of your home. A shed or garage that’s acted as storage throughout the years can acquire a particular smell, Brann says. You don’t want any potential buyers scrunching up their nose as they’re walking through your home. 

11. Keep your lawn in tip-top shape. We’ll bring up landscaping again. “Your front yard – as big or small as it may be – is the first thing potential buyers will critique,” Brann says. A well-manicured lawn gives the impression that the interior of the home will be well-kept as well.
Gardening front yard

12. Have some positive neighborhood statistics ready for potential buyers. If you’ve got low crime rates and great local schools, show them off, says Bilox Wells, a real estate expert with Find Pro Home. “The new owner will be living in this house, having their friends and family over and hopefully becoming part of the greater community,” Wells says. “If that community is a positive one, highlight that.”