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  • Writer's pictureCadiz & Lluis


There are three keys to making your place attractive to potential buyers. The first, as you’ve already heard a million times, is location. The physical location of your address is not something you can alter unless you possess the powers of psychokinesis. The second factor of course is price, which is very much under your control, as is the third key: appearance of the property.


Start by walking out into the middle of the street and taking a good hard look. Often, we experience a kind of weird dysmorphia when preparing a home for market. We look at the stained rug, the stained ceiling, the grubby, warped windows and wonder to ourselves, Did I really live with it this way? Yes, you did. Experts agree that doing massive home improvements purely in the interest of fattening your asking price rarely pays off.

Examine the exterior and interior with an eye to deft, minimal fixes as opposed to a grand overhaul. Peeling paint needs to be scraped and sanded. For exterior, patch and match; now is NOT the time to repaint your house. Forget the ammonia and newspaper: hire a professional window-washer to do the windows inside and out.

Not much of a gardener? If the shrubs are sketchy, hire someone to pull them out and rake the area clean. Like charity, a thin layer of Hope Depot bark or gravel covers a multitude of sins. If you have raunchy-looking trees, hire an arborist to give them a deep trim. Ditch your windchimes, ashtrays, bird-house, folding chairs, potted plants, gnomes, pink flamingoes, and statue of St. Francis.


You can’t concern yourself with the building façade. Start with your front door and landing. Buy a bright, brand-new doormat that says “Welcome!” Original? No. But more sales-friendly than “Go Away.”

If your HOAC allows, consider replacing the front door if it’s gnarly. For example, five coats of peeling paint, not to mention five sets of deadbolts, sends an unsettling message to a prospective buyer.


FLOORS: Again, the time for heroics is long past. The only exception is carpeting. Anyone who’s ever had a dog knows where this is going. Unless your carpet is pristine and plush, it is a liability. Do some pricing. If time and budget allow, and your carpet is the least bit grody, have it ripped out and replaced with parquet. Otherwise, hire professionals to steam-clean it twice.

Hire pros to deep-clean and wax the existing tile, lino and hardwoods.

PAINT: and color in general. While you may be a madcap, magpie Iris Apfel sort, bright color is divisive. Orange? Purple? Sponged-on metallic gold? And let’s not even talk about wallpaper. Ideally, obliterate all strong colors. Whitewash everything you can.

BOOK A HOTEL ROOM and temporarily store your bed. Yes, really. Nobody wants to look upon where you sleep and do god-only-knows-what else. Besides, you can pretend you’re a rock star on tour.

BOX IT UP: Every treasure, tchotchke, trinket, trophy. Take down the family photos from the walls. Remember: you don’t live here anymore. Break out the bubble wrap. Wrap, pack, repeat, until the place looks like an ashram furnished by the Witness Protection Program. Blank slate.

CONSIDER THE THRONE: Apart from ripping out unsavory carpet, replacing the toilet is one significant upgrade which may be worth it in terms of gilding the lily for buyers. A nasty, permanently ringed bathtub is one thing (and again, why did you live with it that way for so long?). But the well-worn toilet is just bed, bath and Beyonce.

Actually, a new, sparkling white porcelain sitter doesn’t cost a fortune, even with installation, and it sends a powerful message of luxurious hygiene. Of course, have the bathroom spotless and sweet-smelling during your staging. Banish your soggy, saggy bathrobe, flip-flops, shower cap, toothbrush, your bath mat, your bath towels, your wash cloth, your loofah, all of your toiletries, and even your shower curtain to a distant location (stuff it all into your car if necessary). Buy a bunch of cheap white cotton terrycloth hand towels, and roll them up, a-la- Martha Stewart, and place them in a basket by the sink. Set out a fresh pump bottle of liquid hand soap and hand-sanitizer. Stack three fresh rolls of TP beside the new throne, and, SERIOUSLY, tape the receipt for the recent toilet purchase to the tank.

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