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Tips for Sellers


Summer is over and school is back in. Traditionally we see an influx of homes come on the market after Labor Day and then things start to slow down around Thanksgiving. Inventory is usually up right now and there is a spurt of activity that takes us to about the middle of November. But that is not the situation this year. We continue to have a shortage of inventory and yes, right now it is still a seller’s market. But that doesn’t mean that you can present a property poorly and still benefit from this market. Yes, even in this crazy seller’s market, some homes don’t sell quickly and for over-asking. Sometimes the reasons can’t be changed – location, floor plan, curb appeal (I can’t see you!!). Marin (and the Bay Area at large) are sophisticated and relatively well to do, even in the more modest range. Buyer’s will get excited, they will bid up, they will make stronger and cleaner offers for the properties that sing to them. And to get a home to do that requires some attention.

From experience, we know that a “well-polished” house appeals to more buyers and will sell faster and for a higher price. Additionally, buyers feel more comfortable purchasing a well-cared for home because if what they can see is maintained, what they can’t see has probably also been maintained. In readying your house for sale, consider:

  • How much should you spend?
  • Exterior and curb appeal
  • Preparing the interior – staging
  • The Systems


But First: Getting the House Ready to Sell

Disconnect Your Emotions. When talking to real estate agents, you will often find that when they talk to you about buying real estate, they will refer to your purchase as a “home.” Yet if you are selling property, they will often refer to it as a “house.” There is a reason for this. Buying real estate is often an emotional decision, but when selling real estate you need to remove emotion from the equation.You need to think of your house as a marketable commodity. Property. Real estate. Your goal is to get others to see it as their potential home, not yours. If you do not consciously make this decision, you can inadvertently create a situation where it takes longer to sell your property. The first step in getting your home ready to sell is to “de-personalize” it.

This tip courtesy of

How much should you spend?

Every house will require a different amount to do the job. The important thing is to spend the money the right way and not waste it. Buyers will be impressed by a brand new roof, but they aren’t likely to give you enough extra money to pay for it. There is a big difference between making minor and inexpensive “polishes” and “touch-ups” to your house, such as putting new knobs on cabinets and a fresh coat of neutral paint in the living room, and doing extensive and costly renovations, such as installing a new kitchen. In preparing your home for the market, spend as little money as possible, but spend it where you need to and where you will get it back.


Maximizing exterior and curb appeal
Make sure your home engages a buyer from the moment they pull up in front.

  • Paint if necessary
  • Start with a serious yard cleanup if necessary. Maintain your yard (with a service if necessary) throughout the sales period.
  • Clean and align gutters.
  • Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
  • During spring and summer months consider adding a few showy annuals, perhaps in pots, near your front entrance.
  • Re-seal an asphalt driveway.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door.


Maximizing interior appeal
Enhance your home’s interior.

  • Paint the interior and take care of the floors. When painting repair cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles. Re-carpet, re-tile & refinish the floors if necessary.
  • Consider hiring a professional stager. The Bay Area Market is somewhat unique. Buyers are discriminating, but maybe not always imaginative. Even the most sophisticated people do not always have imaginative vision. They can’t see past your style and your personal touches. Staging lets them experience a home in a way that they can see themselves there. A professional knows how to do that.
  • Giving every room in the house a thorough cleaning, as well as removing all clutter. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Some homeowners with crowded rooms have actually rented storage garages and moved half their furniture out, creating a sleeker, more spacious look.
  • Hire a professional cleaning service, and keep it up once every few weeks while the house is on the market.
  • Spruce up kitchens and bathrooms in need of more major remodeling by investing in new cabinet knobs, new curtains, or a coat of neutral paint.



“Turn-key homes” are appealing to buyers. But it is not always smart to make them that way. A good hard look at your systems will help us evaluate what might be worth fixing, and what should just be clearly disclosed. At minimum a pest inspection will be helpful and in some cases a home and inspection and more may be smart.



”…Their understanding of the conditions of the market and how to best present the property allowed us to sell the house in a matter of days at a price well above our expectations with several attractive back up offers at the ready! “

Clay B. Lifflander, New York City