Claire Rainville, Broker Associate, REMAX


There is a science to selling your home at the best price and within the shortest period of time, but it's not always an exact science!

Although you can't control market conditions, seasonal fluctuations, or the condition of your neighbors' property, you are still in the driver's seat when it comes to pricing, curb appeal, and the interior condition of your home.

Assuming there's no legal snags or major "red flags" about the condition or appearance or your home, the selling price you set may make the difference between a fast sale and house that lingers on the market for months on end. Many house hunters and (all) real estate agents are quite savvy about property values and real estate prices. If the selling price of your home is based on emotional factors or the amount of money you need to get back in order to purchase your next house, then there's a good chance you'll be pricing yourself out of the market. That's where your real estate agent comes in. They will help you set a realistic asking price that will favorably position it to similar properties in your neighborhood and community.

While everyone wants to get the maximum return on their real estate investment, there's usually a limited amount of "wiggle room" between the appraised value of your home and the amount of money a potential buyer would be willing to pay for it. Since it may be difficult for you, as a homeowner, to be objective when determining a realistic price for your home, it's often beneficial to have a comparative market analysis done by a real estate agent or professional appraiser.

Another reason for consulting with professionals involves the need to be objective about home improvements. Some home sellers have a difficult time accepting the fact that their asking price can't always reflect the full cost of recent home improvements. Home additions, updates, and recent remodeling work can have a positive impact on your home's asking price, but it's usually not a dollar-for-dollar return on investment.

If you're preparing to put your house on the market in the near future, it pays to do a little online research, have your property professionally appraised, and/or work with a real estate agent who will do a comparative analysis of your home's value. Other things you can do to increase the likelihood of getting your home sold quickly include a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning, applying a fresh coat of paint where needed, and "staging" your home to appeal to the widest variety of potential buyers. While that might include making some major changes to your home's décor, its landscaping, or even furniture arrangement, the rewards of a speedy sale often justify the effort and short-term inconvenience of getting your home ready for the close scrutiny of house hunters, home inspectors, and buyers' agents!


If you're considering putting your home on the market, one of your first priorities should be making the property look its absolute best -- without spending a pile of money, in the process. Sometimes a do-it-yourself approach is the most economical way to handle home staging, but getting professional advice can help you stay on track, in terms of both money and time. There are a lot of talented and knowledgeable home staging consultants out there, but the benefits of hiring them are not always worth the cost. An advantage of working with a seasoned real estate agent or Realtor is that they have the ability to size up the visual appeal of a home and make recommendations on how to improve it. If they've been in the real estate business for a few years, they've received buyer feedback from literally hundreds of house hunters. As a result, they're very familiar with all the pet peeves potential buyers typically have, such as outdated decor, ugly wallpaper, cluttered living spaces, hideous artwork, tacky wallpaper, inadequate lighting, unpleasant odors, overgrown yards, or any aspect of a property that is cracked, peeling, broken, or in disrepair. Where to Begin With Home Staging If you're looking for free home staging ideas, you can always ask your friends and family for suggestions, but they might be hesitant to give you the unvarnished truth. Not only that, but their taste in decorating or landscaping may be less than exemplary! However, if you do know someone who has a knack for decorating, furniture arrangement, and/or landscaping, then they could be a great source of helpful suggestions, ideas, and inspiration. A good starting point for discovering economical ways to bring out the best in your home is the Internet. You'll get a wealth of practical ideas by Googling the phrase "increasing your home's value." Not only will you learn some useful home staging ideas from reputable websites, but you'll also notice many recurring themes for improving the look and feel of your property. Staging your home effectively involves a combination of common sense, knowledge of home buyer psychology, and the ability to objectively evaluate (and improve upon) a property's marketability. Cost-Effective Home Staging Advice A real estate agent or Realtor who has been showing houses for years has gathered an immense amount of informal feedback on what attracts and repels prospective buyers. While it doesn't take a home staging expert to pick out the obvious issues that need to be addressed, you'd be surprised at what a real estate agent with a trained eye and a few years of experience can notice. Improvements and changes which seem trivial to you may actually have a significant impact on how fast you're able to sell your home. In preparing your property for sale, one of the major factors to consider is the age-old concept of "cost versus benefits". Enhancing the appearance of your home beyond a certain point can produce diminishing returns, so it's a good idea to get a professional opinion when mapping out a house staging strategy. If you're lucky enough not to need any major repairs on your home, then preparing to put your property on the market can be as simple as eliminating clutter, keeping your home impeccably clean, and making sure your lawn is consistently well manicured -- which, of course, is easier said than done! A fresh coat of paint, here and there, can also make a world of difference, when it comes to making a positive first impression on potential buyers.

If you're in the process of preparing your home for the real estate market, get ready to roll up your sleeves and make your home as irresistible as possible!

While this may sound like an enormous undertaking that you don't have the time or energy to tackle, remember one thing: When you put your home up for sale, there's a lot at stake!

Generally, the longer your house stays on the market, the less marketable it becomes. If potential buyers learn that your house has been on the market for longer than, say, a few months, one of the first questions they'll ask or think will be "What's wrong with it?" Once questions like that start arising, the overall appeal of your home begins to decline. As you can imagine, your ability to get the highest possible price for your house also weakens over time. That's why it's important to do everything possible to enhance the look and feel of your home.

Home Staging Counts

Although effective home staging can be a crucial aspect of selling your house quickly, there is a point at which diminishing returns may come into play. Few home sellers have unlimited time and money to invest in staging their home, and it's easy to go above and beyond what's actually necessary to secure a buyer.

There are dozens of variables that affect a house selling strategy, including the real estate market and the condition of your home. If it's a "buyers' market" and there are a lot of comparable houses for sale in your neighborhood, then you might have to work a little harder to make your home stand out and attract offers. If you're fortunate enough to be in a desirable area and not facing a lot of competition from other home sellers, then the law of supply and demand should work in your favor! However, it's still important to make the most of your property's curb appeal and the overall appearance of your home's interior.

The cost of home staging can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, but your real estate agent can provide invaluable guidance on how to cost-effectlively maximize the "eye appeal" of your house and property. While perfection is generally an unattainable standard in home staging (or anything else), optimal results only come from putting your best foot forward.

Several words to remember and be guided by when preparing a house for sale are "immaculate", "spotless", "manicured" (lawn), "fresh" (looking and smelling), "updated", "well-maintained", and "charming". If prospective buyers are using those words and phrases to describe your home, then you know you're on the right track! Your agent can provide you with helpful insights and suggestions for making a great impression on potential buyers -- without having to spend more on home staging than necessary!