Sunday, January 14, 2018


You have decided to sell your home as a For Sale By Owner, now it's time to change your home back into a house. The principles of preparing your home to sell are universal and have proven over and over again to be the difference between a success story and failure. Since failure is not an option lets review the principles of decluttering, staging and basic showmanship when presenting your home.

Decluttering is the key to Selling Success

There isn't a single buyer out there that wants to see your family pictures, plate collections or how many stuffed animals you can put on a bed. Buyers want to see open space so they can figure out where their family pictures, paintings, beer bottle collection, and furniture can go. They cannot do that if they can't see the space available. Decluttering is the basic principle in selling any property. You can start by removing all unnecessary and personal, wall items. Do not stuff these into closets as they must also be clean and organized.  In my last two moves, I had to rent a storage unit to house all my stuff that had to be packed away in order to declutter. This helps in three ways, you pack only the items that you intend to move,  secondly you can sort out the items that you no longer want and either donate them or have a massive moving sale (even at moving sales you have potential buyers show up), and lastly you now have the opportunity to stage the house for sale.   

As you can see in the above picture, they decluttered and staged the room at the same time. Staging is the simple act of taking away distracting items from view, in this case, the pictures on the wall and replacing it with an
attractive item such as a generic painting. Turning lights on for the showing is important to demonstrate how bright and cheery the room can be. Do not try to set a mood for the room by using dimmed lights and soft music. Try to envision yourself working for a furniture store and you are solely responsible for setting up displays. If you can do that you will be able to stage your home. 

Clutter can occur in all rooms, don't forget that men will gravitate to the garage and basement. Men want to be able to see the same available space and see themselves at that workbench, minus the clutter, and see the basement as a potential game room or man cave. If you are taking selling as seriously as a For Sale By Owner should, then this vital step in staging and decluttering is as important as any marketing plan you could develop. After all, if the house isn't ready to be sold, why would you expect a buyer to consider your home over one that was ready to be sold?

Assuming you took my advice and spent the money to get an appraisal, which is the best way to get a real market value if your having trouble getting to a market value, then I will also suggest that you get a home inspection done prior to putting your home on the market. A reliable home inspector will give you an honest opinion on the health of your home. The inspection should include electrical systems, plumbing, HVAC systems check, roof, and any obvious structural issues. The inspector will generally not comment on cosmetic issues nor will they judge the home on a new construction basis, but will let you know on the basis of its age and normal use which items that need immediate attention. Keep in mind that a buyer has the right to perform due diligence before buying the home. Due diligence is the right to inspect and ask for repairs based on that inspection. You don't want a buyer to back out of the deal because they discovered something was wrong with the house and they are now hesitant about the purchase. You want to be able to convince them that you have maintained the home, even to the point of discovering and fixing anything that would have posed a problem to the health and safety of the buyer. Trust me they will find some reason to cancel the contract if they don't have that trust in your endeavors to maintain your home.   

Assuming that you get the inspection done, you should plan to remedy the most severe issues before a buyer can find them. You can offer to show a potential buyer the report and show that you took care of the serious issues and offer to remedy the minor issues or leave money in escrow to cover the cost of repairs. Often times this is the best way to remedy things like bad carpet or roof repairs, this allows the buyer to make their own choices as to color and style. This will definitely impress a buyer knowing you took the time and expense to find and remedy house issues, or cover the costs of issues found about the home. I know that if a seller showed me an appraisal and a home inspection that I would believe the seller was not trying to hide anything and that entering into a contract of purchase was in both parties best interests. Buyers tend to accept the sellers offering price when presented with real and honest numbers. Negotiations from the Buyer for a better deal on the home are almost non-existent.  

In a nutshell, decluttering and staging are just as important as marketing,  getting an appraisal and home inspection will satisfy a buyer's concerns of the market value and health of the home. 

As you can see from the items we have already talked about, you the seller will have spent money on an appraisal, home inspection, storage unit, and repairs. These items will always be expensed by you, the seller, so why would you,  want to pay an agent 6% commission on top of these expenses. KEEP YOUR EQUITY- YOU HAVE EARNED IT!! 

My next blog will cover Deep Cleaning and Curb Appeal Inside and Out. If you have any questions email me at or leave a comment in the comment section, I will get back to you shortly. 

the For Sale By Owner Answerman


  1. Helpful information, learned new things. Never really knew that decluttering was so important in selling a home. Would it be advisable to remove all family photos?

  2. Thanks for your comment, Decluttering is on the top of the list of things to do. De-personalizing is just as important as Decluttering so my advice would be to remove all personal photos and replace with a limited number of paintings.