Selling your home is stressful–especially in New York, where buyers come in with a critical eye. In addition to loads of paperwork and prepping your kids for a new neighborhood, you have to present your house in its best light. This is where the experts come in. Here, experts from real estate brokers to professional organizers share their tips on how to make your home the most inviting for potential buyers. Sometimes small fixes like cleaning everything top-to-bottom or removing outdated appliances and furniture can have the biggest positive change in your home.
Do a walk through—with a critical eye.
You may have ignored certain flaws in your home, but a potential buyer won’t be pleased with the cracked paint or drippy faucet. Now’s the time to make a room-to-room punch list of what needs to be fixed before the first open house, says Ted Karagannis, a real estate broker at Warburg Realty in New York City.
Clean from ceiling to floor.
“Use this as an opportunity to dust off that chandelier or ceiling fan you’ve neglected for years,” advises Shawn Wilson, a real estate broker at Compass Real Estate in NYC. “Wash the walls and baseboards. Clean the kitchen, especially the stove and refrigerator, to make the place look as turn-key as possible.”
Make easy DIY upgrades.
“Doing things like changing knobs on cabinets and closets can be a powerful way to create contrast and heighten a space,” says Nicolas Paredes, a broker at Warburg. “I like to stick with simple, organic color palettes like brushed nickel or ceramic knobs.”
Avoid doing major projects.
Undertaking major overhauls is not advisable, says Alison Bernstein, founder and president of Suburban Jungle, a real estate and lifestyle advisory firm dedicated to helping young families leave urban homes for suburban ones. “You are better off taking a discount rather than investing in additional construction or renovation costs as your tastes may very well be different than those of the potential buyers.”
Remove the outdated.
Get rid of window treatments, light fixtures, and any oversized furniture that isn’t retro in a cool way, says Lewis Friedman, a licensed real estate salesperson with the Friedman team at Compass in NYC. “In addition, if you’ve painted rooms a certain color that feels tired, repaint in nice, light, neutral colors. You can’t go wrong with white.”
Draw inspiration from hotels.
“I buy a fresh set of white towels and bathmats from Target and I don’t wash them so they remain fresh looking,” says Katy Winter, a professional organizer and founder of Katy’s Organized Home in Chappaqua, who adds that it’s super important for your home to smell good during walk-throughs. She recommends lighting scented candles or baking some chocolate chip cookies.
Declutter and streamline décor.
“Buyers want to feel like the house is move-in ready, and this is especially important when it comes to kitchen and bathroom counters that shouldn’t be stacked with items that will look messy and disorganized,” Winter says. “Also, always keep bookshelves as simple and accessory-free as possible. Try to stay with the same color story—either display whites and neutrals or blues and grays.”
Refresh your outdoor space.
Outdoor space is the first impression of your home. Make sure your lawn looks shipshape and your planters are full of flowering plants. “You’ll want to take a close look at your front door, too, and make sure it’s painted in a fresh, inviting color,” Winter says. “And always put away outdoor clutter, whether that’s a bunch of scooters and bikes or grungy garbage cans.”
Focus on the light.
“Floor lamps or torchieres are a great way to shoot light up at the ceiling and then reflect it back down again,” says Steven Gottlieb, a broker at Warburg. “Those lights will enhance your walls, so make sure that every single wall is bright and clean. A fresh coat of paint will not only eliminate possible cracks from an older paint job, but lighter colors reflect the light and make rooms seem bigger, cleaner, and brighter.”