Sell a Home Fast: Advance Prep Part 2

During the month of May, I’m offering a series of posts about how we’ve been able to sell two different homes in two different markets in 15 days or less.  You can read the introduction HERE and learn about how we prepare waaaay in advance to sell HERE.  And, if you’d like, you can see pictures of our current home as it looked when we purchased it contrasted with how it looks now HERE.

Earlier this week, I shared some of the things we’ve done to treat our Indiana home like an investment.  We moved into the home with the mindset that someday we were going to have to sell it.  Even though we didn’t have any idea if that day would come in three or thirty years, we still tried to maintain the home as if it could go on the market in the near future.

One of the all time BEST examples of the practical application of this it’s-a-future-transaction mindset comes from Sarah over at Clover Lane.

{Sarah’s house}

Sarah creates her spring cleaning list as if she were the potential buyer of her home.  She walks around her house, making a list of all the fix ups that would need to be done if she were trying to sell, and then works on that list over time.  And her reasoning behind doing so makes so much sense that I want you to hear it in Sarah’s words:

“I came up with this method when I had to show our past two houses in order to move. I learned this: It’s super super annoying to have to do all those little things you procrastinated for years, for SOMEONE ELSE! My houses never looked so good as when they were ready to be put on the market. This really annoyed me. And I vowed it would never ever happen again. (I’m just kidding on that last sentence…I’m really not that dramatic about something so trivial.)”

EXACTLY!  Why let someone else get all the pleasure out of a nicely updated home when you could be enjoying that pleasure yourself?  Why spend a lot of money at the last minute getting your home fixed up to sell when you could just pay in smaller increments along the way, with periodic updates?  It’s just better to do those tasks along the way.

As part of our this-home-is-a-future-transaction mindset, we kept an eye on the local competition.  That’s how I discovered that in Indiana, some of the spec homes in newly constructed neighborhoods within our school district were selling for close to the same price we expected to be able to get for our house.  So, with this in mind, one of the things we tried to do as we made little updates along the way was to make our home not only look and feel like new construction, but to add nice amenities that new construction lacked.

Here are some of the ways we tried to achieve that:

  • Similar metallic finishes.  When you build a new home these days, many builders offer you the option of getting all your metallics (light fixtures, door knobs, cabinet hardware, etc.) in the same finish.  We switched out all the shiny brass hardware/lighting to match the oil rubbed bronze fixtures that we really liked.  We did the same thing with the kitchen appliances–they were all a different color (stainless steel, white, and almond) when we moved in, but we gradually replaced them so that they were all white.  
  • Wall colors.  Painting a room a bright, fun color can be a lot of fun.  But if you go into a newly constructed model home, the exciting color choices are generally reserved for the bedrooms, not the main living areas.  Those areas are usually painted in neutrals or very, very pale colors.  Case in point, the model home below featured at Sugar Fresh.  Over the last few years, we’ve worked to cover the former owners’s dated paint choices with light, fresh neutrals.
  • Landscaping.  New construction tends to have bare-bones landscaping, if any.  We spent time every spring adding to the existing landscaping with easy-to-maintain beds and hardscaping.  These additions included planting more (and bigger) trees, perennial beds, and a fenced in garden storage area.  We also worked over time to improve the condition of our lawn, since we had a lot of that and it was very visible.
  • Built-in cabinetry.  One of the best features of our home was the office space at the front of the house.  We found a deal on cabinetry and Bionic Man installed it himself, so that we could have a great looking office space.      Office built-ins are a builder upgrade in most homes, so we knew those built ins would generate a lot of interest from buyers.  
  • Lighting.  One of the ways builders cut costs is to install only the bare minimum of overhead lighting.  We literally added dozens of lighting options to our home.  Bionic Man learned to install the lights himself, which saved us lots and lots of money.  We opted to add quite a bit of recessed lighting, so we just watched the sales and bought lots of lights at once at rock-bottom prices.
  • Electrical switches and outlets.  It’s no secret that white plastic yellows over time and with frequent use, gets pretty dingy.  Every time we painted a room, we replaced the outlet covers and switches with cleaner, newer, updated versions.  With switches running less than $2 each, this is a very, very inexpensive way to add instant “newness” to a room.
The key to all of these “upgrades” is that we paced ourselves.  They didn’t get done all at once.  Early on in each of our homes, we set some guidelines for ourselves to make the home interiors more cohesive and give each improvement project a direction.  We chose a specific metallic finish and neutral paint that would guide us in our decorating and finishing choices.  With goals in mind like replacing lighting and switches after each painting project, we kept an eye on the local sales so we could snatch deals when they came.

Stay tuned!  Next week I’m going to be telling you our staging and marketing strategies.


  1. […] how treating our home like an investment helped us be ready to put our homes on the market HERE and HERE.  This week I’m going to show you how much of an impact staging our Indiana home had on the […]

  2. […] Advance Prep I        Advance Prep II        Staging I         Staging […]

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