How to Think Like a Buyer When Getting Your Property Ready to Sell

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The house is finally done after a whole lot of “blood, sweat and tears”, and now it’s time to get your wholesale flip “retail buyer ready”. Real estate investors all have the same question at this point; how can I make my house stand out from the other homes for sale in the neighborhood? The answer is quite simple. Your home has to make a better first impression than your competition. Your potential buyer has to want to come inside from the moment they drive up to the house. So how do you do that?

Learn to think like a buyer!

Curb Appeal Is Everything!

Pay special attention to the landscaping and keep the grass cut and trimmed while your house is for sale. If you are selling during the summer months, extra watering may be needed to keep the lawn in tip top shape.

  • Give your yard a manicured look. It will really pay off to spend a few dollars to have the plants neatly trimmed, the planting beds weeded, and fresh mulch put down. A great touch is to put brightly colored flowers near the front of the house. You might even want to add a couple of pots of flowers at or near the front door well give it an extra touch. Be sure to pick plants that don’t need daily watering.
  • All your windows should be sparkling clean on the exterior as well as the interior.
  • Take a good look at your front door. Does it need a fresh coat of paint or maybe just a good cleaning?
  • Spend a few dollars and replace your old mailbox and add some attractive house numbers. These simple things will give your house a polished look.
  • Make sure your deck or patio in the back yard is neat and inviting. You want your buyers to be able to imagine entertaining or just relaxing in this space at the end of the day. A power washer can be rented for about $40-$50 dollars if heavy duty cleaning is needed. Go ahead and power-wash any siding on your house at the same time.
  • Store all of garden equipment and trash containers out of sight.

Look at the interior of the house through “buyer’s eyes”

  • Have a professional do a thorough house cleaning when the house is finished paying special attention to the kitchen and the bathrooms. Remember these are the rooms that sell houses!
  • Make sure all floors have been cleaned and are in good condition. This also applies to any carpet that hasn’t been replaced.
  • Give the house the “sniff test”. Does it smell good?
  • Buyers don’t want to have to paint before moving in, so be sure the house is painted in neutral colors. Painting the trim a crisp white makes the home look modern and inviting.
  • Home staging always pays big dividends! Consider doing some simple home staging so that prospective buyers can imagine what the home will look like with furniture in it.
  • Does the basement have a “musty” smell? Figure out what the problem is and correct it.
  • Does everything in the house function properly? Make sure all the light bulbs are working, and all of the cabinet handles and doorknobs are securely attached. Walk through the house and give it the same scrutiny that a buyer will, double checking the smallest details in the home.
  • Be sure to change the furnace filter. If the furnace hasn’t been replaced during the rehab, have it professionally cleaned and inspected.

Real estate investors that pay special attention to the details when rehabbing their investment houses send a strong message to prospective buyers that this is no ordinary house; this house is special! If your house shines in comparison to the competition you’ll be putting out the “sold” sign in no time.

Photo: Drew & Merissa

About Author

Sharon Vornholt

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.


  1. Sharon, thank you for these helpful and informative tips. It seems like there are a lot of homeowners who automatically assume that a potential buyer is going to make changes either way. This line of thinking leads some homeowners to skip most of these important steps and just present the house “as is,” which will certainly hurt their chances of finding a buyer. There are also certain types of home improvements that can add resale value to your home. For example, if you still have older, original windows on your home, energy efficient replacement windows may be a worthwhile investment. Not only will the new windows add value to the home, but they can also help to reduce heating and cooling bills. This is just another positive feature that will appeal to the buyer. Of course, it’s always essential to consider return on investment prior to the commencement of any home improvement project. Thanks again for posting this interesting article!

  2. Jeff Brown

    Hey Sharon — We have a highly experienced interior designer in-house, who is the first to inspect any new local listings we’re about to take. Her advice has proven to be incredibly valuable. This is especially true she’s recommended minor to moderate physical changes. Sometimes we’ve wondered if we’re in the same house when she’s done.

  3. Jason Grote

    Sharon, great information! I agree with all of it… these are the simple things that many overlook. If someone follows just these things, they will greatly increase their sale amount and decrease their days on market.

  4. Great article, Sharon! It’s really important when selling your home to step back and look at it through a “buyers’ eyes”. Curb appeal has always been extremely important. First impressions really are lasting ones, especially when a prospective buyer is looking for their “perfect” home! If they drive up to a home and are not “wowed”; many times they don’t have a desire to go inside, even though this home may have been just what they were looking for!

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