Sellers are always asking for advice on what to do their homes to get top dollar. Of course you can hire a stager to come in and do a makeover, but many times a stager isn’t needed or a seller doesn’t want to pay for staging.

  Here are 10 tips that I recommend to my sellers: 

  1. Start packing. Start with everything that is visible that you can live without; like photos, books, collections, and miscellaneous clutter.
  2. Organize the closets and cupboards. This is a good time to donate all of the things you haven’t worn or used in the past year.
  3. Remove anything attached to the house that you want to take with you, as attachments are normally transferred to the buyer. If you are taking something, like a light fixture, you will need to replace it with another one.
  4. Remove excess furniture so you have at least a 3’ walk way through-out the house. You want your rooms to feel inviting and as large as possible. Arrange your furniture to take advantage of any focal point like a fireplace or nice view.
  5. Paint and repair any damaged items, replace the furnace filter and old light bulbs. You want your home to be neutral and bright. Most buyers hire a home inspector so you might as well make any known repairs now so the inspection goes smoothly. If you have a well and/or septic system, you should have a current water test, and septic inspection.
  6. Clean everything, inside and out, including the appliances and flooring so buyers feel your home is move in ready.
  7. Hide any trash or recycling cans that are sitting out and find a place for the pet food and kitty litter that isn’t visible as you walk through the house.
  8. Check your curb appeal. This is the buyer’s first impression of your home and it may attract buyers who see the for sale sign as they drive by. Hide the trash and recycling, pick up the toys and tools, plant some flowers, trim trees, mow the lawn, paint the front door, fix broken steps or railings, etc.
  9. Make sure your home smells fresh. Before showings take out the trash, look for pet accidents, hide the dirty laundry, vacuum, open a window-weather permitting, use air-freshener as long as it is not overpowering.
  10. Walk through the house one more time, as if you were a buyer and see if there’s anything you missed.

  An experienced Real Estate Agent can provide specific tips to help you get top dollar for your home.

  Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.