15 Secrets to Selling Your Home Faster

Consider these low-cost ways to sell a home fast by attracting buyers with great photos, fresh curb appeal and the right asking price.

U.S. News & World Report

15 Secrets to Selling Your Home Faster

Man cleaning kitchen floor.
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Clean everything.

Nothing turns off buyers like a dirty house. Hire a company to deep clean if you can’t do it yourself. “When the (home) is on the market, no matter what time of day or night, it should be clean and neat,” says Ellen Cohen, a licensed associate real estate broker with real estate brokerage Compass in New York City.

Key places to clean while your home is on the market include:

  • Kitchen countertops.
  • Inside cabinets and appliances.
  • Floors and room corners where dust collects.
  • Shelves.
  • Bathroom counters, toilets, tubs and showers.
  • Inside closets.
  • Windows, inside and out.
  • Scuffed walls, baseboards and doors.
  • Basement and garage.
white wall with photos of the family in various photo frames
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(Getty Images)

Depersonalize your home.

Remove all your family photos and memorabilia. You want buyers to see the house as a home for their family, not yours. Remove political and religious items, your children’s artwork (and everything else) from the refrigerator and anything that marks the house as your territory rather than neutral territory. The same goes for any collections such as figurines, sports memorabilia or kids' toys that can make a buyer think less about the house and more about you. Family photos can be replaced by neutral art or removed entirely – just be sure to remove any nails and repair nail holes where any hanging photos used to be.

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Real Estate Agency. Couple Looking at a Model of Their New Home -
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Hire an experienced real estate agent.

If you’re selling your home by placing it on the market, as opposed to selling to an iBuyer, finding the right real estate agent is a necessary step. As you interview potential agents, pay close attention to their experience level. You want to find an agent you can work well with who also knows the market, too. “A lot of what may seem like little odds and ends that go into getting a house ready for the market comes from experience,” says Alec Cantley, a real estate agent with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Asheville, North Carolina.

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Ensure a quick sale.

Selling your home quickly not only allows you to move on with your life, it also means fewer days of keeping your home in pristine condition and leaving every time your agent brings prospective buyers for a tour. According to real estate information company Zillow, the best time to list a home for sale is on a Saturday between May 1 and May 15; homes listed during those times sell six days faster and for $1,600 more than the average listing. But how fast your home actually sells, and at what price, depends on factors beyond timing. Here are 15 secrets to selling your home faster, no matter when you list it.

Pick a selling strategy.

Before putting a for sale sign in your yard, it's important to pick the selling strategy that will work best for you. The for-sale-by-owner option may be best if you feel confident in your ability to market the home and negotiate, but it may not ensure the fastest sale or the highest possible price. If your time is better spent on other details, a real estate agent could be best. If you need to sell the home quickly, you may want to inquire with an iBuyer, an entity that can make the deal close faster than the typical homebuyer. You should feel confident in the selling strategy you choose, and avoid switching from one to the other while your house is on the market. Buyers could be turned off by the constant changing of circumstances.

Hire an experienced real estate agent.

If you’re selling your home by placing it on the market, as opposed to selling to an iBuyer, finding the right real estate agent is a necessary step. As you interview potential agents, pay close attention to their experience level. You want to find an agent you can work well with who also knows the market, too. “A lot of what may seem like little odds and ends that go into getting a house ready for the market comes from experience,” says Alec Cantley, a real estate agent with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Asheville, North Carolina.

Clean everything.

Nothing turns off buyers like a dirty house. Hire a company to deep clean if you can’t do it yourself. “When the (home) is on the market, no matter what time of day or night, it should be clean and neat,” says Ellen Cohen, a licensed associate real estate broker with real estate brokerage Compass in New York City.

Key places to clean while your home is on the market include:

  • Kitchen countertops.
  • Inside cabinets and appliances.
  • Floors and room corners where dust collects.
  • Shelves.
  • Bathroom counters, toilets, tubs and showers.
  • Inside closets.
  • Windows, inside and out.
  • Scuffed walls, baseboards and doors.
  • Basement and garage.

Depersonalize your home.

Remove all your family photos and memorabilia. You want buyers to see the house as a home for their family, not yours. Remove political and religious items, your children’s artwork (and everything else) from the refrigerator and anything that marks the house as your territory rather than neutral territory. The same goes for any collections such as figurines, sports memorabilia or kids' toys that can make a buyer think less about the house and more about you. Family photos can be replaced by neutral art or removed entirely – just be sure to remove any nails and repair nail holes where any hanging photos used to be.

Let the light in.

People love light and bright, and the best way to show off your house is to let the sunshine in. Open all the curtains, blinds and shades, and turn lights on in any dark rooms. If natural light is lacking in any room, strategically place lamps or light sources throughout to set the mood. And while your house is on the market, open all curtains and turn on lights every time you leave your house for work or errands in case you get word that a buyer would like to tour the space before you get home.

Remove excess furniture and clutter.

Nothing makes a home seem smaller than too much big furniture. Rent a self-storage container or a storage unit and remove as much furniture as you can. “I highly recommend people go in and declutter and depersonalize,” says Heather Hobrock, a real estate agent with Premier Sotheby’s international Realty in Naples, Florida. Remove knickknacks from all surfaces, pack them away and store the pieces upon which you displayed them. Take a minimalist approach to books, throw rugs and draperies, and clear off your kitchen and bathroom countertops, even removing appliances you normally use. If you can scale down the contents of your closets, that’s even better, because it makes the home's storage space look more ample.

Consider staging your home.

While you may have a fun sense of style, your furniture may make it hard for buyers to see the home as a blank slate. When that happens, it may be better to have the home staged with furniture that’s brought in. Hobrock has a warehouse of furniture that she uses for staging clients' houses, though she notes many real estate agents will use a third-party staging company. She explains that she recently re-staged a home that has been on and off the market for five years with white linens and clean, simple furnishings. Almost immediately, the house had multiple offers and it sold for above the asking price. “That’s the power of staging,” Hobrock says.

Invest in a professional photographer.

According to NAR's 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 84% of recent buyers used the internet to search for homes. Of those, 89% found photos very useful in their home search. If your listing photos don’t show off the features of your home, prospective buyers may reject it without even taking a tour or going to the open house. Hiring a professional photographer and posting at least 30 photos of your home, inside and out, is a good way to attract buyers. Photography is often free for home sellers, as shoots are often conducted at the expense of real estate brokers as part of marketing the property.

Have a 3D tour done.

Beyond professional photos, a 3D tour of your house is quickly becoming standard for properties on the market, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which leaves many people unwilling or unable to tour multiple properties in person. “The reason that’s so important is it’s not uncommon now to see people making sight unseen purchases,” Cantley says. Video tours and virtual offerings by your agent can also help potential buyers feel they know a lot about your property without even visiting it. Keep in mind, however, that 3D tours and video tours of your property will show many flaws that may be easy to hide in photos, so have your house in pristine condition before shooting a tour.

Spruce up the exterior of your home.

You’ve heard it 100 times before, and it’s still true: Curb appeal matters. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. A new or freshly painted front door, new house numbers and a new mailbox can breathe life into your entryway. Fresh landscaping and flowers in beds or in pots also enhance your home’s first impression. Trim trees and bushes, tidy up flower beds, remove dead leaves from plants, clear out cobwebs from nooks near the entrance and pressure-wash walkways, patios and decks. Leave the outdoor lights on, too, because prospective buyers may drive by at night.

Perfect the entryway.

Once you get buyers inside your home, they still need to be wowed. “I believe that a buyer makes a decision on a house within the first couple seconds that they walk in the door,” Hobrock says. So while your house is on the market, make sure the foyer is kept clean, clutter-free and appears as open and welcoming as possible. If you’re limited to where you can add a fresh coat of paint or which floors you have refinished, the areas immediately visible from the entrance may make the biggest difference.

Repaint in neutral colors.

A new coat of paint will do wonders to freshen up your home, both inside and out. This is the time to paint over your daughter’s purple bedroom, nix the quirky turquoise bathroom and cover up the red accent wall in your dining room. Busy wallpaper can also turn off potential buyers. Your goal is to create a neutral palette so buyers can envision incorporating their own personal touches in the home. "You just want people to see the space for what it is," Cohen says. Consider neutral shades of gray, taupe and cream on the walls. In South Florida, Hobrock says white is a popular paint choice particularly because many new construction homes are selling now, and existing homes are mimicking the fresh look of the brand-new interiors to appeal to buyers.

Make necessary updates.

If your kitchen, bathrooms or living room look dated, you may benefit from some minor work prior to putting your house on the market. “There’s often a variety of items that you can (update) as you prepare a house to come on the market,” Cantley says. “It could be as little as a couple thousand bucks, but it can have huge returns when it comes to getting into the buyer’s psyche.” Cantley says cabinet or door hardware, fresh paint or new countertops can have a big impact on your final sale price. If buyers focus first on all the rooms they need to remodel, they’ll likely be subtracting that cost from their offer price.

Be flexible with showings.

Buyers like to see homes on their schedule, which often means evenings and weekends. Plus, they want to be able to tour a home soon after they find it online, especially in a hot market where they're competing with other buyers. If your home can be shown with little or no notice, more prospective buyers will see it. If you require 24 hours’ notice, they may choose to skip your home altogether. "That's one less person who gets to see the property," Cohen says. Be ready to leave quickly as well – if you're still cleaning up or hanging around outside when the buyer arrives, it can make for an awkward interaction.

Set the right price.

No seller wants to leave money on the table, but the strategy of setting an unrealistically high price with the idea that you can come down later doesn’t work in real estate. Buyers and their agents have access to more information on comparable homes than ever before, and they know what most homes are worth before viewing them. A home that’s overpriced in the beginning tends to stay on the market longer, even after the price is cut, because buyers think there must be something wrong with it. "Pricing correctly on the lower side tends to work much better," Cohen says.

Here are 15 tips to sell your home faster:

  • Pick a selling strategy.
  • Hire an experienced real estate agent.
  • Clean everything.
  • Depersonalize your home.
  • Let the light in.
  • Remove excess furniture and clutter.
  • Consider staging your home.
  • Invest in a professional photographer.
  • Have a 3D tour done.
  • Spruce up the exterior of your home.
  • Perfect the entryway.
  • Repaint in neutral colors.
  • Make necessary updates.
  • Be flexible with showings.
  • Set the right price.
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Updated on Feb. 25, 2021: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.