Getting Ready to Sell? Increase Your Home Value With My Proven Formula

Are you thinking of selling your farm?

Putting your Charlottesville VA farm on the market is not as easy as sticking up a ‘for sale’ sign in front of your property. It can be a challenging process, both from a business and family perspective.

Sometimes it can also be an emotional event, especially if the property has been in the family for generations. It isn’t just a house and some parcel of land. It’s an important part of your family’s life, filled with wonderful memories. However, there are circumstances when you have to part with it.

Charlottesville Virginia Farms for Sale

Regardless of the motivation to sell your farm, it is important that both you and your property are prepared for the selling process. First impressions matter in life and selling a rural property is no exception. When you impress potential buyers viewing your property, you can expect a quick sale for a great price!

Many buyers are drawn to Charlottesville because of the lifestyle it offers. In fact, the city often finds itself at the top of the list of the best places to live in the U.S. Who wouldn’t be attracted to a community that captures the perfect blend of city meets country? In addition, the area is renowned for its pastoral and beautiful farms located amidst the gorgeous backdrop of the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the gently rolling hills of the central Piedmont.

By doing the necessary preparations, you can create a positive impact on buyers and optimize the sale price of your property. This in turn can help you quickly move on to the next stage in life, be it retirement, reinvestment, or something else.

There are several different aspects you need to carefully consider prior to selling your property, whether it’s a commercial farm land, a grand Virginia estate, or a small hobby farm.

Hi, I’m Gayle Harvey, your Charlottesville Virginia real estate agent and broker specializing in farms, land, and estates in the central Virginia region, I have been involved in the Charlottesville area real estate industry since 2001. I have more than 20 years of hands-on experience with horticulture, cattle and horses. I also hold the prestigious Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designation.

I help buyers and sellers throughout central Virginia achieve their real estate goals through my knowledge of the current local real estate inventory combined with information on past and recent past sales. You can find out more about me by checking out

I created this article to help you understand the importance of your home’s worth, how to determine your property’s value, and how to increase the value of your property so that you can focus on ensuring your farm can be marketed as an appealing package and greatly boost your chances of getting a good deal on the sale of your home.

What is your VA farm worth?

Whether you’re thinking about selling your farm in Central VA, looking into your equity position, or interested in the real estate market, the question everyone starts with is “what’s my home worth?”

So much depends on the answer.

Before we go any further, let us first define true market value. Basically, market value is what buyers are willing to pay for your property. It is the price that your home should sell for in the current market. Your property’s value will depend on several factors, including how it was built, its location, the condition it is in, and the size of both the house and the property it sits on.

Hard as it may sound, it has nothing to do with how much you love your home, or how many special memories you’ve built there.

It is critical to have an accurate idea of your property’s value before listing it for sale. One of the main reasons why a property fails to sell, or gets overlooked entirely, is that it has a listing price that is too high for either the home or the location. A property that is priced too high will not sell quickly and may ‘go stale’ in the market, while an underpriced property will not give you the best return on your investment.

Pricing will also determine how quickly your property sells, how attractive your property will be to buyers, and how you will reach your financial goals regarding the transaction.


Farms for sale in Charlottesville VA


How do you determine the value of your property?

There are several methods that are used to determine how much a home is worth.

Farms for Sale in Virginia

 Price Per Square Foot Method

There are homeowners who believe that the price per square foot method is an excellent way to determine a home’s market value. What they usually do is take the sale price of a home that is similar to their property and then divide the amount by the number of square feet in their home.

However, the price per square foot method can be used as a measure to understand the general values of an area. But it should never be used to determine the market value of a home.

This method is ineffective because every home is different. While properties may be similar in terms of square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and location, there are many factors that are not taken into account when using the price per square foot method. These include property features, upgrades, and amenities.

Automated Valuation Models

Automated Valuation Models or AVM’s can provide real estate property valuation. They use public records like property transfers, deeds of ownership and tax assessments along with some mathematical modeling. They try to predict your home’s value based on recent sales and listing prices in the area.

AVM’s can be produced in a matter of seconds. They use statistics and lots of data. Sounds reliable, right?

However, just like the price per square foot method, AVM’s don’t take into consideration property features, upgrades, and amenities. Another problem is the fact that the data can be delayed at times. If a database has not been updated for a few months, it affects the accuracy of the estimate, and that amount of data varies by municipality and sometimes by home.

Online Calculators

If you search “how much is my home worth”, the result will show a number of home value estimators. In fact, there are several websites that offer free market value estimations. The most popular ones are Zillow and Trulia. Many of these estimates generate automatically based on public information like tax records, sales history, and comparable sales. Within seconds, you will receive a figure based on recent sales and the site’s information about your home.

But do sites like Zillow provide accurate home values? Not exactly. Some of Zillow’s Zestimates can be off by $30,000+.

Why is this so? It’s because these websites have no clue on what is currently happening in your local real estate market or what the condition of your home is.

Home Appraisal

One accurate method to determine the market value of your home is to hire a professional appraiser. The cost of an appraisal typically ranges between $250 – $500. However, it is a great way to get an unbiased opinion of your property’s market value.

Professional Appraisers evaluate the following:

  • Market: The region, city and neighborhood in which a home is located

  • Property: Characteristics of the house, including improvements, and the land it sits on

  • Comparable properties: Sales, listings, vacancies, cost, depreciation and other factors for similar houses in the same market


Why Home Value Estimate Tools Aren’t as Accurate as You Think

Let’s delve deeper into why online estimates aren’t as accurate as many people would like to believe.

There are many tools available for the average person interested in selling a home. The internet provides numerous resources. However, not everything you see online is true. You must take it with a grain of salt.

Here are five reasons why online estimates could be off:


Virginia Farms for Sale


The facts in the public record or the MLS can be inaccurate.

Since these estimates are generated automatically based on public information like tax records, sales history, and comparable sales, any discrepancy on the information will affect your home’s predicted value. If you live in a rural area, where sales are rare due to people staying in a home for a long period of time, the data can be even less accurate.


Your home is not like others in your neighborhood.

It’s difficult to arrive at an accurate value if there are no comparable homes. If your property is not like others in your area, or has unique features, there may be no comparable properties to compare it with.

Few homes in your neighborhood may have sold in the last six months.

Estimates are more accurate if there is a high housing turnover rate. The hotter the market, the more MLS data and sale prices the computers can use to calculate value. On the other hand, with few sales, there is less information to draw from.

The real estate market may change rapidly.

Home valuations are based on past sales. If the market is considerably hotter or colder than it was six months ago, those past sales are less reliable an indicator of current values.

Upgrades and unique features are unaccounted for.

You may make improvements to your property, and online value estimators have no way of knowing unless your local property tax assessor knows about your upgrades. If you make any updates that require permits from the city, that information may be passed along to the property tax authorities and entered into the public record, which is where online value estimators could learn about it.

However, if you make improvements that didn’t require any major permits, these upgrades may be unaccounted for when you try to get online valuation. So even if your home has a brand new designer kitchen, and a similar neighbor’s property has an outdated one, online estimates value both homes similarly even though your home may fetch a higher sale price.

Why Use a Real Estate Agent to Assess Your Property’s Worth

You need to have a clear understanding of your property’s value. To help you, I can provide you with a free evaluation of your property that will give you an accurate estimate of its current value in today’s real estate market and ultimately what you can expect to sell for.

Let me share with you top reasons why using a real estate agent to assess your home value is a smart move.

  • A real estate agent goes beyond the hard, basic data, like the square footage and the number of bedrooms, to assess your home. As an agent, I look at homes through the buyers’ eyes, allowing me to envision how the home needs to be positioned against other similar properties for sale.

  • I can provide you with both an assessed value and a market value (the value your house will most likely be sold for in an open market). On the other hand, an online calculator will only give you an estimated assessed value, which is sometimes based on wrong or outdated data.

  • As a real estate agent, I can assess the specific details of your property, both positive and negative.

  • I understand how important it is to price your home right. You don’t want your house sitting on the market for too long, nor do you want to undervalue the price of your home.


How Do Real Estate Agents Value Your Home?

It takes an experienced real estate agent who understands the nuances of the market, and the specifics of a home to provide an accurate market value.

So how do real estate agents, just like myself, arrive at a price that not only realistically reflects just what the property is worth, but also maximizes what the seller can achieve for it?

One of the best ways to determine the value of your home is by having a comparative market analysis (CMA) performed on your property.

What is a CMA? A CMA is a detailed analysis performed by a real estate professional that analyzes recently sold homes (“comparables”) within the past 6-month period in a specified area.

Comparable sales are those that most closely resemble your property. In order for a CMA to be accurate, it is crucial to select the best comparable properties. Here are several things I consider when choosing comparables:

  • When the was property sold

Sales more than six months in the past are not good comps, especially in fast-moving markets.

  • Where the property is located

The very best situation is that the property is in the same subdivision. However, that’s not possible most of the time, so the next consideration is locating comps in the same neighborhood or general area.

  • Characteristics of the property

When it comes to the style of residence, the number of bedroom and baths, the square footage of the home, the size of the lot, and other features of the property, the comparable homes should be as similar as possible.

Watch the video below to learn more about CMA’s


How do you increase the value of your Charlottesville VA farm?


Presentation is key

Charlottesville Virginia Farms for Sale

One simple way to increase the value of your property is to make sure it is well-maintained. When selling a property, first impressions really do count. Within the first minute of visiting your farm, the prospective buyer will have formed 80% of their overall opinion about your property.

One of the biggest mistake property sellers make is thinking that, because it’s a farm, the buyers won’t care what it looks like. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. Lack of presentation from the seller’s side will surely drive buyers away.

Imagine this: you’ve seen a property on the Internet and liked the pictures and price, so you arrange a visit in person. However, once you alight from your car, you’re greeted by a broken gate, a pile of dishes in the sink, a dirty carpet, and the smell of wet dog. Will you remain enthusiastic about the property? Certainly not!

So clean up. Put your personal items away. Have the carpets cleaned and touch up the paint. Make sure that when buyers come, they will leave feeling like they could see themselves living in your home.

Landscape your house and grounds

Farms for Sale in Virginia

Landscaping is a win–win proposition. Not only does it increase property value, it is also great for the environment and has been shown to improve your health!

Before doing anything, make sure that you have a master plan. Pay special attention to the curb appeal. When potential buyers arrive at your property, the overall effect should be a welcoming feast for the eyes. Adding a fence can also greatly enhance your landscaping. Putting up fences outline special areas. For example, you can consider putting up a decorative fence between the yard and pasture.

Provide proof on your farm’s success

Another strategy that can boost your property’s value is to show evidences of your farm’s success. Buyers love to see that someone has had success on this property, and it makes them feel like maybe they could find success here too.

Are you selling an equestrian farm? Have you won ribbons or trophies in horse showing? Display them in the barn aisle or in your office space in the house.

Can you provide verifiable stats on your farm’s production for the past 12 months? This way prospective buyers will immediately feel at ease when considering a purchase. Keep in mind that potential income generation is one of the biggest objections a buyer can have with a farm. You can take that off of the table by proving your property’s previous successes.

Stage your property

Another popular way to increase your property’s value is home staging. This involves arranging and decorating the property in a way that appeals to a wide range of buyers.

Taking the extra step to stage your property can make a difference in how a buyer values it and the price you might get for it. According to National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2017 Profile of Home Staging, 29 percent of sellers’ agents reported an increase of one percent to five percent of the dollar value offered by buyers, in comparison to similar homes. Twenty-one percent of respondents stated that staging a home increased the dollar value of the home between 6 and 10 percent. It is also worth noting that none of the respondents reported that staging a home had a negative impact on the home’s dollar value.

Farms for Sale in Virginia

Watch the video below to see the dramatic change home staging can make


Tap into the talents of a professional home stager. He or she has the ability to look at your property with a fresh pair of eyes and view it as a highly critical buyer would see it

Improve Access

Farms for sale in Charlottesville VA

Is it difficult to access your property? Did you know that poor access can be the single greatest detriment to enjoying a property?

A farm can be difficult to sell if it has no access. It will also diminish the value of your property significantly. No buyer will be willing to pay a premium rate for property with difficult access or no access at all.

On the other hand, having good access can give you freedom to enjoy your property. In addition, good access can be pointed out to the buyer when the property is placed on the market.

Final Thoughts

There are many different ways to determine the market value of a home. Make sure that you do not fall for the poor methods of determining market values.

If you have any questions about farms, estates or the local real estate market, I would be glad to answer them for you.

Call me, Gayle Harvey, at 434-220-0256 For a No Cost No Obligation (CMA) comparable market analysis of your property! Let’s work together to make sure that your home selling experience goes as smoothly as possible. Allow my skills and experience to work for you as you sell your Charlottesville VA farm.

In case you cannot view this video here, please click the link below to view Getting Ready to Sell? Increase Your Home Value With My Proven Formula on my YouTube channel:

Shenandoah Valley Farm Wins Big

Shenandoah Valley Farm Wins Wall Street Journal House of the WeelOur listing, Still Ridge Farm in the Shenandoah Valley, was selected as the Wall Street Journal’s House of the Day last Thursday.  On Friday, it was put  up for public vote against some very stiff competition as the Wall Street Journal’s House of the Week.  The competitors were a triplex with a rooftop terrace overlooking Paris, an architecturally designed townhome in Manhattan and a retreat overlooking the Pacific Ocean in New Zealand.  Still Ridge beat out the competition! This is the type of marketing and exposure we like to produce for our seller clients. Selling Virginia Farms with Great Marketing is what sets Gayle Harvey Real Estate apart from the competition.

Selling Your Home? Resist These Costly Renovations

If you’re reading this, we assume that maybe you have a home in central Virginia that you’re thinking of selling. If so, you want to do everything in your power to make your house look attractive, and it’s hard to compete with some of the other homes in the Charlottesville area. But go overboard on your pre-sale renovations and you run the risk of alienating potential buyers and losing thousands of dollars in the process. The key ideas expressed in this article relate to a) making modest but effectual improvements while maintaining the spirit of the house and b) depersonalizing the space as best as possible without compromising its attractive features. Let’s begin.

Leave the garage alone
A garage is more than just a place for high school bands to sound terrible. It’s a valuable reservoir for seasonal storage, a place to keep stuff dry, and oftentimes the place where your cars and lawnmowers live. If you’re considering a garage overhaul, you may want to think again, and carefully. Is the resultant space going to be more attractive to buyers than a huge space devoted to junk storage and safe, dry parking? Consider the volatile rainy season that could land in Charlottesville at any point…it’s nice to have a place where you can toss wet stuff in a hurry. There are, of course, some instances in which a family would prefer the garage to be a living space, but that option will still exist if they decide to move in, and you will have spent zero dollars on costly garage renovations. You may be contemplating a home office or TV den in the space where your garage is now, but what if your prospective buyers are neurosurgeons (can’t work from home) who hate television and drive convertibles? You get the idea…let the garage be what it is, and if people want to change it, they can. Chances are if the house has a garage, it probably has a sufficient amount of bedrooms. At the very least, leave the garage doors on…that way buyers have the option to change it back.

Keep the outside in check
Some people believe that potential buyers make up their minds as soon as they see the outside of a house. Whether or not that’s true, it’s pretty crucial that the outside of your home maintains a certain standard. You want your grass cut and hedges trimmed and all that, but you want to avoid anything too showy or flamboyant. We’re talking about that army of garden gnomes and flamingos, or that expensive fountain; anything that may come across as excessive, you know? The lawn could come across as high-maintenance, which isn’t what you want. You want the house to stand out, but you don’t want it to look markedly more expensive than other places in the neighborhood; this affects the resale value, as the biggest, most elaborate looking house on the block is often the most difficult to sell.

Avoid excessive bedroom conversions

People like bedrooms…after all, they are great places to sleep, and they provide storage for beds.
Thinking about knocking down that wall and making those two small rooms into one big one? Generally speaking, quantity is more important than quality, plus for some, a bigger bedroom isn’t necessarily better than a smaller one. People tend to react favorably to big master bedrooms, but not as much as they used to. And buyers generally want separate rooms for all their kids and a guest room if possible. But there are no hard and fast rules here. If the house has a substantial number of bedrooms already (over five or six) then it may be wise to break some walls down, but always be thinking, “Does the amount of money I could potentially add to the asking price outweigh the cost of these renovations?” And if you can’t give a definitive “Yes,” then keep thinking. This also speaks to the idea of depersonalizing the home. If you’ve converted your college-aged kid’s old room into a home gym or music studio, emphasize that it was a bedroom first and if possible, convert it back. This is the same logic we employed when advising against eccentric wallpaper choices in an earlier article…prospective buyers are looking to buy their house from you; present a blank canvas where possible, and allow their own ideas and aspirations to inhabit the space.

High-end renovations are not always great
It’s been said before (even in this very blog) that when you’re selling a house, you’re really selling a kitchen (insofar as the kitchen is often the most memorable room and the one that makes or breaks a potential buyer’s relationship to your place). Even so, think carefully about springing for those expensive upgrades right before selling. These have the potential to show a house’s age, especially if the new improvements clash with the existing feel or vibe of the house. Consider your dad wearing backwards hats and picking up on some of the youthful colloquialisms…more often than not, this will only serve to reinforce his quintessential “dad” characteristics. This applies to everywhere in the house but especially the kitchen and bathrooms, often the areas of the house that need a facelift. The $3,000 built-in coffee/espresso system is probably pretty cool, but if it’s next to a dishwasher and sink from the 90s, it may do more to make the house look dated than to make it look fresh. This goes double if your potential buyers prefer tea. Stainless steel looks good with granite and marble but maybe not with all shades of porcelain? Hard to say…choose wisely. It’s always a good call to update cabinets, countertops, and sinks by the way.

If you are thinking about selling your home and want suggestions, feel free to give us a call!

Guide to Selling Your Home

Beautiful_Kitchen_CharlottesvilleYou don’t need us to tell you that selling your home is a monumental decision. Not only do you have to think about finding somewhere else to live, you’ve got to tie up loose ends at your current residence, make sure your potential new dwelling has all the necessary amenities, and convince your kids that they will indeed make friends at the new school. It’s not exactly a relaxing process and, chances are if you’ve found your way to this posting, you’ve probably already decided to sell your place. We here at Gayle Harvey Real Estate have put together this guide full of helpful things to keep in mind.

 The good news is that it’s a pretty good time to sell. According to Time Magazine*, housing prices have increased, more people are looking into/able to buy, and interest rates are still low, creating incentive for potential buyers. This is especially true for real estate in Charlottesville and other areas; with several recent accolades celebrating food, culture and overall living, homes in Charlottesville and other property around central Virginia have more demand than they seen for quite awhile. Let’s get started with some important things to keep in mind before or as you put your home on the market. Presentation is obviously important, and it spans a variety of senses (from the look, lighting and feel of the place to the way it smells), areas (in/outside your home) and times. As soon as you know you want to sell, start thinking about some of these things.

Cleaning up and depersonalizing
Who’s cleaning the house? It depends on your needs and the current state of the house. If you’ve got a few empty rooms once inhabited by college-age kids, you may be able to handle most of the cleaning yourself. As important as actual cleanliness is your commitment to reducing clutter and accumulation. It’s tough to say goodbye to some our long-standing possessions, especially during a move. Owning a home is a testament to stability and structure, and when you’re selling it and trying to limit the number of things you take with you, it speaks to an ephemeral transience which informs the human experience. Consider hiring a professional organizer with whom you can consult as to what to take, what to toss, and what to do with the things you choose to leave behind. You should make a concerted effort to depersonalize your home, especially when interested parties are coming by to see it. Think about removing some of the personal touches; photos of the family, Christmas stockings, banners and tapestries. Potential buyers don’t want to live in a world of your experiences; they want a blank canvas, something onto which they can project their hopes, passions, and humanity. People want to “see themselves” in the space. Think about this when painting too…use neutral colors and steer clear of expressive, “loud” colors like yellow and purple. It’s easier for someone to envision his or her self in a place with muter, unobtrusive colors. You may get people who like the purple, but they’d probably paint it purple themselves either way. 

Long-term improvements

If you’re still in the planning stages, now’s the time to start thinking about long-term steps. Investigate funky smells and any errant damp patches around the house, especially if the smells are sort of musty. It could be mold or mildew. Sometimes it’s not particularly difficult for you to get rid of yourself; some good detergent and a bit of cleaning should take care of it. You might also consider a humidifier for patches of moisture around the house. But if you come across a concentrated area of mold over 10 square feet, you should probably seek professional assistance.   Look for water issues in your bathroom as well. A squishy floor requires immediate attention and will definitely cost you some money off the asking price, some potential attention from buyers, or both. It could be something as simple as a toilet pan with a leak, or the damage could be more foundational. Either way, you ought to nip it in the bud way before the open house rolls around. Make sure there aren’t any excessive cracks in the foundation (we’re talking 1/8 of an inch or bigger) because that could mean the structural integrity of the home requires attention from an engineer. Also pay close attention to the baseboards, corners and crevices in your house. You’d probably know whether or not you had a full-blown infestation, but roaches and mice don’t need huge spaces to slip by unnoticed. Be on the lookout for termite wings near windowsills as well as little holes or traces of sawdust on the baseboards (carpenter ants). The roof is another very important consideration. If you’ve got extra time and or money, consider a re-shingling job. The age of the roof is definitely something to think about when looking into a new house, and for good reason. It’ll run you at least a few thousand depending on what type of shingles you use. Laminated shingles are the best but also the most expensive. If the roof appears to be faulty or even just old and worn, buyers could try to leverage it into subtracting money off of your asking price, and sometimes this will outweigh the cost of repairing the roof yourself.

1-kitchenbKitchen and bathrooms are important

You may think you’re in the process of selling a house, but in actuality you’re selling a kitchen (and in some cases a master bathroom). It sort of makes sense; the kitchen is probably the room that will attract the highest volume of traffic. It’s also one of the only unique rooms in the house (there are multiple bedrooms, bathrooms etc.) You want your whole house to look good of course, but make sure your kitchen is in tip-top shape for potential buyers. However, we don’t necessarily advise breaking the bank to accomplish this. If you drop thousands of dollars on long-term improvements, it’s not certain that you’ll make that money back. Start off with the more cost-effective repairs and additions. The effect will still go a long way towards winning over potential buyers. We’re talking about things like leaky faucets, shaky light fixtures, and loose drawers. Replacing the cabinets isn’t too pricy and goes a long way towards revitalizing your kitchen and giving it a fresh look. However if the hardware in your kitchen is a little outdated and you have some money to spend, you might think about replacing an appliance or two. Carting that old musty fridge away and replacing it with an ice-making stainless steel behemoth will make buyers think that the rest of the kitchen is at least up to that standard.

The same goes for the bathrooms. Assuming they’re free of the aforementioned water damage, there are still a couple of things you can do to spruce them up. Make sure all the faucets are working and check to see if every sink and bathtub drains quickly. If not, grab some Drano, lye or a plumber’s snake if you prefer to work without chemicals. Replace the shower curtains and, if necessary, any shower and toilet mats you have. Getting a brand new toilet is relatively inexpensive (a few hundred dollars). Consider changing the light fixtures to give the room a brighter appearance, and maybe re-grout the tiles as well.

Open Houses and Showings

Up until now, we’ve been discussing improvements and techniques that are more long-term. Here we’ll go over things to keep in mind in the days leading up to an open house. You should be ready to show a house at any time. Treat every day like it’s an open house. When you get a call from your broker last minute at 6:30 pm, the interested party at the other end of the transaction is probably fed up with the houses s/he has seen. This isn’t a hard and fast rule of course, but a person just starting out a house search is looking at scheduled open houses and making appointments. Spur of the moment showings indicate that the buyer is trying very hard to find a place and hasn’t quite succeeded yet. So the house should always be show-ready.

 Start by tidying up the exterior; make sure it looks inviting. An unappealing exterior loses a sale the same way a beautiful kitchen makes one. Fix any cracks in the siding, refurbish the brick, and think about power washing driveways and front steps. Repainting the front door could be a good move as well, so long as the updated paintjob doesn’t make it clash with the rest of the façade. In fact, there are many places inside the house where a fresh coat would go a long way…identify these areas and remember to keep the colors muted. Keep the lawn freshly mowed, trim the hedges, and patch up any fencing. These are things the new owners could easily do, but they are a reflection of you and your upkeep of the house.

 Lighting is also crucial in this regard. If you have ample natural light, open up the windows or draw the blinds to showcase that. If there’s not so much natural light, get new light bulbs with higher wattage, more transparent lampshades…anything. You want it to be bright and inviting in your house. Try to avoid drawing attention to dark corners. Move furniture around to maximize floor space. You want to display the most efficient utilizations of the floor plan and you definitely don’t want buyers to think it’s cramped. No one ever complains that a house has too much room. If your closets are bulging, take half of the clothes out and stash them so the closets look bigger. Make sure all the closets are on track too. It’s a quick fix, and shaky closets, like loose doorknobs and leaky faucets just give the impression that the house hasn’t been well maintained. They’re all quick fixes for the people who may end up moving in, but they’ll just contribute to negative impressions of the house.

 Avoid any strong smells during this period. Save that delicious chicken tikka masala recipe for the new place; we advise against pungent aromas at open houses, even if they’re savory and appetizing. It goes back to that blank canvas thing. People may also assume that those smells come with the house. For this reason, we’d also suggest treating your lovable Doberman to doggy vacation for a week or two. Not only may you intimidate people who aren’t comfortable around pets, the smell and dander may detract from the first impression. You can’t be sure which of your potential buyers has a negative association with the smell of kitty litter. Fish are okay. Use discretion when decided whether or not to take your terrarium somewhere else, but if you’ve got snakes you may want to let a friend borrow them. Remember, a first impression is likely to be the only impression; the people coming by your place are looking at comparable properties. They’re roughly the same price range and will have many overlapping features, so the only things a potential buyer has to differentiate (besides the objective specs and asking prices) these homes are the experiences that they take. A lot of people will have freshly baked bread or cookies somewhere in the house. Cookies. You’d be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t like cookies, although they’re out there. While we’re on the subject of food, think about crafting a light, generally accessible menu for the open house. You’re not opening up a restaurant, given. But a carafe of pinot noir with some camembert or fontina cheeses, some salami? You’re cultivating an atmosphere. A bouquet of flowers at the entrance is a nice touch as well.

 This may go without saying, but sweep up and wipe down surfaces before any open house. Make sure the bathroom and kitchen are spotless. When sweeping up, pay special attention to the baseboards and the corners. Wipe the dust off fan blades. Make sure the dishes are clean and the sink is empty. Pretty much hide any evidence that a) you actually use any of the appliances b) you even live in the house at all. Because soon, you won’t. Someone else will be, and hopefully they’ll be writing you a nice check as well.