O’Connell Team - Wilmington MA Real Estate, Tewksbury MA Real Estate, Billerica MA Real Estate


Making a good first impression on prospective home buyers is the key to getting your house sold within a relatively short period of time. Once your house is on the market, you'll want to make sure any major flaws, aesthetic issues, and potential buyer turnoffs have been fully addressed before the first prospects walk through your front door.

Although serious house hunters often return for a second -- and sometimes third -- walkthrough of your home, first impressions determine whether they'll be back for another look.

Since time is of the essence and you may be on a limited home improvement budget, it's necessary to prioritize the projects that will have the most impact on the image you project. When it comes to making cost-effective decisions on preparing your house for showings, your real estate agent can provide helpful insights and objective advice. Seasoned agents can size up a property within minutes and identify ways to improve the look and feel of your home. Although every homeowner is going to have a different set of priorities and issues to deal with, there are a few focal points that would apply to just about everyone.

Curb appeal: To attract the maximum number of prospects to your home (and to put them in a receptive state of mind when viewing your house), it's essential that your property looks well maintained. In addition to having a manicured lawn and bushes that are neatly trimmed, your curb appeal also depends on the condition of your driveway, walkway, and house foundation. The appearance of weeds, cracked surfaces, and peeling or faded paint are sure to be seen as "red flags" to many people and will detract from the impression your home conveys.

Clutter control: Getting a handle on clutter in and around your house is a vital aspect of enhancing its appearance and marketability. Whether you're dealing with storage areas that are jam-packed to the hilt, too much furniture in your living room, or a front yard that's littered with bicycles, lawn equipment, toys and junk vehicles, clutter is a visual cue to people that "something is wrong here!" Clutter inside your house can cause rooms to look smaller and living space to appear as chaotic and uninviting. Even clutter in garages, basements, closets, and attics can send the wrong message to potential house hunters. On the other hand, uncluttered space is like "a breath of fresh air," and can go a long way toward winning over one or more interested prospects.

General recommendations: While everyone's situation is different and unique, cleanliness, proper room lighting, and basic home staging techniques can help maximize your chances for a successful showing. Applying a fresh coat of paint, where needed, also increases the eye-appeal of everything from your front steps and hallways to bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen areas. Thoroughly steam-cleaning carpets and refinishing faded hardwood floors can also be cost-effective ways to bring out the full potential of your home


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Image by Jo Ann Snover from Shutterstock

There are many ways you can make your house attractive to prospective buyers. Curb appeal goes a long way when it comes to first impressions. Your yard is one indication of the amount of time you’ve spent caring for your property in general. Buyers are undoubtedly attracted to homes that have been properly maintained so if you plan to sell your property, don’t neglect your landscaping. Just like washing the dishes and vacuuming floors positively impacts the look of your interior spaces, regular yard maintenance will do the same for your exterior spaces. 

The following tips can help give you a good head start:

  • Plan to mow your lawn at least once a week. Use a weed wacker or edger to clean up around fences or play yards where your lawnmower might not reach. 

  • Remove weeds, leaves and clippings from walkways and patios. After you mow the lawn, use a leaf blower or broom to remove lawn clippings from walkways. If you have a brick or stone pathway, pull the weeds that may grow between the pavers.

  • Create clean edges between your grass and planting areas. You don’t need to install special materials to achieve this look. Use a straight-edge shovel to create or refresh an existing edge then add a fresh layer of mulch or stone to complete the transition.

  • Overgrown plants can be hard for homebuyers to overlook. Neglected shrubs and bushes may block the view of your house, they may interfere with walkways, doors, or other plantings and often just look untidy. Invest in a pair of loppers or hand pruners that can handle the plantings on your property. If you are not familiar with how to approach trimming the shrubs or trees you have, be sure to do some research before you start cutting. A local nursery or landscaper can provide advice on how and during which season you should prune your plantings. 

A smart way to attract prospective buyers is to improve the landscaping around your home. Consult with your real estate agent for more ways to improve your curb appeal and for local landscaping resources.


Getting your house ready to be sold can seem like an overwhelming undertaking. Like any large project, though, if you take it one step at a time, you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish!

The ideal scenario involves having everyone in the family pitch in to keep your house looking its best for each showing. When you divide the labor and work as a team, things get done a lot faster and more efficiently.

Keeping your lawn mowed, bushes trimmed, and house clean on a consistent basis are among the many challenges of always being ready for the next showing. Another common necessity involves applying a fresh coat of paint to walls and other surfaces. That relatively inexpensive step can help make your home look dramatically brighter, vibrant, and more appealing to prospective buyers.

One thing to keep in mind when preparing to put your home on the market is that you (the owner) are probably "too close to the trees to see the forest." In other words, you may be overly accustomed to the appearance, the imperfections, and the décor of your home to be able to identify what needs to be upgraded, fixed, or changed. An experienced real estate agent can help you develop a cost-effective plan for staging your home, enhancing curb appeal, and making necessary improvements to maximize your home's appeal and marketability.

There are dozens of inexpensive things you can do that often have a major impact on the impression you make on potential buyers. Having your carpets, upholstered furniture, and draperies professionally steam-cleaned, for example, can make a world of difference! So can adding a few colorful flower arrangements, inside and out. Lots of light -- both natural and artificial -- also helps make your home look more cheerful and inviting. Keeping your windows crystal clear is another way to make a positive impression, as well as cleaning out your closets to avoid a cluttered, unkempt look.

A few other critical things homeowners sometimes forget to do is clean up dog droppings in the yard, fix squeaky hinges, and remove visible mouse traps from the basement and garage -- especially if there are mice in them! The cleanliness of your cat's litter box is another major priority that can easily be overlooked.

Even the most meticulous, conscientious home sellers can forget to clean, prepare, or organize important things before potential house buyers come to visit, so it's useful to create checklists and routines to get ready for scheduled house showings.

While some homes pose more of a challenge than others when it comes to getting ready for real estate showings, the goal is to make the most of what you have, and do so within your available budget and timeframe.


When you first start creating the list of things you need to finish to get your home ready for sale, it can seem daunting. Too much work can throw you for a loop, and you might be tempted to sell your home "as-is" instead. However, just adding a bit of curb appeal can significantly increase the value of the property. You can crack down on that list by starting with these quick and easy items can you do on a weekend by yourself for under a hundred dollars.

Street Address Numbers

One of the easiest and least expensive curb appeal upgrades are new house numbers. You want buyers driving by to see the address easily, so go for clean large numerals that are easily visible on the side of your property. You can get brass or chrome numbers for a shiny effect, or you can get wooden numbers and paint them in the color of your choice. 

Front Door and Shutters

A new front door can give your entryway a sense of welcome. You can go for a new entry entirely to improve on the existing style of your home, or you can just try out a new paint job. If you have shutters, you can refresh the paint on those as well. Check with your local paint specialist to find out what kind of paint works best. Make sure you double-check the material your door is made of before you start, or you could end up with just a peeling mess on your hands. For the best look, make sure you tape off any windows and fixtures and then clean up any remaining paint after its all dry. 

Outdoor Lighting

You don't need to replace your outdoor lights to make a difference, but you do need to give them a good shine. Take them all apart and remove the dust and bugs that build up under the glass. Switch out your light bulbs for brand new LEDs that will be brighter and better for your electrical bill. If you want to make some changes, outdoor lighting can be purchased and hung yourself for relatively cheap at your local lighting or home improvement store. If you're going to install new light fixtures, be sure to turn off the electricity at the breaker box before you start.

Landscaping

Get your whole family together for this one and start by picking any weeds and removing any dead leaves, branches, and other plant matter. Your kids may want to claim some of it for leaf-jumping piles, but make sure to clean up those piles after they have their fun. Clean up your lawn or replace a dried-out lawn with an alternate material such as mulch that is easier to take care of regularly.

Talk to your real estate agent about the best curb appeal upgrades for your home, so that you spend your money in the right place.


No matter how you look at it, putting your home on the market is a life-changing experience!

Not only will it change your future circumstances, but it will have an impact on your day-to-day routine, right now.

If your home is actively being shown by real estate agents, there are a few things you may need to do on a regular basis to make the best possible impression on potential buyers:

Keep it clean: Ordinarily, most homeowners aren't inclined to thoroughly clean their house every day -- or "at a moment's notice." Very few people have the time or motivation to keep their home's immaculate on a constant basis; it's exhausting just thinking about it! However, when your house is being viewed by prospective buyers, cleanliness -- or the lack, thereof -- will be noticed. Although "old habits die hard," it may be necessary to enlist the help and cooperation of your children (and spouse) in keeping the house looking presentable at all times. While it's unrealistic to expect your home to look immaculate day after day, it might be necessary to establish some new rules and standards for your family to follow about picking up clothes, toys, snack wrappers, and food residues. If you can maintain a "semblance of order" on an ongoing basis, then it shouldn't be too difficult to prepare your home for the next showing. While you'll usually get at least 24-hours notice before a house showing is scheduled, there may be the occasional request for a same-day visit.

Appearances count: "Keeping up Appearances" is more than just a popular British sitcom; it's a necessary goal for anyone hoping to sell their home within a reasonable period of time. Doing your best to stage your home in an attractive, inviting way is a key ingredient to a successful home-selling strategy. Setting priorities for curb appeal will also help you put your best foot forward in a competitive real estate market. Although many aspects of home staging are based on common sense and simple home decorating principles, it's difficult to be objective when your family's home is involved. There's certainly a lot of credible information online concerning the benefits of reducing household clutter and leaning toward neutral paint colors, but you can also turn to your real estate agent for tips on enhancing your home's curb appeal, interior appearance, and overall marketability.

Unless the home you're selling is relatively new or completely updated, there are a lot of decisions to make about how much time, energy, and money should be spend on upgrades, repairs, and enhancements. While everyone's situation, budget, and timetable is different, it's usually necessary to correct issues that might be considered a glaring problem or a deal breaker. Sometimes those issues don't come to the forefront, however, until you get specific feedback from agents and prospective buyers.




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