Buyers decide whether or not they are interested in taking a closer in-person look at a home for sale usually based on their first impression of the pictures and curb appeal of the home online. As the Bay Area Association of Realtors “Top Realtor in Sales,” Jennifer Chaney, a Realtor, certified staging professional and owner/broker of Chaney Homes, provides her expert advice on how to “wow” prospective buyers from the start.

When you decide to list your home, some preparation is in order to make it truly “market-ready.” This involves taking stock of the home’s assets and making lists of what needs to be removed, repaired and cleaned, as well as what items need to be purchased to make it shine online.

Clear the Decks

Buyers want to envision themselves in the home. By removing the less than picturesque clutter and too-personal items, you are enabling the buyer to see their own future there.

Take the fresh eye of your buyer, leaving nothing out of place. Extra vehicles, a boat or lawn equipment, for instance, should be moved off the property or into a shed or other storage area. This enables a buyer to see the home and property during showings and, every bit as important, in listing photos. An uncluttered and unobstructed view goes far!

Make it Shine

Clean up the lawn, weed the flower beds and wash planters. Clean leaves and debris from fallen limbs for a tidy, organized presentation. Power-wash decks and rails and consider a fresh coat of stain. Steer clear of bold colors here, as neutral wood color is best. Patio furniture should be well cleaned and set out. Remove screens and wash windows inside and outside. Power-washing siding and having your roof steam-cleaned to rid of winter’s mark is another smart investment. So often buyers will presume new roofing or changes in siding are needed when it’s only dirty.

Good as New

Take care of any inside and outside maintenance so that the property shows that it has been well-maintained. Consider re-sealing driveway cracks and repairing drooping gutters or any unsightly siding. Inside, paint the walls with a fresh coat of neutral paint in an inviting shade and replace carpet that cannot be salvaged by a good steam clean.

Designer Touches

Sellers often forget to add those inexpensive but important inviting touches that make a home feel “alive.” I advise my clients that once the house and property is clutter free, it’s time to purchase a few items to really punch it up and make it feel turn-key and welcoming.

Planting weather-friendly, colorful plants in cheery colored planters can add a lot of curb appeal to the front door and deck or patio. For landscaping improvements, once the beds are weeded and trimmed, purchase and spread fresh black mulch in flower beds and around shrubbery. Dark mulch makes planting colors pop, especially in online photos.

Fresh paint is one of the most inexpensive and quickest solutions to update both outside and inside and is great for faded front doors and shutters. Smart accent color choices go far, so choose a color that will look modern and fresh, is regionally appropriate and universal enough to appeal to most buyers.

Another inexpensive purchase that goes a long way is to purchase a colorful welcome mat for the front door to greet prospective buyers. A statement wreath in a bold, contrasting color from the door color will also add to the inviting “personality” of the home.

Faded cushions on patio furniture should be replaced to make existing furniture look brand new. Add accent pillows to patio furniture for color and interest and also to impart a sense of comfort, relaxation and set the tone for buyers looking for a home they can envision themselves entertaining in — enjoying the mild Chesapeake climate and outdoor lifestyle we enjoy on the Eastern Shore.

Marketing your home means it will literally be on stage for the listing pictures and during your busy showing schedule. Buyers will decide in the first few moments at the property if it meets their expectations. Make their decision easy by presenting a home that’s inviting, well-maintained, charming and one that is ultimately “show worthy.”

Jennifer Chaney may be contacted at 410-739-0242 or Visit her online at

Happy selling!

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