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Top Tips for Selling Your Home from Chip and Joanna Gaines

Thinking of selling your home? Fixer Upper’s Chip and Jo share their advice on prioritizing your to-do list, making strategic design decisions, and letting go emotionally when it’s time to hand over the keys

Gina Goff
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Ask the Pros

Since 2013, Chip and Joanna Gaines have been helping house hunters (most prominently on their former HGTV hit show Fixer Upper) to find properties with potential and turn them into their dream homes. They’ve ushered countless clients through hundreds of home transformations, and by now you better bet they know what makes a potential buyer tick. We asked for their advice about what really matters when you’re getting ready to put your house on the market.

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Do Your Research

If you’ve lived in your house for a long time without making many updates, you might assume you’re in for a pretty significant rehab before you can put it on the market. But Chip warns that you ought to “do some research to better understand the market and the neighborhood you’re selling in. If the majority of the houses are or were outdated and buyers are opting to get their hands dirty and renovate,” then you most likely don’t have much upgrading to do since potential buyers scouting your area expect to take on a remodel.

Just be realistic about the market demand. “If it’s a neighborhood that is in high demand with a limited housing stock,” Chip says, “you’ll likely be able to sell without having to do much.” On the other hand, if homes in the area are lingering on the MLS, it may be time to call a contractor.

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Maximize Small Spaces

Square footage is always an important factor to home buyers. So how do you compensate when a key room, like your kitchen, is short on space? Joanna advises brightening up these areas to make them look a little larger. “If the wall color is dark,” she advises, “consider repainting with a lighter hue or adding a bright tile backsplash. Basic white is the perfect blank slate for potential homebuyers.” Two of her favorite shades from her Magnolia Home paint collection are Shiplap and One Horn White, as they’re “creamy, clean neutrals.”

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Consider Staging

Most realtors will encourage you to stage your home before holding an open house, but is it really necessary if your home is well decorated? It depends, according to Joanna: “It’s important to be realistic with yourself—if your style is pretty niche, it may turn off potential buyers whose own style differs greatly.” On the other hand, “If you have a more classic, neutral style, it might not be necessary to stage it.”

If you’re not sure you can think objectively about your personal taste, Joanna suggests inviting over a trusted friend or family member with different tastes from your own and asking if she could see beyond your décor if they were shopping for a new home.

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Play the Long Game

Even if you’re not looking to sell your home soon, you might want to consider resale value before starting a renovation project. “If you’re thinking about potential resale,” Joanna says, “it’s always best to keep the style and color scheme simple.” But she warns not to let that dictate your design choices entirely. If you’re planning to live in the home for a while, “choose a design aesthetic that you’ll love living in every day,” she explains.

And remember that some design choices are easily reversed. If you’re drawn to a trendy color for your kitchen cabinets, for example, you can always repaint them if they feel dated by the time you’re looking to sell. “Many people think repainting cabinetry is a daunting project,” says Joanna, “but with the right tools, process, primer, and paint, it doesn’t have to be.”

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Sweat the Small Stuff

When you’re preparing to sell your home, the to-do list can quickly become overwhelming. But you don’t necessarily have to tackle every item—particularly the big ones. Instead, focus on little improvements and upgrades rather than large-scale renovation projects. Even Chip, a self-proclaimed “big fan of demoing,” suggests spending your resources on single-focus projects like “adding a backsplash in the kitchen, replacing faucets and carpet, switching out cabinetry hardware, or painting the front door.” The priority list will be different for each house, so do a walk-through and take note of which things would catch your eye most if you were shopping for a home.

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If You Do Only One Thing, Let It Be Paint

Even if time and budgets are very tight, you should always consider applying a fresh coat of paint to the walls before listing your home. A fun, bold color may suit your style, but your best bet is to go with something crowd-pleasing. “Jo usually selects neutral colors when we’re planning to re-sell,” says Chip, as it creates a blank canvas for “potential buyers to envision their own personal belongings and family in the home.” And be on the lookout for mold spots and stains, while you’re at it. Chip suggests using a primer to treat any suspicious areas prior to painting.

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Focus on the Future

Selling your home can be a stressful experience. Between keeping the house clean for showings and planning for an upcoming move, emotions can often run high. You might also have a significant sentimental attachment to a home that you’ve lived in for many years. If you’re struggling to let go emotionally, Joanna recommends focusing on making your new house feel like home. “Take the time to bring in pieces that really mean something,” she says, “things that tell your family’s unique story.” Even small, yet meaningful, touches will go a long way to help you get settled and fall in love with your new space.

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