Hint: You might want to bake some cookies.

Living Room Gallery Wall

Thomas J. Story

A gallery wall features the homeowners’ art collection in the living room, where a Schoolhouse green velvet sofa pairs well with a repurposed leather chair and rug, plus Lostine table lamps and a Sobu Dial coffee table.

Between outrageously high interest rates and fewer homes for sale these days, it’s no surprise sellers are a bit hesitant. In a recent report from Zillow, the company found that homes with charcoal gray kitchens and black doors often sold for more than other comparable properties. But what else can homeowners do to impress potential buyers? To understand more about the market today, we turned to an expert. 

Jeff Williams, a real estate professional based in Newport Beach, California, shared his insights about the current status of the market and how homeowners can simplify the process of preparing their home to sell quickly. Here are Williams’s top tips for sellers:

Painting Wall

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1. Remove Any Scuff Marks on Walls and Floors

Before bringing in any potential buyers, Williams does a walkthrough of the seller’s home. During this initial assessment, he weighs the pros and cons and looks at the home through the eyes of the buyer. Sometimes, it’s just about making minor changes to the appearance of walls and floors by touching up the paint or giving your home a good cleaning.

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“Super simple stuff is scuff marks on the walls,” he says. “If they have dogs, get rid of the hair. When somebody walks in, their first impression should be, ‘Wow, this is someplace we could live.’”

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2. Prioritize a “Light and Bright” Atmosphere

You want your home to look airy and inviting to guests, and that may come with a little extra work on your end. If you want to go the extra effort and make rooms brighter, consider using lighter or neutral-colored bedding. Or add mirrors, which is an especially useful hack for making small spaces look larger.

Baking Cookies

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3. Make Sure Your House Smells Good

We’ve all seen and heard about cookies baking in the oven before an open house—and that’s one easy way to welcome guests into your home. Smell is a major component to selling a home, according to Williams. 

“In residential real estate, it’s all emotions,” he says. “So, if you walk in and you smell chocolate chip cookies and you see paint you like—all of these emotions come into things and that’s what residential real estate is. It’s all emotions, and that can be good and bad. It’s a bit of a juggling act for sure.”

A poor smell can have the opposite effect and deter potential buyers. Carpets are known to lock in odor, so having those cleaned (or even replaced, in extreme cases), could make it an easier sell.

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4. Understand the Market and Adjust Your Price Accordingly

Before your house can sell, you need to price it appropriately and have a solid grasp of the market. At times, it’s a “buyer’s market,” which means more properties on the market and at relatively lower costs. On the opposite side, a “seller’s market” is in favor of the seller, with fewer homes for sale and increasing prices compared to previous years. 

With low inventory of homes available, plus hiked-up selling prices and interest rates, Williams says that it’s no one’s market. “It’s a catch-22,” he says. “If it’s a seller’s market, the seller’s not doing anything to sell their home. Or if it becomes a buyer’s market, the seller has to do whatever they can to sell it. And right now, we’re at a crossroads.”

One rule of thumb when it comes to selling your home? “If your house doesn’t sell in 30 days, you’re overpriced,” Williams says.

Bachelor Pad Layout

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5. Invest in Staging

While this isn’t always the most affordable route, staging can make a serious impact on how well your house sells. “If somebody’s selling their home and it’s vacant, always stage it,” Williams says. “Staging is an absolute must, and I even tell my clients I’ll pay half the cost if they stage their house.”