Top 10 Don’ts of Home Selling

Realtor with For Sale sign

Post from MilitaryByOwner

Let’s say you’ve made the decision to sell your home. With military families coming and going during PCS season, you’ll want your ad to stand out amidst the inventory in your area.

Consider the following list of “do’s” and “don’ts” when preparing to put your house up for sale.

1) Don’t try out a new painting technique.

Oh sure, the YouTube video tutorial on how to create “angel wings” on the walls looked great. But, honestly, creative patterns with a sponge and paint never turn out looking professionally decorated.

Do: Rather than artsy-craftsy painting techniques, keep it simple.

  • Freshen up the interior by painting the walls a neutral color that goes with anything.
  • Consider painting the ceilings one shade lighter than the walls to give the illusion of height.

With no need to repaint, a buyer can picture their family moving right in.

2) Don’t overlook the window treatments, such as rips in the roller shades, broken blades on the blinds, or a layer of dust on the draperies.

Shabby window treatments can lead a potential buyer to think this home has not been taken care of.

Do: Take the time to tend to each window.

  • Wash the glass and vacuum the sill.
  • Replace, repair, or tidy up the shades, blinds, or drapes.
  • Allow natural light from the windows to fill each room and create an inviting atmosphere .

3) Don’t remove cabinetry hardware, such as knobs or drawer pulls.

A home I recently viewed online had kitchen photos with whimsical seashell cabinet knobs perfectly matching their beach themed décor. However, when touring the house in person, I realized the seller had removed those decorative pieces and left the kitchen cupboards without any hardware at all!


  • Feel free to add unique cabinetry hardware that fits your decorating style, but plan to replace it when you move.
  • If you prefer a sense of uniformity, go with one style of knobs and handles on all the cabinetry of the home.
  • Freshen up the cabinets and woodwork around the house with a microfiber cloth and furniture oil.

4) Don’t leave sliding closet doors inoperable.

To show the depth of the storage space, one seller left a bedroom closet wide open. The sliding doors for the closet were propped up against the wall in the corner of the room.


  • If a closet has doors that slide on a track, ensure that they glide smoothly.
  • Clean and lubricate the track and replace the slider wheels, if needed.

5) Don’t ignore easy repairs, such as a leaky faucet or running toilet.

While you as the seller may be used to the steady beat of a dripping faucet, it’s probably not music to the ears of a potential buyer!


  • Fixing a drippy faucet can be as simple as switching out the washer in the spigot. If the leak persists, it may be time for a new fixture.
  • Check the fill valve or float arm in the toilet tank, which can stop the running water noise.

6) Don’t forget to deep clean the bathroom tub or shower.

Buyers will notice such issues as mold, mildew, and grout that needs to be cleaned or replaced.

Do: Consider these tasks to make your powder room seem like a luxury retreat.

  • Scrub away the water stains on shower doors or surfaces with a half and half mixture of vinegar and warm water.
  • For tile and grout, mix a paste of baking soda and water and scour with a stiff brush.

With hard work and natural ingredients, you can avoid harsh chemicals and have the space sparkling like a splendid spa.

7) Don’t leave valuable items lying around.

If your house is on the market, you should be prepared to move and pack up your things. Even with spontaneous showings, the briefcase full of bundled cash, the Hope diamond necklace, and the custom Bill Gates laptop should be safely tucked away.

Do: Put away your valuables.

  • Everything from small electronics to prescription medicines should be placed in a safe, locked location before hosting an open house.
  • Emptying closets, cupboards, and bookcases will open the space for a buyer to see the positive potential for storage of their things.

8) Don’t leave any animals unattended.

Ostrich. Emu. Cassowary. No matter which large, flightless bird you may have, the critter will need to vacate the backyard when the house is being shown. (Now, this might be an extreme example, but the idea applies to whichever variety of pet resides with you!)

Do: From cats to dogs to exotic creatures, keep in mind the safety and welfare of the pets in the home, as well as home shoppers. Plan for a place to take your darlings when opening your house for showings.

9) Don’t cause a buyer to ask, “What’s that smell?”

It’s true. We all get used to the smells around our own homes. Consider whether the kitty litter needs to be changed, the well-worn soccer cleats need to exit, or the cooked cabbage recipe could wait until later.

The goal is to create an alluring setting for an open house to entice an interested buyer to comfortably stay.

Do: Think about the aromas around your home, especially if you have pets, an aspiring athlete, or an adventurous chef. Rather than introduce a buyer to the existing odors of your lifestyle, the goal is to create a clean and inviting atmosphere.

  • Lay out freshly cut lemons or sliced oranges for a summer citrus vibe.
  • Add fragrant pine or aromatic cedar for an outdoorsy feel. 
  • A dash of vanilla in a warm oven stirs visions of baked goods.

10) Don’t hang out around the house during a showing.

“Over here by the fireplace is the spot where we posed for every family Christmas card photo!”

As if acting in a comedy skit, the enthusiastic home seller made the rounds before retreating to her parked car in the driveway. Plain and simple--if there’s a real estate professional showing the home, there’s no need for the seller to be a personal tour guide!

Do: Before showing your home,

  • Explain to your real estate professional the things you love about your home and what you want to highlight.
  • Share photos of your home in different seasons.
  • Rather than sitting in your vehicle in your driveway, pack up your kiddos/pets and head to a local park, coffeehouse, or drive-through.

Having a plan in place for even the most spontaneous of showings will make everyone involved feel more at ease.

Even if you’re working on a tight budget, keep these tips in mind when preparing to list your house for sale. From repairs to showings, the more appealing you can make your home, the easier it will be to attract a serious buyer.

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Home Ownership