Design: Selling home this summer? Think about prep work

Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service

Summer is typically a slower time of year when it comes to home sales, but for some home sellers, summer can also signal a season of opportunity.

While the summer is often a time when sellers may see less activity because of summer travel plans, for those buyers looking to secure the perfect home before a new school year rolls around, the search is often in earnest. The result, a potential winning opportunity for both summer sellers and buyers. For sellers looking to separate themselves from the competition and standout from a crowd, there are a number of preparation tips that they can incorporate in order to try to sell their home for top dollar in the shortest amount of time.

Prep time

Preparing your property for sale should take place prior to the property being photographed or ever presented to market. In the days of the internet and digital photography, old photographs can linger for years and hurt a sale. Beyond basic repairs, there are a number of upgrades a seller can make.

■Replace flooring or a countertop

■Replace carpeting or steam clean carpeting

■Repaint using neutral colors such as taupe or gray

■Replace door knobs and towel bars in bathrooms

■Replace fixtures in kitchens or bathrooms

■Replace appliances

■Add lighting or increase the wattage in existing light bulbs

■Add “staging safe” artwork such as abstracts

Professional cleaning

Professional cleaning should top the list as far as “must do” expenditure for home selling. The reality is most buyers are turned off by a home that does not appear to be well maintained or cared for, and some may consider an untidy or perceived dirty home as unattractive. Professional cleaning companies typically offer a “deep clean” type service that will help ensure that your property is spic and span.

Home staging

Many savvy home sellers and real estate agents insist on always using home staging as a marketing tool. While many shows and articles have helped to educate home sellers on staging, there are some basic home staging elements that anyone can use.

What is staging?

Neutralizing. When it comes time to sell your home, neutral colors are best as opposed to personal colors.

De-personalizing. Be sure to remove personal photos and mementos, so buyers focus on your space as opposed to your personal belongings.

Creating broad appeal. When it comes time to sell your home, you will want to appeal to the largest amount of potential buyers as opposed to a narrow audience.

Highlighting the positives, downplaying the negatives.

Not decorating. Staging is performed in order to sell a home and appeal to potential buyers, while decorating is geared toward the personal taste of a current home owner.

■A key marketing tool.

Email Cathy Hobbs at or visit her website at