Find a top agent in your area

Get started

8 New Twists on Old-Fashioned (But Effective) Home Selling Tips

At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.

Even if you’re new to the real estate market, you’ve undoubtedly heard plenty of home selling tips before. Since every seller knows the benefits of cute curb appeal and modern home staging, the question becomes how to make your listing stand out from the crowd. Especially given that, these days, digital media has changed the way buyers view their potential purchase options, especially for those looking to sell on their own.

Here’s how it works:

Once a realtor agrees to list your property for sale, they will take some photographs and upload them onto your local multiple listing service, along with a short description. From there, buyers who looking for a property with features that match your own home’s – such as location, price, and the number of bedrooms – will receive an email containing a blurb about your property.

Based on that blurb, they’ll decide whether or not your home is worth scheduling the showing.

This system isn’t perfect. If the photographs taken aren’t great, potential buyers may pass over your home in favor of one that is more aesthetically pleasing. If your home is priced even slightly above a buyer’s designated price range, they won’t receive information about your listing at all. Plus, even if everything is in place, your home may be one of many listings sent to the buyer that day.

Given these parameters, it only makes sense that some homeowners are looking for ways to make their listings stand out from the crowd and that those who aren’t working with an agent are struggling to find ways to get their property in front of buyers.

If you count yourself among either of those groups, we’ve compiled a list of strange-yet-sensible selling tips that will definitely help set your property apart. Feel free to pick and choose the ones that feel right to you, but whichever you select, it may just be the thing that helps set your listing apart from the rest.

1. Make Sure Your Home Smells Great

While the high-end features your home offers may add value and up your sale price, it’s the feeling that buyers get when they enter a home that truly makes them decide to submit an offer. With that in mind, do your best to create a welcoming atmosphere during showings.

While clean spaces and an abundance of lighting are key to making potential buyers feel at home, Tori Toth, author of Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell, also emphasizes the importance of pleasant smells. She says, “The sense of smell is the strongest of all the senses, especially when selling a home. Scents and odors in a home can connect or disconnect buyers to a house with just one sniff.”

In addition to removing any unpleasant odors, consider adding a homey touch by infusing familiar scents into the air. Scented candles and home-baked cookies are often the most common scents suggested but don’t be afraid to go outside of the box. Before a showing, consider doing a few loads of laundry, brewing a fresh pot of coffee in the morning, mowing the grass, or even applying a few layers of sunscreen in order to infuse the air with pleasant scents.

home selling tips fresh laundry before a showing
Source: (rawpixel / Unsplash)

2. Sell in Spring or Summer

Realtors have long said that busy season comes along with the nice weather – and they have the statistics to back that up. In our research, we found that more homes sell in summer than any other time of year and that the season raises sale prices between 5-15%, on average.

While some may attribute the spike in purchases to the appearance of tax refund checks, the weather itself can play a role. Sunny days and warmer temps may lead potential buyers to leave showings with a more positive impression of your home in comparison to seeing it during dark and dreary winter weather, especially if you have a pool or other outdoor feature that looks its best in the summer.

branches of fuschia spring blossoms are just one reason to sell your house in the warmer months
Source: (Burst / Samantha Hurley)

3. Trick Out Your Backyard

Speaking of pools, beautiful backyards are a great way to set your property apart amid a market full of similar inventory. The trick is in sticking to the landscaping projects that have the best return on interest or ROI.

Blase DeMichele of B. DeMichele, Inc says that, for his customers, the top five most sought-after outdoor improvements are as follows:

  • Outdoor fireplaces
  • Covered outdoor spaces with kitchen components
  • Stone veneer sitting walls
  • Fire pits
  • Patio pavers
table and charges staged in the backyard to help sell the house
Source: (Randy Fath / Unsplash)

The important caveat to this is that the work should be done by a qualified professional. When done well, backyard renovations are estimated to add around 10%-20% value to your home. However, projects that seem questionably constructed can actually detract from your projected sale price.

4. Consider a Rent-To-Own Offer

Rent-to-own offers may be a bit more time consuming than a traditional agreement of sale, but for those with investment properties, who are looking to make a little extra money on top of the sale price, it could be a good option.

In this scenario, you and your renters will draw up an agreement that includes the purchase price of the property and a term for the lease, at the end of which the buyers have the option to buy the property. Typically, the renters should give you a down payment, which serves at their good faith intent to buy the property and a little extra in rent payments each month to be put towards the purchase price.

Going this route will allow you to offer the property to more potential buyers, some of whom may not yet be financeable. It will also allow you to collect monthly rent while still having the comfort of an eventual purchase agreement As a landlord, it will also give you some reassurance that, since the renters also have a stake in the property, they will care for it properly.

But, bear in mind, that these purchase agreements are not completely ironclad. Justin Pritchard of The Balance finance blog stresses the importance of understanding that a purchase agreement only gives the buyers the option to purchase the property at the end of the lease term. They are not obligated to do so.

In the event that your renters should walk away at the end of their lease without deciding to buy your property, you would be within your rights to hold their down payment and any extra money put towards the purchase, but you could end up having to start over.

5. Consider Selling Furnished

Selling a furnished home can be beneficial for a multitude of reasons.

For one, it can make the house seem more appealing to long-distance buyers who do not want to transport all their belongings. The same is true for you, the seller.

In the event that you’re looking to downsize and won’t have the space for all of your belongings or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of carting everything through a move, leaving your furniture behind will certainly simplify the process.

However, Lynda Miller, who calls herself “The Staging Real Estate Agent” cautions sellers that agreeing to sell furnished isn’t the same as leaving everything behind.

She explains, “Proper staging is all about taking the seller’s furniture and enhancing the existing pieces by adding mirrors, area rugs, and other decorative pieces. The home will appear larger, look brighter, and offer a consistent flow throughout – key elements that attract buyers!”

When selling furnished, the location could be another key factor. Most times, furnished properties add the most value in locations where second homes are common and buyers may not want to expand the time, money, or energy on completely redesigning their purchase.

light pours into a chic white bedroom
Source: (Matthew Henry / Burst)

6. Advertise the Old-School Way

Though digital marketing websites like Zillow and Trulia are undoubtedly the most popular ways to see homes advertised these days, there’s no reason to discount print media in its entirety. By making sure that your home is advertised in print – whether it’s through newspaper and magazine ads or even local flyers – you’re creating the opportunity to reach more potential buyers.

A recent article from the REALTORS® Land Institute cited research by the Pew Research Center, which stated that eight in ten people still read print media on a daily basis.

The article went on to point out an interesting fact about print-lovers, specifically those who regularly read newspapers. It cited a 2016 Ipsos study which revealed newspaper readers have an average net worth that is 30% higher than total affluents.

By that data, print media may just be a way to zero in on qualified buyers.

As for how to place the newspaper ad, your first step is to research the cost. Use the internet to find the contact information for those looking to advertise in your local paper. When you reach out to them, be sure to ask how the cost of an ad varies based on size, color, number of images, number of times that the ad will run, and the days of the week it will run.

Once you have an idea of how much you’ll need to spend – keeping in mind that more neighborhood papers will be substantially more affordable than national ones – you can start formulating an ad that fits your budget.

The REALTORS® Land Institute also listed several qualities found to make print media ads more attractive to consumers. If you intend to go the print route, make sure your advertisement features the following components:

  • Simplicity: A minimalistic design with not a lot of clutter. Copy that is equally simple to read.
  • Boldness: Judicious use of vivid color to grab attention.
  • Clarity: Memorable, direct headlines and similar body copy.
  • Contrast: Visual play of light and dark tones to create sharp contrast.

7. Reach Out to Local Investors

Odds are you’ve seen a billboard advertising a slogan like, “We Buy Houses” before. In the event your primary goal is simply to have a fast and guaranteed settlement, investment companies like these may be a good option.

Real estate agent, Monte Mohr, told Forbes of the advantages and disadvantages in working with these companies. On the one hand, investment companies can often pay cash for properties and take them in “as-is” condition.

Since that removes the necessity of waiting for the bank to approve a mortgage, this can also lead to quicker transactions.

On the other hand, Mohr cautions sellers to do their due diligence before parting with their largest asset. Investors, he warns, will almost certainly make an offer that’s far below market value, and in some situations, sellers have been the victims of fraud.

Echoing Mohr, our best advice is to do your homework before signing any paperwork. If possible, Search the internet or look up local real estate professionals who may be able to connect you with an investor who has a thorough understanding of local market values when they approach you with an offer.

Read reviews, talk to a good real estate agent, and use websites like the Better Business Bureau to thoroughly research companies before agreeing to the sale.

8. Invest in a Virtual Reality Tour:

Virtual reality is not just for video games anymore. These days, it’s one of the most cutting-edge tools in real estate. Not only because of the cool-factor, but also because it takes all the legwork out of going on showings.

Imagine how many buyers would preview your house if they could do so without having to re-arrange their work schedules to accommodate showing times or brave inclement weather to get a sense of your property.

That said, this technology doesn’t come cheap. Matthew Hood of Sotheby’s International Realty in Los Angeles, CA told Fortune, “The types of homes this works best for today are high-end homes, because the cost of preparing a home for virtual staging ranges from $300-$700.”

Hood went on to say that that the technology is currently mainly used as a way to market homes to busy executives who may not be able to take time off of work to attend showings and to international investors who want to get a sense of a property before they bother coming overseas to take a look.

However, he believes that this is just the beginning and that someday VR tours will be as common as today’s MLS printouts.

But, until then, one thing’s for sure: If you have the money, offering a virtual reality tour is a guaranteed way to make your property stand out from the crowd.

The bottom line is that even though the MLS is king in today’s real estate market, some may need alternative avenues or simply may want to make sure that their home stands out from the competition.

We suggest reading through this list and picking a few tactics to try. Whether you’re selling your home on your own or bringing these ideas to an agent, they are certainly unusual enough to help set your home apart from all the other homes on the market.