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After finishing renovations on my Sonoma County home, I put my Bay Area house on the market. My husband and I decided to sell it on our own, as we’re familiar with the process and the mountain of necessary paperwork, but we were caught off guard by the work required to hold a successful – and less stressful – open house.

It is possible to successfully sell your home yourself, but it takes a lot of elbow grease to make certain that you’ll receive the offer you want. It’s expected that the house being sold is structurally sound and passes the safety inspection, but to sell it means that the potential buyer has to want it when they come through the front door and see the interior.

This is the time that staging the house is a crucial part of the sale; making sure the inside of the house looks as good as the outside. When you begin, the workload can seem overwhelming, but the payoff will be worth it.

Here are the top seven changes and updates we’ve had to do when selling our home on our own;

Deep Clean


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We have two young boys, so carpet stains and ground up crackers in the pile are nothing new. However, carpets are the first thing people notice when they walk through the door, so having them spotless is a must.


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Couches need a deep cleaning as well, especially if you have pets. Not only is a dingy, worn couch unattractive, it can be the source of unpleasant odors that will have a negative effect on a potential buyer.

Neutral Bedding


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Tigers may be your favorite animal, but this bedding could be the difference between an offer or a ‘no, thanks.’ Loud or busy prints should be kept in the linen closet for your open house.


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This plain, neutral bedroom set invites the viewer in and doesn’t surprise or alarm them. The point is to showcase how lovely the overall home is; not have one room stand out more than the rest.

Get Rid of Clutter


It’s easy for individuals to assume that showing a home with evidence of the owners still in residence is an okay thing, but in reality, nothing can turn a buyer away faster.


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Buyers want to see a home that looks brand new, and don’t want to see reminders of the current resident.

Update Wall Art


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Art is subjective, but cheap prints showcasing television shows may not be the best message to send to buyers.


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Modern, abstract pieces that work with the décor bring the room together.

Upgrade Lighting


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Many homes are poorly lit, and it’s easy to overlook when you’ve been living in that house for any length of time because you get used to it.


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Warm lights placed in different areas: overhead, task, and pendant lighting, all work to make certain that the home is evenly lit and inviting.



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Color sets a mood, and it’s important that the mood being set for your home doesn’t overwhelm everything else. It’s also important that the paint isn’t peeling or discolored.


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A freshly applied, neutral color allows a buyer to notice the interior space and imagine what colors they would apply, if any.

Flowers Play a Role


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I was surprised to find that adding a fresh floral arrangement made a big difference each time the house was shown. It adds visual interest, smells good, and shows that care has been taken in how the room is presented.