Selling a Home 101: 3 Secrets of Savvy Sellers

Interiors by Donna Hoffman (picture of house for sale)

This week I have the pleasure of sharing the “stage” with my guest, Bucks County, PA realtor, Theresa Derderian. If you’re about to put your house on the market, take advantage of Theresa’s expertise in “3 Secrets of Savvy Sellers.”

3 Secrets of Savvy Sellers

The décor in your home has evolved. Everything that you have chosen to do in each room says something about you. While you have been in your home, its sole purpose was to serve your unique needs. But now it’s time to move. Save yourself frustration and time: embrace these three Secrets of Savvy Home Sellers.

Secret #1: Adopt a Buyer-Focus

Marketing your home is altogether different from living in your home. Before, it was all about you. Now, it’s all about appealing to potential buyers. You’ve heard the saying, “perception is reality.” This is your new mantra as you prepare for the market.  The subconscious messages buyers receive as they walk through your home are powerful.

Who doesn’t have clutter somewhere in their home? A savvy seller, that’s who. Put on your “Buyer” hat. A cluttered closet warns that there is inadequate closet space. A cluttered home worries buyers that there are hidden areas of neglect. The good news is, in order to move, you have to pack anyway. Sort through the clutter NOW. Trash, donate or sell what you won’t need post-move. Pack and label what you won’t need pre-move. Store these items neatly in the attic, basement or offsite if you can.

Cleanliness is absolutely vital. It deeply affects how the buyers view the home, and the impression they are forming about what kind of person you are. Per the New York Times, the goal is to “erase any hints of the messiness of daily life.”

Secret #2: Surrender to Staging Basics

Savvy sellers recognize that they need help embracing the fundamental tenets of layout and design. Enlist a friend, or if your budget allows, engage a stager to view your home and make recommendations. (Your agent should be able to recommend a good one.) Let her know your budget (or lack thereof) upfront. There are many no-cost and low-cost ways to follow a few fundamental principles:

1)    Clear and maximize floor space
2)    Arrange furniture to optimize natural light
3)    Keep each room’s color theme consistent
4)    Room style should be consistent and ideally somewhat neutral

Dozens of small changes can make an enormous impact. “Shopping” in the other rooms of your home can help keep costs to a minimum.

Secret #3: Make-or-Break Media

It is certainly no secret that as a society, our average attention span has plummeted. We are very visual, and most of us fight daily battles to remain focused for 5 minutes at a time! Clearly, buyers’ attention must be hooked quickly. Savvy sellers understand that a buyer’s first viewing is online. They decide whether they want an appointment based on your photos and video. Use this to your advantage:

  • Stand out from the crowd. Believe it or not, many agents and sellers are still taking their own photos. Smart phones and tablets have made it easy, but this is penny-wise and pound-foolish. Unless your agent was previously a professional photographer, s/he should be hiring one.
  • Minimize senseless showings. I cannot over-emphasize importance of video in marketing a home. All video is not created equal, though. Beware of “virtual tours,” and strung-together photos masquerading as video. A professional narrated walk-through video is what we’re after. Think of it as an “Open House” from the comfort of a buyer’s laptop. With a top-notch video, buyers can see how rooms connect and interact. This minimizes feedback such as “buyers looking for an open kitchen,” which is simply not constructive for you as a seller.


Selling your home is a challenging process. You want to do it quickly and for the most money possible. The process will be shorter and smoother if you have realistic expectations and have taken these 3 “secrets” to heart in preparing for the market.