Considering Listing Your Home this Spring? 6 Things to Do First

Here are my top 6 recommendations so you have everything ready come spring. Time is on your side. Plan ahead, save yourself some stress and improve your chances of getting top dollar for your home.  

Edit, Donate & Recycle

A perfectly decluttered kitchen by Studio McGee.

If you want your house to look more expansive and thus sell for more – this is the key.  Do a clean sweep of your countertops and windowsills. Go through your closets, shelves, glass front cabinets, and bookcases. Take out 1/2 the stuff and neatly organize what’s left.

When I list a home, I always come in with my stager. We work together to rearrange and do a final edit, but only you can decide what you want to keep or not.

A good stager can help make even awkward spaces feel purposeful.  Image credit Everygirl.

Have three boxes going –

  • things to keep, but store for now (like family photos)
  • things to give away
  • things to throw away or recycle

Get excited about an opportunity to give away things you do not need to people who do. For the Nations Refugee Outreach and Genesis Women’s Shelter Thrift Store are great places here in Dallas to donate all manner of household items and clothes.  H&M  has a bin in their store to recycle clothes and fabrics that are too shabby to donate.

Moving homes can be a great opportunity to reset and reevaluate. Don’t waste this opportunity to get rid of things that you don’t really love or need!

Fix what’s broken

Walk through your house like an inspector or potential buyer. Often we live with problems in our home – that leaky faucet, or that door that’s hard to open.  Go ahead and fix these flaws.  If you don’t fix it now, your buyer will most likely ask you to do it, or they will ask or for a concession (a lower asking price to compensate for them fixing it).

Trim, fireplace and built-ins are Benjamin Moore Simply White

If you’ve got children, pets, or are a human being, a fresh coat of paint can be a very cost effective way to brightening up a space.  There is nothing that gives you more bang for your buck than paint. And if, for example, your dining room is red, go ahead and paint that to a more neutral color.

Beautiful 1940’s tile in a pristine bathroom.

Make sure your bathroom grout is in good shape.  If you have shabby appliances it could well be worth replacing them.Replace worn door handles or knobs. Sometimes just spaying them with Rust-Oleum can make big difference. I’ve also done that with light fixture frames.

A wood paneled drop-in tub replaces a dated jacuzzi tub.

There are situations where it’s cost effective to do more substantial improvements, like replacing an ugly countertop or swapping out a dated jacuzzi tub. This is true particularly in higher end markets.   But these can still be tricky decisions. You want a good return on your investment of money, time, and hassle. This is where your realtor can offer solid advice on where to best spend your rehab dollar.

Squeaky Clean

You may want to hold off on this one until right before you list, but everything needs to be spotless to get the most for your house. If this sounds overwhelming, consider hiring a cleaning company for a deep cleaning service.

Julie Hickman to the rescue! She’ll make your home squeaky clean.

Let me give a little shout-out to Julie Hickman, owner of Maid Meticulous here in Dallas. I’ve used her at clients’ homes been stunned by the results.  She and her team know how to make your home look its very best.

Don’t neglect washing your windows – you want to let all the light in you can. I always recommend Dale Harris here in Dallas. He can be reached at 214-986-2334.

Steam cleaning carpets kills most odor causing bacterias and surface mold.

Do you have carpet? Have it cleaned by a professional or rent the equipment to steam clean it.  Many will companies will also steam clean tile floors, bathroom grout, and can also clean upholsery and area rugs.

Almost every home will benefit from several boxes of magic erasers.  They are little cleaning miracles in a box.

Image credit to Style at Home

This is also a moment to be honest about smells.  Scent can be a big deal for buyers, so don’t underestimate it.  Is there anything in your house that smells nasty?  Is it obvious you have a litter box or pets in general, or that you smoke? Does it smell musty? Candles and cookies are nice, but it’s usually pretty obvious when you are masking an odor.

Light & Bright

Everyone wants a home that’s light and bright.  You can’t change the direction your home faces, but there are a number of things you can do to help.

Image credit, the lovely Emily Henderson

Take down heavy drapes, or if you just can’t bear to part with them, open them as wide as possible. Light colored drapes are best for letting sunshine in. Clean the windows (see above), and replace dark lamp shades with light ones. Up the wattage in your light bulbs if necessary, but make sure it’s a warm light and not a blue cast.  Consider installing can lights – flush mount can lights are less complicated (and expensive) to install.  If landscaping blocks light from your windows, consider trimming it back or replacing it.

Curb Appeal

First impressions count. Whether it’s driving by or swiping right on your phone, you want to make the most of your curb appeal. Repaint or stain the front door. Pressure wash the stoop or steps or sidewalk.  Update your porch light, and maybe your front door hardware.  A fresh front door wreath and welcome mat can go a long way too.

These vinyl house letters from Etsy cost $12.95. I bought them for the glass transom above our front door – love!

I recently recommended that a client paint their home’s exterior here in Highland Park. At the time it was a combination of brick, stone and stucco. There was a lot going on, and I thought painting it one solid color (Sherwin Williams Marshmallow) would unify the materials.


The dramatic difference it made was worth the few thousand dollars they spent.  It sold quickly, and for so much, that I was a little nervous about it making appraisal. (It did!)

Image credit Home Best Idea

Are your shrubs leggy or overgrown?  Often you just have to start again, and an afternoon pulling out the old and planting the new can be a good investment.  If you need help with a master plan I highly recommend Julie Simons of JDS Landscape Design  here in Dallas.  She is brilliant at creating beautiful outdoor spaces.  It’s also almost time to plant fall bulbs for spring flowers.  If you’re listing in the spring that can be an easy way to add color.

Finally – Plan to Price Right

Hire a realtor you trust…  then trust them.  The single best strategy for selling your house is to price it correctly.  Listen to the data only a licensed realtor has access to. This is especially true in Texas, where the law does not require public disclosure of real estate sales prices.  This means places like Zillow and Trulia have the list price, but do not have what the house actually sold for.  Unless you live in a Charles Dilbeck or a David Stocker home, most buyers won’t overpay for your house.

David Stocker’s Sunnybrook North in Preston Hollow – more glorious pictures here.

A good realtor will pay for themselves, not only in the price you ultimately get for your house, but also in helping you navigate and avoid stressful pitfalls.

If you are planning to list in the spring, check out open houses in your area in the mean time.  It’s a free way to see first hand what your buyers are seeing.  I’ve had clients who do not listen to the data. Their houses sit on the market overpriced and people start to wonder “What’s wrong with it?” Typically, overpriced houses sell for less than if they had been correctly priced from the beginning.

One final thought I must add…

Image credit to The Imagination Tree

I’ve had several clients, particularly those with lots of young children, for whom the best thing was to move completely out, let me bring in my painters and a cleaning crew and then lightly stage.

If all the home improvement suggestions above make you sweat, maybe this is best for your family too. There are financial products, like a bridge loan, that can help to make that possible. It’s not an option for everyone, but if you need references for creative mortgage brokers, I’ve got them too.

If you’re thinking about selling in the spring, give me a call – I’d love to help.  If you’d just like to know what you’re house could sell for I’m happy to help with that too.  Good luck!


Feature image credit goes to Emily Henderson. I’m such a fan. If you love homes and decorating you should be following her blog.





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