How to Waste Time Preparing Your Home to Sell

Want to know the best ways to work really hard and make zero progress preparing your home to sell? Want to get bogged down in projects that won’t move the needle and will leave you feeling overwhelmed? Here are a few cheeky ideas:

Start going through paper piles. Yes, pull out boxes from the office, from the pile in the basement that came from your parents’ house, from the adult kids’ closets, and from the kitchen cabinets. Pull it all out and make a big project. Then, turn it into three bigger projects, feel overwhelmed, box it all up and decide you’re too stressed out to tackle the rest of your house. Don’t worry: the papers aren’t going anywhere. Neither are you.

Adopt a new puppy. Yes, the kids have been begging for a puppy, and now that you’re about to relocate them and disrupt their lives with a move, the puppy will buy their forgiveness. Of course, they won’t help as they promised, and you won’t have time to train it properly, so say good-bye to your sale-ready carpet. Say good-bye to the legs on your breakfast bar stools, too. Don’t worry: you did the right thing because there will never be another available puppy in the world, ever.

Paint the garage walls. The red walls in the basement sing the praises of your favorite college team, so they’re good to go, right? If there’s a rabid rivalry in your town, you’ll turn off half of your buyers, but “in their face,” right? That’s what a loyal fan does, and you’re a loyal fan, so, leave the bright red walls and make the garage look less garage‑y.

Don’t worry: the backdrop for your lawn mower, trash bins and ladder never looked better.

Pack 90% of what’s inside your kitchen cabinets. Fill up towers of boxes and load them into your garage, leaving no space for the cars. Better yet, make multiple treks up and down the basement stairs; your thighs will never look better. Pack up the 50 coffee mugs, 20 flower vases and 40 sports bottles, all of the dishes and glasses, and eat off of paper plates. You can sort through everything when you unpack. Or not. At least your kitchen cabinets look spacious, even though less than half of buyers will open them.

Don’t worry: the cars probably won’t get nailed by a hail storm.

Open boxes that have been in storage, unopened, since the last move. Rooms need painting, appointments need scheduling for the carpet and window cleaners, and that will all take care of itself. What’s important is that old birthday cards, kids’ trophies, mom’s boxes of Precious Moments, dad’s extensive collection of war books, and grandma’s dishes get another look before being taped up again for this move.

Don’t worry: the old paint, dirty carpet and windows won’t drag down the perceived value of the house too much.

Rip out mature bushes at the foundation. You always had big plans to redo the landscaping along the front of the house, but never got around to it. These bushes aren’t dead, they’re just not your favorite. You can plant new bushes that will be the size of a basketball, and you can hide the unfinished concrete foundation with a foot-high pile of mulch.

Don’t worry: by the time the new owners remember to water the fledgling plants to keep them alive, it won’t be your problem.

Repaint rooms the same dated color. The gold walls that were painted in the 90s will look fresh with another coat of the same paint, and you’ll save a few bucks’ labor from your painter. Justify it by telling yourselves that buyers will want to paint it their own color anyway. Never mind the houses that are selling quickly and for top dollar because they’re offering updated paint colors. Your home will sell eventually, especially after you lower the price to get around the tired gold paint and brass light fixtures.

Don’t worry: you don’t really need to make that extra few grand anyway, especially since you just bought a house with updated paint because you were tired of the gold.

Organize your dresser drawers. Buyers have no business opening your dresser drawers, but it will make you feel better, and it’s important that you feel better.

Don’t worry: everyone can relate to piles on the floor of your master closet, and a guest room bedroom being used for storage.

Agonize over finding the right home for every random item you no longer want. Someone is going to want the “over the hill” coffee mug, the “mom jeans,” the VHS tapes, the pile of toilet paper rolls saved for the unfinished craft project, the funky lamp, the unmatched set of drinking glasses, the gently used toys and piles of National Geographics. Spending time to call around for who wants what, gathering $2 at a garage sale 50 times, bagging and making deliveries will make you feel good knowing your garbage isn’t really garbage.

Don’t worry: it will never end up in a landfill. Ever.

Sell all of the furniture you aren’t taking with you to the new house. Sell the dining room table and cabinet because your new home won’t have a formal dining room. Sell the sofa from the basement and leave just the gigantic TV and treadmill. Sell the kid’s bedroom set and place the mattresses on the floor. Buyers can bonk their heads on the chandelier, see how much space is available for the man cave sectional, and think that a squatter lives in the secondary bedroom. Buyers can use their God-given brains to imagine the rooms looking better.

Don’t worry: buyers will have plenty of experience using their imagination on your house. They just used it at the hoarder’s house and the bachelor’s house with two roommates (neither of which they are purchasing). And nobody really cares about the on-line photos, right?

Paint the exterior of the house any color you like. Get bold and paint the white trim royal blue, or the front door purple because it’s your favorite team’s color. Pick a color you like because it’s your house, and you can do whatever you want. And you won’t have to put up with the side-eye looks from your neighbors for very much longer, anyway. Probably. You hope.

Don’t worry: that gray color you chose might not look lavender after it dries.

Keep smoking in the garage. You’re working hard and this is how you chill. You keep the garage door open to air it out, so not much of the smoke will seep into the house. Garage drywall hasn’t absorbed that much of the smell over the years. Just add another scented Plug-In to the five already scattered throughout the main floor. It’s your favorite scent, and if it’s not their favorite, well, they won’t be in the house for very long.

Don’t worry: buyers can take an aspirin for the headache they’ll get from the overwhelming scent of burnt maple syrup.

Take “depersonalize” literally and pack up all of the décor. Empty every surface, clear out the bookcases, remove the artwork from the walls, and pack it all away. It’s all personal, right? And it’s all going to be packed anyway, so get a head start. If the home doesn’t feel cozy or pretty, well, buyers know you’re moving, so this is what they should expect.

Don’t worry: one out of ten buyers prefer an empty-ish home, so you’ll only go through 40 or 50 different showings to find five who might fall in love with your home.

Do some updating and let buyers finish the work. Install a beautiful new Silestone kitchen counter and hope the tired 4” square back splash won’t drag your effort down too much. Leave the worn brass cabinet pulls for them to update, too. Replace the dining room chandelier but leave the brass-and-green-glass fixture in the foyer—too hard to reach anyway. Install a new counter in your master bath and hope buyers aren’t too grossed out by the carpet with the bleach stain where mold was growing near the shower.  

Don’t worry: they will have leftover loan money to make the changes because they won’t have to pay top dollar for your home.

Fix the nail holes with the closest match from the dozen cans in the basement. Smear a baseball-sized glob of spackling on the 1/16” hole, cover it with the paint you grabbed and hope that it looks better after it dries. (It will inevitably be a different finish, or the wrong color.)

Don’t worry: you can paint the entire wall to blend the patches together.

Lastly, don’t get help from Home Staging by Cynthia, who has helped over 9,000 homes look their best, who knows a bunch of effective and inexpensive solutions, such as how to get a good color match for paint you no longer have; how to eliminate the water-stain on the ceiling; how to make wood trim and cabinets look like new for under $10; how to easily clean glass shower doors; and how to paint tired cabinets for around $100.

Don’t worry: you can pay a lot of money on a repair or upgrade and keep fingers crossed that you’ll get it all back in the home sale.

Tip: Get input before you spend a dime on anything. I’ve saved sellers hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, and would love to include you on that list! Schedule your appointment today!

You might also like: 10 Rookie Mistakes Home Sellers Make

Copyright © 2022 by Cynthia Gentry Black, Home Staging by Cynthia, LLC in Kansas City.
All rights reserved. No portion may be shared, reused or republished in any format without express written consent of the author.

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