Our neighbors recently put their home on the market. They received an excellent offer within 24 hours of listing the property and got more money for their home than I thought they could.

Meanwhile, two other neighbors have had their homes listed for a lot longer and don’t have any offers. What did these neighbors do right? Just about everything.

Here are eight things our neighbors did that increased their odds of selling fast, even in a slower market:

  1. Clear out the house clutter. No matter how long you’ve lived in your home, it probably has too much stuff that’s accumulated over time. Before you list your home for sale – before you even have agents walk through and do a comparative marketing analysis – you should clear out the clutter. Remove half your clothing, some of your furnishings, and the old toys and books your children have outgrown. Prune your “collections” and strip out anything too personal (photos, awards, diplomas, etc.). Our neighbors rented one of those storage lockers that was delivered to their home. They packed it full and had the locker taken away to a storage facility. It will be delivered directly to their new home.
  2. Clean up your house. While our neighbors’ house has always been spotless, they went into overdrive making sure the house was really clean. They hired people to do a top-down scrub of the property, so that every inch was gleaming.
  3. Get your house in top shape. Our neighbors hired their long-time contractor to come in and touch-up paint on their porch and interior walls. They cleaned the carpet, and repaired sticky doors and other items that weren’t really working properly. The house had a fresh, new-paint smell and showed off beautifully.
  4. Don’t neglect the garden. Our neighbors’ Realtor brought over some potted plants to give a visual lift to the front door and back patio. Then, the gardeners removed overgrown ivy from the front of the property (which helped make the house look terrific in the listing photo), and gave the backyard a special trimming.
  5. Make sure you include the garage and attic. When our neighbors were showing the property to the family that ultimately made the offer, the buyers wanted to make sure they could fit their cars in the garage. In five minutes, everything came out of the garage, and the buyers were able to drive in their car. By cleaning out the garage ahead of time, our neighbors were able to comply with this request in short order. They also had purchased an outdoor shed for a few hundred dollars and put much of the items they stored in their garage in that shed.
  6. Hire the right real estate agent. Our neighbors had already bought a house. While they ultimately used the same agent to sell, they wanted to carefully consider their options. They had several different agents tour the newly-staged home and provide a comparative marketing analysis (CMA), which included a marketing plan and suggested list price. They spent hours discussing which real estate company offered the best website displays and the various prices the agents thought they could get for the home. (There was a large price differential between the low and high ends of their pricing estimates.)
  7. Try to identify your future buyer. It’s important to remember why you bought your house and what attracted you to the location. Then, you can create a strategy that will market the property to that buyer demographic. Our neighbors’ buyers turned out to be residents of the same community who wanted to live nearer to the train, buses and school to give their own children more autonomy as they move through grammar and high school. Those are all things we enjoy about our location as well.
  8. Don’t get greedy. If you’re lucky enough to get a good offer soon after listing your property, consider it carefully. If the offer is above the minimum amount you’d happily take for your property, you should consider taking the money and run (especially if the offer is “clean” and doesn’t have a lot of contingencies). Agents always say “the first offer is the best offer.” As a seller, your goal is to think straight enough to recognize a good offer when you get it – and get the deal done.