Our Country Home

Getting ready to sell?

A real estate broker weighs in


So, you spent the winter debating and now it’s time to sell your house.

And then you look around. Do you need to fix everything? Paint? Maybe you don’t want to sink a lot of money into the place if the new owner is going to re-do everything.

“I never tell people to put a lot of money into a home,” says Eagle Valley Realty broker Dawn Curreri. “Nine out of 10 times, you don’t get your money back.”

Instead, try to think like a buyer. What would someone looking at your house see first?

Start with cleaning up outside. “Clear bushes, plant flowers, put up a couple of hanging baskets,” said Curreri.

Then, moving inside: “decluttering is the key,” she said. “Less is more. The less stuff of yours is in the house the more the buyer can picture themselves living there.”

Box things up, put them in a closet, or put them in storage. A house full of personal possessions is “overwhelming,” Curreri explained.

In the kitchen, you can keep it simple. “Keep countertops uncluttered,” she said. If a faucet is dripping, get it repaired.

After you’ve cleaned up, take a look at the walls. Look for areas that need a touch-up with paint. Look at the wall colors; neutrals are best.

Look at the floor. “If the carpet is worn, you can pull it up,” Curreri said. Expose the wood floors if they’re in decent shape.

Look at the windows. Get rid of heavy window treatments and let the light in. The more, the better.

What if you don’t have money to make more significant repairs? “It’s all a part of negotiations,” Curreri said. Cleaning up and decluttering go a long way to making a house appealing.

What’s ahead in housing?

Despite the doomsayers, who are looking at the nation, Curreri sees positive trends here. “Right now it’s a seller’s market,” she said. “There’s low inventory. If you’re thinking of selling, now is the time.”

Now as in now. Don’t wait for summer, thinking that that’s when all the tourists are here.

“We’re a second-home market,” Curreri reminded me. People want to be moved into the house before summer. A typical closing in Sullivan County takes 60 to 90 days.

Recent news reports have it that housing is too expensive, pricing first-timers out of the market. Not so here. While the area has its share of high-priced housing, first-time homebuyers can find affordable options too, she said.

Dawn Curreri is a broker with Eagle Valley Realty, licensed in New York and Pennsylvania.

Home staging resource list

Sometimes all you need is a little touch-up on your woodwork or counter top, or to quickly dress up an older sofa.  These simple products, suggested by Jenna McElwain of Jenna Nicole Interiors, offer inexpensive and effective ways to upgrade your home:

Look for these at your local hardware store. If the work is more significant, contact your local flooring or kitchen/bath store first. Often they’ll renovate an existing surface.

Hangman’s Erase-a-hole is a fast way to repair nail or screw holes in drywall. Works on cracks too.

Minwax Wood Finish Stain Marker works well for quick and easy touch-ups of nicks and scratches on floors, furniture, cabinets and doors.

Zep Hardwood and Laminate Floor Refinisher revitalizes dull, scratched, hardwood and laminate floors. Polyurethane finish.

Miracle Sealant Grout Pen covers and cleans mildew and stained grout.

Peel and stick vinyl tiles is an easy, affordable update. Can be used with or without grout. Ask at your local flooring dealer.

Rustoleum Metallic Spray Paint is an effective update for outdated light fixtures or door handles

If you don’t have time to sew your own slipcover, or can’t hire someone to make one, try Surefit Slipcovers. Perfect for a quick update for sofas and chairs.

Murphy Original Oil Soap can be used to clean floors and cabinets, restoring their natural shine.

Frame your bathroom mirror quickly and easily with Mirror Mate.

(Information to be used as a reference only; Jenna Nicole Interiors does not work with or endorse any of the above products, services or companies, and does not guarantee their work, results or prices.)

Jenna McElwain is the owner of Jenna Nicole Interiors. She designs commercial and residential spaces and works with realtors staging homes for sale in Maryland, though she did work with the Kaufmanns: see page 5. Check out her website, www.jennanicoleinteriors.com to learn more and to read her blog post, “Home Staging IS a Big Deal.” For further tips, follow her on Instagram and Facebook


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