By Holly Henbest, Realtor

As we are now returning to more of a balanced market, we are finding that sellers need to pay closer attention to some of the details when selling their home. Buyers are a bit pickier now than they were a year ago because they now have more options to choose from. If you want to stand out from your competition, there are a lot of no cost or low-cost steps that sellers can take to help ensure a good experience and the best first impression for potential buyers.

We’re sure you’ve heard the importance of de-cluttering, so we won’t go into much detail with that, but yes, please de-clutter. In addition, here are a few action-item suggestions to complete prior to listing your home for sale.

Remove Sunscreens
A lot of our sellers are surprised to hear this, as sunscreens are a valuable upgrade to the home. Although a nice feature, they don’t let your house show in its best light––pun intended. Sunscreens typically don’t photograph well, so your listing photos won’t have optimal presentation and they make the interior of the home naturally dark, instead of naturally light. In real estate, light it critical. The lighter and brighter, the better. So, gently remove those screens and nicely store them in the garage for the potential buyers to see when they visit your home.

Wash Windows
Once you’ve removed the sunscreens, then give the windows a good cleaning––inside and out. Clean out the tracks too and ensure any cobwebs are removed. Homes with spotty or dirty windows are problematic because buyers spend a lot of time looking out the windows when they visit a home. When buyers visit a home, they are often immediately drawn to the windows to see the views and a lot of time is spent in front of all the windows. The next time you go look at a house, think about your pattern of behavior in the house and I bet you’ll notice that one of the first things you do is walk toward a window or door to look outside. So, it’s a great ‘attention to detail’ item to ensure windows are clean. It also doesn’t allow a potential buyer’s mind to wander to thinking they’re in a dirty home. It just feels good to look out clean windows.

Fix Windows
I know this is a lot about windows, but windows are a big focal point for a buyer’s eyes. So, if you have any windows with broken seals (you see a fogginess in between the panes), cracked glass, or distorted weather seals, then get those repaired. When buyers see that one window needs repair, then they often think all the windows will need replacement, so better to just get the damaged windows repaired in advance.

This may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many homes aren’t fully cleaned prior to listing. People don’t like other people’s dirt, so make sure you pay attention to details like shower floors, baseboards, door tracks, mirrors, dust on fans, and a/c filters.

Light Bulbs
Have you ever had a light bulb burn out in a fixture that holds multiple bulbs and then you replace the bulb only to realize the bulbs don’t match, but you just leave it anyway? We see this a lot, and not only does it look a bit tacky to have unmatched bulbs, but the photos will look odd when there are different types of bulbs in a fixture, so get all the bulbs in a room and fixture to match.

Front Door
The entry to your home is where buyers often linger while their Realtor gets the key out of the lockbox and where they stand and chat after the showing. So, ensure your front entry gives a great impression with these easy steps.
1. Check to see if you have a key to your front door. Easily more than 90% of our clients can’t locate a key to their front door and need to have one made prior to listing their home.
2. Ensure your key and door lock work smoothly. You have no idea how many times we’ve stood at a front door and broken into a sweat trying to get a door lock to work, let alone how many times it just didn’t work at all. This is stressful for the Realtor, but more importantly the first impression of the home to the buyer isn’t a good one.
3. Clean you front door and light fixtures thoroughly. We see a lot of gunky looking front doors and it’s just not a good first impression. Most just need to be hosed and wiped down, but if you have any significant wear and tear, then we suggest a fresh coat of paint.
4. Get a fresh welcome mat. This is an easy one and makes a huge difference from the tattered mats we typically find.
5. Add a pot of fresh flowers for a pop of color and a cheery and inviting entrance.

If you were to do all these things, it could have a significant impact in the photos that are presented for your listing, in addition to making a much better impression of the home when buyers come to look in person.

You could do everything here for a few hundred dollars (not including window repairs, if needed) with the most significant expense being the window cleaning (maybe you have the tools and skills for that though). Everything else is inexpensive and just requires a few hours of your time.

We also recommend making any repairs that seem obvious to someone walking through your home to avoid what we call the double dip. Someone may make an offer based on the current condition, but then they may also call that item out after a home inspection, so essentially you may end up “paying” for that repair twice.

If you’d like any additional suggestions for your home, please reach out to us or visit our website for added tips at

Holly has been a Desert Ridge resident since 2000 and has been a Realtor since 2006. She is the leader of The Henbest Team with Realty One Group. Holly is ranked in the top ½ of 1 percent of Realtors in Arizona and is a certified luxury marketing expert. She has been ranked #24 in the Top 50 Realtors by the “Phoenix Business Journal” for the past several years and recognized by “So Scottsdale!” magazine as a Real Estate Superstar for 2019, 2020 and 2021. She’s also been the #1 ranked realtor at Realty One Group/North Scottsdale for the past several years. Learn more at