Jan Kennemer | Arlington Real Estate, Alexandria Real Estate, Falls Church Real Estate


There's a misconception many home sellers have that may be causing them to miss out on opportunities to have their house sell more quickly. Perhaps you're among them.

If you believe your home does not need to be staged, neatly organized, and thoroughly cleaned well in advance of the first scheduled showing, then you're overlooking one crucial step in the marketing process: having professional quality photographs taken of your home -- inside and out -- and posted online to make your listing more enticing!

Unless you happen to be an exceptionally good photographer with professional equipment, you probably won't be able to get the optimal results needed to show off your home and attract buyers. Not only will those photographs be the first impression of your home that many buyers are exposed to, but it may end up being the only impression they come away with. If prospects don't like what they see online, there's no chance they'll move on to the next step, which would be scheduling an in-person visit. That's why it's so important that the photos your agent uploads to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) depict your home in the most favorable way.

Online photographs can work either for or against you, depending on the quality of the photos and the condition of your home and property. Ideally, you should have photos taken of virtually every nook and cranny of your home -- with the exception of areas you want to underplay. Only the best ones would be used, of course. Views of your front yard, backyard, and sometimes even an aerial view can help give buyers the perspective they're looking for.

The good news is that most real estate agents work with one or more professional photographers who make it their business to take photos that are properly lit, effectively cropped, and well composed. Experienced real estate photographers can quickly identify the most advantageous angles from which to take photos, capturing the best view of your rooms, your yard, and other property highlights.

While they might occasionally make a few adjustments to the placement of furniture, pillows, or other decor, their main objective is to snap photos that will inspire prospective buyers to envision the beauty, the charm, and the many possibilities of your home. In addition to making sure the photos are crystal clear, well lit, and visually appealing, photographers also aim to make your home look as spacious and welcoming as possible. While they can't perform miracles, a talented photographer will typically find creative ways to bring out the best qualities in any home.

Your real estate agent can also give you valuable tips on enhancing your property's curb appeal, minimizing clutter, and adding simple touches -- both inside and out -- to maximize the warmth and appeal of your home for sale.


If you're getting ready to put your home on the market, one of the best things you can do is adopt a "go with the flow" attitude!

Unless market conditions are ideal and all the stars are in perfect alignment, there will probably be a few ups and downs on the road to getting your house sold!

In all probability, there will be encouraging days and a setback or two, but with the help of a resourceful real estate agent and a little planning on your part, good luck is sure to come your way! What do we mean by the word "luck" in this case? The answer to that question can be found in a quote by the ancient Roman philosopher, Seneca: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity!"

While a proactive real estate agent will create opportunities to attract potential buyers and present your home to its best advantage, the "preparation" part of the formula will mostly be up to you. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of that "window of opportunity" that opens up as soon as your agent puts your house on the market and plants a for sale sign in your front yard!

Curb appeal: Making a great impression from a street point-of-view can be one of your most effective forms of advertising. When your property looks neat, well maintained, and nicely landscaped, you'll be sending a positive message to potential buyers. By showing people that you have pride in ownership, they'll realize and appreciate the fact that your home has been well taken care of. Some homes require more preparation than others to convey that image, but when you pay attention to details, the desired results often follow.

Home staging: Staging your home for maximum impact involves strategies like arranging furniture in conversational groupings. In other words, if the configuration of your furniture lends itself to socializing, relaxation, and comfort, you'll be sending a positive message to people about the desirability of your home. It's also to your benefit to convey a feeling of spaciousness, cleanliness, and good taste. Although everyone has different taste when it comes to decorating, your real estate agent can offer helpful tips, based on their experience, objectivity, and training.

Most upgrades, repairs, and improvements to your house can potentially increase the chances of selling your home within the shortest period of time. Your agent can help you prioritize tasks you need to do to make a favorable impression on house hunters. They will provide you with professional advice on factors like cost effectiveness, urgency, and putting your best foot forward. In many cases, there are simple and relatively inexpensive measures you can take to improve your home's marketability, eye appeal, and perceived value.


Experienced, knowledgeable real estate agents are experts in attracting potential buyers to home showings.

When you initially meet with prospective real estate agents to determine which one would be the best fit for your needs, you can get a pretty good sense of how marketing-savvy they are.

Since marketing is one of the most important parts of their job description, a well-trained, motivated real estate agent will know how to effectively use the Internet, their network of personal contacts, and a variety of other techniques to draw in qualified prospects.

Is there anything that you, as the homeowner, can do to help market your home?

Although it's your real estate agent's role to advertise, promote, and publicize your real estate listing to targeted groups and the general public, there is one huge thing you can do to help: Try to keep your house and property looking impeccable at all times. While that goal may be easier said than done, it's worth some extra time and effort to make your home as inviting and appealing to house hunters as possible.

Here are two ways you can increase your home's marketability and help spark more interest among prospective buyers:

  1. Meticulous neatness and cleanliness gives your home instant appeal. On the other hand, a messy, disorganized home or yard will send the wrong message to people touring your house. While it may be counterproductive to have your house reeking from ammonia and harsh cleaning chemicals, keeping countertops, floors, and walls clean will help your real estate agent present your home in its best possible light. Hopefully, you'll be able to enlist the help of everyone in the family (except pets) to clean up after themselves and keep their rooms and play areas looking civilized!
  2. Help maintain curb appeal! As the cliché goes (or was it an old mouthwash commercial?): "You don't get a second chance to make a great first impression!" For that reason, it's vitally important for your lawn to look well manicured and your house to be free from peeling paint and yard clutter. Another eyesore that detracts from first impressions is the sight of weeds growing out of cracks in your driveway or walkway. The cracks, themselves, are a problem you might want to address, but the weeds (or grass) poking through them is like adding insult to injury! If you don't want to spray them with some toxic, store-bought weed killer, then research natural ways to kill weeds.
Although your real estate agent will gladly handle 99% of the marketing for your home, you can help give their efforts an important nudge by making sure your home and property always look their best!



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