How to Sell a House That Really Isn’t That Great

How to Sell a House That Really Isn't That Great
Written by Oana Schneider

You’ve probably decided to sell your house and move into a new one, and if that’s the case, good for you. But how to sell your old home when it really isn’t the greatest house on the block? Well, all you have to do is pay a little attention to a few details, do some repairing and try to bring out the good things as much as possible.

Here are the key points to selling a house that really isn’t so great:

1. To hire or not to hire an agent?

Getting an agent can be both tricky and helpful, depending on what your goal really is. Of course, you will have to pay the agent, but he or she will make sure to find the right buyer for you.

Sometimes, selling a house can take years when you don’t get help. On the other hand, if you do your homework and advertise the property as well as possible, there’s no need for a third party.

In fact, the following rules are only for those who want to sell their homes by owner. If you already have an agent and things are not moving, it’s time to rethink that investment.

2. Do your online research

In case you haven’t noticed this before, listings that have more than 6 pictures in their adds are twice more likely to get views and eventually get sold. You may want to ask a friend take good pictures of all the rooms and the improvements you made to it: A new water heater? Snap a picture? A new paint job? You know what to do!

Also, check online to see what other people do with their listings: you will see that some of them bring up the good location, the quiet neighborhood, the functionality of the house, the idyllic view and so on.

If your home is far from the main attraction, talk about how tranquil it is. If it’s noisy, say that it’s at the heart of all things to do. Also, an old neighborhood = quiet one, noisy neighborhood = young and dynamic.

How to Sell a House That Really Isn't That Great

Not Getting an Agent Means More Work for You, but It’s All Worth It in the End!

3. Post a video about what your house means to you on Youtube

Here’s how to do it: using a cheap back flip camera, you can record yourself giving a virtual tour of the house: “Here’s where we planted our first tree, here is where my wife and I sat down and drank our teas every morning, and this used to be the nursery. It’s time to make your own memories, we’ve made ours.”

People like to know that they’re buying more than just a pile of wood boards and wires: it’s somebody’s home, a place where a lot of happiness and tears were shared. However, don’t sound too attached or potential buyers might think that you’re not ready to sell. Try not to include your family in your little project, just to be sure they are safe: you wouldn’t want people drooling over your conjugal bliss, for example…

4. Talk to your neighbors

Before you decide to sell the place, talk to your neighbors and ask them what is it that they like about the neighborhood, their homes, your home and so on. Sometimes, we don’t realize how great some things in our lives are until somebody points them out.

You may also want to ask them about the kind of neighbor they would like to have, the things that they should point out to potential buyers etc. If you’re really not the friendly neighbor type of person, you may want to start baking a few pies.

5. Advertise your listing on Facebook

Whether you create an event, a fan page or a friendly reminder every now and then, Facebook could prove out to be a great idea. Also, start looking up Facebook groups like: Looking for a house, Buying Houses, New home etc. You will find a group of potential buyers to whom you could advertise your listing. Also, make yourself available for questions, comments and so on.

6. Do some staging for your home

There are people who just take the pictures without changing anything, when the truth is that you are advertising a potential home, so don’t just take pictures of empty walls. Try bringing some nice furniture in order to give potential buyers an idea of what the place could turn into.

Here’s what to do: clean the house, bring in furniture, plants, rugs, vases and everything a real home needs. Also, don’t forget about the exterior of the house: use a leaf blower if that is the problem, do some light gardening, bring some chairs and a table for your backyard and try to make the property look desirable.

How to Sell a House That Really Isn't That Great

Make Sure the House Looks Perfect Before Putting It Up for Sale!

7. Make your listing accessible

Make sure people hear about your listing: you might need to pay for a newspaper add or send an email to an online site like and have your add featured there.

Try to come up with a good description that is honest and not over the top: don’t exaggerate the bad things or, on the contrary, speak too highly of your precious house. Give both your phone number and email address and DO reply to texts, calls, comments and so on. Of course, this means you’ll have to put a little effort into it, but it’s better than paying the agent a fat commission, right?

8. Set up a realistic price

If you check out, you’ll see that not everybody is realistic about their price: some people get so attached that the simply thought of selling their home seems unbearable and therefore set up ridiculous prices.

Don’t be one of those owners: do your research, ask your neighbors and see for how much the other houses in the neighborhood are going for. Take into account the improvements, the layout of the house (if your living room and kitchen are interconnected, you’re a lucky person; if not, you may want to drop the price a bit).

After all, any potential buyer has to make sure that, in case they don’t like something, at least the price is affordable and changes can be made.

9. De-personalize the house

Of course you love your home, but try to take out family albums, family photos, little memories that give personality to your house. A good listing should look like a blank canvas on which the potential buyer could add their own colors and shapes.

If you’ve decided to paint the walls an unusual color: bright red/purple/pink, dark brown, black or anything that’s not subtle, you may want to paint it over. In fact, the best way to do it is to have white walls or a light beige.

Here are a few other tricks: light candles in the kitchen – not in the bathroom, that would just be weird! – they make everything seem warmer and cozier, make sure the walls don’t smell weird, add some funny decorations to give it some personality and you’re almost good to go!

10. Ever baked cookies?

Who doesn’t like the smell of cookies? Researchers say that, if you want to sell your house, you have to make it smell good first and apparently the best fragrance is vanilla.

So here’s what you should do right before a viewing: put some cookies in the oven at a low temperature for 5 minutes, turn off the oven and open the oven door. As soon as they walk in, the potential clients will think about family dinners, Christmases and all sorts of get-togethers that could happen in your house.

These are the 10 steps you need to follow when trying to sell a house that’s really not that great. Of course, you’ll need to put some effort into it but it will all be worth it in the end, especially if you’re doing it yourself, without any kind of professional help. Try this recipe and tell us how it went!

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.


  • Good tips, I think these would be helpful to sellers. If you have time and energy, and don’t want to pay an agent, this might be the way to go. I think it’s a great point to research before setting the price, and be realistic when comparing to other listings in your area. It might be helpful to consult friends/family, so they could point out similarities and differences you might miss due to being too close to the situation. The price is ultra important, because potential buyers might not look beyond cost. Also, I’d recommend paying a professional cleaner to come in and spruce up the place after painting walls, and before staging.

    • A person doesn’t deserve to sell their house if they fail to research local market prices before setting their own price. It’s such a simple task that it’s more mandatory than recommended. There’s no reason to skip this step, and doing so is just reckless and negligent when it comes to selling a home.

    • That’s a great idea, Diane. A professional cleaner can enhance the value of the house and make it appealing to a potential buyer. Even buyers do their homework and if the cost is approximately same as their research, they don’t mind paying a few thousands more, for the house looks clean, neat and well-maintained.

  • All of these tips are sound except for number three. What’s the point of trying to go over memories in your house that another person doesn’t care about? Even if they want to create the same memories themselves, they’re only going to do that if they love the property in person anyways. It’s far better to simply spruce up the property with a few hundred bucks to guarantee a higher selling price.

  • This post is going into my future-reference bookmarks. There will come a point when I’ll very likely have to sell a fixer-upper. Hopefully that point isn’t in the near future, but these tips will definitely help me out in any case.

  • Number 3 is there for a reason: when people look up houses, it’s sometimes hard to make them see past walls: a house is also a place where you could feel like home or just a random construction that will never appeal to you. Plus, it’s interesting to see that the seller is a trust worthy individual who loved his home and not just a random guy that you know nothing about. I’m looking to buy a house myself and my biggest fear is that I’ll buy something that belonged to a maniac or something. I can’t really go to every listing and ask the neighbors, so a video put together by the homeowner could really put me at ease. Maybe I’m just too cautious, but I intend to spend the rest of my life in that house.

  • These are really good tips, but I think the best of all is to actually work on it a bit to make it good enough for people to live in. Also selling it in an affordable reasonable price for what you have to offer, with a little bit of profit, not a massive one. Need to take in consideration all of these important factors.

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