Sex Up Your House to Help It Sell

Lots of people in the Los Angeles area are selling their homes and moving: to another part of town, out of the madness, or to Canada, where most of the productions are done anyway.

The first thing to remember is that you’re ‘staging’ the house, in much the same way a set decorator would, and remembering that helps you make good decisions about what to do to present your home in its best light. That said, our friend Robert Carey offered some advice to home owners who are soon to be home sellers:


  • Clear your clutter, like toys, newspapers, yard tools and other clutter, if you don’t already live an uncluttered life. Either way get this book.
  • Get your lawn in shape with mowing and edging, trimmed trees and hedges, and thriving plants. In So Cal, make the house even greener by skipping the traditional lawn altogether and considering low-water, drought-tolerant, native plants and grasses. If you’re planting, most herbs are hardy and low-water, plus they are perceived as ‘working’ plants that can be used to season meals.
  • Scrub, dissolve, or pressure clean the grease or oil spots from the driveway. It’s nicer to look at, and says something about how you keep your car, which says something about how you keep your house.
  • Repaint, refinish peeling paint on house and trim. If painting with an eye to selling down the road, go with a palette that works with the surrounding landscape, and the architecture, and tastefully sets your home apart from the rest. Nobody wants to buy something ordinary.
  • That old, rusting wrought iron table and chairs in the back corner of the yard might seem charming to you, but if it’s not actually a quiet, comfortable, welcoming place to relax, get rid of it. Anything that looks old or worn, or just plain unloved, is going to convey the wrong message to a buyer.
  • Pick up after pets. Period.
  • Park vehicles in the garage or on the street; leave the (freshly clean) driveway clear.
  • Add color with flowers and potted plants when and where climate permits. Flooding window boxes with impatiens isn’t really going to fool anyone, and if they’re wilting, your home will just look high-maintenance.


  • Replace or remove badly worn carpet, unless you’re selling a fixer. Make sure wood floors are in good shape, and make sure that drapes and window treatments are clean and fresh smelling.
  • Clear your toys, newspapers, mail and other clutter, if you don’t already live an uncluttered life. Either way get this book.
  • Make your home look comfortable and lived in, not sterile. A few current magazines on the coffee table, a bowl for keys, flowers on the dining room table. These are homey touches that help a prospective buyer imagine themselves at home in your home.
  • Tend to pet and smoking odors, and for crying out loud, don’t just try to mask odors with spray. Remove offensive area rugs, shampoo smelly furniture, and open the windows regularly, especially if your home gets a nice breeze, which is a selling point in itself.
  • Look after peeling paint, smudges or marks on walls by cleaning or repainting.
  • Make beds, and make the bedroom look like a peaceful place to sleep, or a cozy, romantic place to have sex. Remember, you’re not selling the steak; you’re selling the sizzle.
  • Organized closets and cupboards convey a message that there’s plenty of available, easily-organized storage, and buyers love that.
  • Replace your everyday bath towels with a few new white towels that should only set you back a few bucks at Target. They say ‘clean’ and put one in mind of having a hot shower or bath there.
  • Freshen the air inconspicuously with scented candles and set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature.
  • Vacuum and dust, and this includes fan blades. Dust says ‘allergens’; allergens say ‘misery’; misery says ‘no thanks’.
  • Clean windows, inside and out. Use ammonia and water to clean and you won’t leave streaks. Use newspaper to wipe, and you won’t leave lint.
  • Arranging fresh flowers everywhere can be a little obvious, but a simple half dozen white tulips in the bathroom or a few stems of spray roses in the bedroom might be nice. Make it look like you have them there for yourself, like it’s no big deal and you do it all the time. Cut tulips short, and put them in a short, simple vase. Tulips grow daily, so if they’re too short today, they won’t be tomorrow.
  • Ignite a fire in fireplace if you’re showing in the winter. A generous stack of wood (and not fire logs) nearby makes it easy for prospective buyers to imagine an evening in front of it. Choose fragrant, long-burning hard woods rather than soft.
  • Turn off television and play soft background music, and not just chamber music, unless you’re selling a funeral home. Chicane is great, and not as expected.
  • Open drapes and shades, and turn on lights in dimmer rooms. If you’re living or selling ‘green’ consider motion sensitive light switches in bathrooms, stairways and hallways, that save money and lend an automated feel to your home.

It’s a tough market out there. Give yourself and your home the best shot at a great sale. Feel free to add your own tips below, in the comments. Best of luck.

1 Response to “Sex Up Your House to Help It Sell”

  1. Thursday, April 24, 2008 at 4:56 am

    Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

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