My Story: Preparing Your Home for Sale

contributed by Carrie Myrick Hirmer

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If you are preparing to sell your home in the near future, you may be inundated with things to do and might be concerned about the costs. Well, in getting our home ready to sell, I have discovered a few helpful hints.

One of the main things that a real estate expert will tell you is to "neutralize" your home. You want it to appeal to as many buyers as possible. The cheapest way to do this is with paint, and the cheapest way to get paint is at your local hardware, paint or building supply store that mixes paint. They sell what they call "mismixed" or "mismatched" paint for anywhere from $3 to $5 a gallon. You can find great quality paint that originally sold for $20 or $30 a gallon for just a few bucks! If you're patient and will spend a little time looking around, you will find several different colors in similar hues that can be mixed. You can do this in a five-gallon bucket. Mix well and you'll have a custom paint color for cheap! Be sure to only mix same type paints (latex with latex). If you have three gallons and you mix them all together, you could have enough paint to do two rooms and a hall, etc.

If you find a color that is too dark or too light, but very close to the color you want, the clerk can add a little more color (mine does it for free!). I recently found one that was a little bit darker than what I wanted, so she just added some white to it and it came out perfect.

Some real estate experts also suggest that you "de-personalize" your home, which involves taking down all of those family photos. By doing this, the buyers can visualize themselves in the home, not your family. The cheapest way that I have found to do this is by using the tried-and-true calendar method. I simply took down my family photos, removed the photos, cut mats to fit out of wallpaper samples (free from the local wallpaper store) and added pictures trimmed to fit from a calendar (which I purchased on clearance for 50 cents). So, for 50 cents and a little time, I have beautiful prints that look like they came from an upscale home store. Using your own frames and mats will save time and money. I have three very large pictures and two small pictures to hang on the wall for 50 cents. It doesn't get any cheaper than that!

Also, if you have some landscaping to do and you need to fill a lot of space with little money, I suggest buying larger shrubs. They are going to be more expensive than the smaller ones, but they will give the appearance that they have been there for years and will fill up more space than several little ones. I spent $8.99/each for three very full large shrubs. If I would've purchased smaller ones, it would've taken at least 3 or 4 to fill the same space. I may have paid more per plant, but the overall cost was less.

Carrie is a writer/reporter in Arkansas. She also does some freelance writing and is a very avid reader of the Dollar Stretcher.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by

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