Friday, February 23, 2024

Marty and Max: The ugly truth — preparing your home to list

| February 24, 2023 1:00 AM

Hey Max, What do I need to do before my home is photographed?

This is a tremendous investment. For example, for homes that we list, our marketing investment (provided at no additional cost to the seller) is as little as $299 for a lot and up to $2,000 for a high-end home on acreage with multiple buildings and this doubles if we have to reshoot due to season changes. Preparing a home for photography is dramatically different than preparing a home for an open house. This is a stressful time, and you are working hard. You must prioritize. Metaphorically speaking, don't be the guy who is caught mowing the grass when his house is on fire. When preparing your home do it the RAWHIDE way. Remember the old country song from many western movies including "City Slickers?" It goes something like… “Rollin, Rollin Rollin, Keep those dogies rollin, Head 'em up, Move 'em out.”

Clear surfaces. Remove all dishes from the kitchen sink. Remove soaps, rags, toasters, utensils, dish racks, plants and clutter. Remove EVERYTHING from window sills, and most everything from the counters and tables. DOWNSIZE. What’s the old expression, “does this dress make me look fat?” Well, does this vintage square grand piano make this room look small? Only your Realtor knows for sure. You might want to beg the question. Less is more. If you don’t absolutely have to have it, put it in the garage, shop, dishwasher, trash compactor or storage unit. For that extra special touch, set a place setting at the table.

I know you love those appliance magnets, pictures and calendars on the fridge from 1988, but no one else wants to see it. MOVE ‘EM OUT. If the last time you changed your vent hood fan filter was during the Reagan or Carter administration, REPLACE IT. It will show and we can’t perfume that pig. In the bathrooms remove towels, rugs, Texas-Back scratcher (AKA toilet brush) and trash cans. All toilet seats are down. The shower and tub should be completely free of EVERYTHING! Ladies remove razors, brushes, footstones, loofah sponges, swimming caps, hot water bottles, shampoos, conditioners, goos and ointments. Guys, just remove your bar of soap.

Keep private things private. Remove anything “suggestive.” Remove any family photos or pictures that identify minors as listing images are posted online for all to see. In regard to your yard, remove water hoses, toys (kids, husband and dogs), rubbish, poop and trash cans. If you are unable to lift, contact a local team or youth club, make a donation, and have them do the heavy lifting. Win/Win.

Window Blinds. All shades should be at the same level. Do you have views? Perhaps clean the funky cheese off the windows. One of the smartest real estate tricks is to hire a window cleaner the day of or the day before the shoot. Make sure to finish an hour before your photographer is scheduled.

Things to avoid. If you are running short of time, you cannot spend it organizing closets, cupboards, dressers, garages or cleaning ceiling fans and scrubbing baseboards. You don’t have to clean the toilets because the lids are closed. Don’t schedule other services on the same day however, the only exception is window cleaners and don’t schedule on trash day or the day before trash day.

Do you have an overly cluttered basement, or have sloppy tenants renting the space? When it's 4th and long, sometimes you just have to punt! Seahawks fans know this best. Ask for a digital floor plan to show the space without the clutter. Genius! Remove pet food and water bowls, crates, litter boxes and beds. Dogs love to follow the drone…put Fido in the garage.

I know some of this may sound harsh, but your buyers need to be looking at your house and not your stuff. If they can envision their stuff in your space, you have a better chance to make it their home. Yippee Ki Yay!

For a complete checklist and weekly market report by zip code go to: MARTYANDMAX.COM.

National Market Single-Family Homes

• 6% Fewer Pending’s than Last Week

• 55k down from 58K

• 23% Fewer homes under contract

• 306K Homes Under Contract

• Active Inventory is down 1.5% to 436k

• Price cuts down from 40% to 31.3%

Our experts agree on the following:

Q: Why are there fewer pending sales than last week?

A: Pending’s have been trending up every week this year until this week where interest rates have increased 100bps.

Q: Why are there 23% fewer homes for sale this year than this time last year?

A: This is the opposite of last year when interest rates were in the 3% range and buyers were accelerating offers and closings. Seller’s are holding on to cheap payments. Although there are fewer homes under contract than last year, last year was also the tail end of the pandemic.

Q: What are your thoughts on the active inventory and price cuts?

A: The median price of homes is about the same as last year at this time. Prices normally climb in late February, but this year the price increases are very modest due to inventory and limited price cuts are due to reasonable original listing prices.

Q: What is your forecast for the market?

A: We are currently in a real estate winter and I defer to the Subject Matter Expert on Winter, Punxsutawney Phil. His prediction was six more weeks of winter on Feb. 2 and inventory should pick up before winter's end or in about two-three weeks. Pending sales should increase through July 1. The question remains, however, if price cuts will reach the 30% normal range.

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Marty Walker is a licensed real estate professional and paid consultant. Information shared in this column is of a general nature. For specific questions in relation to your unique property, email to set a time for a consultation. Visit or email

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