On Downsizing, Part 2: Prepping for the Market

In January, Phyllis wrote about the first step in the downsizing process, The Purge, the emotional process of cleaning out your home from the clutter you have collected over the many years of living there. Through the purge process you will begin to emotionally detach from your home, the key first step in taking your house from a home to a product. Once you have de-cluttered and emotionally prepared yourself for the selling process, it is time to take the second step: preparing your house for the market.

The moment you make the decision to list, you need to start to think of your house as a product and view it through someone else’s eyes. The things you love about your home are not what someone else is going to love about the home. Your personal taste, which is reflected in your décor, could be much different than the taste of a potential buyers. It may seem boring to you, but the more white and gray the better. Our go-to paint gray colors are Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray and Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist; for white, Benjamin Moore White Dove and Benjamin Moore Simply White.

The key to success is neutralizing your house to appeal to as many buyers as possible. In fact, a neutral and staged* home brings in six to twenty percent more than the same home without staging. If you want to get top dollar for your home and sell quickly, make the house has neutral and move-in ready as possible. The trend now is gray walls and white kitchens. These homes photograph better, resulting in more interested parties through the door, and a faster transaction.

Millennials have a hard time envisioning space and are cash poor. They are looking for move-in ready homes they don’t have to do anything to. It is your job as the seller to make it as easy as possible for prospective buyers to visualize the property as their future home — and you accomplish that by neutralizing.

You do not always need to hire a stager to achieve a “staged look,” although they take all the hard work out of it for you. You can accomplish a “staged look” on your own through painting, new white linens and towels, pillows and blankets for pops of color, and pairing existing furniture with new lamps or finishing pieces. Gain inspiration from HGTV or Pinterest and mimic a plain and simple design, or simply ask your real estate agent what you should do. Get us involved early. We know what sells, and we don’t want you wasting any time or money on unnecessary updates.


A few rules of thumb

  • If the interior of your house has not been painted in the last five years, it will need to be painted.
  • If you have any walls that are yellow or red, paint them!
  • Get rid of all worn and dated furniture, as well as any things you know will not be coming with you to the new place.
  • Remove all window treatments and curtains except blinds.
  • Place new, white linens on beds and towels in bathrooms.
  • Deep clean and re-caulk all bathrooms.
  • Pressure wash the exterior of the house.
  • Professionally clean all carpets and replace where staining is too severe to remove.
  • Wash windows and store window screens away.
  • A Magic Eraser is your best friend for any minor scruffs around the house.
  • Landscape! Plant new flowers, edge your grass, and put down new mulch.
  • Replace old light fixtures with something clean-lined and simple.
  • Too many mixed-matched rugs look terrible in photos. Show off the hardwoods or opt for gray and white rugs.

The more work you put into the front end of the selling process, the easier the rest will be. We promise investing in your home before you sell will pay off!


*For more information on the benefits of staging click herehere, and here.


  • The latest from Britt
Born, raised, and bred in Alexandria, VA, Britt Patterson is a true product of the great state of Virginia. Britt attended Waynewood Elementary (Class of ’96), Carl Sandburg Middle School (Class of ’98) , and West Potomac High School (Class of ’02), she then went on to attend Virginia Tech (go Hokies!) where she majored in Business Marketing and Minored in Real Estate. Britt “officially” joined the family business as a licensed Realtor in 2008 after two years of working the political fundraising field and prides herself on her Alexandria real estate knowledge, alongside her integrity, loyalty, and professionalism as an agent and Vice President for the family business.

The Patterson Group is one of the most experienced and trusted real estate teams in the area, serving Alexandria, VA for over thirty years. We offer professional, hardworking, detailed and friendly service and a large network of contacts and resources accrued over our many years in Alexandria real estate. Comprised of seven Alexandria locals, six of whom are licensed realtors and three of whom are accredited staging professionals, The Patterson Group is passionate and knowledgeable about Alexandria, VA and here for all of your Northern VA real estate needs. Allow us to help you find your home here and discover all that the Alexandria lifestyle has to offer.


400 South Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


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