Through the years I have had hundreds of thousands if not millions of views on my property videos and one of the the first thing people think when they see my listings online is that they could never have their home looking like they do in my videos. But guess what? Nobody (almost nobody) has their home looking like a model home daily. I know we don’t. We have kids, pets and all the stuff we accumulate through the years. It’s called life. It’s how most of us live.

But when selling your home, you want it to look at it’s best because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. However, it does not need to cost you an arm and a leg, it should not have you needing to get a second mortgage out on your home.

The following are what I have found to be some of the best and least expensive things you can do to your home that are the most impactful. These are things that will not cost you much and will give you the best possible chance of selling your home at the highest possible price.

Before we start, take a deep breathe. It is not rocket science, you can do this.


We all have stuff, things you accumulate through the years that are lying around the house or that you think you really need. But nothing can make a buyer feel more claustrophobic then a house full of stuff and things that get in the way of walking through the home.

In this living room, we first de-cluttered, then painted, and finished it off with staging. This was a 7 Day Project.


When getting rid of things, I always say anything you will not be using for the next 60-90 days you need to store. Get a pod or storage facility and start packing your things and moving them. Garages are also many times used to store the excess items and it is not a bad thing. Just remember to pack and stack neatly and always away from all walls with at least two feet of clearance so that inspectors can do their job.

As you can see from the above image, that home needed de-cluttering and paint in a big way. The sellers had bought another home and we had to have their home ready within seven days. We were able to do that and in turn I was able to negotiate an offer for them that was more than $200,000 above their asking price. Had we not de-cluttered, painted and staged the home, it would have never happened.

Here is another before and after that was basically de-cluttering, painting and staging. Huge difference!


I always say that de-cluttering is like peeling an onion. You go through the first layer of getting rid of things you really don’t want or will ever use. Once you have done that, you will realize that there is another layer of almost doing the same thing. The third layer is the storing of items that will not be in the home for staging purposes and the 4th layer many times is another round of getting rid of things.

You see, we accumulate things through the years and it is not always easy to remove them from our homes from the get-go. There are sometimes planning and strategies that are part of the process. Even when you think you are done, you may find yourself doing yet another round of getting rid of things. I see it all the time, it is normal. But do put together a strategy to identify what stays and what goes.


When it comes to staging your home, it will do wonders for how your home will look both in photos and in person. We like to see things that look and feel good and staging of your home cannot be overvalued. Buyers spend more time viewing and visualizing how they will use your property space when there is tasteful staging done on your home.

This home was painted in Revere Pewter at 50% with White Dove trim, and then beautifully staged. It sold within a week and set a neighborhood record for sales price.


Staging is not cheap however, it can cost up to $5,000 or more. But I believe that a good agent should pay for that service so it should not cost you any money to properly and beautifully stage your home. This is why you should choose your agent wisely and ask them as part of the interview process if they will be paying for the staging of your home. In my case, I invested extensively to form a staging service so that I could provide staging of a home at no cost to the client because not only do I sell homes, but I am also instrumental in helping my clients get their homes ready.


One of the best returns on your investment is a good paint job in the interior and exterior of your home, if it is needed. I put this very high on the list of the best bang for your buck because a nice paint job will work wonders on how your home looks.

Here is Revere Pewter once again in a different setting. As you can see, the color goes well with various other colors and shades.


My favorite color is Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore. It is a beautiful color with just the perfect amount of grey and beige that goes with just about anything. If you are painting a room that does not have a lot of natural light go with 50% Revere Pewter. But if the room has a lot of natural lighting you can go with 75-100% of the color. For trim and ceilings I really like White Dove or Simply White, also colors by Benjamin Moore.


Practicing what you preach: I am a fan of Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore and the new engineered wood flooring planks so much that we had our personal home upgraded with that combination. The results have been stunning and have made our floorplan look even bigger and more spacious.


The most popular flooring right now is engineered wood that come in either light browns, greys, or a combination of both. It is a great investment but many times can cost up to $10,000 or more. Will it give you back dollar per dollar of what you spend? Maybe, maybe not. But what it will do is enhance overall the look and feel of your home when it is freshly painted and has new flooring.

This home looked like it was in need of new carpet. Upon further examination, it was determined that all it needed was to have the carpet stretched and shampooed and they came out looking almost like new and saved the sellers over $6,000.


But many times you don’t need new flooring. As you can see in the image above, this home looked like it needed new carpet which was going to cost about $7,500. But instead, I recommended that we stretch the carpet and then get it shampooed. The total cost was less than $1,000 and it looked fabulous.

And if you opt for new flooring that is not carpet, consider the engineered wood floors with the wider planks. You will find many option that don’t break the bank but make a huge difference on how your home looks and feels.


Tell you what… I cannot even begin to tell you how much some mulch has turned a completely neglected yard with weeds and no curb appeal into an absolute gem for less than $500.

New landscaping is not cheap, it really isn’t. But you don’t always need to re-landscape. Maybe all you need to do is pull the weeds, clean things up and plant a few plants and flowers. Then surround it by fresh mulch, and it will just pop. And if you want it to pop even more, go with darker colors of mahogany and dark browns. Avoid the orange colors if possible.


This home had very limited landscaping before I took the listing. We had mulch put in along with some flowers and plants and it changed the entire look of the front at a minimal cost.


Here (see picture above) is a previous listing of mine that did not have much landscaping done in the front yard. The sellers were busy with work and just did not have much time to put into the front yard. What many would think is a $5,000 job cost us only a few hundred dollars in weed removal, a few plants and dark mulch.

Take a look by clicking on each of the above 3 images. When I met the sellers they had a back yard with very little other then some garden beds, a pathway, stairs and numerous pots with and without plants along with clutter that needed to be hauled. I walked through it a couple of times and put my creative design thinking hat on. A week and $2,700 later the back yard was magnificent and a focal point of the home, and a reason as to why it sold as high as it did.

Getting your home ready does not have to break the bank. You can in fact be very creative with minimal cost to get you a maximum result that ends up in maximum dollars for you. I know, I do it all the time.

Choosing the right local agent

Last, but certainly not least, choosing the right agent will make all the difference in the world and is just as important as all of the above. The right agent will guide you through the process, arrange bids, estimates and help you every step of the way. That agent should have an extensive list of resources for just about anything that you and your home could possibly need.

I have been fortunate to compile over the years some of the best and most affordable painters, sheet-rock, flooring, tile, landscaping, haulers and pretty much any service that you may need for your home with most of these resources being ready to get started relatively quickly. I hire at my expense a wonderful project manager that works to get bids, schedule repairs and also stays on top of each project to make sure it is done efficiently and right the first time.

“My new home required renovation and Robert had an entire crew of contractors available to assist with this process. He also continued to check in long after both transactions had closed, to make sure everything was going smoothly”. – Home Seller and Buyer | Read this and other testimonials by clicking here

In addition, the right agent will also have a powerful marketing and action plan that will showcase everything you have done to get your home ready.

Short (1.5 minutes) video on a 7 day makeover

Today’s home buyers want to see everything about your home on their devices before they make the trip to physically see your home. 92% of home buyers do their home search on the Internet while only 1% of buyers find their home on print media and newspapers. That is a staggering number that you cannot ignore and your home has to appeal to the masses the second it goes “live.”

Think about it… Why do all of the above and not give it a powerful marketing plan that includes professional photos, a 3D virtual tour, floor-plans, video and it’s own property website? You have taken the time to get your home looking great, you need to show it off!

I believe that the above suggestions are what can be described as value. They give you a tremendous return on your investment. Value is not paying less, value is getting a lot more than what you paid for.

As always, happy selling and happy buying!

Robert Aldana
REALTOR® since 1986

DRE # 00921165
Keller Williams Realty
831-252-3959 Direct Line

[email protected]

ABOUT ROB: Robert Aldana is a 35+ year licensed real estate veteran with Keller Williams Realty, and also a long-term resident and homeowner in Scotts Valley.

Robert is the agent chosen by more Scotts Valley area home sellers and buyers than any agent or team, and has been awarded the Santa Cruz Sentinel Readers Choice Award as the Best REALTOR® in Scotts Valley for four straight years. Robert is also the ALL-TIME leading real estate agent in Scotts Valley sales, and most recommended agent in the NextDoor online community.

Read the over 60 “Five Star” reviews at