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Tips for a Successful Sale of your North Shore Chicago, Evanston, Wilmette Home  

Letting go of your home can be difficult. Most homes hold many memories.

To detach from it emotionally, you must realize that your home is just where you live right now.  Without you and your loved ones, the house is just another address on a street.

When selling your home, try to see your property as equity and an investment that provides options to fund your future life. The more prepared you and your home are inside and out, the more pleasant and financially beneficial the outcome of selling your home will likely be.

Shift gears from owning the home, to selling a home.   Understanding your potential buyer and what will inspire them to be interested in your home, will expand your home’s appeal to greatest number of potential buyers.

Depersonalize Your House 

Pack up your personal photographs, family heirlooms, and other objects and clutter that might distract potential buyers and hurt a possible sale. You want to present buyers with an impersonal, clean environment so they can imagine the home perhaps decorated with their own photographs, furniture, and art objects. Depersonalizing your home makes it easier for potential buyers to visualize how the home might look filled with their own items.

Utilize understated and simple furniture pieces that fit the space of your home, generally speaking, oversized, stuffed furniture should be removed or kept to a minimum.   Put furniture in rooms to define the purpose of the room. Unnecessary dressers, fun furniture etc should be removed to make the rooms look bigger.   For example, in a medium sized living room it is better to just have a couch and table and maybe a side chair – remove the extra couch and chairs. To make your rooms seem as spacious as possible keep the ratio of empty to occupied floor space as barren as possible, using the minimum amount of furniture needed for the space.

The goal is to make it easy for a potential buyer to see the house as their future home, leaving room so they can mentally place their possessions in the room.  Leave visual and mental breathing space in the room.  If the home looks like an episode of ‘Horders’, it will be impossible for potential buyers to see themselves living in the overstuffed room. Moreover, if your home is cramped, dirty and neglicted, potential buyers may flee before even seeing your entire home.

Declutter Your House

People tend to collect an amazing quantity of items over the years. Reasons for keeping items include an emotional attachment, an intention to reuse or fix the items in the future, or a wish to pass them on to others. However, for many items, if you haven’t used them in over a year, you probably don’t need them.

Consider donating items to local charities including:

Evanston AmVets
Donation Pick Up – Evanston IL
Call for a free donation pickup or arrange  online at  We have same day pickup
Furniture & Miscellaneous  877-969-1468


Connections for the Homeless
607 Lake Street Evanston, IL
847-475-7070, ext. 100
Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Donations accepted: Clothing for men and women (casual and professional), boots, shoes and coats.


E.S.C.C.A. Evanston School Children Clothing Association
1500 McDaniel Ave, Evanston, IL
Drop box: West side of the Joseph E. Hill Education Center
Donations accepted: Gently used and school clothing and coats for children grades K-8.

Most District 65 schools have a drop off bin or clothing drive during the school year.

Family Focus/Our Place
2010 Dewey, Evanston IL
847-475-7570   —   Call before dropping off.
Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Donations accepted: New and gently used clothing for men, women and children.

ORT Thrift Shop
915 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL
Monday-Saturday, 10am-4pm
Donations accepted: Gently used or new clothing and accessories for men, women and children, housewares and furniture

YWCA Shop for Good
1107 Central Avenue
Wilmette, IL 60091

Accepting clothing donations, house goods, etc.
847-853-8888 or email [email protected]

Winnetka Thrift Shop
992 Green Bay Rd
Winnetka, IL 60093
[email protected]


Organize Bedroom Closets and Storage Cabinets

Buyers will be curious about storage space and will want to check closets and cabinets. It’s important to ensure these are organized, as it sends a negative message if your storage spaces are cluttered with items falling out.  Remove books and other decorations from bookcases and built ins.   Clean everything off your kitchen counters. Essential items that you use daily can be tucked away in a cabinet or a closet when they’re not in use.  Packing up now to will make your move easier and help you sell your home quickly and for top dollar

Inside kitchen cabinets, neatly stack dishes, and turn the coffee cup handles so they’re facing the same way. In closets, shirts should be neatly hung together in an organized manner, and shoes should be clean lined up in an orderly fashion. Make sure all the clothes in your closet are clean.  No one wants to smell your stinky workout clothes. Move dirty, smelly laundry to the laundry room in a closed hamper or to your car for showings.

When a buyer sees everything organized down to the last detail, it shows that you take care of your possessions and likely took good care of the house.

Rent a Storage Unit 

Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Consider renting a storage unit or storage pod which can be used to hold your unused possessions and are easily moved to your new home once your home is sold.

Remove anything that block hallways.  Put into storage distracting furniture, artwork, and empty bookcases.

Removing the extra leaves from your dining room table will make the dining room appear larger.  Use only enough furniture to showcase the room’s purpose, leaving plenty of room for buyers to move freely around your house.


Remove or Replace Favorite Items

If you plan on taking certain window coverings, built-in appliances, or fixtures with you, remove them prior to showing the house. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great-grandmother, be sure to take it down before a buyer sees it and asks that it be included with the house. Informing a buyer they cannot have a fixture in the house which enhances it’s appeal can hurt the sale.  Go out and look at other homes for sale in the area and visit a few open houses get an idea of what top selling homes in your area look like.  If you removed any fixtures in your home, replace them with a reasonably priced fixture that updates the house.


Make Minor Repairs

Unless your home is due for a major remodel and is being sold ‘as is’, it is generally a good idea to make minor repairs before putting your home up for sale. Replace cracked floor or counter tiles and patch any holes in the walls. Fix leaky faucets and doors that don’t close properly, as well as kitchen drawers that jam. Consider painting walls neutral colors, especially if they’re currently a bold or highly stylized color. Don’t give buyers any reason to remember your home as “the home with the chipping and peeling dark brown paint.”

Replace burned-out light bulbs and bulbs that have been in service for a while. Using fresh light bulbs will avoid the potential of having a light blow out when a switch is turned on during a showing. You want the buyer’s experience to be as positive as possible.  Having everything organized and in working order reassures the buyer that they will be purchasing a well maintained home.   Feel free to contact me, I can help you decide what repairs and renovations are worth investing in, and which updates would be better left to be done by the potential buyer.

Check the HVAC and other Mechanicals
The nights are becoming chilly, so it’s important to make sure that your HVAC system is up to par. It’s best to have it checked out before you put your house on the market. Not only will this reduce the chances of an offer falling through if a problem is found, it will also keep you warm and safe during this winter.  Be sure appliances are all in working order and not making any strange noises, etc.  Get all appliances and mechanicals into full working order and replace if needed.   Fixing and replacing items before you list your home on the MLS, keeps you in control and also avoids unnecessary conflicts with potential buyers.

Make the House Sparkle

Once you’ve removed unneeded furnishings and other belongings, consider hiring a professional cleaning crew.  The professional cleaning can: wash the windows inside and out; lightly pressure washer and spraying down sidewalks and the exterior; deep clean and recaulk tubs, showers, and sinks; and polish faucets and mirrors. They will also remove dust and grime from under the furniture, from the inside of cabinets and closets, and everywhere else it might be hiding.  Many times, a deep clean will considerably refresh and revitalize a home.

Open the curtains and blinds and turn on lights. Houses show better when each room is clean and well lit.

Try to maintain this cleanliness by vacuuming daily, sweeping floors, dusting furniture, and keeping the bathrooms and kitchen spotless. Neatly hang up fresh guest towels. Also, keep the toilet clean, freshly flushed with it’s lid closed.

Kitchens are a big selling point for many buyers, so make yours as spotless and uncluttered as possible. Make sure your refrigerator is clean and orderly.  Remove dishes from the sink and put dirty items into the dishwasher.

Above all, have your place smelling fresh and clean.   Air out and clean any stale, musty areas. The night before a showing, avoid cooking particularly smelly foods such as fish, garlic or cabbage. These smells can linger the day for a while.  If you have pets, monitor litter boxes, and remove or cage your animals before a showing or move them to a safe contained area in your home so they do not interact with people touring the home, or escape outside etc.

Scrutinize Curb Appeal

Many times a potential sale is lost quickly if a buyer won’t even get out of their Real Estate Broker’s car because the exterior of your home is not inviting.   Make the exterior more appealing and welcoming by painting your front door and, perhaps, adding a wreath of dried wildflowers, or placing one or two flower pots on your front porch. Hire a landscaper to clean up your lawn and prune or remove overgrown shrubbery.  You may even decided to add a few shrubs or flowering plants. Consider hiring a contractor to fix any cracks on your front steps or walkway. Also, make sure visitors can clearly see your house number so they will know they are at the right address.   Add some seasonal style with a festive-door wreath, planters filled with autumn-colored flowers, or a front porch lined with pumpkins.

Keep the lights on.
Now that days are shorter, be sure that your house is illuminated both on the inside and outside. Brighten rooms by pulling up the blinds and pushing back the window dressings. Keep the front porch and walkway lights on so visitors have a better chance to experience the exterior of your house.

The Final Step 

Back inside your North Shore Chicago home, linger in the doorway of each room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer wanting to buy a home in Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka or other parts of the North Shore Chicago.  Remember there are many other similar homes on the market and you want to make sure your home stands out as a superstar.


When you are considering selling your home, just call me.  You do not need to reinvent the wheel  –  I have many resources and insights that will make the transition process of selling your home easy and stress free.


Call or contact me to if you have any Real Estate questions ~ I look forward to helping you.

Tara Lubin  |  Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty

REALTOR – Global Real Estate Advisor – Chicago & North Shore Suburban Chicago, Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka, IL and beyond
630.707.3473   |    [email protected]   |   [email protected]