House with landscaping lights - Creating a cheerful, sunny, welcoming environment.Silicon Valley home buyers often state that they want to purchase a house, townhouse or condo which provides a welcoming environment and includes these elements:

  • uncluttered and clean
  • plenty of natural light, plenty of interior lamps and landscaping lights
  • spacious, not cramped
  • light, bright & airy – lots of natural sunlight inside
  • has a good floor plan, including open elements
  • includes enough storage space
  • well cared for (ideally, unless buying distressed)

In a nutshell, buyers want sunny, open, clean, spacious feeling spaces – those make up a welcoming environment.

Rarely do they request cozy (implies small) or private (suggests flag lot or large hedges in the front, blocking view of the street), though most love a private back yard and some buyers really do want privacy in front as well as back (hence the great appeal to those who prefer an Eichler or other mid-century modern style house).  To get you the most money for your real estate sale, though, we don’t want to appeal to the few buyers who want one style; instead, to maximize your return we need to aim the staging at what the majority of buyers (or the most probable buyer for your property) will want.

Creating the welcoming environment

How can you transform the home you live in to the house or condo you’re selling so that it appeals to these majority of buyers who want “sunny, open, and uncluttered” interiors and un-scary houses or homes?  Here are a few quick tips:

  1. First, understand that you are moving from “your home” to a house or townhouse you’re selling – it is an item for sale and the main goal is to maximize what it will sell for. This is an attitude shift but is critical for getting you the best deal for your Silicon Valley property.
  2. De-clutter: Anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 of your belongings will probably need to go, whether to storage, to charity, to a garage sale, to a recycling plant or, all else failing, to the garbage.  A storage pod is a great help – they can take your stuff away and usually deliver it to your new place, if you are not moving too far away.  Most Americans have too much stuff in their homes. It’s fine to live that way but not so good to sell that way. (“The way you live in your home is not the way you sell it.”) Most of the “stuff” will come out of closets, hutches and cabinets but sometimes even walls need to be decluttered too. (Very smart to hire your Realtor BEFORE you do this so that you don’t get rid of the items you need the most and can get good advice on this action.) This is one of the most important things that a seller can do to create a welcoming environment.
  3. Light, light and more light!  It’s so important to do everything you can to let the sunshine in from windows (pull curtains back, trim outside landscaping), have extra good interior lighting (add it if need be) and make sure that no room, hallway or area is dark.  Dark homes will truly cost you money!  Whether you need to increase the wattage of your light bulb or add a sun tunnel or two, look at every area of your house or home critically to see if it’s sunny and bright. If not, fix it! This is crucial to creating a welcoming environment!
  4. Clean and scrub til it’s all shiny, including places where you never really look, like the sliding glass door or window tracks. Dirty homes cause buyers to worry about what is neglected, and worried buyers pay far less for homes.
  5. Fix whatever doesn’t work well or is broken. Noisy fan – but it works? It’s usually inexpensive to replace it, so do! Loud fans and small things amiss tell buyers that you are deferring repairs, and they will wonder what else you’re not fixing that they’ll get stuck with, or worse, surprised with! That worry translates into lower offer prices.
  6. Do pre-sale inspections. Confident, happy buyers write stronger, higher priced offers and back out of the deal far less often! Their happiness is contagious – you will sell for more and be happy too!
  7. Offer and pay for a home warranty for the buyer. The buyers will feel better about paying top dollar when some fear is removed about expenses the first year after closing.
  8. Don’t be there during showings. Buyers think it’s creepy if you’re there (sorry, but true) – they cannot talk freely and feel rushed to quit imposing and get out of your house. Plan to be gone!

Sundial stepping stone - small, personal elements can help to create a welcoming environment in a home or yard.If you hire a great Realtor to help you with pricing, marketing and negotiating your San Jose or Santa Clara County home for sale, you will have good help in making your property appeal to the largest pool of buyers and thus sell for more. Agents are not all alike, so hire carefully!

We’d love to be your first choice, so please reach out to me – email is our preferred first point of contact, please –



Related reading for Silicon Valley home sellers

Lighten up your dark home and sell for more! (on this site)

Seller rent back after close of escrow: what do you need to know? (this site)

Selling your home in Silicon Valley – 9 FAQs (on our


  • Mary Pope-Handy

    Silicon Valley Realtor, selling homes in Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose, Silicon Valley, and nearby since 1993. Prolific blogger with a network of sites.

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