The sign reads OPEN HOUSE, one of many houses that a prospective buyer will tour on any given weekend, not to mention the dozen they have already seen. As they turn the corner and see the open sign, something about this house seems different — it really stands out among all the other residences on the block.



One could only hope that the interior will look as good as the exterior and, upon entering, the potential buyers are pleasingly surprised. This house sparkles inside and out. It is the perfect house.



The perfect house could be found in the Lakewood/East Dallas/Lake Highlands area. There is no question that our community housing market has been hot for more than 20 years. Properties that once cost in the teens are now selling for over $200,000. When home buyers are making this kind of investment, they expect it to sparkle and be ready for move-in.. The seller is in competition with many other properties so, according to local interior decorators and landscape architects, a house must sparkle. Often times “sparkle” is easy and not too costly.



Dan Barnes, landscape architect and owner of Imagescapes, emphasizes the drive up appeal for potential buyers. “You want your house to invite people in,” says Barnes. “Keep the exterior in decent shape, constant mowing and leaf raking is a great show. If they think that the outside looks well maintained, then you have given them the impression that the inside will be well maintained.”



In addition, Barnes suggests, “trim the trees and shrubbery and add some color, just a few seasonal flowers in clean beds or pots really dresses up the exterior.” Barnes and the Imagescapes staff never hesitate to encourage their clients who are trying to sell their house to pay attention to details such as low hanging branches or bushes that block the walking paths. “Today, homes are your biggest investment and you want to protect that investment by putting your best foot forward.”



Study the exterior, notice if gutters need cleaning, as well as windows and siding. Renting a power washer could save time and money. Check and see if any exterior painting is needed, if wood or shutters need replacing, or if the roof needs repairs. Time spent now will save time before closing.



Local interior decorator, Barbara Floyd, owner of Barbara B. Floyd Interiors, advises her clients that the exterior needs updating just like the interior. For example, she would tell them to remove any burglar bars on the windows — this dates a house and give the impression that it is located in an unsafe neighborhood.



It is unanimous among decorators that the number one priority for the interior is to eliminate all the clutter from inside the house; this gives the impression that the rooms are larger. “Give the house a thorough cleaning,” says Lexon Cole, owner of Second Opinion Interiors. “Spiff up, straighten up and get rid of clutter. It will look more spacious if it is neat and tidy.”



Cole also suggests going through the house to do “maintenance-management … we tend to put off things like squeaky doors and leaks. This is the time to go from room to room touching up and taking care of normal wear and tear. Rooms with a lot of wear, like children’s rooms — go ahead and paint. And if the carpet is worn, replace it, especially if there is a pet at the residence. The house will smell fresh and clean and this will have a positive impact on the buyers.” 



Inspect your house, check all the faucets and replace broken or corroded ones. Clean the tile and grout, remove the finger prints from doors and appliances, and replace all air filters. Also, clean out the garage and closets  — you’re going to have to do it in preparation for moving anyway and better now when it will help you get the best price for your property. All in all, preparing the house for sale will be the most productive time you spend.



Now that the house is ready, it is time to let it shine. When a house is being shown, leave the drapes open and keep the lights on, day or night. Keep all walkways clear, and take the extra time to keep the house clean and ready to show at a moments notice.



Healthy house plants and/or fresh flowers are a nice touch. Some realtors have even been known to bake cookies in the oven to let the aroma waft through the rooms (it should go without saying not to let anyone smoke in the house while it is on the market).



The OPEN HOUSE sign is stationed in the front yard. What do prospective buyers see? Do they see a house that sparkles?