How to Sell Your Small House

Focus on the positive, including energy-efficiency and convenience, to catch buyers' attention.


Here's the good news: smaller homes are selling much faster in this market than the jumbling McMansions of 10 years ago. The bad news? Although buyers want a small home, selling one can be something of a challenge.

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Deep down, people still want large open living rooms, restaurant-style kitchens, and plenty of space—even though they know that those homes are going to be pricey with much higher monthly utility bills. Selling a small home is a unique affair. And I know, because I live in a small home myself. My little Arts and Crafts bungalow comes in at just under 1,200 square feet. But you know what? I have more than enough space here. And the same goes for you; you just have to show buyers what they're missing! Here are four ways to do just that.

1. Cut the Clutter

Small homes show clutter, end of story. And it only takes a little bit to make the house look like a mess. The messier it looks, the smaller it looks. So make sure you've packed away all non-essential possessions (rent a pod for storage space if necessary) and start downsizing your home. Clear your countertops (e.g. put the waffle maker and blender in a drawer). Remove half of your clothing from closets and organize them, so it appears as though there's ample storage. And of course, clean your house as much as possible and make it spotless. 

If any of your rooms are doing double duty, such as your home office furniture in the corner of the living room, pack up the computer. You don't want buyers to think there's not enough room to do everything they need to do in the home. You can also add a sense of spaciousness with glass-topped coffee tables, and tall, lush green plants. But, take care not to make it too spare. One of the biggest advantages to living in a smaller home (versus a sprawling mansion) is that they're cozy. So, focus on making the home look inviting and comfortable for families.

2. Use Light to Add Space

The more light your home has, the more spacious it's going to feel. Clean the windows inside and out to make sure you're letting in the maximum amount of light. If you have dark, heavy curtains, ditch them in favor of white airy curtains that let in the natural light. Additionally, use your lamps effectively. Your rooms need to look well lit, but not glaring. Use tall corner lamps that shine light upward; this helps create the illusion of more space.

3. Hype the Green

The biggest reason why people are looking for smaller houses right now is because they're more economical. Large homes cost a fortune to heat and cool. With gas prices rising, small homes will continue to be popular. Make sure you play up the economical aspect to buyers. Make a large sign, or create some snazzy brochures, that talk about the energy and money-saving aspects of your home. Let them know about your energy-efficient windows, how they'll save money on utility bills, any special green energy technologies you added (e.g. insulation or solar panels), or energy-efficient appliances. The more you can convince buyers it will be economical to live in your home, the more appealing it's going to be.

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4. Add Distance with Landscaping

If your small house has an equally small yard, then add the illusion of depth with smart landscaping. For instance, when planting borders, go with taller plants close to the house (like the back door or deck) and then plant progressively smaller plants the further you go back into the yard. This makes it look like the yard goes farther back than it actually does.

Final Thoughts

Although smaller homes are growing in popularity, they still take work to sell. Making your home look as spacious as possible is key to wooing potential buyers. So focus on decluttering first and then adding the illusion of space with effective lighting and accents. And, don't forget to hype the green aspects of your small house!

Heather Levin writes about saving money, home improvement, and money management on Money Crashers, which is on the list of top ranked personal finance blogs. Heather also blogs about green living on The Greenest Dollar.