Following these three tips will set your home apart from the rest — and get it sold before the summer ends

As any Realtor will tell you, summer is the best time to get your home sold. Of course, that doesn’t leave us with much time! People are traveling to Hawaii and falling in love with the Islands, and some will be looking for a home here. Hawaii residents are also viewing the current low interest rates as a chance to upgrade or move to a new neighborhood.

If your home is languishing on the market, here are some tips to set it apart from the competition and get it sold … fast!

Tip No. 1: Do a drive-by of your house. Look at your home with a fresh set of eyes, just as a potential buyer would. What would they see? Does the driveway need cleaning? Does the trim around the door need a fresh coat of paint? Does the window screen need to be changed? Could the front yard use a couple of plants?


So, drive by your house, then walk up to the front door. This is especially important in Hawaii because a lot of us don’t usually walk into our front door — we use the side door or the garage door. It’s important to actually walk the path that the potential homebuyer is going to walk.

First impressions are key. Even if they’ve already looked at pictures of your house online, many potential homebuyers won’t even come into your open house if they’re not sold on your curb appeal.

Then take your fresh set of eyes and walk through the rest of the house.

Tip No. 2: Set your home apart. This tip is mainly geared to people living in condos or planned communities, where all the homes or units look the same. Chances are that whoever is looking at your home is also looking at homes in the same complex or community — all with the same or similar layout and finishes. What’s going to make your home stand out?

An easy tip is to look at the bathroom. All the bathrooms will use the same materials. Set yours apart by prying that mirror off the wall and finding an affordable mirror at a discount or home store. Make sure it has an interesting, unique frame that can serve as an accent.


Another simple thing you can do is change out the hardware. If your bathroom came with plain chrome knobs, why not replace them with satin nickel or oil-rubbed bronze, something to make the cabinets pop?

The same approach can go for any room. In the kitchen, it’s not that hard to change out the faucet or put in a hot-water dispenser. In the living room or bedrooms, you can change out the lights or ceiling fans for choices with more style.

You’ll be amazed at how a few simple updates can set your home apart from your neighbors’ homes — and isn’t that the point?

Tip No. 3: Less is always more. It goes without saying that your house has to be clean and tidy. But when it comes to putting a home on the market, you’re almost always going to need to edit some things out. And I’m not just talking tchotchkes and those framed photos of every member of your family from the last three generations!

Whether your rooms are large or small, they should be spaces a homebuyer wants. Let the space shine through by getting rid of one or two bigger furniture pieces that aren’t really adding to it. You could keep a sofa, accent chair and coffee table, but you don’t need two sofas, two accent tables, a coffee table and the elliptical trainer collecting dust in the corner. That can go into the garage!


Next week, I’ll give you the two most important tips that I live by to help get your home sold.

Cathy Lee is president and designer of Cathy Lee Style and Cathy’s Marketplace, a furniture and accessories showroom with design services at 1110 University Ave. in Moiliili. Lee’s interior design work has been featured in local and national publications, on HGTV and in her DIY design workshops that teach homeowners the basics of style. To find out more, go to

Advanced tip: If you have the time and the budget, think about adding curbside appeal with a remodel. By enclosing the garage of this home in Diamond Head, the author added huge curbside appeal, not to mention tremendous value.