Take a fresh look at your house. It looks great to you, but you have to look through the eyes of potential buyers. They need to be able to picture themselves in your house. Take a good, hard look both inside and out. Be critical because your buyer will be. It is essential to have your house clean, organized and inviting. Curb Appeal A good first impression is essential. Your lawn and the front of your house are the first things people see when they arrive.
  • The lawn should be pristine, nicely mowed and edged. Weed the flower beds and trim shrubs. Colorful annuals will have an immediate impact and fresh mulch is always a good idea.
  • Give the front door a good scrub or fresh paint. Add a tasteful welcome mat.
  • Check to see if shutters or trim need a paint touch up. Fix damaged gutters, siding or shingles.
  • Clean all windows inside and out.
  • Eliminate clutter and keep lawn decorations to a minimum. Put away all the toys. Remove or update old light fixtures or lawn furniture.
  • Keep everything tidy. Sweep the sidewalks, porch and driveway. In the winter, make sure snow is shoveled and sprinkle ice melt as necessary.
Stepping Inside Once again, you have to make a great first impression. Everything must be sparkling clean, neat and appealing. There are many inexpensive ways to put a fresh face on your house and most of them only cost you some time. This is a ceiling-to-floor, roof-to-foundation clean-up project.
  • Declutter, then declutter again; rent a storage locker if necessary until your home sells. Potential buyers are seriously put off by clutter and we all have more than we need.
  • Remove personal items such as family photos and collectables.
  • Organize closets. The less you have in a closet, the bigger it looks.
  • Every space will be inspected by potential buyers. Straighten attic storage, the garage, and the basement.
  • Shampoo carpets and clean wood floors.
  • Polish the wood work around door frames and wooden cabinet doors.
  • A fresh coat of paint will give tired rooms a lift.
  • Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. Scrub sinks, mop floors and repair discolored caulking.
Small Details Count Potential buyers will see many properties so you want yours to make a lasting positive impression. Having all the little things fixed can make a big difference in the perceived value of the home.
  • Remember that they will look in the small places, like medicine cabinets and kitchen drawers, as well as in every closet. Look at every space with a critical eye.
  • Add a vase of fresh flowers or a plant near the entryway.
  • Be sure kitchen and bath towels are bright and clean.
  • Check all doors, knobs, drawers and windows to make sure nothing sticks or rattles.
  • Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures.
Stay Ready for Showings Get into the habit of keeping everything tidy all the time while your house is on the market. You want it to look like a model home -- clean, uncluttered and fresh.
  • Make beds and clean up daily. Pick up papers and dishes. Vacuum, dust and remember to remove kitchen trash before each showing.
  • Let the light in. It makes rooms seem more spacious and gives a positive feeling to your home. Open all the shades and window coverings during the day. At night, turn on as many lights as possible.
  • The nose knows, so be vigilant against unpleasant odors. Smoke, greasy cooking smells, pet odors and even strong room fresheners are unpleasant. Air out the house before a showing. If you can, put on a pot of coffee or boil some cinnamon in a little water on the stove. You want your home to smell sweet, but subtle.
  • Keep your thermostat at a comfortable level. You don’t want potential buyers to notice the temperature -- neither too hot nor too cool.
  • It’s best for pets to be elsewhere during a showing. Either take them with you or arrange for them to stay with a friend or family member. If this isn’t possible, they should be penned in the backyard or kennel. Try to keep indoor pets in a specific room and then put a sign on the door.
  • Stay vigilant. You need to make sure your home is available to been seen with very little notice. That means less than an hour or possibly even five minutes.
Remember that after location, the most important item to a buyer is a well-maintained home. Many flaws can be overlooked if the buyers know they can move in without a lot of trouble and expense.