So, you have finally made the decision to sell your home and want to get it ready to list for sale. A great first impression is key to selling your home. A little preparation can go a long way towards making a positive impression on potential buyers. It might even help sell your home quicker, and for more money!

Before you list your home, pretend that you are a buyer and view your home with “buyer's eyes”. (Don't forget to take notes!) Drive up to your house....this is the first thing that a buyer sees. Is your home welcoming and does it have curb appeal? Look at your front door....is it clean and freshly painted? Your entryway sets the stage...make sure that it is well lit, there is no clutter, and if there is a closet it should be spacious with only a few items in it. Now, stand outside of each room and scrutinize how each room looks. Does each room flow correctly, is there just enough furniture, and are the rooms neat and tidy? Do they need to be painted? Is there enough light? Buyers love bright and sunny homes, so open the blinds and curtains during the day or turn all the lights on for rainy days and evening showings.

Here are some helpful hints to get your home ready to sell:

For the exterior of your home:

  1. Keep your lawn mowed and remove yard clutter.

  2. Weed and mulch flower beds.

  3. Trim bushes.

  4. Make sure front door is clean. Paint the door if needed.

  5. Plant some flowers or place potted flowers near the front door. Keep them neat, remove dead flowers, and change them when they are wilted.

  6. Clean windows inside and out.

  7. Make sure your house numbers are easy to see and visible from the street.

  8. Make sure all gutters and downspouts are attached and not clogged.

  9. Have a clean welcome mat by the front door.

  10. Ensure that the door handle is firmly attached.

  11. Use WD-40 on the door if it is squeaky.

  12. Paint faded window trim.

  13. Power wash sidewalks, exterior, etc. if needed.

  14. Paint the exterior if needed, including the trim.

  15. Paint fence if needed.

Now for the interior of your home:

  1. De-Clutter!!!! Since you are going to move anyhow, now is the time to get rid of things that you don't use or need any longer. Pack up books, knick knacks, and memorabilia. If you haven't used something in the past year, pack it up, give it away, throw it out, or sell it. Kitchen counters need to look spacious, so remove unnecessary items. No magnets, pictures, recipes, etc. attached to the refrigerator.

  2. De-personalize. Buyers want to be able to picture living in the house and find it difficult if not impossible to do so when family photographs and personal items are displayed. Pack up your family photos and heirlooms and give the buyers a chance to imagine living in the house.

  3. Disassociate yourself from the house. Now that you have made your decision to sell, say to yourself that it is no longer your house; rather it is a business transaction you are entering. Take the emotions out of selling the house. Don't look backwards.....look forward to your new home!

  4. Clean, clean & clean some more!!!! And keep it clean!!! A clean home speaks volumes to a buyer!!!

    a. Vacuum daily and mop floor at least once a week

         b. Dust furniture, ceiling fans, and light fixtures.

         c. Get rid of bad smells. Buyers do not like smelly homes! If you have pets,

            clean up after them right away. If you have a litter box,empty it at least

            once a day. Do not cook fish or other “smelly” foods before showings since

            the smell lingers long after the meal is eaten. If you can, bake something

            such as cookies or brownies before a showing.

         d. Bleach dingy grout.

         e. Hang fresh, matching towels.

         f. Clean window treatments and make sure that they hang level.

         g. Get rid of cobwebs.

         h. Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.

         i. Polish faucets & mirrors.

         j. Clean the refrigerator inside and out.

         k. Clean and organize cabinets, & closets because buyers look in them!

             Get rid of the junk and keep cabinets & closets spacious and organized.

             Buyers love tons of storage space!

          l. Make your bathroom sparkle. Invest in a new shower curtain or, if you

             have shower doors, keep them clean! Keep all reading material out of

             sight. Scrub tiles, floors, shower, and tub. Keep counters and vanity clear

             of items.

         m. Beds should be made daily. Use a nice bedspread or comforter that

              matches the window treatments. Hang up all clothes and keep the closet

              neat and organized. In kids rooms, put toys away.

      5. If you have a basement, invest in a dehumidifier and keep it running. Keep it tidy..

          and get rid of items that you do not want to take with you to your next home.

     6. If you notice any mold, contact a professional! Buyers will not buy a home with

         mold.

      7. The interior paint should be fresh and neutral in color. No orange, lime green, or

           purple paint or similar. Ask a professional if you are unsure of the color.

Other tips:

Rent a storage unit. Most homes show best with less furniture. Remove furniture that block walkways and windows. Your goal is to have just enough furniture to showcase the room's purpose.

Remove/Replace Favorite Items. If you just can't part with your favorite chandelier or faucet, remove and replace it now! If the buyer never sees it, they won't want it! It is amazing how many deals go awry because of an item the buyer wants that the seller can't part with.

Make Minor Repairs. Fix leaky faucets, WD 40 squeaky doors, replace non-working light bulbs, fix that shaking handrail, make sure the doorbell works, replace that broken window, fix doors that don't close correctly, etc.

On the day of a showing, please remember that buyers are more comfortable when the owner of the home is not hovering over them. If the realtor has to walk through the home whispering and the seller is within ear shot of hearing comments, it is uncomfortable for everyone and the buyer will not feel free to ask questions and comment while in the home. Buyers tend to rush quickly through a house when the seller is present. With that in mind, go outside when the realtor and buyer are inside, and inside when they are out. Even better, leave the property until the realtor and buyers are gone. Also, barking dogs, smelly litter boxes, and exotic pets are a huge turn off. If possible, send your pets to a neighbor or family member.

Motivated sellers must understand that listing a home for sale is going to lead to some inconveniences in their normal routine. Sellers must be flexible when allowing the home to be shown as this can have a direct impact on the sale of the home. Buyers won't buy a home unless they can see the entire inside and outside of the home.

And don't forget........Keep your home “Show Ready” every day!