So you’ve decided it’s time to list your home for sale. Before that “For Sale” sign goes up in the front yard, you need to prepare your home for buyers.

The first thing I recommend to my new sellers is to take a tour through the home as if you were potential buyers. It might be hard at first, but you must take your emotions out of the process to really see what your prospective buyers will see.

Curb Appeal

The first things you’ll notice by taking a test drive, is the curb appeal. Using a critical eye, notice the way the home appears from the street. Are the plants fresh and trimmed? Is there chipping paint or missing roof tiles? Does the home seem welcoming or a project?

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As you walk up to the front door, it should be easy to access and well lit. Trim away heavy vines or trees that block the view from the street

Entry Way

Once inside the home, the first impression is critical. The home should be cleared of clutter and excess furniture. Help inspire warm feelings by presenting a home that is clean and neat.

House Tour

Buyers look up and down and notice everything. Again, you need to notice cleaning needs in floors, walls, countertops, bathrooms, but there is so much more.

Buyers will open cupboards and closets. Are they neat and clean? An organized closet or drawer gives the impression of space. Demonstrate that there is plenty of storage room for all their needs. A cluttered closet seems smaller. We want to avoid that.

Give them a reason to linger in your home.

Clean the appliances inside and out. Place flowers and fruit bowls on counters. Open windows and curtains to let in the sunlight or showcase the view. Create the impression of a graceful lifestyle, and your buyers will feel it also.

Backyard

The backyard is where your home can really shine. Taking the same tips that we discussed for the front yard, make sure the garden is trimmed and fresh. Replace dying or out of season plants to present a bright, healthy appearance. Keep the hardscape clean and sweep up any falling leaves or flowers…you want the yard to appear low maintenance.

Repairs

One of the most asked questions from sellers getting ready to list is “what should I fix, repair, upgrade to get top dollar.” Of course the answer to this is “it depends.” Hiring a handyman for a few hours is a small price to pay to avoid the appearance of deferred maintenance: tighten loose cabinets, oil squeaky doors, check for leaks and drips under sinks.

Upgrades

Once the simple household repairs have been addressed, then you can talk with your agent about any possible upgrades. In general, you will get the largest return for your investment with new carpet and fresh paint. There are relatively inexpensive options for each and it will offer potential buyers a blank canvass.

Staging

Staging is often misunderstood. A professional stager will depersonalize your home. I know that it can be hard to part with the family portrait over the fireplace, but a buyer wants to imagine their family in that spot, make it easy for them.

Staging can be as simple as an hour consultation or as detailed as a complete house full of furniture (most commonly used for vacant homes).

Once you’ve decided to sell your home, the first step is preparing the home for sale. Working with your real estate agent, take a good hard look at the house. Take steps to highlight the many wonderful, unique aspects of your home while removing the negative. By correcting and enhancing the property before listing, you will be in the best position to sell quickly and for the highest possible price.