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Preparing Your Home

Your home has just one chance to make a great impression with each potential buyer. The following "tricks of the trade" will help you keep track of what needs to be done. The whole idea is to present a clean, spacious clutter-free home — the kind of place you’d like to buy. Accomplish a little every day, and before long, your home will be ready to make the impression that can make the sale.

Your Home’s Curb Appeal

  • Mow lawn
  • Trim shrubs
  • Edge gardens and walkways
  • Weed and mulch
  • Sweep walkways and driveway, remove branches, litter or toys
  • Add color and fill in bare spots with plantings
  • Remove mildew or moss from walls or walks with bleach and water or other cleaner
  • Take stains off your driveway with cleanser or kitty litter
  • Stack woodpile neatly
  • Clean and repair patio and deck area
  • Remove any outdoor furniture that is not in good repair
  • Make sure pool or spa sparkles
  • Replace old storm doors
  • Check for flat-fitting roof shingles
  • Repair broken windows and shutters, replace torn screens, make sure frames and seams have solid caulking
  • Hose off exterior wood and trim, replace damaged bricks or wood
  • Touch up exterior paint, repair gutters and eaves
  • Clean and remove rust from any window air conditioning units
  • Paint or replace the front door and mailbox, and consider a seasonal door decoration
  • Shine brass hardware on front door, outside lighting fixtures, etc.
  • Make sure doorbell is in good working order

General Interior Tips

  • Add a fresh coat of interior paint in light, neutral colors
  • Shampoo carpeting, replace if necessary
  • Clean and wax hardwood floors, refinish if necessary
  • Clean and wash kitchen and bathroom floors
  • Wash all windows, vacuum blinds, wash window sills
  • Clean the fireplace
  • Clean out and organize closets, add extra space by packing clothes and items you won't need again until after you’ve moved
  • Remove extra furniture, worn rugs, and items you don’t use
  • Keep papers, toys, etc. picked up, especially on stairways
  • Repair problems such as loose door knobs, cracked molding, leaking taps and toilets, squeaky doors, closets or screen doors that are off their tracks
  • Add dishes of potpourri, or drop of vanilla or bath oil on light bulbs for scent
  • Secure jewelry, cash and other valuables

The Living Room

  • Make it cozy and inviting, discard chipped or worn furniture and frayed or worn rugs

The Dining Room

  • Polish any visible silver and crystal
  • Set the table for a formal dinner to help viewers imagine entertaining here

The Kitchen

  • Make sure appliances are spotless inside and out (try baking soda for cleaning Formica stains)
  • Make sure all appliances are in perfect working order
  • Clean often forgotten spots on top of refrigerator and under sink
  • Wax or sponge floor to brilliant shine, clean baseboards
  • Unclutter all counter space, remove countertop appliances
  • Organize items inside cabinets, pre-pack anything you won’t be using before you move

The Bathrooms

  • Remove all rust and mildew
  • Make sure tile, fixtures, shower doors, etc. are immaculate and shining
  • Make sure all fixtures are in good repair
  • Replace loose caulking or grout
  • Make sure lighting is bright, but soft

The Master Bedroom

  • Organize furnishings to create a spacious look with well-defined sitting, sleeping and dressing areas

The Garage

  • Sell, give away or throw out unnecessary items
  • Clean oily cement floor
  • Provide strong overhead light
  • Tidy storage or work areas

The Basement

  • Sell, give away or throw out unnecessary items
  • Organize and create more floor space by hanging tools and placing items on shelves
  • Change furnace filter
  • Make inspection access easy
  • Clean and paint concrete floor and walls
  • Provide strong overhead light

The Attic

  • Tidy up by discarding or pre-packing
  • Make sure energy-saving insulation is apparent
  • Make sure air vent is in working order
  • Provide strong overhead lighting

When It’s Time to Show

  • Make sure your property profile folder, utility bills, MLS profile, house location survey, etc. are available
  • Open all draperies and shades, turn on all lights
  • Pick up toys and other clutter, check to make sure beds are made and clothes are put away
  • Give the carpets a quick vacuuming
  • Add some strategically placed fresh flowers
  • Open bathroom windows for fresh air
  • Pop a tray of cookies or pan of cinnamon in the oven for aroma
  • Turn off the television and turn on the radio music at a low volume
  • Make a fire in the fireplace if appropriate
  • Take pets with you or arrange for a friend to keep them
  • Make sure pet areas are clean and odor-free
  • Make sure all trash is disposed of in neatly covered bins