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Before you put your house on the market, set aside some time to spruce it up and maximize its sales appeal. Houses that are clean, uncluttered and in good repair sell faster.
A few weeks prior to listing your house, do an inspection tour, trying to look at things through the eyes of a stranger. Make a list of things that need to be cleaned and repaired and estimate the time, cost and priority of each chore. Take a particularly good look at your bathroom(s) and kitchen. Time and money invested in painting and refurbishing these key rooms will have maximum impact. Click this link to use a home inspection to your advantage.
Real estate agents who are interested in listing a home often provide recommendations for increasing its sales appeal. Pay attention to their suggestions. They know what matters to buyers and can be objective about your home's flaws.
To-do list for sellers
Prior to showing your house:
Get rid of clutter on shelves, countertops and closets. Consider packing seldom-used items you don't want to discard in boxes and storing them until you move.
Put excess furniture and items that are showing wear in storage until you move.
Rearrange the remaining furniture attractively. (Ask your agent or a friend to help you decide what goes where.)
Wash and/or paint walls that are dirty or chipped.
Wash blinds and clean curtains.
Fix leaky faucets and appliances that don't work.
Get rid of junk that's accumulated in your basement and garage. (You'll have to do this before you move anyway, so why not get a head start?)
Consider having a yard sale.
While your house is on the market:
Keep the house clean. Tidy up, vacuum and dust daily, if possible, and do laundry before it piles up.
Keep a list of things to do and places to go while prospective buyers are viewing your house.
Cut or buy fresh flowers every few days.
Bake cookies or a pie on weekend mornings when you expect a lot of traffic, and before open houses, to make your home more welcoming and cozy.
After your house is sold:
Make sure you keep everything clean and in good working order.
Do any repairs you've agreed to look after in the sales contract.
If you have small children and find it hard to keep the house tidy, think about hiring a cleaning service or a neighboring teen to help you. You can also ask your real estate agent about the possibility of intensively marketing your home for a short period of time, then holding an auction to reduce the period during which it will be on view.
If you have older kids, ask them to keep their rooms tidy and to take on chores like daily vacuuming and dusting.