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How to create a ready-to-sell home

Begin with a deep clean. Outdated light fixtures are forgivable, but a dirt ring where the carpet meets the baseboard isn't.

First impressions matter when selling a home, real

First impressions matter when selling a home, real estate experts say. Photo Credit: Dreamstime

In the spring, for-sale signs pop up with the daffodils. An early start to the home-selling season helps homeowners move faster and be ready once it's time to get their houses on the market. If you're thinking about selling your home, it's a good idea to get it into a show state before the for-sale sign is out front.

First impressions

Everyone has heard that you only have one chance to make a first impression, and it's true. Begin with a deep clean. Outdated light fixtures are forgivable, but a dirt ring where the carpet meets the baseboard isn't. It makes potential buyers wonder what else was missed. A deep clean includes steaming carpets, dusting walls, cleaning HVAC returns and vents, and polishing light fixtures.

Even refrigerators and ovens should be cleaned and look appealing. For one homeowner, while everything looked neat, one peek inside the oven killed any potential sale. It looked like a war had been waged there, and made a sight that couldn't be unseen. Avoid that mistake by cleaning everything, everywhere, thoroughly. Make windows and light fixtures sparkle, and touch up paint dings and smudges.

Really motivated to sell? Have the house painted inside in one neutral color. Fresh paint has a smell that registers as clean and fresh to buyers, and helps them envision living there.

Repairs

Give your home a head start by hiring an inspector before the sale. This enables you to find problems before a potential buyer does. Plus, having a list of corrections that were made in advance of the sale makes a positive impression that the house is in good shape. Look at areas of use, such as door handles. Ensure that all the doors, including garage doors, are oiled and are squeak-free.

More than superficial

Think home buyers won't look in drawers and under the sink? Think again. Go through cabinets and closets, and pare down. Throw out excess, and keep all closets, cabinets and drawers orderly. One rule of thumb is to remove 30 percent of everything you have to create more visual space. This means having closet rods that aren't packed full and bending in the middle.

Clear off countertops in the kitchen and bathroom, and make as much clear, open space as you can. If decorating isn't your strong suit, hire a home stager to help you work with what you've got before the real estate agent sends a photographer to put up photos that will either close or sink the deal.

Add style

Nothing can sell a house like curb appeal. It's like a pretty box with a satin bow: visually inviting. Polish up your home's look so that the sale isn't lost at the street. Find small ways to update, like fresh mulch in the front yard beds or a pot of welcoming flowers by the door. Create a welcoming entrance at the foyer, and before long you'll be putting "sold" sign out front.

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