Fix It Up! If there are any quick fixes, small repairs, dings in the paint, or loose fixtures that you've been "meaning to get around to for a while," now is the time to get to work. If you're planning on repainting any rooms, make sure you go with warm, neutral colors. Prospective buyers like to see a blank canvas on which they can envision their own decorating style. So do away with the chartreuse curtains or canary yellow accent wall in favor of muted beiges, off-whites, and subtle grays. Replace your furnace filter. And make sure that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors have fresh batteries and are in working order.
Clean It Out! The first step to cleaning is to de-clutter. Fewer belongings mean bigger spaces, which will draw in potential buyers. It's time to put away trophies, funky artwork, and personal photographs. Go through all of your closets, the attic, garage, and basement, and separate belongings into things that you wish to keep, store, toss, sell, and donate. If you haven't used something in a couple years, that's your cue to get rid of it. It might seem like a lot of work, but the hours spent up front will save you time and trouble later when you are packing up to move. Consider renting an off-site storage unit or stowing items of sentimental value at the house of a friend or family member. It's also a good idea to lock up valuables or keep them off-site since you don't know the people who will be looking at your home.
The second part of cleaning is to make every surface shine. Bathrooms and kitchens really need to sparkle. If you have dirty carpet, consider having it professionally cleaned. Mop the floors and dust the book cases. Make sure windows are clean inside and out. Remember that prospective buyers will have the run of your house, so if they wish to peer into cupboards and closets, they should be able to do so without seeing a pile of dirty laundry. Clean your oven, your refrigerator, and your baseboards, even if these aren't usually the highest priority on your list. And stay on top of the little things, like emptying waste baskets daily and ensuring that recycling makes it to the bin each evening.
Look Outside! The outside of your home makes a first impression on prospective buyers, so it should be warm and welcoming. Patch up any cracks in the driveway, clean out your gutters, and mow the lawn or shovel the walkways. Consider sprucing things up without being too showy – a seasonal wreath is tasteful and inviting.
Once you've gotten your home show-ready, it's time to talk to your real estate agent for any additional suggestions before you hit the market and the buyers start to book showings. Ask his or her advice for further tips on how to stage your home for a quick and easy sale.