Educate yourself. Begin by calling a member of our team to help you understand the current real estate market in your area, and what kind of timeline you would be looking at for a sale. Remember to ask your realtor questions about long and short-term capitol gains taxes, area appreciation, and what the market is expected to do over the time you are selling your home. When deciding to sell your home, you want to make the most educated decision possible. Many don’t realize it, but this is the most crucial time to have a realtor on your side.

Begin to think of your home as “real estate,” or an “asset” that is being sold. While it’s important to enjoy your last months in your home, remembering that it is a commodity to be sold will help you achieve the greatest value from it.

Prepare your home for sale. Begin by asking our team for a pre-prepared checklist to keep this process simple and thorough.

Your Home’s Curb Appeal: Making the first impression

DRIVEWAY | First, the next time your drive up to your house, look at it as though it is the first time to see your home. What do you notice? Is your driveway cracked? Do you have a few over-grown bushes? Will it be easy for potential buyers to have a clear walkway to the front door? Does your siding need a good power-washing? Simple maintenance such as power washing, trimming the bushes and planting a few colorful annuals will make your home one that buyers will remember.

FRONT DOOR | Next, look at your front door. Does it need cleaned? Does the lock work easily? Does it look friendly and homey? Is there dirt and leaves in the corners of your front step, or covering your door mat? Scrub that door, sweep that stoop, hang a wreath and maybe even put a colorful potted plant to welcome the many people that will soon be visiting. Make them feel welcome and glad they came! More importantly, make them remember this beautiful home!

The Threshold: Their entry into a new chapter of their lives

HOME SCENT | People buy homes because of the feel they get when they enter. Often, this feeling is captured in the first few steps in your home. The very first thing a buyer will notice is the odor of your home. When you think about it, pretty much every home you’ve ever been in in your entire life has had its own “smell.” Yours is no different. Just believe us on this. Even if you think your home does not have an odor, it does. If you have pets, buy febreeze and use it often. This is crucial. Overcome odors with non-burning incense sticks in clean, unobtrusive scents, or dab a bit of vanilla on a warmed stove.

ENTRYWAY | Now, look around the entryway. What is the first thing you see? A table cluttered with mail? A dingy hallway? If necessary, solve these problems with a small table with a basket for mail and a lamp. Above all, be sure the entry way is clutter-free and pleasant.

LIGHTING | Lighting is one of your home’s most important features. Most likely your light fixtures could use a thorough cleaning. Remove globe lights and clean them with soap and water, and even dust the light bulbs. If you have a chandelier, be sure that it shines to its fullest potential! If you have any 60 watt bulbs, upgrade them to 100 watt. The extra light will be worth the trouble when you see how bring light can open up your home. Cleaning or replacing dirty light fixtures, and placing plenty of lamps around for warm light will often give your home a glow even you didn’t know was possible.

BASEBOARDS | Check your baseboards. Are they dirty? Is dust collecting in the corners? While a potential buyer will not remember that your baseboards were dusty they will remember an overall feeling of dinginess and dirtiness. This goes the same for stairs, which are often near the front of the home.

The Kitchen: The heart of their new home

Do you remember the last party or get together you hosted in your home? Most likely, your memories include people gathered in what many buyers consider the most important room in the house – the kitchen.

COUNTERTOPS | In such an important room of the house, there is little room for error. If you aren’t doing any cosmetic updating, start by removing all items from the countertops. This means appliances, like toaster ovens and coffee makers, as well as decorative items, like teapots, spice racks, and canisters. Now, put all items that you will not need on a daily basis into a box for your move. You will be shocked at what you don’t use that often. Put all items that you use on a semi-often basis in a box that can easily be stored and gotten into as necessary. If there is an appliance like a coffee maker or toaster that you use on a daily basis, consider storing it if at all possible, and if not, watch for spills around the coffee maker, and crumbs around the toaster. Any crumbs or spills at all on the counter will leave a bad impression with your buyer.

CLEAN | Next, clean, clean clean! If you hate to clean, this is the time to hire a professional. Sinks should be scrubbed and shiny, stove tops should be free of spills, stains, or crumbs, and back splashes should be free of any splashes. Polish your appliances – bleach white ones if necessary – and polish your floors. Remember to get under the table, and around any area rugs, where dust and crumbs stick. And just go ahead and get in the habit of emptying the trash when you leave your home, especially if its in an open area. It’s a habit that just might stick, and you’ll be glad it did!

THE PANTRY | And finally, hit the pantry. You want your pantry to look as if it came out of the pages of Martha Stewart or REAL SIMPLE. Begin by getting rid of all canned goods you don’t plan on using within the next week. Everyone has extra cans of soup or vegetables that have probably been in their pantry for years. Make a box and start your own mini-food drive. Remember when you went through your granola phase? Put it in the box. Rice cakes left over from a post-holiday diet? Into the box. When your box is good and full, and your pantry is good and empty, take a wet cloth and wipe down all of the shelves inside. Now, you’re almost there. A quick trip to an organization store can take you the rest of the way. Your new buyer will be so impressed.

The Living Areas: Where Americans truly live

In America, with high definition television and hundreds of channels to watch, many families truly live in their living rooms. With all this living being done, stuff tends to accumulate in there that we never intended to be there. Thus, the first rule of getting your living room read to sell is to edit!

HOW TO EDIT | Begin by paring down by about 1/2 of what is there right now. Now is the perfect opportunity to take old magazines and books to doctor’s offices, or the recycling center. Get rid of half-burned candles, scraggly plants, and meaningless nick knacks. Remember, you want your potential buyer to feel how much space there is! Oftentimes, it is not until we try to sell our home, that we realize all that we are missing. Inexpensive drapery panels may finish your room and make it what you always dreamed it could be. A fresh rug, colorful throw pillows, or a fuzzy throw may bring life into a space and really make it memorable. Remember, your buyer wants to be able to imagine how stylish their new home will be.

The Bathrooms: A spa-like atmosphere

American bathrooms have the potential to sell a home. People in America are currently having a love affair with bathrooms, and it is truly easy to make yours memorable.

REPLACE | Consider replacing dated fixtures, or even hanging a chandelier. Oh, the wonders a little bit of crystal can do for a tired bathroom. Consider arranging a spa-like atmosphere with a few rolled towels, unused soaps and candles. Replace your shower curtain liner, if yours has mold, and pare down your shampoo collection as much as possible. Consider buying a few inexpensive towels for the towel rack, to be your “staging” towels. Trust us, no one wants to see your frayed, tattered towels! Remove your robe, toothbrush, perfume collection, and hair dryer. Keep your counters as clean and clutter-free, with no more than three items on any space.

SHOWING TIP | If you are a person who rushes to get out the door before a showing, consider placing a bin in your bathroom with all of your essentials in it (hair dryer, brushes, makeup), that you can easily stow under the bed before you leave the house. And don’t forget to keep it clean! Wipe up any toothpaste, or mouthwash spills, and be sure to clean diligently around the toilet, shower, and faucets.

The Bedrooms: A place to relax and unwind

For many, our bedroom is the one place we are allowed to relax and be ourselves. In many busy households, this is where laundry accumulates, books pile up, and things get downright dusty. Like the bathroom, a well-done master bedroom has the ability to sell a house.

BEDS | Start by keeping your bed made, and pillows fluffy. If this means investing in a few new ones, you’ll be glad you did when you see the difference it can make in a bedroom. If you aren’t sure how to make your bed properly, take your cues from beds in catalogs – which always look appealing with their plump pillows, and smooth surfaces. If your comforter is looking dingy and tired, you can try washing it, or even buying an inexpensive duvet cover. Just remember to iron it first!

CONTAINERS| If you read a lot in your bedroom, buy inexpensive baskets to keep your reading material in, and if you know that piling laundry is a problem for you, get a laundry basket that slips neatly under the bed, or in the closet. Whatever you do, just don’t leave that laundry lying around!

EDIT | And remember, because we often keep personal items in our bedrooms, this is another place you’ll want to remember to edit. If your room feels a little cramped, it is highly advisable to remove some of the furniture, and place it in storage during the time your home is on the market. You’ll be shocked at the difference it can make.

CLOSETS | A quick word on closets – keep them like your newly improved pantry – as pristine as possible! You are about to move anyway, so now is a great time to get rid of clothing that you don’t wear anymore. A good indicator of whether or not you should get rid of it is to ask yourself if you’ve worn it in the last year. If you haven’t, it’s probably a good idea to say goodbye. The same goes for worn out shoes, hand bags, and belts. You’ll be so glad to not have to find a place for them in your new home, and your current potential buyer will thank you for it – hopefully in an offer!

Home Offices: A stress-free zone

With so many people working from home these days, a home office exists in one form or another in most homes. Everyone usually has a place where they at least pay bills, or send email. Keeping this area of your home will likely be one the biggest challenges, because it is a place where paperwork can easily eat you alive. If the room stresses you out – imagine what it is doing to your potential buyer.

MAIL | Take control of junk mail by having a designated place to deal with it, and follow the FAT system. FILE it, ACT on it, or TRASH it. And do it diligently every single day, and during this time, don’t allow the filing to pile up. Just do a little every day, and you’ll be surprised how this cuts down on the paper in your home.

WIRES | The next challenge in offices are the millions of wires that most people tend to have running from one end to the other in the room, connecting everything. Buy a power strip, bundle cords, and secure them in hidden areas, such as under desks, or behind furniture.

BOOKS | Cluttered bookshelves? Still have some of your college textbooks? Truly examine which books you really need to keep, and which ones would be better served being read by someone who can use the information. Consider donating children’s books to a children’s shelter, and business books to a halfway house. Imagine how one of the books you donate could change a life. Doing this periodically will keep your shelves clutter-free, and will keep you and your potential buyer breathing easy in this room.

Outdoor Space: That bonus living area

Outdoor spaces became huge in 2007. What used to be considered outside, is now being considered extra square footage that is just as important as what is inside the home.

FURNITURE | If you need it, new patio furniture works wonders, and can be inexpensive at discount retailers, or at end of the season sales. Arrange quaint conversation areas, where potential buyers can imagine their first backyard barbeque. An indoor-outdoor rug, and a few throw pillows can really make the space seem homey.

WASH | Patios can be refreshed with a little simple power-washing. Hiring someone to help with this chore (especially if you have several areas to do) may be a great option, or rent a power washer from an area hardware store for the afternoon.

GREENERY | If your lawn needs help, re-seed as soon as possible, or bring in sod. Flower beds should be kept weedless, and clean. When someone knows they will need to do a lot of extra yard work when the move in, it makes the move in process seem that much more weary. Instead, surprise them with how much they won’t have to do! We promise, they’ll thank you, and it might just be in the cash you were hoping for.

Pets: Your four-legged family members

Last but not least, a word on pets. We love them, you love them, but the person showing your home does not and neither does the potential home buyer.

PET SITTERS | First and foremost, you home should be pet-free during showings. Animals can run out the door during showings, and your potential buyer will spend the precious minutes they would have looking at your home, chasing your pet. Cats and dogs can also be distracting during showings, as some potential buyers like pets so much they will spend the entire appointment playing with your pet, instead of looking at your home. If at all possible, consider boarding your animals during the day if you aren’t able to take them out for the showing, or arrange a pet-sitting with a family or friend. Oftentimes, a friend with a pet of their own won’t mind yours being at their home for a few hours each day. Bottom line – pets should not be a part of any home showing.

CLEAN | Also keep in mind that pets also pose a certain cleanliness issue that should be dealt with aggressively. Dog droppings should be picked up quickly (you don’t want someone’s memory of your home to be of them stepping in your dogs droppings!) and cat litter should be changed daily, to keep odor down. Bird cages should be changed daily, and pet feed should be kept out sight for your potential home buyer. Use febreeze often, and your home will continue to smell fresh and clean, even with your furry friends.