5 Tips for Getting Your House Ready for Sale

Deciding to put your house for sale is somewhat akin to self-induced torture. You can, however, take steps to eliminate much of the stress. Although selling your house probably still won't be much fun, by prepping your house ahead of time you can be fully prepared. Get your home ready to sell with these five easy tips.

1. Give your home an identity crisis.
Walk around your house and start looking for personal touches. You'll want to remove any personal items you find so potential buyers have no problem visualizing themselves living in your house. Start by taking down all the adorable photos of your kids. You can put them up again in your next house. Also, tackle the most personalized spot of the house, the refrigerator. Take everything off it. You don't want strangers looking at your children's report cards, your budget, your calendar or whatever else you have taped up there. Also, it really cleans up the kitchen to have a refrigerator free of papers and photos.

2. Break the clutter addiction.
You know where they are-your clutter stashes around your house. It's time to get rid of them once and for all. Not only will your house look less junky without the clutter, but you may also find a few things that you've been looking for. Take a large garbage bag (or two) and a box, and get to work. Throw away all that you can, and donate the rest. If you find anything in the clutter that you simply must keep, make yourself also find a place to put it. No more junk drawers or piles on the countertop or beside the bed. It is time to break the clutter addiction once and for all.

3. Make your home appealing.
When selling a home, curb appeal can't be underestimated. How many potential homebuyers drive around neighborhoods, see the outside of a home that they like, and then have their real estate agent schedule an appointment? If it appears that you're decorating with overgrown weeds and peeling paint, not too many people are going to drive by your house and want to take a closer look. Instead, get your house ready to sell by cleaning up the outside. Paint if needed, or at least touch up the paint on the shutters and trim. Add some potted plants to your front porch. Create a look so that your home shouts out, "Hey, come see what's inside!"

4. Take care of any stinky situations.
Your home may smell and you may not even realize it (especially if you have pets or if you smoke). Have a friend, especially one who can be painfully honest, sniff around your house and point out trouble spots. Clean the carpets or furniture if needed. Change the litter box every day. Then, start cooking. If you have potpourri or scented candles around the house, that can be a clue to potential homebuyers that you are trying to disguise smells. Instead, bake food that smells delicious-cookies, pies, cakes-and leave some out for sampling.

5. Start cleaning.
One of the most important things that you can do when selling a home is to thoroughly clean your house. Scrub the baseboards, moldings, and the blinds. Clean the carpets. Get your wood or tile floors to shine. Clean as if your mother-in-law were coming. Also, there is nothing wrong with getting a little help. Spending some money on a professional cleaning service can be well worth it. It will get the job done faster, and hopefully better, than if you did it by yourself.

A last and final tip: If you are considering selling your home, take an afternoon and go to a new home community. Walk through the model homes. Notice how spartan they are. Model homes are depersonalized, de-cluttered and very clean. Aim for that same look for your own home when you're looking to sell.

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