Prep Your House and Help It Sell

garann/flickrIf you're getting ready to sell your house, you know it may not be easy. Even though the real estate market is recovering from last decade's crash, there is still a lot of competition out there, in the form of good-looking, competitively priced homes. As a hopeful seller, you'll find it helps to carefully prepare your property before you offer it for sale. This process doesn't have to involve major spending, just a little savvy. Here's how.

Clean for Added Curb Appeal

Start by giving your home a thorough cleaning. Tackle spots you might normally overlook, from overhead light fixtures to the insides of cabinet doors to the cobwebs in the corners of your front porch. Remember, cleaning to prepare your home for sale is different from straightening the house up for company -- unlike your guests, potential buyers may well look into every nook and cranny. Make sure they'll approve of what they see.

Once you've done a major housekeeping overhaul, keep your home at that level of clean all the time. Scrub and shine regularly. Try tricks like swapping your shoes for slippers as soon as you get in the door, so your flooring will stay clean. This may sound a little extreme but the bottom line is that your home will be ready for viewing at a moment's notice.

If you don’t have the time or inclination for this type of intensive tidying, consider hiring a house cleaning services near you until you accomplish your goal -- successfully selling your home.

Depersonalize to Set a Blank Stage

House hunters turn into homebuyers more readily when they see your property as a blank stage, so that they can imagine it filled with their belongings and decorated to their taste. Here's how to help the process along.

Start by decluttering. There's nothing more personal -- in a bad way -- than a tangle of toys, clothes, papers, and so on, all over the house. So get rid of it. You know the drill: sort, give away or trash, store. You've probably even tried it few times in the past, but now you've got major motivation.

Another essential way to depersonalize your digs is by modifying your decor. Out with the anime posters and souvenir ashtrays. In with muted art prints and potted plants.

And while you're at it, consider repainting. A high quality interior paint job is well known as a quick, affordable home upgrade. It not only freshens, it can cover up buyer turnoffs. Stenciling your children's names on their walls may have seemed like a wonderful idea at the time but folks who don't know and love your little Aidan and Emma will just see it as visual clutter. Be sure to choose an attractive but neutral paint color.

Spend Money to Make Money

When you're putting your home on the market, you may want to spend the minimum on the property, especially if you are hoping to upsize to a larger (and more expensive!) residence. However, a small investment is likely to pay off in the long run, in terms of a faster sale and a better price.

Nothing says "Buyer beware" more than leaking faucets or flickering lights. Lay out the cash to have a plumber or electrician take care of basic repairs inside your house.

Outdoors put the appeal in your curb appeal by looking at your front yard. If it is bare and unwelcoming -- or an overgrown jungle -- drop a few bucks to have some gardening or lawn care done. A very affordable fast fix is buying several large container plants to set out on either side of your front walk.

Have a real estate professional photograph your home. With so many people searching for homes online these days, great pictures will go a long way to showcase your house and make it stand out from the crowd.

Laura Firszt writes for

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