When most clients start thinking about selling their home, and relocating to another home, their first question is “What should we do to make our home more appealing to Buyers?” The one thing you must always keep in mind is although this home has been your domain, your sanctuary for whatever time you have owned it, you must now start to imagine that you are inviting Buyers to start thinking of it as their own. Keep this in mind when reviewing the information below. I try to have an all inclusive list. It may not always be feasible or practical to complete all items, but this will give you a general idea on steps to take for a successful sale of your home.

First impression – 8 seconds. That is what it takes for a Buyer to form their first opinion of your home. Clean sidewalks, trim shrubbery, pull weeds, remove excess outdoor decorations such as flower pots, ornamental accessories, etc. Minimalize. A neat clean approach is best. One or two nice potted plants is enough in many cases. Give door a fresh coat of paint, and make sure door hardware is clean and neat. Also, make sure the lock is smooth, and is not a struggle to operate. Clean or replace light fixtures. A door mat is always helpful.

Entry – Once again keep first impression in mind. Neat clean and free of clutter. If possible, have some kind of rug by your front door for those entering your home to wipe their feet. Nothing is more uncomfortable than walking into a home with wet feet and no way to keep from tracking the floors. If you wish for visitors to remove shoes, it is nice if you can offer an option of shoe covers, in case prospective Buyers are uncomfortable removing shoes. Also, if possible, provide a bench to sit on while removing or covering shoes. Otherwise minimal furniture and accessories will make your entry feel more open and inviting.

Family photos – Once again minimalize. We are all proud of our family and enjoy our photos. However, remember your goal which is to invite Buyers to imagine this home as their own. They would not have your family photos in their homes, so the less you can have the easier it is for them to imagine this as their home.

Artwork – A few nice pieces show much better than numerous pieces. Since you are considering moving anyway, this is a good time to start packing. While artwork is your personal expression to making this YOUR home, this is not what you want to convey to prospective Buyers. Blank walls, or minimal pieces will help a Buyer to imagine their own pieces in the home.

Paint – Once photos and artwork are removed, there may be numerous holes in the walls. Fill holes and freshly paint. This in itself will go a long way. While on this subject think about the colors you have used. While they may look lovely to you, Buyers have very personalized taste. Neutral paint colors are always better, so Buyers are not distracted with green walls when their least favorite color may be green.

Kitchens – One of the most important rooms in the home. Every homebuyer wants to know what the kitchen is like. Remove ALL unnecessary items from your counters. Once again, start packing. If you are listing your home in March, and you know you won’t be using a turkey roaster until Thanksgiving, go ahead and pack it away. If you rarely eat toast, put the toaster away in cabinet (maybe the one where your turkey roaster was stored, LOL). While there are items you use on a daily basis, do your best to store/pack/remove all other items. Empty or nearly empty counter tops make a kitchen look roomier. Show off the available counter space.

Bathrooms – Buyers like storage. When they walk in a bathroom and the counters are covered with bottles, etc, this screams a lack of storage. Here again, minimalize. Try to pack away rarely used items and only keep what you use on a daily basis. Try to store bottles under the sink, in cabinets, closets, etc. A neat pretty shower curtain is inexpensive and will make a bath look fresh. A clean, fresh smelling bath will go a long way. While I discourage strong scents, candles, etc a soft scent in the bathroom is always nice.

Candles, scents – Unless you are trying to hide something, don’t use candles or strong scents. 2 reasons. 1. A Buyer’s first thought is “What are they hiding?” and 2. An agent is always uncomfortable (for safety reasons) when leaving, “Do I blow out candles, or leave them burning?”

Lighting – Natural and artificial. Nothing is less appealing than walking into a house with all of the blinds and curtains drawn, and no natural light coming into the home. Buyers like light, open, airy homes. Dark homes are dreary and depressing.  If possible, open all blinds, draperies, etc. Also, if you are home prior to showings, turn on all lights. Agents are accustomed to turning lights on/off in every home. However, remember first impressions. If I can, I like to get to a home before Buyers arrive, to turn on lights. However, this is not often possible. If Buyers are looking at several homes in succession, they will be riding with their Agent, or following them, and they will arrive at the property together.

Windows – clean, sparkling windows will go a long way. If windows are foggy from broken seals, it will be discovered with a Home Inspection. However, the last thing you want is to have foggy, dull windows and have Buyers suspect them of being faulty while they are actually just dirty.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.