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Getting your home ready for an open house can be a bit overwhelming when you are not sure where to start. Once the decision has been made to list your home, getting it in the right shape to sell is crucial.  Think about how many homes buyers will visit before they find ‘the one.’ Before opening your home to potential buyers, there are several steps you can take to make your home more inviting and make a really great first impression.

Start by taking inventory of all the items in your home. Buyers will not get a true feel for your home if they have to walk around clutter than can be easily cleared. Decide what items may be put into storage, donated, or even stay in a friend’s garage until moving day comes along. Homes that have less ‘stuff’ in them always show much better than homes that have not been decluttered. Personal photos, knickknacks, stacks of books or magazines – these are all things that should be removed while your home is on the market. While the big, comfortable recliner in the living room may be a favorite spot to sit, think about how much space would open up if it was moved. Even the garage should be organized and decluttered.

The more open space that your home has, the more a potential buyer can picture their family in your home along with whichever furniture or decor style they happen to like. Rearranging furniture will help make the rooms in your home appear larger and more attractive. If someone in your home is a huge sports fan and has tons of memorabilia, why not pack it up temporarily and see what the walls look like again? This will also be a good indicator of whether rooms could use a fresh new coat of paint as well.

A clean home is an inviting home. All closets and drawers should be cleaned out and organized. Potential buyers will be interested in how much closet space your home offers. A clean, organized closet is certainly more appealing to everyone. While every house has a junk drawer, going through these drawers and eliminating the mess also make packing much easier.  Every room in your home should be cleaned. If you have carpeting, be sure it looks fresh and clean. Local hardware stores offer tools to help get your carpet quickly into shape, or there are also services that will come to your home and do this. If you have hardwood, make sure that is gleaming and clean. Sweeping may have to be done more often, especially if you have pets in your home.

Bathrooms and kitchens should be scrubbed. Not even toothbrushes should be left out on the bathroom counter. Clear off the kitchen counters. Make sure the oven is clean (yes, buyers do open ovens!) There should be no towels hanging about. The refrigerator should be cleaned out and organized as well. Don’t forget to clean other appliances, like the dishwater and microwave. There should be no food stains, water stains, or anything else that may look messy. Clean the faucet fixtures in both kitchen and bathrooms. A new kitchen mat can make a world of difference if the current one is not in the best shape.  Baseboards, ceiling fans, any other surface that may not normally get a routine cleaning need to be thoroughly dusted and cleaned.

Don’t forget about the outside of your home. Your home should be appealing as soon as buyers drive up, so be sure to give it a good power washing. Make sure all windows and screens are cleaned as well. If you home has gutters, be sure they are cleaned out and in good shape. The front door should also make a great first impression. Check and see if the door could use painting. Consider the lighting fixtures as well, whether they need to be cleaned or even replaced. A brass door knocker can appear dated. Clean the walkway and get a nice new welcome mat. Some hanging plants, a bench, even a nice potted plant are simple ways to make your front entrance more welcoming. If there are numbers on your home or mailbox, be sure they can clearly be seen by buyers and are updated if they have seen better days. Ensure that the yard is in good shape. Grass needs to be mowed, flowerbeds should be mulched, toys should be picked up. If the back porch is a favorite place to spend time in your home be sure it looks inviting. Patio furniture should be washed down.

It is hard sometimes to let go of the emotional attachments to our homes. Instead, focus on the joy that your home will bring the next family. Once your home has been cleaned, organized, and decluttered, it is easy to see why so many potential buyers will happily view it. Now all you have to do is wait for an offer! For more tips and information, your local Realtor is ready to help.