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Maximizing interior appeal

1. Kitchen & bathrooms
Of all the rooms inside your home, pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. They should look as modern, bright, and fresh as possible. It is essential for them to be clean and odor free. A fresh coat of paint just may do the trick. Also, don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink and have any leaky faucets taken care of.

2. Make room
Clear out as much furniture as you can. Put it in storage, give it to Goodwill, or have a garage sale. You want to open up the house so that it looks spacious and people can picture their own stuff in it.

3. Use counter intelligence
Go through the house and clear off all the horizontal surfaces like kitchen and bathroom countertops. Old magazines? Toss 'em. Knick-knacks? Pack 'em. Counters need to be clear and clean.

4. Follow your nose
A home should smell good. That means no noticeable odor -- no pet scent, no stale cooking smells, and no cigarette smoke. Many people who smoke or have pets become so accustomed to the smell, they don't notice it. So, have a friend whose judgment -- and nose -- you trust give your home the real sniff test. If you just go through with Lysol before a showing, that won't help. Instead, get rid of scent problems at the source: scrub the house, have the air vents cleaned, replace smelly carpeting and start smoking outside.

5. Little work for buyers
Remember, the next buyer is as lazy as you are. If the property needs repairs or updates, do it before listing the house so that all buyers have to picture is moving day.

6. Let there be light
People buy space and light, for the most part. Open the blinds. Turn on all the lights. Add lights in rooms that are dark. Replace all burned out light bulbs

7. Learn to love white walls
When it comes to walls, color is popular. The problem is that the next buyer might not like the same colors. Paint is a relatively inexpensive way to make a house look clean and fresh. And if you're going to repaint prior to selling, stick with neutrals. Despite the fact that it's more boring to live in, it's still an easier sale. And remember that white reflects the light best and makes rooms look their largest.

8. Take a close look at the carpet
Get the carpet shampooed to get out any stains or smells. If that doesn't work, replace it. Get rid of carpet that looks dirty, soiled or stained, and consider, if you can, wood or laminates as an alternative. It makes the house look bigger and people love seeing the fact that it has wood floors. Plus it's a lot easier to keep clean.

9. Avoid controversy
If you have a deer head on the wall, you might want to take it down. It will be a turnoff to some buyers. Play it safe with the books and magazines they display while showing a home. Anything provocative could turn off buyers.

10. Clean your closets
Sellers need to empty the closets of half the things they have in them. Partially empty closets look roomy and space sells. Do the same thing with kitchen cabinets.

11. Set your house apart
A real estate study was recently conducted in which potential buyers were shown many different houses in similar neighborhoods, all with similar features and amenities. The one that stood out? A home that had yellow roses on the dining room table. People not only remembered the detail, but they rated the home higher as a result. Another way to stand out is to put on some nice soft music.

Maximizing exterior and curb appeal

When preparing to put your home up for sale, your first concern is the home's exterior. Before putting your house on the market, take as much time as necessary (and as little money as possible) to maximize its exterior appeal. If the outside or "curb appeal" looks good, people will more than likely want to see what's on the inside. Here are some tips to enhance your home’s exterior and curb appeal:

1. Always do the obvious
Keep the lawn mowed and the gutters clear. Trim the bushes, get rid of any dead branches, and fix anything that's hanging or broken. Keep outdoor lights on in the evening and in good working order to better show off your house 24-7.

2. Shine
Got a brass doorknob? Make it shine. If you have wrought iron, clean it or paint it. Wash the windows so that they gleam.

3. Apply pressure
If the exterior needs a fresh look, consider getting it pressure washed. This is also a great way to clean trim or walkways and give them a clean, white look.

4. Garages
Keep your garage door closed and store beaten up cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.

5. Get an edge
Want the look of a manicured yard? Put some fresh mulch or bedding material around the plants in the yard and use a hoe to make the edges of the bedding sharp.

6. Paint
Want to make the house look great without painting the whole thing? Just paint the trim and the front door. And since the porch frames the front door and is the first part of the house buyers will actually visit, make sure it looks freshly painted. But if it needs it, don't be stingy. Paint the whole house. The outlay will be well worth the money if you get a clean looking home that moves fast.

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