Your goal: Make 20 to 40 percent of your stuff disappear. Store, sell, or donate furnishings and belongings to create an impression of ample breathing space in each room—including the basement and the garage—plus the closets and bookshelves.
Don't Overdo It
On the other hand, try not to leave your home looking naked and afraid. Keep pretty rugs and well-maintained furniture in place (you make want to rearrange it to better fit your newly decluttered spaces) and keep your best art up on the walls.
Go Beyond Basic White
Even though very strong colors are ill-advised, most real estate pros agree: a bit of tonal variety adds a layer of warmth to a home. Creamy whites, light grays, and taupes feel welcoming, and are ideal for highlighting woodwork and built-ins painted in bright white.
Do a Deep Clean
Yes, it’s a pain, but the effort can pay off big time: make sure your home is spotless before showing it. Pay special attention to the bathroom and kitchen: no moldy grout or spotty chrome faucets, please!
Remember Outdoor Spaces
Your outdoor space will need TLC too. Make sure to mow the lawn, of course—but also weed the garden beds, prune trees and shrubs (especially near windows, to allow maximum natural light into the interiors), and sweep the deck, walkways, and driveway.
Related: 9 Mowing Mistakes Everyone Makes
Make a Good First Impression
Load your home’s front facade with so much curb appeal that it will be impossible for house-hunters to simply drive on by. Place flowering containers by the front door, invest in a new porch light, hang some hip new house numbers, and repaint the mailbox.
Send the Pets on Vacation
If you have a cat, it’s time to send it off to Grandma’s house—along with its litterbox, its bed, and all its toys. The same goes for dogs. Clear them out at least a few hours before every showing and open all the windows to let any lingering odors clear. You don’t want to miss out on a sale because of somebody’s allergies.
Style Your Space
A basket of plush towels and a fresh shower curtain and bathmat in the bathroom, a cozy throw tossed over the master bed, a bowl of fresh citrus on the kitchen counter and a few flowering branches or daisy bouquets here and there. These small touches can help make a room look its best. Seek out pretty interior photos online to pick up stylist tricks.
As tempted as you might be to loiter in your home and overhear what visitors are saying, don’t do it (unless, of course, you’re selling your home yourself). Head for the local coffee shop, go visit friends, take the dog for a long walk. Give potential buyers the space they need to really check the place out. You’ll be glad you did—and so will your real estate agent.
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