1. Study Your Home - Pretend like you’re seeing each room for the first time. Don’t try to tackle the whole house in one fell swoop but go room-by-room starting at the front door. The goal is to make rooms resemble those in a hotel - clean, tidy and inviting.
2. Clear off counters and bookcases. Get rid of books you won’t be reread, particularly now that so many people read online. Add a few home decor items for sparkle. When in doubt, follow the “rule of three,” a mantra among home stagers, by clustering items into threes to create visual appeal. The final effect should reflect a neutral style.
3. Spruce up the kitchen. This is the home’s most popular gathering spot and another place where everything gets dumped—backpacks, car keys, cell phones, etc. The rule of three applies here, too. Clear off countertops, put unused appliances away. Clear out old items in pantries and cupboards to show storage space. Also, clean out the refrigerator and freezer.
4. Make bathrooms spotless. Not every seller has a spa bathroom to unwind in, but clean grout, tiles, shower door, and vanity can make a big difference in an average bathroom. Clear off counters, store unnecessary items in a medicine cabinet, add crisp white or other neutral towels & fresh soaps.
5. Declutter Living Areas and Bedrooms. Pick up unnecessary items and avoid overdecorating. Try to keep decorating neutral and appealing to all buyers.
6. Empty closets. Clean, spacious closets are a coveted feature among buyers. Give away or donate unused items and pack away items that you won’t be using prior to selling.
7. Professionalize an office. With more home owners working from home, a separate room or corner for an office can boost sales appeal. Clear up paper piles and file documents.
8. Inspect the home’s exterior. The front of your home is the first thing buyers will see when they view your home. Depending on the time of year, clear leaves, snow, or ice, so that they don’t hide a home’s features. Messiness and wear and tear on the outside indicates to buyers that the inside hasn’t been cared for well.
9. Check curb appeal all around. While the front yard is key to making a good first impression, more home owners spend time out back, so sellers should be sure lawns, shrubs, trees, and amenities like a fence and air conditioning condensers are maintained.
10. Purge basements, attics, and garages. These are a home’s purgatories—where stuff goes to never see the bright light of day. Anything that’s been moved at least twice and not opened needs to be reassessed, says Chris Seman, president of Caring Transitions in Cincinnati, a relocation service. Separate the items to be stored in see-through bins to reveal their contents; do so by categories, such as holiday decorations; and be sure bins are labeled clearly and have lids to keep out pests.