1. Remove clutter and clear off counters. Throw out stacks of newspapers and magazines and stow away most of your small decorative items. Put excess furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season clothing items that are cramping closet space. Don't forget to clean out the garage, too.
2. Depersonalize as much as you can. Put photos and other sentimental objects out of sight. The goal is to have your home appear as a blank slate, so potential buyers can picture themselves there. You also don't want to have things around that will distract from the home itself.
3. Keep everything extra clean. A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well-cared for. Dust, mop and wax floors, and clean the stove and refrigerator. It's worth hiring a cleaning service if you can afford it.
4. Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows to air out the house. Potpourri or scented candles will help.
5. Brighten your rooms. Wash windows and screens to maximize sunlight. Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and show off their full potential. Make sure lamps are working and replace any burned-out bulbs. Open shades and curtains to let natural light in.
6. Don't disregard minor repairs. Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they'll give buyers the impression that the house isn't well-maintained.
7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters. For added curb appeal, place a pot of bright flowers near the entryway.
8. Add a touch of color in the living room. A colored throw or pillows on the couch will jazz up a dull room.
9. Make centerpieces for your tables. Use flowers or a colorful bowl of fruit to enhance plain surfaces and brighten up the room.
10. Arrange the space. Set the table with fancy dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture living there. Lay out some books on the coffee table, or hang artwork on blank walls. In the summer, arrange deck or patio furniture in outdoor spaces.
11. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light. Give the room a brighter and lighter feel, especially in the summer months. Show off the view if you have one.
12. Accentuate the fireplace. Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or put a basket of flowers there if it's not in use.
13. Make the bathrooms feel luxurious. Put away those old towels and toothbrushes. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight. If you want to go the extra mile, add a new shower curtain, new towels, and fancy guest soaps.
14. Make up the bedrooms. Make sure beds are made, nightstands are clear, and all clothes, shoes and toys are off the floor.
15. Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside. If that's not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (ideally in the basement), and let your real estate know where they'll be to eliminate surprises. Some buyers might have allergies or feel uncomfortable around pets.
16. Lock up valuables, jewelry, and money. While a real estate salesperson will be on site during the showing or open house, it's impossible to watch everyone all the time.
17. Leave the home. Buyers will feel more comfortable asking questions and looking around the home if the sellers are not there. Your agent will gather up impressions about the home and report back to you.
Source: REALTOR® Magazine (RealtorMag.Realtor.org)