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34 Important Things to do When Planning to Sell Your Home

Prepare your house and your family by knowing the things to do when selling a house. It'll help sell your house quicker and improve with resale value.

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Make RepairsFamily Handyman

Make Repairs

Now is the time to fix all of those nagging things that you just lived with. Inside the house, look for things like stained ceilings, missing tile, broken windows and doors, heavily scratched floors and other signs of neglect. Outside, look for broken or missing shingles, patio pavers and tuckpointing. If you have a deck, check for cracks in floor boards and loose railings. Make a list of everything you see and then decide which things you're going to tackle. A real estate agent can be very helpful in determining what needs to be done and what doesn't. Here are complete how-to instructions for several common repairs: Wall and Ceiling Repair, Laminate Floor Repair, Shingle Repair and Deck and Railing Repair.

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Finish ProjectsFamily Handyman

Finish Projects

Every homeowner has at least a couple ongoing projects that never seem to get finished. Now is the time to finish painting the guest room, install the ceiling fan you bought last summer and stain that beadboard you put up in the pantry. If painting is on your list, this collection of tips will help you finish the task with a lot less mess.

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Create Curb AppealFamily Handyman

Create Curb Appeal

It's important that your home makes a good first impression. When potential buyers drive up to your home, you want them to think, "Wow! I could live here!" To make sure buyers want to see the inside of your home, make sure the outside is well-kept, tidy and inviting. It's important to touch-up or completely repaint trim., keep the grass cut, edge along sidewalks and paths, maintain flowers and shrubs and keep the yard tidy. You never know when curious buyers will drive by.

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Declutter

Declutter

Resist the urge to roll your eyes at this one. It is imperative that your home looks livable. Potential buyers may not be able to see past your clutter. Think of it this way—don't move things you no longer want or need. Make decisions now and your house will sell faster and your move will be easier. It's no secret that getting started is the hardest part of decluttering. Take one room, or even part of one room, at a time and dive in. Recycle or shred paper. Donate books, toys, clothing and duplicate household items. If you're getting frustrated and you can't deal with one more stack of papers or shoebox of old photos, put them in a plastic tub, label the tub and stack it somewhere out of the way. A stack of tubs doesn't look like clutter. For completely out-of-the-way plastic tub storage, check out this simple rack for storing tubs overhead in your garage.

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Declutter Some More!varandah/Shutterstock

Declutter Some More!

Don't overlook items on display on your shelves, tables and countertops and inside buffets and other glass-door or open-shelf cabinets. You probably don't even notice what's there, but too much clutter on and in everything can distract a buyer. A good rule of thumb is 'Reduce by 50 percent.' In other words, if you have 10 things on a shelf, put away (or get rid of) five. If there are a dozen mugs on display in the kitchen, lose six. One more thing: If you have a lot of personal items on display, it can make it harder for potential buyer's to imagine themselves living there. If you display items of a political or religious nature that could be off-putting to others, consider putting them in storage until you can proudly display them again in your new home.

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Think NeutralsFamily Handyman

Think Neutrals

If you decide to do some interior painting, stick to neutral colors. You've heard it before, but it's the truth. Neutrals don't distract and they allow potential buyers to imagine their things in your home. If you'd like some guidance on choosing colors, check out this collection of tips. For help on painting, check these ideas.

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CLEAN!

CLEAN!

This may be the most important step you take toward getting your home ready to sell. For a home to live up to the "move-in condition" description, it has to be clean. If you already keep a clean house, simply keep up the good work, checking to make sure you don't overlook little-used closets and other nooks and crannies that aren't part of your weekly routine. This needs to be a deep cleaning. For the rest of us, it's time to get serious. Start at the top (the attic or second-story rooms) and work your way down. Clean ceiling light fixtures first, scrub walls and woodwork and finish with floors. As you work your way from top to bottom, don't leave one area until it is completely clean and then move on. Don't drag dirt from one area back into the place you just cleaned. Finally, don't underestimate the power of clean windows. Buyers won't walk in and think, "Wow, clean windows!" But, freshly cleaned windows look great from the outside and with the lights on, they sparkle on the inside. And with this method, window cleaning is not all that bad.

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Rearrange Your FurnitureFamily Handyman

Rearrange Your Furniture

Your furniture is arranged the way it best suits you and your family. When you're staging your home to sell, you'll need to use your furniture as marketing tools to help create inviting vignettes. Avoid having furniture lined up along the walls. Pull the sofa away from the wall and pull chairs close to create a conversation area. Also, you may need to remove some furniture so it's easy for people to walk around in the rooms. If you've toured model homes and had the feeling you could move right in and live there, that's what you're going for. Be sure to use best lifting practices as well.

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Buy Fresh Flowers and PlantsFamily Handyman

Buy Fresh Flowers and Plants

If the weather allows, plant flowers in pots, window boxes or right in the ground to add color and pump up the curb appeal. Pay close attention to the plants, keeping them watered and trimmed. Inside the house, fresh flowers in vases add color, life and the feeling that you, as the home seller, are putting your best foot forward. It may not matter to some buyers but others will appreciate this detail and take it as a sign that your home has been well cared for. If you grow vegetables indoors or want to, here’s how to get those seedlings to sprout.

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Create a Welcoming EntrywayFamily Handyman

Create a Welcoming Entryway

If your apartment doesn't have a proper entryway, create your own. Use a padded bench and hang some hooks for coats, or build a simple entryway storage and organizer to keep clutter at bay.

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Choose Low-Maintenance MaterialsMichael Pettigrew/Shutterstock

Choose Low-Maintenance Materials

If you're doing some last-minute upgrades to sell your home, such as replacing flooring or countertops, choose low-maintenance materials. Many potential buyers don't want to spend a lot of time with cleaning and maintenance. Also, make sure your yard is low-maintenance so buyers aren't intimidated by potential upkeep.

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Remove Personal ItemsOndroM/Shutterstock

Remove Personal Items

If you have a lot of family photos on the wall or several pieces of your child's artwork on the refrigerator door, you should take them down and store them out of sight. This will help buyers see the home as a clean slate they could make their own. It might be sad to take those personal items down but it will help you sell your home in the meantime.

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Upgrade LightingAndjeiV/Shutterstock

Upgrade Lighting

If your lamps and other light fixtures are outdated, consider replacing them with modern ones. Buyers don't want to feel like they're taking a step back in time with outdated fixtures. This is an easy fix that will help sell your home. Learn How to Install Elegant Cove Lighting.

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Fix Pet IssuesAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Fix Pet Issues

Did Fido leave a stain on the living room carpet? Does the basement smell like a cat's litter box? Address these issues before potential buyers visit the home. Pet smells are serious turn offs when trying to sell your home. Here are 14 Cleaning Tips Every Dog or Cat Owner Should Know.

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Update PaintOleksandr Berezko/Shutterstock

Update Paint

Since not everyone has the same color preference, apply fresh coats of neutral-colored paint on the walls. Follow these 10 Interior House Painting Tips and Painting Techniques for the Perfect Paint Job.

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Wash the ExteriorFamily Handyman

Wash the Exterior

If your house has siding, carefully use a pressure washer to clean the exterior. Also, make sure the windows are clean and the gutters are clear before you try to sell your home.

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Get a Home InspectionSpeedKingz/Shutterstock

Get a Home Inspection

Before trying to sell your home, hire a home inspector. While buyers usually have the home inspected, have an inspection prior to putting the home on the market. This will make you aware of any potential issues that may come up during the sale. Learn 12 Tips for Getting the Most out of a Home Inspection.

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Brag About WalkabilityESB Professional/Shutterstock

Brag About Walkability

Write out positives about your home's neighborhood and leave the list for potential buyers. Tout your home's walkability, nearby businesses such as grocery stores and restaurants, parks and proximity to public transit. Each point on the walkability score can increase a home's price by an average of $3,250, according to Redfin.com. Learn 11 Important Things to do When Planning to Sell Your Home.

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Add Techgoodluz/Shutterstock

Add Tech

Adding a smart thermostat or fixtures that can be controlled by a smart phone are attractive upgrades to younger buyers.

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Fix FencingGRSI/Shutterstock

Fix Fencing

A fence adds value to your property. If your wood or chain-link fence needs a little TLC, be sure to take care of any repairs before trying to sell your home. Follow these tips to renew wooden fences.

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Roof Repairsforestpath/Shutterstock

Roof Repairs

Few things turn away buyers more quickly than a leaky roof, so address roof repairs before trying to sell your home. If your roof needs serious work, be ready to negotiate a lower price with buyers.

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Fix CracksFamily Handyman

Fix Cracks

Fix any cracks in the driveway, walkway or patio. And this will help increase your home's curb appeal and will surely help you sell your home.

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Remove WallpaperFamily Handyman

Remove Wallpaper

If you have wallpaper or a mural in your home, get rid of it. Then, give those walls a fresh coat of paint in a neutral color before attempting to sell your home.

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Update HardwareFamily Handyman

Update Hardware

If the knobs or handles on your kitchen cupboards or drawers are outdated, update them. It's a cheap upgrade that will give your home a more modern look and will help sell your home.

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Clean FabricsAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Clean Fabrics

Clean or wash cushion covers, duvet covers and pillow cases to ensure furnishings look tidy and well-kept. To make your home look more cozy, add a few decorative pillows. If fabric-covered furniture is outdated, remove it or cover it with a neutral-color slipcover. How to Clean Furniture and Fight Odors Without Chemical Cleaners.

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shutterstock_719336251 dogs drinking water bowl petsben bryant/Shutterstock

Eliminate Pet Smells

Every once in awhile pets get into something they shouldn't and lumber inside bringing a nasty smell indoors. One way to get rid of those bad smells is AtmosKlear. It can be spritzed directly on the pet!

AtmosKlear has no smell of its own. It doesn't leave your room (or pet) smelling like flowers, cinnamon or incense. What the odorless formula does is eliminate, not cover up, smells. The formula is an oxidizer. It must contact the odor source in order to work. From pets to tobacco to general household odors to smelly carpet in your car, this stuff works great. It's biodegradable, nontoxic and, according to the manufacturer, creates no problems for people sensitive to chemical air fresheners.

Bonus tip: Spritz AtmosKlear onto your furnace filter and turn on the furnace fan. You'll freshen the whole house.

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Organize Closets

Organize Closets

Messy, packed closets read: There's not enough storage in this home. Weed-out closets by 50 percent, and make sure what's left is clean and organized in stacks or bins. Buyers will open closet doors and kitchen cupboards; make sure they don't see a big mess! Check out these 11 ideas to transform your closets.

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Beige Living Room with White Couch traditional home decor ideasSklep Spozywczy/Shutterstock

Simple Decor

It's a good idea to keep the decor simple when selling a home. Sellers want to allow potential buyers to imagine the possibilities of a house. Distracting decor will turn buyers off from the thought of trying to picture how they can decorate a room.

Need some ideas on how to make simple look stunning? Check out these simple DIY decorating ideas.

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Family Handyman

Luxuriate the Bathroom

The bathroom can be a highlight of a house and when putting a home on the market, sellers should make it shine. A soaking tub can be the perfect place to unwind for a potential buyer. Make a bathroom feel like a spa.

See what's happening in bathroom trends if it's time for an update to your home.

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WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock

Prepare the Paperwork

Obviously the better prepared a seller is for a home sale, the easier it will go. That being said, don't forget to have all the paperwork for the house organized and ready to go. Some of the paperwork that a seller will need includes: deed, homeowners insurance information, loan information, property tax statements, appliance warranties, title report, purchase agreement and any other information regarding the property.

See what goes into property taxes other than your money. It isn't all for government and schools.

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Landscaping

Creating curb appeal is one thing but try extending that idea to landscaping, too. Well-manicured landscaping will impress. Check out how athletic tape can make landscaping a ton easier. 

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dfh6_shutterstock_448109434 kids broom kitAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Plan Out Activities for Kids

Selling a house with kids requires a little extra planning because you'll need activities for them while you're out of the house. Find some quick getaway places like the library or a park while you have a viewing of the house. Just make sure you get enough notice ahead of time before a viewing.

You'll need to remove a lot of things prior to a showing but get ahead of the game with these incredible toy storage ideas.

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LDprod/Shutterstock

Research Agents

It's never a bad idea to get a second opinion when trying to find a real estate agent. Many people work with the same agent they did on an earlier deal or use someone recommended by a friend or relative. Make sure to talk to others who have worked with an agent, you might be surprised what you find.

Make sure you avoid doing things like adding a sunroom when selling a house, it could cost you.