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40 Important Things for First-Time Home Sellers

Quell any apprehension when it comes to selling your first home with these 40 important things for first-time home sellers

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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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Clear the ClutterRoom27/Shutterstock

Clear the Clutter

Nothing turns off buyers more than clutter. So get rid of that clutter to sell your home. Clear off shelves, the fireplace mantel and tables of any unnecessary items. These Clutter-Busting Strategies for Every Room can help.

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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If your lamps and other light fixtures are outdated, consider replacing them with modern ones. Buyers don't want to feel like they're taking a step back in time with outdated fixtures.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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Do a Thorough CleaningAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Do a Thorough Cleaning

Dusty tables, dirty countertops and messy bathrooms won't appeal to buyers. Make sure your home is in show-worthy shape by doing a thorough cleaning. Also, be sure to keep things as tidy as possible while the home is on the market as Realtors could request a showing at any time.

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Address Minor IssuesLisa S./Shutterstock

Address Minor Issues

If possible, make minor repairs such as replacing chipped tile, broken door handles and torn window screens before putting your home on the market. The fewer problems your home has, the more attractive it will be to buyers. And this will help you to sell your home faster.

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Up Curb Appealromakoma/shutterstock

Up Curb Appeal

Buyers will first see your home's exterior so make it memorable. Mow the lawn, clean up debris and add some flower pots during the warmer months. During the winter, make sure walkways remain clear of snow and ice. 10 Quick DIY Projects That Add Instant Curb Appeal to Your Home

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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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Clean the Carpet, Polish the Floors to Sell Your HomeVGstockstudio/Shutterstock

Clean the Carpet, Polish the Floors to Sell Your Home

Dirty flooring is an immediate turnoff to potential buyers. Rent a carpet cleaner or hire a professional to freshen dirty carpet. If you have wood floors, make sure they are polished and make sure tile floors are spotless. Learn How to Clean Floors: Wood, Tile, Carpet and Everything Else.

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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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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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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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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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Uncover WindowsFamily Handyman

Uncover Windows

If your windows are covered with heavy drapes, flouncy curtains and/or clunky valances, take all that stuff down. You want every possible ray of natural light coming in through your windows. It’s also a way to make a room look bigger. Most people want shades or blinds to provide privacy, with as little obstruction as possible. If you have shades with a broken lift cord, here's how to fix it.

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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 EntryFamily Handyman

Create a Welcoming Entry

The potential buyer's lasting first impression takes place at the front door. Curb appeal is important, but a negative impression as a buyer steps up to and through the door could be a deal killer. Be sure the steps and/or walkway up to the front door are in good repair with no big cracks or overgrown weeds. Check that the door (and storm/screen door, if you have one) is in good shape and is working properly. Also, check the lock. You don't want the real estate agent to fumble trying to open the door. Check the threshold to make sure it's clean and in good repair. Replace any dangling or loose weather stripping. And finally, put a wreath on it. hokey or not, a simple wreath on the front door is an inviting and welcoming sign of good thing to come inside.

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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.

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Woman signs purchase agreement for a houseAlexander Raths/Shutterstock

Research the Comparabales

Look for home sales in the past three months. Appraisers only look at comparable homes sold in the last three months. Avoid trying to inflate the square footage of your home. The appraiser will know exactly how much square footage your home has.

Learn the secrets first-time home buyers need to know.

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Chirping Smoke DetectorsFamily Handyman

Have Safety Equipment Installed and Working

Make sure your smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and other safety devices are working properly. Also, be sure to have an up-to-date fire extinguisher.

Check out other safety tips for the home and to make sure a smoke alarm functions as it should.

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Make Sure Appraiser Knows of Improvements

Have your documents on the ready to show any home improvements you have made including additions, HVAC units, exterior work, roof and other remodeling.

Keep a binder of appliance manuals handy and see other clutter-busting ideas.

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Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Is the Appraiser From the Area?

Your appraiser should ideally come from a nearby place, ideally even a 10-mile radius. That’s so they are familiar with the neighborhood. It’s a good idea to ask how long the appraiser has worked in the industry along with which data sources they use beyond the MLS. Appraisers Forum is a good spot to see what to ask.

Be sure to always talk to the neighbors when looking for a house. They're going to tell you what the Realtor won't.

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Alan Sheldon/Shutterstock

Be Aware of Recent Developments

If the area near your home is seeing growth or there are plans for future developments, let the appraiser know. It might not be on their radar.

See how recent neighborhood developments can impact property taxes, too.

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mojo cp/Shutterstock

Give the Appraiser Room to Work

Appraisers are likely greeted by eager home sellers all the time. But back off and let them work. You can make their work pleasant but don't go overboard and trail them through every room. It's likely to set off alarms.

Have the house ready to show by touching up a few areas.

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fizkes/Shutterstock

Review the Appraisal

Appraisers aren't infallible so it's important to review their work to verify the facts are correct. Square footage totals can vary from appraiser to appraiser.

See some quick ways to help make a home sell faster.