Written by Lisa Pelletier, The Move Makers

You’ve found the perfect home, so now the pressure is on to sell the one you’re living in.  You know you have work to do to get it ready, but where do you begin?  The outside, for first impressions, or the inside, where the potential buyer needs to see how they’ll live in your current space?

Begin with a list. A list should be the first, and easiest steps.   Step back and take a long, objective look at your home, at those small things that you’ve ignored over the years, like the mismatched switch plates, the creaky bathroom cabinet, the dented wall by the back door.  Making a list is a simple task and as each item is addressed and corrected, you know you’re on your way to showing your home in its best light.

Start with the outside, first.  Your landscaping is the first thing people see, so you’ll want your home to shine on first sight.  Painting the door, staining the porch if necessary, fresh mulch and trimmed greenery can go a long way for a great first impression.  Have a friend approach and ask them to lend a critical eye to something you might have missed.  A fun fact:  choosing neutrals like charcoal gray and black can actually boost your home’s sale value, according to Zillow.com.

Freshen up.  According to Deborah Wilkinson, Real Estate Broker with Premiere Property Group in Lake Oswego,  the most important thing a homeowner can do is to think about first impressions.  “Cleanliness and a fresh look are really important to a buyer.  Do a deep cleaning, and apply a fresh coat of paint inside to brighten up the home. Deborah suggests painting walls a neutral color, like cream, and paint trim a bright white to make things pop.

“Speak to a Realtor for other tips on what you may have overlooked to get it show ready,” says Deborah.

Take the “you” out of the home. The buyer will want to see the space for how they could live in it, and too many reminders that it is yours can psychologically hinder that. Begin by taking out all personal photographs, mementoes and collections.

Clear off flat surfaces. While you’re clearing out the personal items, reassess how many books and other decorative items you have around.  Instead of filling every shelf or surface with something, pare down by three quarters the items you have.  In the kitchen, clear countertop appliances, and replace them with a single basket of fruit, for instance.  Let the house shine for what it offers, not what you place there.

Update the bathroom, if possible.  According to Trulia.com, bathrooms and kitchens  are often what sell a home.  If you can’t do a major remodel, then consider painting tired cabinets and changing out the hardware or faucets for a more on-trend look.  Recaulk the tub and sink areas with new caulking to freshen up the area, as well as a new shower curtain and towels.  A new light fixture can be a very inexpensive fix for a dated bathroom.

Clear out the pantry. Pull out everything in your pantry, check the expiration dates, and donate what is still usable if you don’t plan on using it for several months.  Pare down the space so the potential buyer can see how spacious the area is.  Move the appliances and other things stored there into boxes stored in the garage or other out of the way place.

Clean the oven.  Run the self-cleaning feature a day or two before the first showing, because buyers do look inside the ovens, including microwaves.  They can be a window into the overall care of the home.

Clear out closets.  Having enough closet space is essential to home buyers, and like the pantry, paring down what you have will provide the buyer with better insight into those spaces, especially the bedroom closets.  Now may be the best time to donate unused clothing to make room for the sale.

Consider furniture placement.  Get help with a floor plan  to show off what you have in the best way – furniture shoved against the wall is not always the best option to illustrate the space of an area.  According to HGTV, “floating” furniture in the room can showcase the room in its best light.

Look down to the floor.  If you have pets, the cleanliness of your carpets and baseboards can be especially important, as that is where pet dander often accumulates and is overlooked.

Let the sunshine in. Gleaming windows make a great first impression from the street.  Natural light is a real plus for home sales.  Don’t overlook the window tracks!

Consider getting help for your project.  Professional move management companies like The Move Makers can get you started on preparing your home with help with sorting and organizing, or to assist with coordinating the whole process for you, including packing for move day.