How Do I Prepare to Sell My Home?
By Dian Hymer (Top Real Estate Broker)

First, get psychologically prepared. Detach yourself emotionally from your home and start viewing it as a commodity you want to sell. This is difficult for most sellers whose identities are often reflected in their homes. However, it's important to be completely candid with yourself about how your home should look when it goes on the market.

Property appearance and condition play a bigger role in the home sale process today than they did a decade ago. Today's home buyers are usually savvy, choosy and short of time. They'll pay a premium for homes they can move right into.
The probable selling price for your home will depend on various factors, including: how many buyers there are in the market looking for homes like yours; how many other homes like yours are currently on the market; and the condition of your home relative to your competition. You can't control the supply and demand factors affecting the market, but you can control how your home looks when it hits the market.

There are many reasons why most sellers--about 4 out of 5--use real estate agents to help them sell their homes. One of the most useful functions an agent provides is to consult with you on what fix-up projects will need to be completed before your home goes on the market.

First Time Tip: Don't underestimate the time it takes to get a home ready. Ideally, you should talk to an agent months before your anticipated sale. Walk through your home with your agent and compile a "to-do" list. If the list is lengthy and your fix-up budget is limited, ask your agent to help you prioritize the list so that you concentrate your resources on the most important items.

First impressions are lasting. So, pay particular attention to how your home looks from the street. If the exterior paint is peeling, repaint. If the front lawn is shot, roll in new sod. Leaning fence posts should be straightened and burnt-out porch lights should be replaced.

Paint is the least expensive improvement you can make. Stick to neutral color schemes that will coordinate well with a variety of furnishings. It may not make sense to completely redo a dated kitchen, but consider updating it with a new floor, paint, light-fixtures and window coverings.

One of the most cost-effective things you can do to get ready to sell is to remove clutter in and around your home. We may feel comfortable in our homes when we're surrounded with our own belongings. But, too many personal effects can distract a buyer from seeing what the home has to offer. Put away the essentials of daily existence like tooth brushes, hair dryers and refrigerator art. With less clutter, most homes appear larger. This can help to justify the price you're asking.
Consider hiring a decorator who specializes in fixing up homes for sale to help you show your home off to an advantage. Sometimes a different furniture arrangement or new accessories will give a home a fresh, new look.

Your home should be spotless when it hits the market. Hire professional cleaners to give your home a thorough cleaning inside and out, including the windows.

Word may get out that your home is going on the market. If so, you may receive requests from prospective buyers to preview your home early. If your home is in a state of disarray, buyers are likely to walk away with the wrong impression.

The Closing: Don't let your home be shown to prospective buyers until you've finished all your fix-up projects