Your home should absolutely sparkle when it is on the market! If you are a great cleaner or enjoy doing it, go ahead and deep clean your home yourself. If not, consider hiring a cleaning service to do the job. Your house should look and smell lovely to make a great impression on potential home buyers. If you are going to be living in your home while selling, remember to KEEP it clean throughout the process.
We know you love your family photos! However, potential buyers want to envision themselves living in their future home, not your current home. It is extremely helpful to remove personal decorations and photos, and leave only neutral ones that everyone would appreciate.
Remove Evidence of Pets and Kids
Clearly, if you are living in your home while selling, you will need certain pet/kid items in your home. That being said, try to reduce the number of things you have in plain sight. Can you put the cat box somewhere more discreet? Buy a storage box for the dog toys? Sometimes kids' items can seem to take over the entire house. Try to remember the purpose of each room, and make sure it reflects that purpose. If your dining room table doubles as your kids' art studio, clean up the studio and set out nice place settings. You want your home to appeal to as many people as possible!
Repair Small Issues
Home buyers can notice small issues around the house, and it can make them think that you have not kept the home in tip-top shape. I recommend repairing these little things so that your home seems as close to perfect as possible. Install new outlet covers, fix drippy faucets, repair small holes in the walls, etc. In most cases, the homeowner can do these small repairs himself.
There are some easy upgrades around the house that can make a big difference. A few ideas are updating the light fixtures, hardware around the house (knobs and handles), and purchasing a new mailbox. A larger upgrade that has a good ROI is deep cleaning or replacing the flooring. Dirty, old carpet doesn't show well, and neither do hardwood floors that are very damaged. If you can swing it, consider cleaning or replacing the flooring.
A new coat of interior and exterior paint makes a HUGE difference. If your paint is in good shape, you may be able to get away with only touching it up. If it's been years since your last paint job, though, you may want to consider painting the entire house. New paint looks clean and fresh, and is always recommended before you selling your home.
The front of your home is the first thing potential home buyers will see when they arrive. Make sure it makes a great impression. You can purchase new house numbers, paint the front door, put in path lights, or plant new bushes or flowers. Make sure all plants and the lawn are kept up nicely. You may want to consider having a gardener come once a week until your home is sold. For more information, check out my article "Upping Your Curb Appeal."
Get a Storage Unit
If you are planning to live in your home while it is on the market, rent a storage unit to store items that you don't absolutely need. The house should look as neat and clean as possible, and that's tough to do when there is a lot of clutter around. Once you are ready to move into your new home, just empty out the storage unit at that point. If you are moving before selling, this won't be an issue as your house will likely be vacant or staged before selling.
In almost all cases, home buyers will want an inspection before removing their contingencies. You don't want the inspector to come back and report some major fixes that you didn't know about. To remedy this, you can hire a home inspector to come BEFORE you put your home on the market. You can either act on the issues he finds and repair them before listing your home, or just keep it in the back of your mind that you will likely need to repair them down the line or offer the buyer a credit. One thing to note is that if the inspector does find issues, as the seller, you will be required to disclose them to the buyer.
Consult a Realtor
No two houses are the same. A Realtor can come to your home and note the specific changes that they recommend you make.