If you've decided to sell your home there are steps needed to get top dollar for it. Buyers are wanting the most bang for their buck and having your home in ship shape will give you lead in the market.
A home that is clean, well maintained and uncluttered will show so much better than an untidy over filled house that needs work done to it. Following are steps in the order you need to make the most of your time.
First of all, take a good honest look at your home. How would a perspective buyer view it? Is there too much furniture and knickknacks? Have you got things piled up and not put away? Are you using your space the way the home was intended? Are there major and/or minor repairs to do? And most of all, how clean is it?
Now, before any showing go through your home and get rid of what you don't need. If you haven't touched it, looked at it, or used it in two years then you probably don't need it? Start separating items into a pile for a garage sale, a pile for goodwill and a junk pile. Then have a garage sale and what is left give to good will.
Next rent a U-Haul or a storage locker. Go through each room one by one and take out anything that isn't necessary for that room. For example; in the living room all you need is a sofa, coffee table and two chairs. You don't need the plant stands, the extra knick knack tables or footstools. Also pare down the ornaments and personal pictures to a bare minimum. The bedrooms only need a bed, dresser and night table. Everything else (and only if you plan to move with it) goes into the storage container. You want your rooms to feel spacious and they don't if they are too full. Buyers aren't interested in al your personal stuff or photos. A few photos to make the place homey are alright but that whole wall of grandchildren needs to come down. Same goes for your ornaments, keep a few tasteful pieces and store the rest.
Once the place starts to get a little barer (or a lot) you might start noticing the nicks and dents and such. Now is the time to do those repairs you have been putting off. If you can do a good job yourself that's great but a bad job is as good as no job so get someone in if you aren't able. Don't forget about the outside either. Look at your shingles, does your trim and siding need painting? Does the fence need work? Make sure the grass is cut and the flowers beds are weeded. If there is snow outside give them a nice wide walkway to the front step and shovel off the deck. Curb appeal is as important as the inside. Maybe more so because if the outside turns them off they aren't likely to look inside.
Once all the repairs are done start filling holes in the walls and start painting. A fresh coat of paint is the cheapest upgrade you can do. Be sure to pick neutrals so as to appeal to a broader range of buyer. A very nice color is Benjamin Moore - Pittsfield buff - HC-24. It is a warm light tan that would go with everything. If you pick certain colors some will just repaint and might consider that too much work. So stay away from the reds and pinks and purples, etc. Also one color through out is a much more current way to go and gives a more spacious feeling.
Now you should be ready to clean. Clean kitchens and bathrooms are a must. In the kitchen, make sure around the sink and underneath are spotless. Get that old toothbrush out and scrub the build up from around the taps. Make sure the stove and fridge are pristine. Clean inside your cupboards and make them less cluttered too.
In the bathroom use that toothbrush. Bleach will get most stains out of the toilet. Use CLR on any rust stains in the tub and shower. Clean that grout! Also get rid of things in the medicine cabinet that are just taking up space.
In the bedrooms put out of season clothes in the U-Haul. Same goes for luggage and storage boxes and bags. Make those closets look like there is room to spare .
Wash your doors inside and out and then do windows inside and out.
A word about carpets. They must be clean. If they are badly worn and stained then you really should consider replacing them either with carpet or laminate or wood flooring. If cost is and issue then buy economical neutral carpet. It will look better and they can replace it when it is worn. All your work will not add up to much if the floors are in bad shape.
Now, the garage or shed, same goes for them, empty out and clean. These are bonus rooms and you can be sure the new owners will have too much stuff, too!
It is a good idea to remove all evidence of any pets, such as litter box and food dishes. these can turn off non-pet owners.
Now you are ready for pictures for your real estate ad. Pictures say a thousand words so make sure the ones you take are good features. For example, bathroom pictures - close the toilet lid.
I have read that on the day of the showing bake cookies or burn a scented candle. Cookies sound like too much work and a candle shouldn't be left alone. If you are concerned about stuffy smells spray with a neutralizing room spray as you leave, but nothing overpowering. If you are smokers consider running an air purifier at all times. Non-smokers are very intolerant about that smell. Make sure there are no bad smells. Boiling water and cinnamon on the stove before you leave works well but be sure to take the evidence with you when you go.
If you have done all this then you are well positioned to sell our home and obtain what it is worth. After all this work maybe you will decide to stay.