If you’re planning to sell your home in this competitive market, you’ll need to take a look at your property with an objective eye.  Buyers expect homes to be move-in ready, and if the homes are less than perfect, they expect to pay much less for a home that needs a little TLC.   To get top dollar for your home, separate yourself emotionally from the home and pick up a hammer to do a few minor repairs.   These suggestions will help you get started on the preparation process.

1. Mentally Remove Yourself from the Home
Change the way you think about the property. Remember, it is a house – it is a financial investment that can be sold like any other product. Say good-bye to the building, rooms and lawn. You can take the memories with you!

2. Remove Personal Items
Pack up all the family photos and memorabilia from the shelves and walls. You want the buyers to view the home and imagine their own belongings in place. The last thing you want is for them to the thinking about YOU and not the house. And it goes without saying that you should take your valuable items to the bank vault for storage. Although the viewing public will be accompanied by an agent, it’s always a good idea to keep jewelry, money, and medicines out of sight.

3. Clean out d’clutter
Don’t be afraid to throw out those old golf clubs, shoes, and broken furniture. If you haven’t used it in a couple of years, you probably won’t get around to using it now. There are lots of great places that will happily take your donations and many of them will come and pick it up. Clean out the closets, bookcases, kitchen counters, medicine cabinets, pantry, and garage. If you have things that you love all over the house, doesn’t it make sense to pack them away for safekeeping? So think of this process as a head start on packing and you’ll be way ahead of the game.

4. Get Organized
Buyers are expected to open closet doors, medicine cabinets, pantries and cupboards. This isn’t snooping because they need to see the size of storage space in the home. The last thing you want is for them to have your purses or hats fall out of the closet when they open the doors, so get organized and start lauding your retentive qualities. Line up your shoes, straighten your dishes, make sure your spice rack is in order, and color code your clothes.

5. Rent a Storage Unit
Homes show better with less furniture. Removing pieces of furniture that block or hamper paths and walkways not only makes the home show better, but it keeps people from bumping into items that might be damaged. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room’s purpose with plenty of room to move around. Store those now-empty bookcases. Repurpose the rooms so that the buyer can easily make sense of the flow the house.

6. Repair Those Eyesores
You know what I mean. If the counter tiles are cracked, there are holes in the sheetrock, the faucet is dripping, the hinges on the kitchen cabinets are broken, the walls are painted bright pink, light bulbs are burned out, the carpet needs stretching, hand rails on the stairs are loose, the back door doesn’t shut properly, or the kids spilled red punch on the beige carpet… fix it now. You don’t want people to remember your house as the one with the bright colors and broken tiles.

7. Remove Items that Do Not Convey with the Property
If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now. If the chandelier in the dining room was a wedding gift from your grandmother, take it down. If a buyer never sees it, she won’t want it. Once you tell a buyer she can’t have an item, she will covet it, and it could blow your deal. Pack those items and replace them with something fresh and appropriate.

8. Hire a Maid
All this packing and repairing can wear you out, so if you’ve run out of steam when it comes to cleaning, hire a professional. Windows should be washed, exterior should be clear of spiderwebs and dirt, bathtubs should be freshly caulked, light fixtures and chrome should sparkle, mirrors should be free of streaks, dust bunnies should be exterminated, appliances should be clean inside and out, wood floors should reflect the light, carpets should be vacuumed and steam cleaned if necessary, ceiling fan blades should be free of dust, fresh towels should be hung in the bathroom, cat boxes should be removed to outside, and your house should smell of nothing but cleaning products and fresh linen.

9. Look it Over with Buyer’s Eyes
We’re all so used to our home and belongings that it isn’t easy to see things with a fresh eye. But it can be done if your mind is clear and you’ve followed the previous steps. Go outside and stand at the curb. Does it make you want to go inside? Imagine what the buyer will think as he/she goes through each room. Is the furniture arranged thoughtfully and simply? Are the window coverings level and open to let in light? Does it need some sparkle? Does it look like a model home where no humans really live? If you have passed this test, you’re almost finished!

10. Think Curb Appeal
The first step you getting an offer on your home is to get a buyer inside the house. This won’t happen if the exterior looks tired and neglected. Keep the lawn mowed and watered, add fresh flowers to the beds and in accent pots near the front door, paint faded trim at the eaves, windows and doors, trim bushes and clean out flower beds, apply fresh mulch in beds, clean the bugs out of the exterior light fixtures, and make sure the house numbers are bright and easy to read. You want the buyers to be able to find your house!