* Remove clutter from the kitchen. Keep the sink clean, free from dishes. Clean the refrigerator and degrease the oven. Take drastic action to get a Spartan look.
* Get rid of any odors. Get rid of ashtrays. Use an air freshener if the house does not smell right. Eliminate the smell of dogs, cats, kids, spicy food, etc. Odors are hard to explain away and are always noticed. If necessary, bake cookies or an apple pie – a good smell for the open house!
* Put away small kitchen appliances and other items that are sitting on countertops and tables.
* Organize closets and cabinets so that they do not appear full and busting at the seams.
* If the house is somewhat vacant, staging antiques appropriately can create a dramatic emotional statement. There are professional companies that do just that, usually for more expensive estates.
* Live plants look wonderful with nearly any decor.
* Get rid of any junk. If it has value, take it to a recycle establishment, have a yard sale or donate it.
* Remove rugs if they hide nice hardwood floors.
* Are the walls in the house dingy? Are the colors dated? Paint them if possible. Clean curtains and other window coverings. Clean dirt from overhead fans.
* Tighten and repair loose knobs, sticky doors and windows.
* Replace burnt out bulbs. Repair light switches that do not work.
* Fix cabinet doors that do not work right. Oil hinges. Repair minor flaws.
* Repair caulking and grout in bathroom. Fix leaky faucets. Equip bathroom with fresh soap and neat towels. Keep the bathroom spotless.
* Skylights should be crystal-clear.
* Replace faded wallpaper.
* Shampoo carpets, polish floors. Consider replacing carpet that is faded, excessively worn or out of date.
* Repair cracks in the dry wall. A five-dollar repair job may keep a buyer from raising an alert flag on a major repair and be worth $2,000 in the buyer’s eyes.
* Turn on the lights and open the curtains and let in the light. Obscure unappealing views. Show all rooms bright. Increase the wattage if necessary. On overcast days take special care to show it bright. Keep the room temperature comfortable. Consider mirrors to make a dark room look larger as well as reflect outdoor light.
* Take extra furniture out so that the room looks larger. That also goes for pictures on the wall too.
* Vacant homes often blast home buyers with stale or mildew-laden air, and once buyers smell mildew, they are out the door. During cold months, the interior of a house without heat always feels colder than it is outside. Leaving the heat or air conditioning running while a home is on the market reduces odors and makes the house more inviting.
* Store boxes in an out of the way location or rent a temporary storage unit so you can de-clutter every part of the house.