Free things first – pack it up. Go into each room and start removing excess items. There should not be stacks of paper, clothes, books or toys littering the floors.

Dressers and tables should only have a few items on them, and kitchen counters should not be crammed with toasters, blenders, stacks of mail and the like. Again, just a couple of items – and they should be artful and attractive. Your agent should be able to help you with advice on how to stage your home.

Second on the freebie list – a massive deep cleaning. I can’t tell you how many times we have taken buyers to otherwise lovely homes that were completely filthy and they were so turned off that no amount of coaxing would entice them to even finish the showing. If you are not willing to clean your home and make sure that it is odor free, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.

That means no mold growth in the showers, no grungy stovetops, or rotting garbage in the kitchen wastebasket. Clean the heck out of it (paying special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms), and don’t overlook baseboards and cabinet doors.

If your kitchen or bathroom is quite dated, this is probably not the time for a costly overhaul. Did you know that sellers that do a minor facelift in their kitchen or bathrooms actually reap a greater rate of return than those who spend tens of thousands on new cabinets and counters?

There are ways (and cutting edge new products on the market) that will allow you to make a major aesthetic change to these spaces while spending very little – hundreds as opposed to thousands. In the rest of the house, paint is hands down the cheapest and most effective way to transform a space to attract a buyer.

Right behind that are professional whole house carpet cleanings (generally around $100-$200), painting your front door, cleaning up and freshening up landscape materials (filling in bare spots of rock in the front yard and trimming that huge and menacing cholla overhanging the front walk is a great start), and having torn to shreds screens repaired (Ace Hardware is among the local places you can have this done). Also, if your front door lock does not work or sticks – fix it.

When agents take their buyers to your home and have to struggle with the lock for ten minutes it does not start the showing off on a good note. Happy selling!

(Editor’s Note: Hilary and Jay of The Property Aces Team are with Long Realty, a Berkshire-Hathaway affiliate.)

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