5 Things to Do Before Your First Showing

You work hard to get potential buyers into your home. Whether you've scheduled a last-minute viewing or a daylong open house, your home should be ready when they arrive.

Every room should be neat, clean, aired out, comfortable, and bright. Your entire home should be a silent invitation to buy. It's important to hide the stuff that sends a different message.

  • Your Identity When a potential buyer looks at your home, they want to consider what it would be like if they lived there. Your presence during a viewing would make it difficult, which is why you're not invited. Things in your home that present the same dilemma should be hidden. - Family photos may tell potential buyers, "this is their" - Cultural or ethnic mementos can send a divisive message. - Guns and political mementos are controversial and may inspire anger. - An odd smell can be the only thing a potential buyer remembers about your home.

  • Pets and Pet Evidence Potential home buyers see dogs and cats as smelly little creatures that leave behind a permanent odor. You're not likely to get rid of your beloved pet just to sell your home. However, you should eliminate tell-tale pet evidence before each showing. - Make pet odor and hair removal an ongoing project. - Take litter boxes, animal habitats, and food and water dishes with you. - Get a pet carrier for quick getaways. - Light a mildly scented candle to cover left-behind odors.

  • Clutter Your clutter might be irreplaceable knick-knacks, beautiful collectibles, or a must-have shoe collection. Still, these things make your home look less roomy, less neat, and less desirable than its decluttered version. Remember: - Clear your stuff from every surface unless it serves a specific purpose. - Clean out and organize your closets. - Remove belongings stored under a bed. It gives the impression of too little storage space. - Clear kitchen counters except for high-end appliances. - Remove throw rugs. They're clutter-ish and also a trip and fall hazard. - Store removed items away from your residence.

  • Valuables You have no idea who is in your home during an open house. It's impossible for your real estate agent to watch everyone every moment, so it's best to be cautious. Take your jewelry and other valuables with you or consider storing them in a safe deposit box.

  • Toys Toys are often hard to manage because they're everywhere and children aren't big fans of decluttering. If you're tidying up your home to put it on the market, now is a good time to establish a donate-toys-to-charity habit with your kids. Your children's generosity will make it easier to keep your their rooms neat during the marketing process.

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