Preparation is the key to success in most everything we do today.  It may not only impact whether or not you actually succeed but the level of success you will achieve.  When it comes time to sell your home, heed the words of Ben Franklin, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."  Even in our current seller's market there is a Keystone home that has been on the market for eight years.  A recent sale was on the market for five years and another for three and a half.  Unless that is your plan, you don't want to be one of those home sellers.  Prepare your home along with your expectations and succeed.  

Most home owners think their home is great.  It is their taste and it represents the way they live.  Often times buyers see it that way too; as the perfect home for the seller, not for the buyer.  As a home seller you can take a few steps to ensure your home comes off looking like a great place for the majority of the potential buyers that look at it.  Here are 7 easy tips that will help your home show great.

1. Clean.  It doesn't matter how clean you live, clean your home.  Do your spring cleaning and vaccuum away the cobwebs, dust the blinds, wash the windows, make your house shine.  If you live in your home full time, it's a little more work to keep it this way but it is worth it.  Don't leave your dishes in the sink, manage the kids and the pets, it's in your best interest.

2. Remove the clutter.  Clean almost everything off the counters in the kitchen and bathrooms.  If you have 100 books in the bookshelf, get rid of three-quarters of them.  If you have family photos on every wall replace them with a mountain scene.  When you are done, it should look like a show home and make you wonder if anybody really lives here.

3. Start packing.  The first impulse we have when it's time to remove clutter is to fill the closets with all that stuff.  Instead, pack away the things you don't use.  You are going to be moving and will have to pack anyway.  Get a head start.  If the cabinets, closets & garage or basement are all full, the buyers think there isn't enough space for all their things either.

4. Take a look outside.  If it is winter, be sure and shovel the walk to the front door.  If we have a garage, most of us park inside and don't walk outside to the front door.  Your buyers won't have that luxury.  If you are not always here, pay someone to shovel it for you.  Have the decks and exterior living space shoveled too.  Those spaces can be year 'round use on some of our warm and sunny winter days, we want it to look like it.  If it is summer, pick up the yard.  We typically don't have lawns that need to be mowed up here but there may be a few downed limbs or that excess lumber is still laying on the side of the house.  If you are in a condo complex, take a look at the common areas and address any concerns.  Flower gardens should be planted and weeded.  

5. Make repairs.  We all have repairs we haven't gotten around to yet, maybe it's that dripping faucet or the door that you have to push hard to close.  Typically you're better off to go ahead and make those repairs now.  Odds are the buyer will find them during their home inspection and ask you to repair them then or to credit them money. 

6. Paint.  If the home is looking a little dingy, consider painting it.  Painting gives a fresh, clean look and is relatively inexpensive.  If you have unusual colors you may want to paint over them with a warm, neutral color that will appeal to the masses.  

7. Consider buying a few new items.  New comforters with dust ruffles and throw pillows can go a long way dressing up a bedroom.  New rugs in the bathrooms and throw pillows on the sofas can perk up those rooms too.  Consider adding color to the room with corresponding pillows and accent pieces like flowers, candles, vases and artwork.  Don't go overboard though.  We don't want to clutter the rooms you just moved all the clutter out of.