Denude your place of all clutter.
Most people live amid a motley collection of belongings. Kitchen countertops are lined with small, "gee-whiz" appliances that are supposed to make their lives more convenient. Home-office desks are stacked with unsorted junk mail and magazines. Closets are crammed with clothes that aren't quite right to wear to the office -- or anywhere else, for that matter. Bathrooms are loaded with toiletries that prove Proctor & Gamble's marketing programs are a success. And a dizzying array of notices and photos hang by magnets on the refrigerator.
Haul off old furniture, give unused books to the local library, put on a giant garage sale of your belongings, and stash all those fragile figurines in storage. If you're truly successful in denuding your home of clutter, you'll be one of very few sellers who do. That could help a great deal to encourage the sale of your property.
Steam away unseemly wallpaper.
Don't take it personally. But chances are good your prospects will dislike the wallpaper you selected with such great care. In many cases, you're better off steaming, stripping, scraping, or whatever it takes to rid yourself of your wallpaper -- especially if it conveys a dated look. Then paint the stripped walls.
Invest in inexpensive carpet.
If you think about how you feel entering a hotel room with a carpet that has spots or bald patches, you'll realize how potential buyers will view the carpet you laid on your living room floor in the early eighties. Often a few hundred dollars is all it takes to lay a standard grade of new carpet in a primary area. Forget about new padding -- unless pet odors have penetrated through the carpet and given your place a foul smell.
Clear your garage and chemically clean the floor.
People are always thinking about where they'll store their belongings -- so garages matter almost as much as living quarters. Bikes and other large items can often hang from the ceiling.
Expose your house from the outside.
Many homeowners let their plant life grow to the point of hiding their homes. Shrubs are like kids that grow too fast. Cut back your vegetation, and your place may look much better. Place a few live plants around your home. Well-selected internal greenery can add genuine appeal -- especially if the plant is sitting in a sparkling brass pot. But don't succumb to the purchase of fake plants. You can be sure that the buyers who troop through your home will finger the leaves of the fake fig tree and think less of you for having it.
Lemonize a little.
A little lemon scent in your furniture polish can have a powerful psychological message that your home is tended with pride. And from that your buyers will generalize -- however irrationally -- that its heating, cooling and other systems have also been well-maintained.
But stay away from the heavy use of air fresheners -- which can give your place the scent of a cheap motel or funeral home.
Clean like crazy.
Why do you think the Government House cleaning crews work virtually around the clock -- shining glass, polishing brass and gently dusting the furnishings of the nation's best-known homes? Because so many visitors come through. By the same token, your house should be spotless while it's on display. Cleaning makes a world of difference.
Dress your home up for company.
OK, so you're not having the British ambassador over for tea as they do at Government House. But staging your home as if you're expecting company can make it more saleable. By setting your dining room table with place settings, flower arrangements and brass candlesticks, you can make it more welcoming and therefore more saleable.