You’ve decided to list your home, and you’re already mentally visualizing getting those offers and ultimately closing the deal. In any market, but especially in today’s somewhat sluggish environment, you need to do everything possible to maximize your potential. As a homeowner, you can increase your selling price and decrease your timeline by taking ten simple steps to improve your home’s image in the buyers’ eyes.

Create curb appeal. Prospective buyers are driving their preferred neighborhoods every day. If your home looks unappealing from the front, they’ll just keep on driving. Make sure you get their interest from the very first look. Repaint or replace your front door. A bright or contrasting color gets immediate attention. See Seven Quick Curb Appeal Tips.

Notice details. Little things mean a lot when a prospective buyer is seeing the front of your home for the first time. Replace front door hinges and doorknobs. If you have a screen door, remove it so it won’t obstruct the view. Put up new decorative house numbers and add coordinating light fixtures by the front door. If you have a mailbox, make sure it looks clean and new—no sagging doors or dents, please. See How To Maximize Your Selling Price With Low-Cost Cosmetics.

Clean up. You may not want to invest the time or money in a complete exterior paint job, but power washing is an inexpensive substitute. You’d be surprised how much dirt and grime will come off of your siding, garage door, decks and porches. Wash the windows inside and out until they sparkle. And please, no tricycles, skate boards, or uncoiled hoses where anyone can see them.

Go green. If you have a lawn, be sure it’s mowed and edged. Trim shrubs and bushes. Depending on the season, add some decorative pots with bright flowers or plants to your front porch or steps. Cover bare spots in your flower beds or pathways with decorative bark or gravel. Adding window boxes under those newly washed windows is a nice touch.

Make space. Inside the house, your first move is: remove 50% of everything that’s visible when the buyer walks in. This means storing most, if not all, of the small appliances and equipment on your kitchen counters. Do the same in the bathrooms. Pack away family pictures and personal mementos. Create a clean slate so the buyers can actually visualize themselves living in your home.

Store it. The space concept applies to your closets too. Crowded, overstuffed closets make the buyer think you don’t have enough storage space. Pack up half your linens in boxes and store them in the garage or off the premises until you’re ready to move. Store your out-of-season clothes and give away anything you haven’t worn in the past year.

Notice details, Part II. Look at all your fixtures with a critical eye. Make sure there are no dripping or corroded faucets. Clean, repair, or replace them if necessary. Make sure all the light fixtures are updated and there are no missing or burned out bulbs. Check the doorbell, sliding doors, screens, and locks. Spray a little WD-40 on windows and sliding doors to be sure they open and close easily. See that all your smoke detectors are in working order. See Ten Ways to
Make a Buyer Fall in Love with Your Home.

Pass inspection. Most buyers will want a home inspection as one of their contingencies before finalizing the deal. Make sure this important step doesn’t trip you up. Besides a lot of the visible things we’ve already mentioned, check up on the invisible. Look at any spaces where dampness might occur—bathrooms, basements, foundations. Dampness can turn to mold overnight, and mold can cause a buyer to run for the door if it’s discovered. Look for termites and other pests, Check the roof for broken shingles and potential leaky spots. See How to Pass a Home Inspection: Solve Problems First.

Grab a paintbrush. The quickest, least expensive facelift is a fresh coat of paint. This is especially important if there are any marks, cracks, or chips on your existing walls. Patch as needed and cover it all with a coat or two of a warm neutral color. Avoid white—some people think it’s safe and sensible, but it’s actually very cold and doesn’t provide a good backdrop for your furniture or accessories.

Think like a buyer. Before you even begin, and again when you’re finished, walk through your home and around the outside. Look at it as though you were seeing it for the first time. Try to forget, for just a few minutes, that it’s YOUR home. If you were a prospective buyer, could you fall in love with this house? If the answer is yes, then you’re ready to sell.