For a typical home, the most important things to do before the house is shown to potential buyers are:
- Outside maintenance for curb appeal. Get rid of weeds in the walkways, trim overgrown shrubs and trees that are in contact with the house, power-wash the exterior and clear the gutters if necessary.
- De-clutter! Clear off counters, the exterior of the refrigerator, and any flat surface that accumulates “stuff”.
- De-personalize. Pack up personal photos, attention-grabbing decor, and anything that draws the buyer’s eyes to it, rather than to the house.
- Clean, clean, clean! Buyers look at a dirty house as a neglected house.
- Brighten the rooms. Remove window treatments that don’t let in light. Make sure every room has sufficient lamps and light fixtures, with bright bulbs.
- Fix “minor” problems such as leaking faucets, switches that don’t work, doors that stick or have loose handles, etc. Buyers see minor problems as indicators of larger, hidden problems.
- If rooms need to be painted, use bright, neutral colors.
- Ratty or worn carpets are a huge turn-off. Replace, or just remove if you have hardwood underneath.