It’s time to go. You’ve lived here for years, and your house has become your home, but now, for whatever reason, it’s time to let it go. You need to get your house ready to sell to a new owner. It may seem like an emotionally difficult process, but the more you work on it, the easier it gets. You want to get the best value you can for it, too, and that takes some creativity and planning.

Here’s what you need to do to get your house ready for someone else:

1. Consciously Decide That It’s No Longer Your House

Successfully completing this step will make all the rest a lot simpler. It’s easy to become emotionally attached to our dwellings, but now you need to break that connection.

Remind yourself that the house is just an object, a commodity to be bought, sold, and used, as though on a shelf in a department store. Imagine yourself in the near future handing it over to someone else, probably a stranger. Accept that as the natural way of things, say your goodbyes, and make them final!

2. Remove Indicators of Your Personality and Preferences

Prospective buyers need to be able to imagine themselves living in the house. Unique paintings or personal photos on the walls, and kids’ drawings on the refrigerator can interfere with that need, and make it harder for someone to visualize how they would put their own personality in that space.

You don’t want buyers to wonder about you; you want them to think about themselves, and how they would like to use the house.

3. Put Yourself in the Buyer’s Shoes

Look at your house from another perspective. Imagine that instead of selling the house, you were considering buying it as is. Taking into consideration only its appearance, how does the house make you feel? Is it welcoming or does it feel inward-focused? Is it spacious or cramped? Is it clean and healthy, or does it look, feel, and smell like a health hazard? If you were thinking of buying your house, what would you notice that would cause you to reject it? Those are the things that need to be fixed, quickly. Keep everything squeaky clean, and smelling fresh.

4. Get Rid of the Clutter

You don’t want anything in the house to give the impression that it’s difficult to keep clean or that there’s not enough storage space. Use attractive boxes and shelf dividers to change the feel of your closet if it’s too full. Find a tidy place for everything you still need, and throw away or donate stuff you haven’t used in over a year. If there’s still too much, rent an off-site storage unit to hide your stuff from view. That’s especially important if you have a lot of furniture. Remove any furniture that blocks walkways.

5. Keep Your Favorite Things, Just Not in the House For Sale

Buyers tend to fixate on details. The overall impression is important, but details can make or break a sale. If you leave valuable and attractive antique furniture or light fixtures in the house while showing it to prospective buyers, they may end up insisting that they be included in the sale. It seems irrational, but refusing to sell your great-aunt’s dining room table could cause a buyer to back out of a deal.

6. Make Sure Everything Works

Dead lightbulbs aren’t just dead lightbulbs to a buyer. They’re a potential electrical wiring issue, a hazard, a red flag. Make sure that everything a prospective buyer might touch, turn on, adjust, or move works the way it’s supposed to, so that there can be no misunderstandings. Fix leaky faucets and flickering lights, patch up any holes or cracks in the walls, and replace kitchen and bathroom cabinetry that doesn’t open and close effortlessly.

7. Don’t Neglect the Superficial Things

The color of the paint on the walls can and will have a major psychological effect on anyone who enters a room. For this reason, it’s always recommended to paint the walls in a light, neutral color when selling a house. These colors help houses feel more bright and spacious, and make it easier for buyers to project their own personalities onto the space. This also goes for bedspreads and window treatments, which should be new and clean.

8. Emphasize Unique Selling Points

The rule is neutral color, but the exception is to use bright accents to draw attention to something special about the house. Use red pillows to help buyers notice a window seat with a beautiful view. Strategically placed plants can also guide eyes in the same way. Help your buyers to see the best aspects of the house in this way.

9. Give it Curb Appeal

If the house looks good on the outside, it increases the chances that the buyers will even want to look at it in the first place. As such, making sure that the exterior of the house is in top condition is the most indispensable of all sale preparation strategies.

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