DIG OUT THE DIRT
You can do it yourself or hire a crew for a day, but a deep cleaning is essential for a good first impression. It's also key to keep up the cleaning as long as your house is on the market, which will probably mean a daily dusting and vacuum session. Bathrooms and the kitchen should be kept spotless.
BANISH BAD SMELLS
Air out your home by throwing open the windows at least once a day (or, in bad weather, by running all your exhaust fans). Don't cook smelly or greasy foods, which linger in the house. If you have cats, clean the litter box at least once a day. Use potpourri or bake cookies before buyers visit to give your place a "homey" smell.
REMOVE INSIDE CLUTTER
You need to move anyway, so why not get a head start and make your home look larger by packing away at least one-third of your stuff? Stowing away knickknacks, mementos and family pictures helps depersonalize your home, which is actually a good thing: You want potential buyers to picture themselves living in your home instead of being distracted by your personal effects. Consider renting a temporary storage space rather than stuffing your packed boxes in your closets or garage, which will make them look smaller.
ORGANIZE WHAT'S LEFT
Tidy closets and pantries look bigger and more appealing.
FIX YOUR FLOORS
Real estate agents say buyers really notice the condition of floors. Hardwood should be polished and carpets shampooed or, if they're in bad shape, replaced. Repair any broken tile or linoleum.
BRIGHTEN YOUR WALLS
If you've painted or wallpapered in recent years, you may be able to get away with just washing your walls. Otherwise, consider repainting your rooms in neutral colors.