A Homeowner’s Checklist from First American Title Insurance Company

As you prepare to begin showing your home to prospective buyers, you might consider taking some of the steps listed here.

Potential buyers often welcome a home that is clean, neat, uncluttered, in good repair, light, airy, fragrant, and quiet.

Here are a few tips that can help you get your home ready to show:

Clean everything – Cleanliness signals to a buyer that the home has been well cared for and is most likely in good repair. A messy or dirty home will cause prospective buyers to notice every flaw.

Unclutter your home before you show it – Have a garage sale. Empty closets. Donate what you cant’ sell. The less “stuff” in and around a home, the roomier it will seem.

Let the light in – Raise the shades. Open the blinds. Pull back the curtains. Put brighter bulbs in all the lamps (but not bright enough to cause a glare). Bright, open rooms feel larger and more inviting. Dark rooms feel small and gloomy.

Let fresh air in – Get rid of odors that may be unfamiliar or unpleasant. People are most often offended by odors from tobacco, pets, cooking, and musty or sour laundry. Fresh flowers and potpourri can be used to your advantage. Other smells that attract positive attention include fresh baked bread or cinnamon.

Fix anything that is broken – This includes plumbing, electrical systems and switches, windows, squeaky floorboards, TV antennas, screens, doors, and fences; if it cant’ be fixed, replace it or get rid of it. A buyer might make a much lower offer if your house is in disrepair and will probably still insist that everything be fixed before taking occupancy. You’re better off if you leave potential buyers no reason to offer less than you are asking.

Send pets away – or secure them away from the house when prospective buyers are coming. You never know if people will be annoyed or intimidated, or even allergic to them.

Send the kids to Grandma’s – or take them on a walk around the block. Children can be noisy and distracting to someone interested in looking at a home.

Paint – There’s nothing that improves the value of a home more than a few cans of paint. And it’s so often easier to paint a room than it is to scrub it. Stick with neutral colors.

Keep the noise down – Silence is a restful sound that offends no one. Turn off the TV and radio. Soft instrumental music is fine, but avoid vocals.