The property should be spotless — clean and fresh. Be sure to pick up loose paint chips, sawdust, and anything else left over from repairs. Clean the windows and skylights, inside and out. Make sure there are no odors. A freshly remodeled house might not have the same odors you'll sniff in a lived-in home, but there can be traces of chemicals hanging in the air. Open the windows to air out the house before you show it to prospective buyers.
Clean the gutters and make sure drainage spouts point into tubing that leads away from the foundation. Buyers always notice gutters that are full of leaves or twigs, and it makes them wonder what else hasn't been taken care of. If there's a lawn, keep it freshly mowed.
Have you ever noticed that in the wintertime, the inside of an unheated house often feels colder than the outside temperature? Buyers can't wait to leave houses like that — it's an immediate turn-off. If you can afford it, run the heat or air conditioning so that the interior is at least somewhat comfortable.
Take a cue from professional home stagers, and bring in furnishings to make the house looked lived in. Avoid clutter — choose simple, tasteful furniture and supporting accessories. You might even consider hiring a professional stager to prepare an upscale home. In larger cities, stagers often have a warehouse of furnishings to draw from.
Vacant houses with no utilities on are prime candidates for the development of mildew and mold accumulation, especially in damp climates. Allowing the heating or air conditioning to remain on will help keep your property in better condition.
The property you are marketing and the area it's located in will dictate many of the preparations you should make. How does the property compare to other similar real-estate properties on the market? When you see something that sells quickly, determine why, and try to duplicate those factors in your own properties. You won't become an expert overnight, but in time, you'll know instinctively what to do to enhance each of your new properties. For more information on staging, visit