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Leave the Lawn

There's no sense in fixing up the yard. After all, it’s the house they’re coming to see!

Or… See your yard as an extension of the house and give it a thorough once-over. Trim unruly bushes, pull weeds, spread fresh mulch, and keep it mowed. Your yard sets the expectations of the buyer before they’ve even stepped in your house.

Also, consider installing attractive outdoor lighting. It goes a long way (for a little investment) toward creating a dramatic mood. And if you have a dog, go on a hunt for “land mines” and clean them up.


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Lingering Stench

Or… give your house the "sniff test." Nothing is more off-putting to a prospective buyer than a house that smells stale ... or worse. Often, you become so inured to the smell of your own home that you don’t notice scents that might offend visitors.

Empty the garbage, load dirty clothes into the washing machine, run a lemon rind through the disposal, give wood furniture a quick polish, and for goodness sake, change the litter box.


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Express Yourself

Or… tone it down. Make your house a place that anyone could imagine living in. This means removing most evidence of your personal taste. Accent walls of vivid hues are all the rage now, except in the real estate marketplace. Decorate with a rigorous devotion to beige. Neutral walls, pale furniture, soft lighting, and inoffensive art all go a long way toward creating a crowd-pleasing interior.

Store your collections in a safe place for the duration of the selling process. Remember, you want prospective buyers to look at the space, not get distracted by your stuffed animal collection.


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Playboy Palace

Yes they will. Get rid of everything you wouldn’t want your mother to see. Prospective buyers will open the oven, investigate drawers for function and capacity, and study your closets and medicine cabinet.

Part of preparing your house to sell is a ruthless purging of all these places and a thoughtful review of potentially embarrassing items.


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Distracting Doggie

Leave your dog in his crate while people look at your house. He won't bother anyone.

Or… he may not be so well-behaved when you’re not there. A barking dog is extremely distracting when prospects are trying to get a detailed look at your house.

Even though he might be contained, his voice will carry. Take him with you if you can, or drop him off at a pet-friendly neighbor’s house and repay them with house-sitting or a similar favor.


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Team Loyalties

Or… put your fan-of-the-year behavior on hold for a while, and stash your team merchandise away in the attic. What if your best prospect is a Yankee’s fan? You don’t want to lose a buyer over a foam finger.

The same goes for religious paraphernalia, although that may actually be less of a deal breaker.


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Dirty Dishes

Don’t worry about the dishes in the sink. People will understand you were in a rush to get out the door that morning.

Or… they’ll think you’re a slob who couldn’t be bothered to put the dishes in the dishwasher -- and probably hasn’t taken very good care of the house.

If it means you have to take your family out to breakfast, make sure to leave your kitchen pristine. The same goes for the bathroom. Dry the inside of the sink and the surrounding counter completely before you leave the house.


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Leave As Is

Or… be prepared to lose a sale over the poor condition of your house. Everything in your home must be in good working order before you put it on the market. This process can take a couple of months, but you need to fix all broken fixtures, change all burned-out light bulbs, repair any flaws in the walls, and refresh any paint that needs it.

The same goes for outdated or worn wallpaper. Some things do not get better with age, and nothing dates a room more than '80s wallpaper.


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Get-To-Know-You Game

Wrong. You want buyers to immediately begin imagining themselves living in your house, and they’ll have a hard time seeing beyond the pictures of your family at Beaver Creek and the old issues of Garden & Gun. Even worse, they might find your taste in books laughable or your choice of evening wear tacky and decide they couldn’t possibly live in your house.

So clear every surface, every side table, every coffee table, the sideboard, the desk, and the dining room table. You can put one item in each room, and it should be a plant or a flower arrangement.


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Pack It In

Or… remove extra furniture that clutters the space -- side tables, foot stools, and magazine racks -- and takes up more space than a fixed chair. Create simple arrangements with maximum impact.

Often people arrange their living room as if they’re hosting the neighborhood meeting, with all the furniture lined up along the walls. Instead, place a sofa facing the fireplace, and flank it with two chairs and coffee table in between. This will create visual depth and an inviting vignette.


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