Many people purchased a home over the last five or ten years, and with the sluggish economy still distressingly slow and the housing market moving even slower, it’s hard to know when a good time might be to sell the house and try to move on. While every area of real estate investment is unique, there are some sure-fire ways to help your property move a bit faster regardless of market conditions.

#1 – Improve Curb Appeal

First impressions count more than you might imagine – especially when there is a glut of real estate on the market in your area. Start on your home to improve the curb appeal. Clean out the beds and power wash the siding and sidewalk. Plant some cheerful flowers if it’s warm or create cheerful holiday planters if it’s not. Your goal is to make your house look like a cheerful, well-maintained home to anyone walking up the drive.

Your curb appeal may include mowing the yards on the street on homes that are vacant or victims of foreclosure. Having a beautiful home next to one with an overgrown yard isn’t going to help you sell your home. If your neighbor is home, but not taking care of his own yard, offer to help him out or just let him know in a friendly way how great it would be if he’d do a quick pass with a mower.

#2 – Remove All Clutter

You want to stage your home for the sale by removing all clutter and crowded furnishings. Start packing now for your move by cleaning out closets and clearing off bookshelves. All family photos can be packed away and anything that is personal should go as well. Each room in your home should be designed and staged to show its purpose. This means that the dining room you’ve been using as a playroom should become a dining room again – at least while your home is on the market.

You may need to rent furniture for the month or use a few tricks like a good tablecloth and pretty centerpiece over a piece of plywood to make your home look pulled together and well tended. Closets should be as bare bone as possible and only a minimal amount of things should be out. Leaving much of your home open and free of furniture and the stuff we collect makes your floor plan more open and inviting for those visiting your home and it also makes it easier for the would-be buyer to picture their own things in your space.

#3 – Polish the Interior

Never underestimate the power of cleanliness in your home. Would-be buyers are willing to forgive an older oven if it is in good condition and clean. Your entire home should be as clean as it was the day you moved in. Hire a team of heavy-duty cleaner or tackle the job yourself to clear the dust off the baseboards, scrub the windows and brighten your dirty grout.

Making your house shine can cost as little as $200 if you invest in paint, a steam cleaner and a good mop. Start by cleaning the surfaces and then move into more dramatic polishing moves including recoating your baseboards, cleaning up nicks on your painted doors and steam cleaning or replacing the carpet.

As you pack items away for staging, consider taking your cleaning one step further by installing new, inexpensive carpet or flooring and putting a fresh coat of neutral paint on the walls. Even painting your walls the same color will brighten the space with the fresh paint and cover the many dings, scratches and scuffs that appear as you move furniture and take pictures off the walls.

Not only should the inside of your home sparkle with the efforts of your intense elbow grease, but it should be light, bright and fresh in all regards. A home with fresh carpet and clean walls will win over one with spots on the carpet and cobwebs on the ceiling fan every time.

Selling in a Buyer’s Market

While not a specific tip, always be aware that you’re working to sell in a buyer’s market. There are plenty of properties for buyers to take and your job is to make them understand why yours is obviously the best one for them. Clean, improve and polish with the goal in mind of an easy move in. Buyers today want to move into a home that needs nothing more than a few throw pillows.

For very outdated homes this may mean a few big updates, or perhaps just a few strategic ones. But if you walk into your home on Open House and feel like someone could move your things out as they bring theirs in easily in a day, you’re at the right point. The only element that remains is to price your property and hire a terrific Realtor to market it for you.

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