Top 15 Must-dos Before a Showing

When it comes to showing your home, you want to make sure it is as dressed up and ready to go as possible. So here are a few tips and tricks from expert realtors and experienced home sellers that will help your property stand out against its neighbors. Use it as your go-to check-list when realtors schedule appointments.

1. Lights and Lamps On -- "All is merry and bright" isn't just a Christmas carol lyric. It is also the key to selling happiness in your home. Make sure all bulbs are working, turn every light on, pull up those blinds all the way, peel back the curtains, and leave on all your lamps. Your house will shine like Christmas giving buyers that merry at-home feeling. 

2. Clean Kitchen -- Sink and counters should be clear of dishes and food items and any spills on cabinets or floors wiped away. Check sinks for food remnants. Make sure trashcan is emptied or has a closed lid (and doesn't smell!). Take all magnets and prized artwork off the refrigerator for instant de-cluttering! Kitchens are one of the top selling points in a home!

3. Cabinet Clutter -- If you are living in a home, chances are you have piles ... of bills, schoolwork, photos waiting to be framed, calendars, receipts, etc. Hide them if you can or at the very least stack them as neatly as possible and preferably on a desk or bedroom nightstand and not on a kitchen cabinet. 

4. Bedrooms -- Make those beds! Crumpled sheets and pillows askew leave a "we are really messy" instead of "come on in" image in buyers' heads. 

5. Bathrooms -- Put those potty lids down! Empty all wastebaskets. Straighten towels and give the mirrors and basins a quick once over. Spots on a mirror or toothpaste globbed in a sink can really turn off a potential buyer.

6. Fido and Fluffy -- Take them with you as you leave the home or leave them in a neighbor's yard. Even the friendliest of pups or the furriest of felines aren't always the most welcoming and endearing especially to a buyer who isn't so pet-friendly. Most dog/cat toys have long since lost their pet store appeal and litter boxes are an instant turn-off so place them as well as food/water bowls out of sight for the showing. Finally take a walk through your yard and if you have to dodge "certain places", clean those up just before leaving. One wrong step in your yard and your buyer might lose interest in the whole house!

7. Doors/Cabinets Easy to Open -- Watch out for those "sticky" handles. If there is a closet that jumps off its tracks, don't be afraid to leave it open rather than risk buyers getting frustrated as they negotiate the doors. Or better yet ... fix it!

8. Doors to the Backyard/Garage -- Leave these unlocked just long enough for the showing. The last thing a buyer wants is to get locked out accidentally while they are viewing your home.

9. Your House Smells Fine -- Or it should! Certainly work to eliminate any profound odors prior to a showing (i.e., litter boxes, trashcans, bathrooms, laundry bins, etc.). However, resist the temptation to improve the smell of your home with a plug-in device or over-spritzed air freshener. In general, the less "smelly" (good or bad!) a home is, the better the taste left in a buyer's mouth.

10. A/Cs/Heat -- Make sure your home is a cool comfortable respite in the summer and a warm cozy retreat in the winter so adjust thermostats accordingly.

11. Laundry Rooms -- Hide those clean and dirty piles if you can! No one has to know you just stuffed a pile of freshly laundered shirts right back in the dryer for safe storage!

12. Laundry Hampers -- Try to keep hampers in bedrooms or bathrooms empty or closed if they have a top that closes. No one wants to see what you have that needs cleaning. 

13. Check Your Green Thumb -- How do those plants look? Make sure any that are wilted or look dry have a good soaking and cut off any dead or dying leaves. If they don't scream "come on in", move them away from your front entry.

14. Pools/Fountains -- Turn on that beautiful fountain! And give the pool a quick once over, removing as much floating debris as possible and putting colorful toys/mats away or stacked around the side of the house. Watch for frogs, birds, and large bugs that have chosen your pool as a final resting place and promptly remove them as well!

15. Focal Points -- You don't have to go overboard cleaning and scrubbing. Just a good tidy up works but focus on the areas a buyer connects with most ... kitchen, living room, master bedroom. Set the stage for a superior showing by showing off these areas!