homeIt's a cliché for a reason: first impressions count. And one of the most important areas where first impressions can mean thousands of dollars more in your pocket is when you decide to sell your home. 


For many sellers, the free "market analysis" offered by Realtors is the first step to listing the home for sale. The experienced real estate agent will know what other comparable houses are selling for. The agent will also be able to suggest things you can do to improve your home's "curb appeal". But before you make that first call to an agent, take a few preliminary steps to make the agent's first impression a good one. 


A digital camera may be helpful to review your "tour" of your home. 


Start by walking across the street and looking at the front of your home. This is the picture that's most likely to appear in ads. Are there toys or sports equipment in the yard or driveway? This is the time to de-clutter. 


Make sure trash cans and other "utilitarian" items are out of sight as well. 


Look at your landscaping, if any. Do bushes or flower beds need attention? Fresh mulch and a few annuals can perk up the view at a very reasonable cost. 


Does your porch look cozy and inviting? Fresh cushions on the furniture and a few decorative touches can help a potential buyer feel relaxed and comfortable with the neighborhood. You can reinforce your home's "style" with the porch décor, but don't go overboard. 


Are front windows and screens clean and sparkling? Pay special attention to the trim around the door. If you have small children, be sure to check for grubby fingerprints below the doorknob area, as well as kick scuffs at the bottom of the door. A fresh coat of paint on the trim is another quick fix that pays off well. 


The second most important point is the interior entry area. Pretend that you don't live there. Look in every direction, up, and down. Once again, you will want to de-clutter. While a few decorative touches look "homey", too much décor makes it difficult for a buyer to picture their belongings in the home. Neutral colors are a plus, as are neutral smells. 


Now follow through with the rest of the home. De-clutter, then clean the obvious—doorknobs, trim, switch plates. Pay special attention to pet areas—keep the litter box and cages scrupulously clean. Pretty towels and linens in the kitchen and bath can subtly add to your home's appeal. 


Okay, now it's time to call for that market analysis. Your agent can give you more tips to put on the finishing touches that will help your home sell quickly.