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Showing your house? Go for curb appeal

Dear Steve,
I am getting set to show my house. Are there some things I should know to help the process along? What should I wear when I show it? -- Suzy Q.

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Dear Suzy,
There are plenty of strategies for putting your best foot forward at show time, ranging from minimal to maximum effort. The more work you do and the more thought you put into the process, the better chance you'll have of selling the house quickly and for a better price.

Let's start with some simple things.

Curb-appeal strategies that aren't particularly expensive include neatly trimming the lawn and hedges and planting new annuals for a spot of color. Be sure to keep them amply watered. Make sure all lawn tools, toys, wrappers, garbage cans, recycling bins and the like are picked up and put away. Clutter, both outside and inside, is a turnoff.

Clean the front porch or entryway and all front shutters. Make sure the front door is clean, since it represents both a first impression and a portal to what may be a new home for the buyer. Whisk away any cobwebs. Close your garage door and any gates. Clean all windows inside and out. Vacuum carpets. Remove area rugs to better expose hardwood floors, if you have them.

If you've got pets, keep them out of the way or usher them off to a relative's or friend's house if possible. Even if you can't detect a questionable or strange smell in your house, one may seem apparent to a first-time visitor. So bake a cake or bread, or light a few scented candles. These give the place a homier feel as well. Take the trash out just before the showing.

Open the blinds, and turn on all lights in areas you want to be highlighted. Turn on the air conditioning or open windows to get in fresh air. Turn off music or TVs, clean the kitchen and all dishes, keep stairways clear, make all beds, and make sure the toilets are clean and the seat covers are down. Kids' rooms should be picked up. (Not always an easy task.)

If you want to expend a little more effort, remove all unnecessary articles from rooms, basement, attic, closets and utility areas. If the place is heavily furnished, even consider storing some items temporarily. Buyers want to see ample living space and picture their items and decor there. Repaint faded walls; buff woodwork.

Fix those loose knobs and doors, and cabinets and windows that stick. Launder curtains and bedspreads. Clean your patio furniture and arrange it so it looks attractive from an inside view. Mend fences.

What should you wear? That may not matter because you should probably not be there when the place is being shown. Head to a coffee shop, bookstore, neighbor's house or gym, if you can. If you must be home, stay out of the way. Don't follow the buyers and agent around. Dress casually, but not too casually. In more-expensive homes, a little more-professional dress may be appropriate, but your garb is really a minimal concern. More importantly, let the agent ask -- and answer -- all the questions. She knows where to find you.

Just think declutter, clean up and freshen up, and you should do well. Good luck.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Posted: June 18, 2005
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