You’ve decided it’s time to get your home ready to sell. This typically comes from some sort of need or change of life situation and, it is hoped, is filled with joy and excitement, although we know that’s always the case.

In any circumstance, listing your home for sale requires some effort and preparation in order to encourage a successful sale.

Here are our top five preparation tips:

  1. Maintenance. Time is a home’s worst enemy, creating maintenance issues that require seemingly constant attention. And while most homes are re-sales, that excuse doesn’t always make a buyer comfortable. They seem to want things to be as perfect as they can be.

This usually isn’t feasible or reasonable; however, addressing maintenance items up front can go a long way to making your selling process smooth. The key is identifying what needs to be accomplished and when.

  1. Paint. The color of walls in someone’s home is usually a reflection of that person’s taste, personality, decorating style – and that’s why so often a buyer’s first step when taking ownership is to change some of the paint colors in the house.

But that doesn’t always mean you should forego some painting prior to putting your home on the market. Toning down strong colors for photography, covering up smudge and scuff areas, and neutralizing spaces are just a few reasons why painting might make sense.

  1. Landscaping. Whether you proudly tackle this on your own or rely on a professional, landscaping is the visual framework of your residence. The “American dream” often features perfectly green grass, vibrant flowers, sharply lined planter beds – all of which are rarely achievable even in the best of climates.

But shooting for this ideal goes a long way to ensure that you’ll beat your competition in this category. Edging, pruning, adding mulch or pine straw, installing fresh flowers – all right before the house is photographed – make a lot of sense for a huge visual impact.

  1. Ugly stains. Roofs, driveways, patios, even the sides of your home with low sun exposure are the areas that take the brunt of the great outdoors, often leading to stains, mildew, dirt accumulation, etc. In addition to improving curb appeal, tackling these areas goes a long way toward preventing buyer “horribilization.” (You can read more about this REAL topic as discussed in a prior article. Request via email.)
  2. Clutter. One man’s collection is another man’s mess. One of hardest things about selling your house is converting it from a home into a product for sale. Getting over this threshold can be critical in creating the best first impressions, and tackling accumulated items (i.e., clutter) is often the most important step.

Countertops, kitchens, baths, walls, closets – these are usually the prime locations of clutter that need the most attention for the biggest impact for buyers.

While this list might not be in any particular order and is certainly not all-inclusive, it makes for a good starting strategy. Seek out a real estate professional who can help you develop a full strategy in order to give you ample time to prepare for listing your home.

Chip Collins is the broker-owner of Collins Group Realty chip@collinsgroup or