Putting your home up for sale can be an exhausting, stressful experience. But there are several things you can do to improve your home’s marketability. By expending a bit of effort before it goes on the market, you can ensure that your home presents well, stands out from the crowd and doesn’t turn off potential buyers so that you can sell quickly…and at the best price.

Tone Down Personality
Your bookshelves may be filled with Pulitzer-Prize winners and your collection of Americana figurines may reflect your personal interests, but to home buyers, it looks busy and cluttered, and may distract them from truly seeing your home’s unique architectural features and spacious rooms. Also consider whether family pictures help or hinder a sale; future home owners may not be able to look past your kids’ smiling faces plastered all over the walls and see themselves building their own future in your home.

Since you hope to move soon anyway, go ahead and box them up and put them in storage in advance of the open house or showing.

While that red accent wall opposite the lime green fireplace perfectly ties in with your ultra modern furniture, a potential buyer at your open house may be turned off immediately and decide that the entire house doesn’t reflect their style. Consider painting walls a neutral color such as beige or taupe. The interior paint job should be fresh and clean and in a single, neutral color throughout.

The same goes for the exterior. Don’t forget shutters and windows. If your home has vinyl or aluminum siding, be sure it’s clean. Moldy, dirty siding will tell a buyer that your home has not been taken care of properly.

Old, matted carpeting will be a detriment to your home selling. Real estate agents all have a dozen stories of a home that sat and sat on the market until the old carpeting was replaced. Then, it sold immediately. If you have hardwood floors under old carpet, tear up the carpet to expose them; today’s buyers love hardwood floors.

First Impressions Count
Clean your house top to bottom including walls, floors, furniture and tabletops. Everything should be sparkling clean when a buyer makes that all-important first visit. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, crumbs on the counter or laundry stacked in the bedroom.

Take a long, hard look at your home from the street. Does it have curb appeal? Is it warm, inviting and well-kept? Make sure by mowing the lawn, weeding garden areas, trimming unruly bushes, resealing the driveway and sweeping the porch.

Pay particular attention to your front door. Repaint it if necessary. Polish the doorknob and knocker and clean the glass and screen door. When a buyer waits at the front door to enter, make sure he or she sees that your home was cared for lovingly.

Don’t Burden the Buyer with Repairs
If there are problem areas in your home, get them fixed before the showing. When prospective buyers tour the house and see leak stains on the ceiling or peeling paint, they will also see future work and assume that bigger maintenance and repair issues are lurking behind those small problems.

This is particularly true in kitchens and bathrooms, which are often the two rooms that make or break a sale. The expenses you incur on the front end sprucing up your home will be cheaper than the profits you could lose by having to lower the price to meet buyer demand.

If your home’s appliances, like the dishwasher, oven, refrigerator and washer and dryer, are old and outdated, it could pay to replace them. Buyers do not want to be faced with the possibility of having to replace appliances upon moving in to a new house. Shiny, new appliances already in place will be a big selling point.

Maximize Exposure
Lastly, take advantage of new technology to find unique ways to market your house. Use YouTube, a video sharing website, to introduce yourself and your house for free. Take home shoppers on a virtual tour and tell them about its uniqueness and strengths from a first-person point of view.

Use Internet social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter to create a Web link with a profile of your home. Include pictures and a description of your home’s features. Email the link to your friends and ask them to forward it on to their network of contacts.

Get your home listed on real estate websites. There are some that are national in scope and others focus on your specific markets. Examples include Redfin and Zillow.

Be sure that you are using traditional marketing techniques to your best advantage. When photographing your home for promotional purposes, invest in a wide-angle lens for your camera so that rooms appear bigger and in proportion when they are displayed on Internet home listing sites or in marketing flyers. If you decide to create a virtual tour, look for professionals who will be able to film and upload your video using the best techniques and technology.