Whether you are getting ready for an open house or for a showing of your home, it is important to make your home ready for potential buyers when they come through. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” and that first impression will influence the lasting impression a potential buyer has of your home.

Make sure that the yard is clean, the lawn mowed and any outside touch up paint jobs done.  Clean your home from top to bottom including carpets and drapes, kitchen and bathroom tiles, walls, ceilings and trim. Declutter the interior which entails getting rid of those items in your home that make rooms feel smaller than they actually are. Organize cabinets, bookcases, closets and toys and put away personal items such as photographs, souvenirs and other memorabilia.

If your home has empty rooms, stage it with the right furniture. You may be able to borrow some nice furniture from family or friends. There are even places to rent furniture for staging. Keep it simple and classic, nothing too trendy that could potentially turn off a buyer. Make your rooms bright and airy by opening blinds and windows and turning on lights in darker rooms.

Remove any items that you do NOT want included in the sale of your home. For example, your grandmother’s chandelier. Replace it with a light fixture you are willing to sell with the home. Help the buyers imagine themselves in your home by setting the dining table or putting out some fresh flowers. Light a scented candle. Leave some refreshments out. And for your own security, make sure you store all your valuables.

It is always best to be out of the house while it is being shown or there is an open house. This allows potential buyers to look and discuss the home without worry of offending you. It also allows them to see themselves as the home owners, not you. When the open house or showing is over, ask for feedback so you can make a few tweaks before the next one.

Watch these home staging videos for more tips: