In every market, selling a home requires effective marketing.  Buyers won’t make you an offer if they don’t know your home exists.  So, it is important to work with an agent who knows how to reach a large number of qualified buyers.  Even so, it takes more than marketing to get to a sale.

Today’s home shoppers browse photos online to identify homes they want to see in person.  For his reason, professional staging and photography greatly increase your odds of buyers scheduling an appointment.

If you want to sell for top dollar, your home needs to elicit an emotional response from people who see it.  When they look at other homes, yours needs to stay at the top of their list.  If your home sets the standard, you have a far better chance of receiving an offer you’re happy with.

Today’s buyers want a home they can move into without doing updates.  When the right buyer walks in, you want them to picture themselves living there.  You want them to fall in love.

Here are 7 tips to get your home ready for the perfect buyer.

Clean up the exterior.  Your home’s outside appearance or “curb appeal” should make a great first impression.  Mow the lawn, trim trees, prune bushes, pull weeds and plant flowers.  Keep the gutters clean, wash windows, freshen up anything else that needs attention.  Paying attention to details on the outside can help bring more buyers inside.  Consider replacing door mats and touching up address numbers to complete the look of a well-maintained home.

Make repairs.  Most buyers will move on and continue their home search, rather than fix problems or make desired updates.  It is just easier to find another home than it is to do the work.  In order to sell quickly, your home should be free of defects like broken windows, leaky roofs, worn carpet, clogged drains, rodents, and heating/cooling systems that don’t work efficiently.  If buyers aren’t excited to buy your home, it can sit on the market for months while the pretty homes come and go.

De-clutter.  Buyers often struggle to imagine themselves living in a home when the current owner’s belongings are everywhere.  In order to get that emotional response that leads to a strong offer, it is important to remove everything that makes your home uniquely yours.  A lot of sellers resist this advice because of their own emotional attachments, but that is precisely the reason it is so important.  The most successful sellers have learned that removing photos, decorations, and other personal items will help buyers feel at home.  It would be a shame to lose a sale over refrigerator magnets or kindergarten drawings, but it happens all the time.  Pack these things away, and you’ll sell faster.  Plus, you’ll have less to pack when you move.

Eliminate odors.  If you have pets, take care to eliminate odors from areas where they eat and sleep.  If you cook with a lot of spices, pay special attention to the vent over the cooktop.  Clean or replace filters, remove grease, and wash nearby walls to remove food-related odors.  Some realtors recommend baking a batch of cookies before showings, but some buyers don’t like the smell of cookies.  It might be better to spray air neutralizer, leaving a clean smell, instead.

Organize storage spaces.  When buyers walk through your home, you want them to feel there is plenty of storage space and it will be easy for them to keep the home neat and clean.  If your closets, dresser drawers, and shelves are full, buyers may conclude that your home has insufficient storage space for their needs.

Choose neutral colors.  Painting walls a neutral color that will appeal to a wider range of buyers.  Colors don’t have to be boring, but they definitely shouldn’t be shocking, either.  If you aren’t sure which colors are most popular, walk through a builder’s model home and make a note of how they have decorated.  Builders hire designers to stage their models, so they stay on top of the latest trends.

Clean everything.  A clean home will always sell for more.  Go through every room and thoroughly clean every surface.  Don’t neglect the garage, back patio, inside cupboards, ceiling fans, and air conditioning vents.  Clean everything you can think to clean, and then invite friends (or in-laws) over to help you spot areas you might have missed.

If you have done everything on this list, congratulations!  Your home is now ready for the market...ready for photos, online advertisements, targeted marketing campaigns,...and ready for showings.  Selling quickly and for top dollar still requires the right pricing and negotiating strategy, but the hard work -- and the part your realtor can't do for you -- has been done.  Great job!