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Ask the Realtor: Inexpensive ways to prepare your home for sale

Ask the Expert
via MLS

Sellers ask me all the time: What should I do to my home before I put it on the market? There are a number of things you can do to prepare your home for sale, and many are inexpensive. Here are some ideas that will help you showcase your home in its best light.

My first suggestion is decluttering. This is the most important and easiest thing you can do. Clear off your countertops, dressers, and bathroom sinks. The more stuff you have out, the messier your home will look, in person and online, which is just as important. The National Association of Realtors 2014 Profile of Buyers and Sellers states that 92 percent of buyers use the Internet in some way in their home search. Great pictures are important.

Remove the scatter rugs that cover your hardwood floors. If your floors are too scratched, having them buffed is a great investment. Get rid of the old-fashioned curio cabinet with your collectibles displayed. Items like flowered valences and heavy curtains scream dated, so toss them. Hang up sheers or nothing at all.

If your furniture overcrowds the room, remove it. You should retain some — buyers need to see how a room can look — but be strategic in your placement. If you don’t know what today’s buyers like, you can look at Pottery Barn’s or Restoration Hardware’s websites for ideas. I am not suggesting that you shop at these stores; there are lots of stores in all price ranges where you can find the current styles. Knowing what buyers are looking for will help bring them in. If you need help with this, hire a stager or ask an honest friend with good taste.

Your home should be clean, and I mean really clean. Don’t forget the windows, light switches, and door knobs. A potential buyer should not turn on a sticky light switch or look out a window coated with dog drool. Remove scuffs on the walls (Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is amazing). A onetime investment in a cleaning service prior to your open house will pay for itself if it results in an offer.

The worn look is a turnoff. A coat of paint in a trendy color will not only help your home look current, but give it a fresh, clean feel. Go through your home and repair or remove anything that is broken or chipped.

The kitchen is arguably the most important room in your home. If yours is dated, refreshing your cabinets with a coat of white paint and replacing the hardware with something current can go a long way. New lighting fixtures can also make a big difference, both for style and light.

Don’t forget the outside. Curb appeal sells, so if needed, paint your front door and shutters and spruce up your yard, front and back.

Many times these small investments can equal big payoffs. Anything you can do to show today’s buyers what they want to see will help sell your home. Preparation is half the battle, the other half is pricing, but I will save that for another column.

Marjorie Youngren is a broker at Century 21 Commonwealth in Lynnfield. E-mail your questions to marjorie.youngren@commonmoves. Follow her on Twitter MarjorieTeamC21. Subscribe to our free newsletter at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp.