Most people think their houses are special.  And they are - to them.  But you aren't purchasing your own house; a stranger is.  Someone who wants to feel as though it can be their home.  So that means depersonalizing your property so others can imagine themselves living in it.  There are some basic rules that should be followed to enhance your sales possibilities:

1.  De-clutter!  Give your house a Spartan look; only leave whatever is absolutely essential for day-to-day living exposed on your counter tops.  Remove excess or over-scaled furniture (rent a storage unit, or ask Grandma is you can store some things are her place, but get it out!).

2.  Make your house age-attractive.  Recently I met with a lady in her eighties about listing her house.  It was absolutely pristine - but the furniture and accessories virtually screamed "sweet little old lady."  She had a collection of bisque babies which were beautiful, but are the type of thing mostly seen in houses occupied by - you guessed it - sweet little old ladies.  Given its size, price range and location, this pristine property's most probable purchaser was a young or younger couple (perhaps a down-sizer, but more likely a younger couple).  Not only did the collection make the house age-specific, it offered a very real temptation for children to want to "play" with the fragile dolls, thus giving the possibility of damage to the owner's collection.  To her credit, she had them boxed up and put away in record time.

3.  Get rid of "specific" colors.  That barn red kitchen might have fared well for brightening your day, but something more neutral will more likely appeal to a buyer.  Neutralize everything when it comes to paint - personalized colors limit your buyer pool.

4.  Pressure wash walkways, porches, and eaves, and do exterior paint touch-ups, if needed.  First impressions can't be recaptured with an "oops, now it's fixed" when they've already seen your house in poor presentation condition.

5.  Plant some seasonal "color" in front - especially near the entrance; even bright potted plants, like red geraniums flanking the door, will help say "hi folks, come on in!"

6.  Mulch the beds.  Again, first impressions can't be regained, so make that first impression count!

7.  Paint or re-stain the front door if it's faded.  First impressions.  Where have you heard that before...

8.  When you know your house will be shown, open all blinds and draperies, turn on all lights, even on a bright and sunny day.  And, most important - leave well before the showing is scheduled to take place, and don't come back till it's all clear!  People feel constricted to talk freely when the owner is present, and also it gives them an opportunity to ask the owner questions without the owner's REALTOR hearing the conversation, so any controversy or misunderstanding later becomes he-said, she-said and your agent can't help because he or she wasn't present for that conversation.