Spending a little time and money can maximize profits when you sell your house even in the current busy market.

Many real estate companies in the Washington area offer pamphlets full of tips for homesellers. If you plan to paint, do it now. If the lawn needs attention, mow it and trim the edges. If the bathroom is dirty, clean it thoroughly. Do all this before the house hits the market to guarantee the best possible first impression on agents and potential buyers, real estate experts say.

Here are some guidelines offered by local agents that they say should help if you plan to sell your house:

Realize that your home is a product up for sale. It should be ready for a buyer to see on a 9-to-5 basis every day.

Look at the house as if you were the buyer, not the seller. Sellers generally do not see their own mess, dirt or clutter.

Clean everything. Store your old magazine collections and the books you love along with extra furniture in rented space away from the house. Take down the fancy drapes and let the sunshine in. A 1950s picture window can let in as much light as a 1985 skylight.

Shampoo carpets. If you have shag rugs, get rid of them if possible. Polish hardwood floors until they shine.

Put the toothpaste cap back on the tube even if you've never done it before.

Don't leave trails of dirty clothes from the front door to the bathroom.

Paint your front door whether it needs it or not. Put the pets outside and find a temporary home for exotic pets such as snakes and strange birds.

Find the source of all odors even if it means hiring a professional cleaner.

Make your house look organized even if it means hiding everything in dresser drawers.

Quit cooking with garlic -- put dashes of vanilla flavoring in the oven.

Leave home when the house is being shown by an agent.

If you simply don't have time to do anything, pay somebody else to do it. Most agents can put you in touch with cleaning people, painters, and the like.

Invest in fresh flowers. They are good for your spirits -- and buyers'.