Here are some tips on how to stage your house.
* De-clutter. Throw away, give to charity or store half your stuff. Store excess furniture, pack away your Hummel collection and knickknacks, clear your kitchen countertops, prune your bookshelves, take photos off the refrigerator door, put away all your framed photographs. Leave only three items on your mantle and three on your coffee table. If by chance your rooms are empty, rent a few tasteful pieces.
* Clean. Your house should be cleaned from top to bottom. Windows should sparkle and so should the inside of the oven. Power-wash areas outside.
* Organize. Neaten the garage, closets, medicine cabinets, vanities, laundry room shelves, any storage areas. Organized shelves give buyers the impression you have maintained your home.
* Carpets. Have them professionally cleaned. If they're too worn and soiled, replace them. Pick a neutral color.
* Floors. Have hardwood floors refinished, or at least cleaned and waxed. Consider pulling up old carpet over hardwood floors. If any other floors are dated and tired, replace.
* Paint. Apply a coat of fresh paint to walls that need it. Clean other walls that are still acceptable. Pick a neutral color -- off-white or a soft yellow -- nothing extreme. Paint your front door if it needs it.
* Windows. Take down and replace any dated, dusty or broken window treatments such as old drapes, valances and blinds. Be sure the light is streaming in through gleaming windows.
* Appliances. Replace old, dated appliances and those that aren't working.
* Hardware. Replace dated knobs on your kitchen cabinets. Replace old switch plates.
* Facelift. Buy new towels for the bathrooms, new slip-covers for your old sofa and new throw pillows for the family room.
* Turn on all the lights.
* Put oranges or green apples in a stylish bowl on your kitchen table.
* Be sure all plants are healthy, with no dead leaves.
* Play a soft jazz CD when agents or would-be buyers are due to visit.
* Put flowers in your living room and kitchen. Be sure they're really fresh, or use new silk ones.
* Light scented candles.
* Bake cookies so the smell of baking permeates the kitchen.
* Keep it up -- your home should be clean, uncluttered and fresh smelling every day until it is sold.