Clean. Declutter. Bake a pie.

These three tips can put money in your pocket when you try to sell your house.

Joan Brown is following the formula to help her son sell his home at 524 N. Custer Ave.

She and her son also patched walls and painted.

“Each room kind of flows. The colors kind of kind of blend into each other … there’s a lot of gray and white,” she said. “But then you do the splashes of color to just add a little variety.”

The aroma of a fresh-baked pie or a subtle candle scent make the house feel more inviting, she said.

Brown and her husband recently followed the same formula to sell a cabin near Burwell. Twenty-seven years ago, they used the strategy to sell three homes and build their current country home.

Becky Bass, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, and Cheryl Nietfeldt, a partner and associate broker of Real Estate Group of Grand Island, echo and amplify Brown’s advice.

“Showing appointments are often set up on 15-minute intervals,” Bass said, “so first impressions can really make all the difference if a home gets a second look.”

Nietfeldt, a Grand Island Realtor for 36 years, recommends a walk-through with a notebook and a critical eye.

“Assess your home honestly. Does it need fresh paint? Do the carpets need to be cleaned or even replaced? Maybe your home needs to be aired out and please no heavy room deodorizers,” Nietfeldt said. “There are not many homes that do not need to be decluttered and/or organized. And clean, clean, clean!

“Pretend you are a buyer and look at your house through their eyes. Start outside and look at your house from the street. What do you notice first? Walk to the front door of your home. How are your sidewalks? Your driveway? Are there huge cracks in the cement or uneven parts that would cause a trip hazard?”

Bass said a seller needs to see their home as a potential buyer, not as the person who lives there.

Nietfeldt also emphasizes the first impression, especially in the living room, which is usually the first room a prospective buyer sees.

Both Realtors stress the need to declutter. Remove excess furniture. Store away hobby items and knick-knacks. Remove family photos. Be sure walls and carpets are clean and that your color scheme is updated.

In the dining room, clear off the table to one centerpiece and have a piece of tasteful artwork on one wall. Clean light fixtures, open drapes or blinds and be sure windows or patio doors are sparkly clean.

The kitchen, they recommend, also should be cleared of any clutter and counters emptied of everything but maybe a coffeemaker. Look at the sink. Is it clean and shiny? Would a new fixture spark up the look? Think about running a lemon through the disposal to create a fresh clean aroma.

Are cabinets freshly painted or well-polished? Do you need to invest a little time and money to update the knobs and handle pulls? Are the shelves stripped of excess dishes and appliances and neatly organized?

Be sure appliances are cleaned well — inside and out — and don’t forget the top of the refrigerator. Lose the kids’ artworks from the fridge and organize the pantry.

The Realtors say each room should be well-lighted and inviting. Open curtains and blinds let outside light fill the rooms.

Nietfeldt said the master bedroom should be neutral — neither too feminine nor too masculine.

The kids’ rooms are a challenge, Bass said, because they too must be neat with all the toys put away and closets neatly organized.

Remove excess clothing from all closets. Store or donate if an item is not in season or worn anymore.

Both Realtors remind of the need for a thoroughly cleaned bathroom. Remove toothbrushes, razors and other items from the vanity.

Also, look at the vanity and the fixture, would it perk up the room to replace those potential eyesores?

Clean, attractive towels are a must. And put that toilet lid down.

Bass said buyers appreciate a well-presented laundry room with good lighting, machines wiped down and the floor area cleared.

“Any dirty laundry needs to be in an enclosed hamper or at the very least covered,” Bass said. “If the laundry is in the basement, white painted walls and a utility area rug can create a more user-friendly area.”

A basement is no different than the rest of the home, declutter, clean, dust and arrange furniture to emphasize space and flow.

Bass also suggests sellers can check out some of the many YouTube videos on preparing a home for sale.

Although exteriors are not at their best in late winter and early spring, sellers should ensure yards are clean and neatly trimmed. Storage sheds also should be neatly organized.

“Clean out the garage and organize tools. Paint the garage walls if needed,” Nietfeldt said. “Deep-clean, de-clutter repair/replace, and update. Do these five things, and you will have a successful sale.”

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