With the summer buying and selling season just around the corner, now is the time to think about how you can create a lasting first impression with potential buyers. Here are 8 simple tips that will help your home stand out from the crowd.

Open the drapes and blinds. Sunshine is the world's best decorator and nothing is more depressing than walking into a home where shades, curtains and drapes are closed.

Wash the windows
- inside and out. For the same reasons as above, no other small improvement will give you more bang than this.

Clean up the yard.
Cut back overgrown shrubs, particularly those that obscure windows or make it difficult to get to the front door. Mow the grass, rake or pick up downed leaves and branches, put away lawn tools, kids' toys and discard or store any outdoor furniture that is rusty or ragged. If season and funds permit, put down some colorful annuals or put a few nicely planted containers on or near the front porch.

Clutter Control. De-cluttering and organizing your home is very important and not just to make the place look neat. A cluttered home looks smaller and less airy. All of the pictures, knick-knacks, even an exquisite art collection are distracting to many buyers.

Clean your kitchen and bathrooms – Be sure to pay attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. The kitchen may be old but it can still sparkle. Clean the stovetop with a good degreaser and all countertops to remove stains and discoloration. Wash the front of all cupboards and appliances and keep the floor swept and scrubbed for as long as the home is on the market. De-clutter here too, especially the refrigerator door. Ditch countertop appliances, canisters, etc and keep cupboard doors and drawers closed if your hand is not actually in them. It is critical that the bathrooms sparkle. Old bathrooms can be charming and a new shower curtain or fresh flowers on the counter may be all you need. Put out your best towels and, if you have young children, enforce the flush rule.

Refinish hardwood floors.
These are a major selling point when selling your home and sometimes a home's most compelling feature. Often they don't need complete refinishing, just to be roughed up and polyurethaned to obtain that killer shine.

Paint/Repaint Your Home.
If your taste in decorating is a bit strong, it may pay to hire a professional to tone down some of the more dramatic color rooms. Neutral colors are best for marketing your home for sale.

Buy, borrow or rent what you need
. If your furniture shows the effect of raising five kids or if pets have ruined the rugs and upholstery, think about storing or getting rid of your existing furniture and finding just enough more attractive stuff to get by. If your nest is empty and the kids' rooms are beaten up, throw out the furniture, give the walls a quick wash coat of paint and put one or two small flea market pieces - a hobby horse, a bean-bag chair, the old bassinette from the attic - in the room to merely suggest its use.

 

(c) Paige Tepping