When listing a house to sell I always tell my seller to remove knick knacks, pictures and any personal items. Most people do not have the kind of furniture that makes a house sell. Thousands of dollars are spent on model homes to get the right furniture and the right look. When there are things out on the counters and magnets on the refrigerator it distracts from the house.
Leaving personal things out is a no-no. Buyer's can get in the car and tell me what the seller does for a living and how many kids they have but I ask about the house and they do not have a clue. You do not want them to focus on the stuff. You want them to feel that their "stuff" will fit in.
It is so important to have the house clean. It is awful to walk into a house when the commode has not been flushed and dirty underwear is on the floor. That is not a good impression. What were the seller's thinking? We had an appointment so they knew we were coming.
The front door is a place that most seller's overlook. When the agent is fumbling to get the door open the buyer is eyeballing every spiderweb on the porch. I once had a buyer nix a house because there was a wasps nest on the porch light. It is the little things that make a difference to a buyer. Look around your house as a buyer and you will find things that you don't think about but may be a difference in getting an offer.
If the house is vacant it is important to keep the utilities on. In the heat of the summer your house will look so much better if it is cool!
Another big thing is the yard. It does not hurt to plant a few flowers in the flowerbeds to give it a homey look. The grass needs to be mowed and the bushes trimmed to be desirable to a buyer. If you have a pool it needs to sparkle.
I like to go into a house that the seller has left utility bills so the buyer can get an idea what the electric and gas will run. Especially a first time home buyer will appreciate this.
A little paint can go a long way! If you want top dollar for your home it needs to be move in ready! Most buyers do not want to paint after they move. I would say that is the most important thing to do to get a house ready to sell. Next would be flooring. Go ahead and get the carpet so the buyer can visualize what it looks like. Carpet can make a huge difference in a house.
Make the house available to show at all times. There are so many houses on the market if you say no to an agent they may not get back to your house. That could have been your buyer!