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Guide To Maximizing Curb Appeal – Knowing Exactly What To Check Off Your List

CURB APPEAL is HUGE when trying to sell your home.  It’s about setting one’s mood at first glance, whereby any prospective home Buyer would find themselves excited by your home; wanting to find out more to discover what lies behind your front door.  It’s about grabbing ahold of a home Buyer’s visual sense of your home. As a Realtor in Carmel California, I’ve advised numerous home Sellers on what they can do to make their homes curb appeal….riveting.

You’re wondering what areas of your home are the most important to pay attention to when maximizing curb appeal – where do you begin?  Here is a checklist below that will help you to do exactly what you need to do to spruce up your home’s curb appeal.

✅  Driveway And Sidewalk

Remove dirt and debris from your driveway and sidewalks. A good pressure cleaning treatment is ideal. Also, if your driveway and sidewalk have cracked concrete, asphalt or pavers, now is a good time to repair those areas and a resurfacing might even be beneficial.

Don’t forget about the sides along your driveway and sidewalk, be sure that they are neatly edged by you or your gardener, where no weeds or grass is encompassing over the edges.

✅  Lawn

Get your grass green – the lusher and weed free, the more appealing. Water. Lots of water. If you live in an area where your water usage is restricted, then simply follow the local ordinance lawn watering guidelines – just make sure you’re watering your lawn.  Got a few bare spots? Go to your local Home Depot or garden store and buy a few square feet of sod or whatever is needed to cover up the barren spots. Now is not the time to throw down some seed; time is not on your side.

✅  Trees

Trim your trees of any dead branches. Particularly, if you’re here in Southeast Florida with us, it’s common place to have dead palm tree fronds hanging and blowing in the wind. Be sure to keep the trees neat.

What do your garden beds look like? If you see weeds and dirt, it’s time to clean them up. Start by pulling out any weeds. And if topsoil is visible, it’s best to add a layer of mulch to hide the dirt. Don’t forget the garden bed edges either, by ensuring that you or your gardener uses a edger to properly trim the area that lines between the garden bed and grassy lawn.

Remove any wilting or dead plants and replace with springy new plants. Bring some color to your garden beds and remember, there are some brilliant shades of green that will do just fine

✅  Garden Beds

What do your garden beds look like? If you see weeds and dirt, it’s time to clean them up. Start by pulling out any weeds. And if topsoil is visible, it’s best to add a layer of mulch to hide the dirt. Don’t forget the garden bed edges either, by ensuring that you or your gardener uses a edger to properly trim the area that lines between the garden bed and grassy lawn.

Remove any wilting or dead plants and replace with springy new plants. Bring some color to your garden beds and remember, there are some brilliant shades of green that will do just fine.

✅  Doors

At a minimum, that requires no additional cost, be sure to thoroughly clean your front door of dirt and insects.  If a prospective Buyer is greeted by an unsightly front door with insects and webs hanging, they’re immediately concerned about what the inside may look like once they step over the threshold.

If your door could benefit from a coat of paint, that would be ideal, plus it’s affordable.

✅  Front Door Handle

Has your door handle seen it’s better days? Consider changing it out if it’s dull and aged.

✅  Welcome Mat

If your current mat located at the foot of your front door has seen it’s better days, now is a good time to replace it with a fresh, new welcome mat. Plus, a welcome mat can go along way in ridding your home of unwanted dirt brought in by prospective home buyers.

✅  Windows

Make them shine so the birds will fly through them or at least try to fly through them. Try a bucket of warm water with a few cups of vinegar added. Or if your windows are really dirty you might have to wash with a bucket of soapy water, squeegee and then finish with the vinegar/water mixture. Wipe down and dry. Know that newspaper can make for a great way to dry them. Or if you no longer read a newspaper due to our digital age, try some packing paper that you may already have from a mover you’ve hired to move you and your family.

✅  House Numbers

Consider updating your home’s house numbers to what’s the latest trend for identifying a home’s address. There are many styles to choose from that will fit your home’s design style.  You can get ideas online if you are not sure what you’d like.

✅  Front Patio/Porch

Perhaps one of the most powerful ways in which to maximize your home’s curb appeal is to stage your front porch.  It’s a way to make your home smile from the outside, simply by setting up an area that says; welcome to our home…can’t you just imagine living here?!

Whether you have a simpler, small scale area or a full scale large front porch, there are a number of things that you can do to set the stage for what awaits for a prospective Buyer inside, and remember to always reduce the clutter.

Small scale front patio/porch – add a large flower/plant pot or two with freshly planted flowers or bright, colorful foliage that would flank the front door. Or consider an attractive decorative outdoor accessory that will compliment your home’s style.

Larger front patio/porch – if your home has the larger footprint for patio furniture, tables, etc., you’ll find it a lot easier to draw in the Buyer with an attractive combination of patio furniture. And adding an outdoor rug under the seating area will tie it all together.

Clean your patio furniture or put on a fresh coat of paint, if needed or possible. What do your seat cushions look like? Are they faded and/or torn? Be sure to replace them if they’re worn and tattered or clean them if you can remove any stains.

Continue with the flower/plant pots as you would with the small scale front patio/porch discussed above.

It’s all about creating a conversation area on your patio. Let the Buyers imagine themselves sitting down to a morning cup of coffee or a evening glass of wine or beer.  Or just relaxing while they watch their kids play around in the front yard.

✅  Mailbox

If your mailbox is leaning or has a few dings in it, now before selling your home, you could replace it, paint it or repair the box. Or if you live in a community with matching mailboxes and your Homeowner’s Association keeps the mailboxes in good condition, you’re in luck…you won’t have to worry about a shoddy mailbox.

✅  Roof And Gutters

With the recent introduction of drone aerial camera photography and videos from above, a dirty or really old roof will be glaring in the images taken. Not all Real Estate Agents use drone photography, yet those that do understand this very well.

Not only will a dirty roof be clearly visible from above, it’s also an integral part of making sure your homes’ curb appeal is maximized when seen from the street. Have your roof pressure cleaned and clean out your gutters.  Don’t let a prospective Buyer notice the plants growing out of your gutter or a filthy, dirty roof.

✅  Fence

Repair a fence in need of repair. Closely manicure any shrubs, plants or trees nearby the fence to free it of any overgrown areas. Allow for easy access through the fence gate if your gate is not locked.

✅  Trash And Recycle Cans

Tuck your trash and recycle cans away. Make sure they are hidden from the curb and keeping them in the garage for the showing time period would be ideal if you have the space. It’s nice to also wipe them down from dirt or cobwebs in case they are visible.

✅  Pool

While the pool area can not likely be seen from the curb, it is important to include it as part of your curb appeal preparations being an extension of the front yard. Have your pool cleaned, remove pool toys and anything around the pool that shows as clutter.

✅  Grilling Area

Again, like the pool area, your grilling area is an extension of your front yard so make sure it too is clean and ready for grilling. You can emphasize your grilling area by having any grill cover removed and positioned well on your back patio. If your grill area includes an outdoor Kitchen it would be beneficial to stage it too with things such as utensils, hot pads, outdoor dishware, etc. Or what about that outdoor pizza oven you have? Stage it with a pizza and sauce before it goes in the oven.

✅  Back Yard Lawn Furniture

Clean your patio furniture, repair any hanging straps or paint it, if needed. Also, be sure to arrange your backyard lawn furniture just like you set it up on the front patio.  Be sure to have your furniture cleaned and neatly arranged for lounging. Always a great idea to stage a backyard just like you would on a front patio/porch.  Make it inviting for visiting, prospective home Buyers to get a good feel of how they could enjoy life in the backyard.

✅  Christmas Decorations

By all means, make sure they’re packed away, if it’s not the Christmas season.

Wrap Up

As you have likely now learned, much of maximizing your home’s curb appeal doesn’t always have to mean you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars, but rather in knowing what you should address and what home Buyers will be focusing on when they come calling on your home.

Use this checklist and print it out if that will help. Start with the first item and go through making sure that you have addressed each item. Once you’re finished, you’re that much closer to being ready to market your home for sale and to sell it quickly and for top dollar.

 

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Things You Should Put Away When Selling Your Home

You want buyers to focus on the features and upgrades when they come to view your home. You don’t want to distract them with items that might offend or puzzle them.  It’s amazing how many times we show homes and the buyers will refer to one as “the one with the guns” or the “one with all the pictures”.  Granted, you’re still living in the home but it’s time to start packing up your personal items.  In many ways, packing is an important step in moving on with your life.

Putting away as many of your knick knacks and personal items as possible is a must when getting your home ready to show.  On top of getting rid of clutter, there are some items that should not be left for buyers to see.

Things Buyers Shouldn’t See When Viewing Your Home:

Guns and Firearms:  You may be an avid marksman with a collection of rifles.  The average person who looks at your home may not own any guns or if they do, they probably only have one or two.  When buyers see a home with a selection of firearms, they become more curious about the sellers than about the home.  They’ll wonder if you’re a hunter or maybe a paranoid survivalist.

They’ll remember your home as the one with all the guns.  You want them to remember your home as the one with the great pool or the big kitchen.  If you have a large safe, put the firearms inside and lock the safe and if you don’t, you should find storage for the gun collection.

Stuffed dead animals:  This one goes hand in hand with the firearms.  It goes without saying that animals lovers will be turned off by your trophies.  Other than fellow hunters, most buyers are at least a little turned off when they see a stuffed animal hanging on the wall.  You may get away with one or two but it’s better not to risk it.  If you have a selection of them they should definitely be packed away.

Jewelry and other valuables:  This one is more for security than how your home looks.  As Realtors, we do our best to screen buyers when showing your home.  And we try to keep an eye on them when they’re viewing your home.  Hard as we try, we can’t see everything.  That beautiful piece of jade that was handed down from your Grandmother could easily be slipped into someone’s pocket.  It’s best to not leave sentimental or valuable items lying around.

Free Speech is your right but it won’t help sell your home:  A photo of former President Bush or President Clinton has a 50/50 chance of turning buyers off or on.  In either case, it takes their attention away from the features of your home.  After they buy your home you can always send them an invite to your party’s next fund raiser. It’s not a good idea to introduce politics before they’ve bought the home.

Family Photos:  Those photos of your kids, grandkids and the pets you’ve had over the years are meaningful to you.  They’re not special to home buyers.  In fact, having your walls covered with family photos will make your home look old fashioned and even dowdy.  Once again, pack them away.  You’ll need to pack them when you move anyway.

Religious items: No matter what your religion, having a excess of religious items on the walls, bookshelves, or tables can be off putting for someone of a different religion or someone who does not practice religion at all.

Every Kitchen Gadget That was Advertised on the QVC Network:  Kitchens are one of the most important rooms of the home. Today’s buyers prefer large kitchens with upgraded counters, cabinets and appliances.  They don’t want to see a juicer, coffee maker, blender, toaster, slicing machine, wine opener, bread machine and other gadgets covering every inch of counter space.  It will make the kitchen look small and take their attention away from the good features.  Choose two or three gadgets that you use most often.  Put the others away.

Rated R:  Chances are the buyer who comes to look at your home will be a family.  Nude paintings and art work should be tasteful or they should be packed away.  That collection of erotica is likely to provoke giggles and embarrassed looks from buyers.  This includes the collection of provocative magazines.  Find a drawer for them or pack them up.

Boxes That Have Already Been Packed:  A common mistake sellers make is to put boxes that have been packed into a spare bedroom or the garage.  As the stack of boxes grows, buyers can barely walk through the area.  It leaves the impression that the room or garage is much smaller than it is.  The cost of the storage facility will be worth it if it gets more money for your home.

Getting Ready For The Big Move: You may be looking forward to moving but packing is never much fun.  It will be easier if you start packing before you list your home.  You’ll be able to put away your most important possessions and leave the rest for the moving company.  Any of the above items should be packed away before buyers are allowed into your home.  After you’ve de-cluttered and put away distractions, start packing.  Anything that you won’t be using for the next three months should go in a box.  You’ll be happy you did when you have 30 days or less to move.

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Stage Like A Pro: 3 Ways To Set Your Home Up To Sell

Selling Your Home Is All About Grabbing The Attention Of Home Buyers.

How can you grab the attention of a home Buyer, you ask? There are a number of ways to draw a Buyer in, for them to want to see more, to want to know more, to want to consider your home, as being perfect for them and/or their family. Here are some tips and advice from a few professionals for Sellers to set the stage for the home they’re trying to sell.

 

STAGED JUST RIGHT to sell Staging a home is about how you present your home to Buyers. It’s just one part of the home selling package in getting a home sold.  It’s not an option, it’s an important requirement, since you want to compete and win a Buyer over from a nearby competing home

 

Staging a home can mean hiring a professional  depending upon your individual needs and budget or it can mean taking the advice of a skilled Real Estate Agent who can advise you how to set your home up and set the stage to draw Buyers in.  If you’re fortunate enough to find a Real Estate Agent who also has such knowledge, you’ll be that much better off in working towards getting your home sold.

 “By properly showcasing and preparing your home for sale, you are giving your buyers the vision and the emotional connection needed to motivate them to buy. If they cannot feel or see themselves living in your home, they’re off to the next showing.” –

Red Barrinuevo | Property Stylist, Interior Decorator

1. Allow Buyers To Imagine Themselves Living In Your Home.

Below are easy ways to do just that. Put yourself in the Buyer’s shoes and imagine walking into a home and visualizing you and/or your family living there. It’s pretty easy to do when you’re so excited about buying a home.  81% of Buyers are able to visualize a home as their future home when it has been staged*.

Depersonalize: Many Buyers don’t have the ability to look through your personal stuff to picture their family living there.  Why not make it easy for them. The more you have to make them work, the harder it will be to sell your home.   

“The less your home displays your own personal signature when selling, the greater the chance that buyers will have the ability to emotionally connect and envision themselves living there.  It is in this magical moment that the offer comes in.” –

Lorrie White (a.k.a. The Secret Weapon)

Make it Light and Bright:  It’s incredible what light and brightness can do to one’s mood.  Just search the internet to discover the effect of light on one’s mood.  It’s been known to lift the spirits of depressed and melancholy individuals. A gloomy dark interior can be a real downer! With this in mind, it only makes sense to open up your blinds & curtains to reveal the sunshine and turn on all the lights in your home when a Buyer’s showing is scheduled. Replace those burnt out, missing light bulbs that you’ve been meaning replace.

Shiny Clean:  Shiny clean will bring a smile to any Buyer’s face, even if the Buyers themselves are not such neat & clean people.  Nobody likes to discover another’s dirt and grime. If it’s there, they’ll offer you less money for your home: a lot less than the cost to clean it up. Pretty simple.

Organize:  Don’t let your home be overwhelmed with clutter, put your stuff where it goes or clear it out.  Create order, whether visible or tucked away inside cupboards, cabinets and closets.  Buyers do look inside, so show them that your home offers just the right amount of storage which is very important to buyers!   If you’re not usually an organized person,  you’d best become one or hire someone to organize for you. You get one shot with a buyer.

“Homes that are properly staged before listing stand a better chance of appealing to potential buyers and thus selling faster, since staging helps buyers imagine “themselves” living there. Spending a little time and money to ensure that their house is viewed as “move in ready” will provide an excellent ROI (or return on investment) to the sellers.” – Maureen Bray

2. Open Up Pathways

 

Don't let your furniture block homes pathwayAllow buyers to meander effortlessly through your home. Buyer’s should be able to walk from one room of your home to another without worrying about tripping or running into a piece of furniture or fixture.  Rearrange the furniture to open up a pathway in the home. Road blocks in a home are uninviting for a home Buyer.

 

 

3. Accentuate Positively

Special Features:  Perk up your home. If your home has any special features, accentuate them. Accentuate the positive. We’re always told to accentuate our own personal positive features and the same holds true with our homes.  Focal points in our homes are the positive features of our home.  When we accentuate the focal points, it enables the home Buyer to imagine how they’ll likely benefit from the focal point or enjoy it. For example, I recall another home Seller that had a beautiful, brick fireplace with a lovely wood mantel that this home Seller really didn’t use and certainly didn’t  accentuate, so it appeared as if it was just tossed aside having little or no value. I recommended that we move some furniture around to have the fireplace “set up on a pedestal” so to speak. It was as if the room was now smiling with the fireplace being framed as a beautiful feature in their room.  The home Sellers actually, said, “… wow, isn’t that lovely….look at our fireplace…”. The fireplace had a brand new light focused on it.  Fireplaces can be beautiful focal points of a home and it’s best to let the Buyer see the focal point in it’s optimum setting; setup and highlighted ready to welcome the new Buyer.

Beautiful Windows:  What about those beautiful windows that you have in your home – are you blocking them or accentuating them? Not only do you not want to block them, but you want to make sure your home’s windows are sparkling clean.

My favorite for cleaning windows is to clean with a bit of vinegar in a bucket of warm water. You take a rag wet with the mixture of vinegar and water and then you dry it off with newspapers. Now you’ll have some beautiful sparkling clean windows for home Buyers to admire, which can only accentuate the positive of your home’s features. So go and clean those windows!

Beautiful things:  You can also accentuate a home for sale with a fresh, neutral hued coat of paint on walls and trim.  Put out fresh linens, new bedding, new towels, new throw pillows, fresh flowers. The list goes on and on of what can perk up a home.

 

Accentuate the positive in your home

“The reason you want to stage your home is so Buyers can see the possibilities and “livability” of your property. Removing any distractions or detractions, and enhancing your home’s assets will go a long way in putting your home on a Buyer’s short list of must-see homes and in improving its perceived value.”

Kathy Streib

In Summary: Making your home memorable is the goal of any home staging effort or professional.  When selling a home, make your home stand out from the other homes for sale, this gets you one step closer towards selling it.

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Staging and Pre-Listing Shortcuts to AVOID…

The primary goal when selling any type of property is to try and get the best possible price, whether it is a small one-bedroom cottage or a waterfront estate. Unfortunately, there are a number of ways some sellers try to make their home look better than it actually is. The vast majority of these methods should be avoided. These pre-sale and staging tricks to avoid are meant to make the property look more appealing to the potential buyer, while often disguising  specific problems that would require a larger investments to remedy.

These shortcuts are never a good idea and both the seller and listing agent need to be on the same page about that. Using devious methods to sell a home are unethical and should always be avoided. Here are several pre-sale and staging shortcuts to avoid when selling your home:

Never Try to Hide the Noise:

Always come clean with the noise details the moment a potential buyer asks. If they are smart they will drive by your property at different times of the day or night and hear the issues for themselves. Moreover, while it is often wise to put up hedges or large fences to combat noise levels they rarely eliminate it.

Only allowing showings during times you know the noise is abated, or attempting to persuade buyers the noise is just a temporary problem, usually backfire. If they think you are covering something up, your chances of selling them the home diminish significantly.

Lying About the Neighborhood or Neighbors:

Most people will agree there is no perfect neighborhood. While it can be beneficial to have things like neighborhood watches, sidewalks, public outside lights, and even home owner associations, trying to sell your neighborhood as the most incredible place in town simply does not work. What you think is important about your community may be unimportant to potential buyers so it is advisable to let them notice these things themselves.

Covering up MOLD is a Bad Idea:

Mold is a big issue for any property that has it! While it is often found in older homes, or those with basements that are not property insulated against damp, it can happen in any home, even new construction. Because of the dangers that mold bring (both to your health and home) it is never a good idea to try and hide dampness or the mold itself.

If you take the time to talk with a professional paint company, they will tell you painting over mold will not make it go away. Unfortunately,  homeowners often try to do this! The mold will always re-appear if you do not take care of the issue that is causing it to appear in the first place.

If you cannot afford mold remediation you need to disclose the issue so buyers know exactly what they are dealing with.

Repainting Old Rundown Fixtures:

Staging and Pre-Sale Tricks to AvoidFixtures like windows and doors are often the first to get ruined under the constant influence of weather. This is especially true if they are particularly old. If the property is in an area where the fixtures are more likely to get dilapidated quickly.

Many sellers resort to repainting fixtures to make them look new or air-tight. This can fool buyers but seldom fools a Home Inspector. It is best to repair, replace, or provide the buyers with a credit to get these repairs/replacements handled.

Hiding Plumbing or Electrical Issues:

Nobody wants to buy a home that has plumbing or electrical issues unless they know exactly what the problem is and can either fix it themselves or hire someone to resolve it.  Most Buyers or Home Inspector will be checking closely to ensure they do not see any physical issues.

Buyers are keenly aware that repairs/replacement of systems can be costly and if it looks like you have tampered with things to avoid resolving the problem, they will most likely walk away from the deal. Also, unprofessional work on these systems stand out, so if you’re unable to do the work professionally, ensure you hire someone who can.

Going Wild with Staging Tricks:

Of course, when you are expecting buyers, you will want to make your home as appealing as possible. Ensuring the lighting works, the taps are not leaking, and everything is clean and in its place is a common sense approach that all sellers should take. What homeowners should NOT do is go gaudy, over-the-top, or obviously “cheap” when staging their home.

Trying to make clutter look chic, using cheap or artificial props (i.e. food and flowers), displaying excessive religious, political, or sexual content, using too many scents/aromas, rose petals in the bedroom, and even baking cookies or bread can put off buyers.

Final Thoughts:

The expectation is that you will be honest and disclose everything about your property when you are trying to sell. However, don’t be surprised if buyers are skeptical and use the “trust but verify” approach with your home. Don’t take it personally!

If you have any doubts about what information to provide and what you need to keep to yourself, talk to your AGENT. They will be a huge help as they deal with these issues daily!

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Make Your Property More Attractive for Homebuyers

Ensure a Good First Impression

Homebuyers make up their minds about a property in the first few minutes. Make sure your home makes that vital first impression. New paint does wonders. Make sure the front yard is flawless with manicured lawns and attractive foliage. Add a hanging basket or some flower pots at the door. The front door is also critical, make sure the hardware is presentable.

Make them Feel Welcome

Don’t forget buying a home is in many ways an emotional decision, so it’s important to give buyers that warm and fuzzy feeling! Keep the temperature in the home at a comfortable level. Light some candles in the bathrooms and make sure it smells nice and clean. Have fresh flowers around the house.

But don’t make it too personal

Make them feel welcome, but don’t go too far. Too much personality, for example in the form of personal possessions and family photos makes it hard for buyers to visualize living in the space.

Clear out the Clutter

Make sure your property is clutter-free for all your viewings. This will make your home look and feel bigger, and the buyers will be able to imagine how they could make the space their own. Make sure that there is a clean, logical flow through the home by getting rid of all excess furniture. Less is more.

Improve Lighting

This is another way to make your home seem more spacious. Open all your curtains and flood the space with natural light. Make sure the darker rooms are also lit. Invest in some light fixtures and fittings, and place them strategically to illuminate even the gloomiest of areas.

Decorate to Sell That House

Slap on a fresh coat of paint in a neutral color to give it that blank canvas look but do not be too sterile. Have some contrast in the trim as well as the ceiling. Neutral colors make properties appear lighter and brighter, so take advantage of this inexpensive and easy option. You may also add color with decorative window coverings, rugs, and towels.

Clean Up Your Act

Your home should be spotless. Make sure the beds are made and the countertops are free of clutter. The dishes should be put away and nothing should be scattered on the floor. Don’t forget to tidy your garden too: Cut the shrubs back, sweep the patio, and wipe down the backyard furniture.

Those Minor Repairs You Put Off

It is easy to forget things such as broken doorknobs, cracked tiles, holes in walls and damaged but buyers will notice them first thing as they are walking around your home.

Maximize Your Space

The golden rule of selling is to make your space look and feel bigger and better than what your competitors have to offer. We’ve already mentioned that lighting your home, both naturally and artificially, can maximize your assets, but getting rid of bulky furniture can also be a great way of making the most of what you have. Large pieces of furniture make a space feel smaller, so put these items into storage and dress your home with more compact pieces.

Don’t Forget Your Floors

Make the investment of improving and investing in those floors. Worn carpets and damaged vinyl floors need to be replaced, and wooden floors especially should undergo some maintenance. This is not chap by any means, but the prospect of selling your home for the best possible price will likely outweigh the cost.

Remove Pets During Showings

You do not need to remind the potential buyer that the previous owner kept pets.

Try to remove your pets from your home when you are showing the home. Having a pet in the house or yard can create complications for your agent while trying to show the house, and puts your pet at risk of accidentally getting out during the showing. There are also liability issues to deal with as well. They may react differently to stranger and it may cause them stress. All pet-related damage should be repaired prior to showing the home. Make sure to also remove all odors and stains. New visitors will notice smells when they come to view the house. This is not something you want to happen. Have your carpet and floors professionally cleaned or replaced. Pick up any messes in the backyard and have any sod replaced and other damage repaired.

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