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Curb appeal may bring potential buyers to the door, but it’s the living spaces inside that sell the home. Many sellers focus on making sure that the living room and den are clean and inviting, but don’t forget kitchens and bathrooms, two areas where remodeling is often expensive. For buyers, a clean, modern, well-laid-out kitchen is a major feature. Bathrooms are also a consideration, because they contribute to overall happiness in living in the home.

1. Clean it once. Then clean it again. The first rule of staging is always making sure that the house is clean, and this is especially true of kitchens and bathrooms. When you are living in a home and using it daily, it can be a challenge to keep these areas clean, but cleanliness tends to be the No. 1 thing people are looking for. Start with a thorough deep cleaning, and then wipe down everything after each use. Even something as simple as toothpaste spots on a mirror can give a potential buyer the feeling that the home is grungy. If you have stainless steel appliances, keep them gleaming and fingerprint-free.

2. Smells be gone! Smell is often the trickiest thing to detect in a home, because your nose adapts so quickly. But new people coming into your home will notice smells instantly and may be put off. Keep an air freshener in each bathroom, preferably one that regularly releases a good, clean scent. Stay away from heavy fragrances; aim for light scents that won’t make it appear that you are trying to mask something. Scents with names such as “fresh laundry,” “clean air,” “ocean breeze,” or “citrus” will leave your rooms smelling good but not overly perfumed.

When you are trying to sell your house, it’s best not to cook heavy meals with strong odors. This isn’t the time for a fish fry or simmering a garlic-laden pasta sauce. Even bacon, that widely loved scent, can put off some buyers. Fried foods in general are best avoided, because not only do the odors hang in the air, but also the resulting oil splatter can make cleaning a chore.

3. Clear out the clutter. This is especially true in kitchens and bathrooms, where your bottles and jars (even the decorative ones) can mask what your buyers are really looking for: counter space. Don’t forget the under-the-counter space, too. Buyers are nosy and rightly so — they want to make sure all their supplies will fit in the home.

If you are selling your home and will be doing a lot of showings, streamline your routines ahead of time. In the kitchen, clean up all your cupboards and use only a handful of pans and dishes for the coming weeks. That way the bulk of your organizational handiwork remains pristine, and your touch-up labor will be minimal. In the bathroom, pare down your products to the essentials. Consider this an opportunity to do a little pre-move purge.

4. Undo that lived-in look. You probably won’t be looking at a major remodel, but make all necessary repairs. Use touch-up paint or a wood-fill pen to fix cabinet door dings. Make sure all closet and cabinet doors open without squeaks or groans. Tighten up all doorknobs and handles. Make sure that the faucets work properly, without leaks. Pull back all curtains and shades so that the home gets as much light as possible, and replace light bulbs that are burned out or flickering.

5. Pop those accessories. Use new or nearly new towels in the bathroom. Make sure that anything on the counter in the kitchen is in as-new condition. Some stagers recommend setting out plates if you have a breakfast bar, but depending on the size, these could clutter the landscape a bit. The idea is to convey the message that this home is well cared for, kept up, and loved. If you use a fruit bowl or flowers to accessorize, be careful to keep an eye on them. Drooping flowers or rotting fruit can undo the good work you’ve done.

Introduce lifestyle accessories, and make your home as comfortable and attractive as possible. Set the dining room table with your best dishes. Put out your only-for-company towels. Make up the spare bed. Hang some fresh curtains. Put some logs in the fireplace. Use your imagination.

Ask your Realtor for advice. Your agent has seen many houses and knows what sells and what doesn’t. If you open yourself up to feedback and use it constructively, you’ll be on your way to a sale before you know it.

Brian Wingert is a professional Cedar Valley Realtor offering Cedar Falls homes for sale, Cedar Falls condos for sale, Waterloo homes for sale, Waterloo condos for sale, Waverly homes for sale, Elk Run homes for sale, Evansdale homes for sale, Hudson homes for sale, and Dike homes for sale.