Selling your home doesn′t just mean hiring a realtor to stick a sign out front. There are a lot of preparations you should make to ensure you get the best offer possible in the shortest time.

Repair. Just because you’ve gotten used to the cracks in the walls and the rattles in the radiators doesn’t mean a buyer will too. If you have hardwood floors that need refinishing, be sure to get it done—hardwood is a huge selling point. And typically, refinishing hardwood floors costs less than tile or new hardwood flooring. Buyers like to snoop around, so be sure to fix any sticky doors or drawers as well.That backdoor you have to kick to open, make the needed adjustment, it could cost you thousands. Finally, don’t forget to address any issues with the exterior—fences, shingles, sidewalks, etc. Electric colors for trim may have been great while you lived in the house, it just may turn off a buyer though, and they won't even get out of their car. After all, without curb appeal, some buyers may never get to see the inside.

Neutralize. You want buyers to see themselves in your home. If your living room has lime green shag, wood-paneled walls, and all your collectibles and personal photographs, this will be much harder for them to do. If the carpet is 15 years old, whether you admit it or not, it has an odor, so go ahead and replace it, or at the very least get it steam cleaned. Try replacing any bold color choices in your floors and walls with something more neutral—beiges, tans, and whites. Repainting and re-flooring will make everything look fresh and new, and help prospective buyers imagine all the possibilities. After all, repainting a room is the least expensive thing you can do to maximize your profit.

Stage. Once your house is clean and updated, it’s time to play dress up. Home stagers can add small details and décor touches that will bring out the possibilities in the various spaces in your home: lamps, mirrors, throw rugs and pillows, flowers, decorative soaps and towels, patio furniture. Home staging can be particularly useful if your home is especially old or if the exterior looks dated. Think of it as a little mascara and rouge—if it’s done right, you notice the beauty, not the makeup. If you have moved out of the house while it is still on the market, it is very important to have a professional stager come in. Empty rooms always look small and most people can't envision what it might look like with furniture. A professional stager will address the room dimensions, make the most of the colors and light, and it will almost make you wonder why you wanted to move.

A final note on appearance, be sure your Realtor has professionally done photographs of the house and yard. Most Realtors do not know how to take good photos, although some do. A point and shoot camera is not what you want for taking quality pictures for a $400,000 house.

Now, relax and let the professionals sell your house so you can move into the next phase of life.