One of the most difficult issues home owners have to deal with when selling their home is the best way to prepare the house for sale.  Do they really need to paint the outside of the house, or paint all the rooms inside, or replace the carpets, or upgrade the kitchen and bathroom, or landscape the yard, and on and on.

All these are fair questions.  Your professional Realtor should be able to guide you along in the decision making process.  Since each situation is different, here are some simple basics that may be helpful.

If you do decide to paint the outside of the house, pick a neutral color, or one that pretty much fits in with the neighborhood.  In most cases, painting a house bright pink or purple is not helpful.  In fact, there are Realtors who feel that painting a house pink can cost the seller thousands of dollars at the sale.  Pressure washing is a far less expensive alternative to painting, especially if the exterior of the house is in pretty good condition.

Painting the inside of the house can be helpful, however, again, use neutral colors, or at least not wild colors.  Red or black rooms will not show well and can cost a sale opportunity.  Most buyers expect to paint the interior when they buy the house anyway.

Replacing carpeting is another typical question.  Look at the carpets and see just how bad they are.  Can a good carpet cleaner help make the appearance acceptable?  Are there bad odors (doggy smell) that would be eliminated with a good cleaning?  Remember, replacing a carpet is an investment that is not likely to be returned to the seller.

On to the kitchen or bathroom.  In general, don't remodel these rooms just to sell the house.  If the kitchen has been updated since you bought the house, that's fine.  If it is in need of being updated because the appliances are 25 years old, be prepared to take a little off the price but also know that if you do update the kitchen, a buyer will expect that as part of normal maintenance and won't usually pay a premium for an updated kitchen, or bathroom.

The best things to do to prepare your house for sale are to eliminate the clutter, take down as many pictures from the walls as you feel comfortable with, especially family portraits, because they can distract a buyer from looking at the house itself. Do a general cleaning, keep each room neat and tidy, don't leave dishes in the sink, make the beds everyday, and do not smoke in the house.  The majority of buyers are non-smokers and residual smoke odors will have a very negative impact on buyers.

Then look outside at the yard.  Keep the grass cut, weed the flower beds, if there is a fence with broken slats, fix it.  Do what you can to make the house look attractive from the curbside so the initial impression is a good one.  

Make sure that all the lights work.  Lighting is a very important tool when showing your house.  And keep the air conditioning or the heat on so the house is comfortable when buyers walk through.  A house that is dark and hot, or cold, when a buyer tours it will create a negative impression and cost money at the sale.

The best things to do are not the most expensive.  Keep it neat, clean and ready to show everyday.  A little paint, cleaning the house and the flooring, and generally neat housekeeping will go a long way to make the house show as nicely as possible.