PAINT

A fresh, neutral color is a big sales help.

The spring home selling season starts in the next two months. If you plan on listing your home for sale, take the time now to get your house show-ready. While it's cold, it's a great time to pare down belongings and make the house look more spacious. Once the weather is better, you only need to spiff up outdoors and plant the sign in the yard.

Appeal to buyers

It's not hard to think of things that buyers want. Usually, it's a reasonably attractive house that's in good repair; one they can see themselves in. For most home buyers, that means a move-in ready house they don't need to work on.

One of the first areas home buyers look at is paint. A fresh, neutral color is a big sales help. Take down dated wallpaper and bright kid colors to make the house as move-in ready as possible. This also helps to highlight your house instead of your belongings.

Make space

It's essential that your home has space and that closets and rooms aren't stuffed to the rafters. Aim to pare down at least 25% of your closets and cabinets of their belongings, because home buyers open closet and cabinet doors. Even if your rooms are neat and clutter-free, if one look in a closet shows it stuffed to the brim, the buyers will feel cramped for space.

Think of making space in cabinets and closets as "pre-packing." It's OK if you put boxes in the garage that hold cabinet and closet belongings. What matters most is that potential home buyers can see the closets and cabinets, rather than all the stuff in them.

Refresh, don't renovate

Give each room a thorough cleaning; have the carpets steam cleaned. Be sure to touch up any scuffed wall paint and wipe down doors and woodwork. Consider swapping out light fixtures or plumbing fixtures if they look dated.

Next, add some updated accessories from your local decor store. It doesn't have to be a big change. But stagers will tell you that a few updated and well-placed accessories can help make your space look more updated and refreshed. A good starting point is the front door. A fresh coat of paint and updated porch light can give your entry a lift. Add a new rug inside the foyer and a stylish new arrangement on the foyer table.

Let there be light

Today's new LED lights can sometimes be too dim. When you're selling your house, the more light you have the better. One option is to make sure that lighting is adequate and bright. Opt for soft white LED bulbs versus the daylight types that can sometimes be too harsh.

Another important change? Remove heavy window curtains or dark blinds. In their place, add soft white sheers that let in plenty of light and make the room look brighter. Consider adding white or cream slipcovers to dark or dated furniture to help the room look fresher and more open.

(For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her website, www.redlotusletter.com.)