Selling a Home? 5 House Hacks Get You Ready for Market

Today's rebounding real estate market may be bringing better news to buyers and sellers, but facing the prospect of selling a home is still a daunting task. It's up to you to make your house shine when it goes on the market or it may wind up sitting until it's stale.

The first thing you need to do is to clear out and organize your stuff. You need to get some feng shui going with your furniture. And, you need to cue up some curb appeal with fresh plantings. But, what do you when your house is de-cluttered and staged, but it still looks, well, lived in?

Use these 5 funny tricks to help your home look its best before it goes on the market.

1. Moisturize Your Woodwork

Woodwork can wind up looking old and dull and dry after years of exposure to sun or water or just general family use. Look around your house for woodwork that looks past its prime. Bathrooms and kitchens are the usual suspects, but you can really find it anywhere around your home.

Sanding and refinishing your woodwork can be quite time consuming (if you do it yourself) and expensive (if you hire someone to do it). Instead try this quirky trick to get your shine on.

What you'll need:

  • A thick, petroleum-based moisturizer like Vaseline® or Aquaphor®
  • A lint-free white cloth or old towel

Apply a generous coat directly to that dull woodwork. Work it into the wood until it starts to shine. Let it sit for a new minutes then wipe any excess moisturizer off with the cloth. Wipe it well enough so that you aren't left with a tacky layer of goo.

This trick works on door frames, counter tops, even on outdoor decks. One note of caution -- do not use this trick on flooring as it can make the surface somewhat slick.

2. Brush Your Grout

Tile is a gorgeous addition to a home. That is, until grimy, stained grout turns your attractive selling feature into a major drawback.

DIY sites often suggest removing and replacing the grout yourself. Just remember, these are the same people who think installing your own plumbing is a cinch. For us mere mortals, there is a simpler way to put the best foot forward when it comes to your tiles.

What you'll need:

  • Whitening toothpaste
  • An old toothbrush
  • A damp, white cloth

Apply toothpaste to the brush, dip in a little water, then scrub the grout. Let it sit a few minutes before wiping it clean with the cloth. Repeat as necessary. It's pretty simple, though it does require a bit of elbow grease.

3. Scrub Away Stains

Let's stay with the kitchen and bath for a minute to address the issue of stains and mildew. What else can you say but "ew?" Sure, you can use harsh chemicals to clear up these tricky trouble spots, but not everyone wants to and they aren't advised for every surface. Instead, try this natural way to return your bathroom or kitchen to its former glory.

  • Cream of tartar
  • Lemon juice or white vinegar

Make a mixture of lemon juice or white vinegar and cream of tartar. Use just enough liquid to make paste. You can use this instead of bleach, especially in those places where you might be worried about using a bleach-based cleaner.

4. Erase Your Walls

Dirty walls have a way of turning off potential buyers. Bright clean walls, on the other hand, can help you sell your home. How can you clean up your act without investing the time, money, and hassle it takes to repaint your walls? Erase them.

What you'll need:

  • Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser
  • Water

Use a damp Magic Eraser to whisk away scuff marks and stains right off those walls. This works like magic on white walls for a fraction of the hassle of painting. On colored walls, be sure to test a small area first. The eraser might actually have the power to erase some of the paint. This works for small touch ups as well as wide swathes of wall.

5. Sprinkle Your Carpets

Pet odors can be a disaster when you are selling a home. Nothing turns off a potential buyer more than the scent of wet dog on your couch or cat pee on your carpet. Trying to cover up Eau de Fluffy only makes it worse. Don't mask the odors, eliminate them.

What you'll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum

Generously sprinkle baking soda over carpets, couches and other upholstery. Vacuum well. Repeat as necessary. If the smells are stubborn, leave an open box or two of baking soda out in the offending room to absorb the odor. Also, it's a good idea to take down and wash any curtains, blankets, and bedding as they can be holding onto scents, too.

Clean Up Your Act

A good, deep clean is the first step to selling a home. Potential buyers need to feel comfortable, which they won't if your place looks dingy and run down. It does mean you'll need to put in some time, but the potential payoff makes it well worth the effort.

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