It's been said that it's only what's on the inside that counts. But that's not true when it comes to selling your house.
Spruce up your front door with a coat of glossy paint in whatever color best suits the style of your home. A cottage-style house may look great with a country blue door, a Colonial may be crying out for a cheerful red door. As long as it's fresh and not too trendy, it'll attract positive attention. Make sure the door doesn't squeak when it opens, too!
Say "Welcome" with a few pots of seasonal plants and a decorative door mat. If the porch is large, make sure there's a comfortable seat or swing in good condition. Check that steps and railings are stable and in good repair.
Impress potential buyers with attention to detail. Clean or replace all front-door accoutrements, whether it's the doorbell (if you don't have one, install one; some actually run on batteries), the address numbers, the doorknocker, the doorknob and key lock -- even the mailbox. A stylish new set of hardware can help make a great first impression.
Wash your exterior windows until they shine. Don't forget to clean shutters, gutters, and siding, as well. It's never a bad thing to look like an overachiever in the home maintenance department.
Power wash the sidewalk, driveway, and any other surfaces leading up to your front door. Let the area dry before prospective buyers arrive. Make sure garbage cans and recycling bins are empty, clean, and put out of sight.
If your garage is visible from the street in front of your house, make sure it's as good looking as your house -- and matches the style of your home. If your garage door has seen better days, consider painting it, or replacing it with one of the newer models that add architectural interest with rows of windows or carriage-house styling.
The tricycle, the wheelbarrow, the sprinkler, the Frisbee that finally slid off the roof -- put it all out of sight so that your yard looks bigger, cleaner, and more appealing. If Fido usually parks outside, clean up his area (including doing doggy doo-doo duty and removing "Beware of Dog" signs!), and put away his bones and toys. Send all pets "on vacation" during buyer visits.
You don't have to have the fanciest flora and fauna in the neighborhood to impress a potential buyer, but you must have a well-maintained, nice-looking yard. Mowed grass, well-kept flowerbeds, and a fence that's in good condition will all get a thumbs up. If your outside looks good, buyers will already be anticipating a great inside.
Make sure no large trees are too close to the house or to power lines. Not only can trees cramp a home's style by making the home dark or obscuring interesting architectural details, they can lean over dangerously and fill the gutters with leaves. Careful pruning will let the sun shine in and keep your home safe.