Like many of you, I find myself in the unfortunate situation of trying to sell a house in one of the worst housing markets. Everyone has advice on how to sell a house and the truth is that having it priced right is probably the most important factor. However, let’s face it, no one wants to enter a dirty, dark, smelly place and imagine living there. Instead, most people have fantasies about their life and future and you need to clean out and clear up so their fantasies can take root and come alive in your house. Here are a few tips to help:

1. Don’t Take Risks!

Now is not the time to be daring or avant- garde. This is one of the only times I will offer this advice. As a designer, I like to experiment and take risks but when selling a house you need to appeal to the largest amount of people. This does not mean everything must be beige but it does mean to paint that maroon wall a neutral color or take down the purple velvet drapes.

2. Clean it, remove it or cover it up.

Walk around to locate all the possible eye sores and little projects you have been avoiding and finish them. You can’t properly design a space filled with clutter and mess. Clean out closets, garage, pantry, shelves and donate items to charity. They will often pick up large items that are in good condition. Remove personal items and pictures so people can imagine their family and personal items in the space. It might also mean you need to box up and store away extra items. Get carpets cleaned and even drapery especially if you smoke or have pets. If the walls are too dirty and damaged then consider painting them.

3.Remember all your senses.

Many people forget smell. If you are living in your house you usually can’t recognize the distinct smell it might have. I hate potpourri because I think it looks dated and collects dust but try one of those oil diffusers for different areas of your house. Some people bake cookies in the oven before a showing. The smell fills the house and people can have a taste while walking through. Oh and as much as you love your pooch, not everyone does. If possible, it is good idea to have a friend or neighbor watch your dog for an hour or so when there is a showing.

4.First Impressions are key.

People often make a decision regarding whether to buy within the first few seconds of looking at a place. Your exterior and your entry are usually the first things a buyer sees. Trim your trees and shrubs and you can’t plant enough bright flowers. Make sure your front door is freshly painted an inviting color and that the first sight inside your house is appealing and clean.

5. Think light and bright.

Add more lamps. Some showings are in the evening after work so make sure there is light throughout. You want people to feel happy when they enter your house so open curtains, turn on the lights, paint dark walls a light color. Old dark or stained carpet can be covered by tossing a large area rug on top before you place the furniture.

6. Don’t completely empty your house.

In order to judge the size and scale of the space you need to have furniture in the rooms. How can a space looking inviting if it is empty. However, if you have too much furniture remove it so your space looks larger.

When you are all done, get another opinion. Ask a good friend to walk through your house and be brutally honest about what still needs some work.