Spruce up your home for a spring sale

March is prime home-selling time, reported Zillow. Soon, buyers in the U.S. will be out in force perusing lawns, picking through basements and negotiating prices. Sellers planning to put their homes on the market within the next few months must prepare for the checkbook-toting masses by doing a little spring cleaning. But before you start tearing apart your home, look over a few key home-improvement guidelines.

Clean up
The first step in the home-selling preparation process involves a lot of scrubbing. It makes perfect sense. Most buyers won't set foot in a home with dirty, explicitly lived-in interiors. Perform a detailed house sweep and clean out every cobwebbed corner and bursting broom closet. According to Lifehacker, sellers should cut out the clutter as well. Donate or trash unneeded items and rent a storage unit for those essentials you just can't bring yourself to throw out. Additionally, consider hiring a professional cleaning service to get rid of pet smells or other obnoxious odors. Remember, clean interiors signal to buyers that they're investing in a well-maintained home.

According to real estate experts, sellers should de-personalize their homes and give buyers a blank slate, so to speak. Relocate your collection of vintage signage to a storage unit and take down the family photos that line the walls. Once you have extracted all of those picture hangers, patch and repaint. Most home buyers like to see white on the walls, as the plain hue allows them to envision personal paint preferences. Additionally, if you have performed quirky customizations, consider taking them back to stock.

Do some staging
Cleaning up and moving out personal items isn't enough. You also have to stage. Reorganize rooms to best show off features and hide defects. Also, when reconsidering room setup, take into account local buyer profiles. For instance, if young families are moving into your neighborhood, transform an extra room into a small nursery. If you are really serious about staging, you can even hire a professional home stager.   

Spend to earn
Sellers might want to consider making substantial changes, reported Money. The garage door is a good place to start. Most homeowners recognize the high-pitched shriek most door chains emit after years of regular use. According to This Hold House, you can cut down on the cacophony by adding noise-proof rubber padding to the equation. You can swap the whole thing – motor and all – for a few hundred dollars. And, consider replacing the door with a more aesthetically-pleasing model. You can nab a new door for $3000 to $8000, including labor.

Consider curb appeal
Buyers often place a high premium on curb appeal. Of course, this makes perfect sense – initial gut feelings mean a lot. In fact, studies have show that consumers who act on inexplicable urges are normally more satisfied with their purchasing decisions than those who take an analytical approach, reported Psychology Today. So, make sure you thoroughly address the exterior of your home before putting it on the market. Repaint and reseal outdoor surfaces such as doors and window frames. Also, address any landscaping flaws and plant some nice flowers. Daylilies, petunias and zinnias are good for springtime. 

Prepare for an energy-efficient future
According to the National Association of Home Builders, energy efficiency is particularly important to modern homebuyers. To meet buyer expectations, sellers must first request an energy audit to spot deficiencies. Once you have fixed key trouble areas, maximize your home's efficacy by making a number of small changes. Install low-flow bathroom and kitchen sink fixtures, switch to compact florescent light bulbs and install more ceiling fans to cut back on the need for air conditioning. Additionally, programmable thermostats lower utility bills and improve overall energy-efficiency, reported U.S. News & World Report. Don't worry too much about the cost of these improvements. The Department of Energy offers tax breaks to homeowners who meet its energy-efficiency standards.