By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Are you thinking of putting your home up for sale?  It can be a big task.  And it’s important to be aware of the things potential buyers will be looking for.  In this week’s Angie’s List report, Jim Donovan has some things you should be doing to improve the chances your home will sell quickly.

It’s a competitive market so expect home buyers to be highly critical.

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“So you really need to get back to the basics and make sure your house really shines, is your house clean, inside and out? Is everything organized? A lot of times people think that their own interior design is a selling point, it usually isn’t,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

So in order to get your home ready to sell, you need to take a really close look at it too.

“Look at your hard does it need cleaned up, plant some simple flowers, are their cob webs around your front door, get rid of them, remember that’s the door the potential buyers going to use. On the inside freshen things up, if you need a fresh coat of paint this is the time to go neutral town down those bold colors; also look at your flooring if your carpet has been neglected for some time maybe a fresh cleaning is what’s in order,” said Hicks.

But no matter how great your home looks getting it sold requires the help of a good realtor.   So check them out carefully.

“When shopping for a realtor you want someone that is going to get your house sold quickly and at the price you are looking for so you want to do your due diligence and ask them questions. How long as their average house been on the market, how close to the original asking price did the house sell, and what is their expertise in your neighborhood,” said Hicks.

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More from Angie:

1.)  Make repairs: When people are thinking about buying a house they are looking for reasons to rule it out and simple things like a leaky faucet or a missing floor tile can be a turn-off for buyers. Take the extra step and make these small repairs service your home’s mechanicals regularly.

2.)  Keep it clean: You never know when someone may stop by and want to see your home so keep it clean and tidy. Remove as much clutter as you can – this will help make the house look cleaner. Don’t forget the outside too – keep your grass mowed and weeds out of flowerbeds

3.)  Stage your home: If you have fewer personal belongings, prospective owners can picture their own belongings in the home more easily. Bring in some furniture pieces to fill an empty room.

4.)  Online listings: The Internet is a popular place for people who are looking to buy a home and it’s one of the first places they look. Find a real estate company that has online listings and offers a virtual tour, photos. Attractive, high quality photos are crucial. The first image is very important to buyers using online search tools. They will either click on that home or skip it and move on.

Working with a real estate agent

  • Ask questions: Many agents offer free market analyses. Before choosing and agent, ask how they came up with their price, their opinion of what’s happening in the market, etc.
  • What experience do you have? You want an agent with a proven history of sales in your area. Ask how long they have been in the business, how many homes they sold last year, and the average number of days those homes were on the market.
  • Do you have references? Ask for references and talk to former clients whose homes they’ve sold to get their experience on how the process went.
  • Marketing plan: Get a copy of the agent’s marketing plan, review it, and make suggestions if appropriate. A good agent should tailor a marketing plan specifically for your home – not just list the home online. He or she should be creative in making your home stand above the rest.
  • Communication is key: Your agent should be in contact you frequently and keep you updated on your home and other homes for sale in your area. If you decide yours isn’t doing enough, find another again who will.
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Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3