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Preparing for a Showing

As soon as you decide to put your home on the market, all sorts of sprucing-up are in order. But let's assume you've already scrubbed to a fare-thee-well, touched up a bit of paint, cleared most of the stuff off your kitchen counters and straightened out your closets.

What remains to be done last-minute, when an agent is bring in prospective buyers? Plenty.

Go through the house and open every shade (except the one that blocks the used-car lot next door.) Draw the drapes back from your spotless windows; a bright house looks not only more cheerful but also larger.

Turn on lights from top to bottom, even in the daytime; (ever notice the extra sparkle in builders' model homes?). Turn off tv, dishwasher and any other noisemakers. If you leave your stereo on, play neutral easy-listening music very softly. You are trying to set up a seduction scene. Beds made with best spreads, toilet seats down, brand-new towels set out last-minute. If you have time and the right linens, perhaps a beautifully-set dining-room table.

If you have a smoker in the house, empty ashtrays and spray room freshener (even so, some buyers may refuse to enter.) In any event, consider simmering a cinnamon stick or bay leaf for a subtle homey touch.

On any day that isn't absolutely sweltering, dramatize your open hearth with a small fire, kindling perhaps or a pressed log. Get the kids and the dog over next door to the neighbors'. And then go there yourself.

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