Once you’ve decided to sell and have settled on either listing your property with a realtor or selling it at auction, the next step is going to be preparing your property for the market.

Each method of selling will require a different strategy and there’s no perfect plan to guar­antee success, but there are steps you can take to improve your property’s appeal to potential buyers.

In both cases, routine property maintenance should be kept up as best as possible. Mowing the yard, trimming shrubs and keeping weeds at bay costs rel­at­ively little but will help trem­endously with its appearance from the road;,which is generally where the first impression is made. Your home may be a spotless showcase of class on the inside, but if the yard is overgrown and the outside appear­ance looks shabby, it’s going to set a poor tone right off the bat and put the buyer in the mindset that they’re looking at a fixer-upper.

Keeping siding, gutters and concrete pressure washed, wood painted and other exterior features in neat order are relatively inexpensive habits that can reap benefits when it’s time to sell.

Decreasing the amount of clutter in and around the house is just as cheap and just as important, especially if it’s just rubbish. A trip or two to the landfill can do wonders, but circumstances may call for a roll off container to be delivered to allow you to clean up at your own pace and dispose of larger items. If the inside of the home has what could politely be called an abundance of collectibles or things you simply can’t bear to part with, you may want to consider renting a storage container to free up space.

In addition to the obstructed view, clutter can make a room appear smaller. You’ll want to make sure that window coverings such as mini blinds or curtains can be easily opened prior to showings. Natural light is your friend when it comes to making rooms look spacious.

Replace any missing or burned out light bulbs. Dark rooms not only seem smaller, but less inviting. This is especially important in a basement where natural light may be at a premium.

Painting the interior of a home prior to listing can be a subjective decision, but as a rule of thumb if the paint is heavily worn, damaged or stained you may want to freshen it up. If you can’t touch it up with the existing color and must repaint the whole room, go neutral on the color choices and lean toward lighter shades.

Don’t worry about what you would prefer, worry about what will make the best impression. Chances are the new owner will redecorate to match their tastes anyway. Fresh and clean is the key.

Larger scale projects such as kitchen or bathroom remodels are essentially a gamble with regards to recouping your investment. You may luck out and remodel it just the way a buyer wants or you may just tack an extra $15,000 onto the price and then sit and twiddle your thumbs wondering why people don’t appreciate your taste in countertops.

Ultimately, it comes down to your timeline for selling. If you are ready to cut it loose and move on, then selling as is at auct­ion or doing some minor cos­metic work, tidying up and handing it over to a realtor is your route. If you aren’t in a hurry and feel like you’re up to the chall­en­ge, maybe you can take on a remodel and test your luck.

Philip Tabb is a broker and auctioneer at Hodges Auction/Gold Star Realty