Whether you're looking to cash in on this real estate bubble before it pops--or simply wanting to move to a bigger home or move across the country--selling your home can be more a nightmare than a dream. Not only do you have to find and trust a real estate agent. You need to prep your home for open houses. You need to haggle with prospective buyers. Not to mention, you have to worry about the moving and selling of all of your valuables.



It's almost enough to make you want to live in one home for the rest of your life--just as folks did in your grandparents' day. Don't you want to see just how much?

As hectic and horrible as selling a home may seem, it really isn't so bad if you break it down into a few simple rules. If you don't believe us, read the rules for yourself.

Fuss over the façade. Your home's future owners do not want to worry about repairs and renovations as soon as they move in. So make certain they don't. Be sure to have your home immaculately clean before you invite prospective buyers over. Redecorate if your interior is outdated. And invest in minor renovations if necessary. You'd be surprised what a coat of paint can do.

Focus on the fine details. Prospective buyers will leave no stone unturned when they visit your home. They will test every light switch, run every faucet, and lift up every toilet seat. Everything--and we mean everything--should be in working order before your open house.

Double check for blown out light bulbs and leaky faucets. Scrub the bathroom and clean up any ring around the bowl, tub scum, and any other nasty surprise.

Don't settle for maybes on safety. Ensure that there are no safety hazards anywhere on your property. Something as small as uncovered electrical sockets or as large as an unfenced pool can scare off buyers, especially parents of small children.

Create a soothing selling atmosphere. Imagine the last time you visited a bed and breakfast. Your home should be as welcoming and accommodating as that. One easy way to accomplish this is by brightening up the place. Turn on all your lights for your visitors. Plus, fluff up your bedroom. After all, most people want the bedroom to be the most comfortable spot in the house. Make sure it is--at least when buyers are around.

Clear the joint. Along with the last rule, there is the standard real estate practice of vacating the premises when buyers come for tours. This is done for good reason. Buyers are there to evaluate your home, not meet your sisters, sons, cousins, and cats. So send your family to the mall for a day of shopping, or to the park for a picnic.

Cut the clutter. All of your stuff can get in the way, too. That's why it's important to start packing and storing your personal belongings as soon as you know you're going to move. An empty house is a cleaner looking house is a more attractive house. You don't want your perspective buyer opening a closet and having a bowling ball fall on their head, do you?

Make a killing on said clutter. One option is to simply move your personal items to your new home and create instant clutter there. That's the way of the pack rat. Or, you could sell what you no longer need and turn a quick profit. That's the way of the fat cat.

If you choose wisely--the latter option--be sure not to hold your garage sale on the same days as your open houses. Neighbors in their undershirts and jeans on your front lawn do make for a great sales ploy. Instead, it makes you look desperate and could hurt you come negotiations. Schedule your yard sale on separate days.

Better yet, sell your goods online. Classified Web sites allow you to negotiate with potential buyers, get the best rates for your stuff, and ship it off at your own convenience. And it's all accomplished on your own time, inside your own home (where you can wear your undershirt and jeans and no one will care).

Take a deep breath. Lastly, never let the home-selling experience overwhelm you. Sure, there are a load of responsibilities to take care of. But that is what your real estate agent is there for. They handle all of the grunt work. They do all of the hard talking with the buyer. They make all the follow-up calls. And they showcase your home for you. Your job is just to smile, be polite, and answer the buyer's questions if they come up.