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For the last few years, the news about the real estate market was dire. No one was buying. In addition, there were so many foreclosures flooding the market that the thought of putting a house up for sale was tantamount to burning cash on the backyard grill.

Many homeowners used that downturn in the market to focus on their house, including those great remodels that are always recommended: the kitchen remodel, the replacement windows, the new deck on the back.

Now that the housing crisis tide has begun to turn, those  homeowners are now poised to put their homes on the market. But just because the market is looking up doesn’t mean it isn’t competitive. If you are one of those homeowners itching to put the “For Sale” sign up on your lawn, take these tips to heart. They might help your home stand out in a saturated market.

Spruce up the kitchen

The little details matter, and that is especially true in the kitchen. Many real estate experts have made it clear that the kitchen is the true selling point of a home, so making it the best spot in the house can pay off when it’s time to put the house up for sale. Cabinet resurfacing can make those tired old cabinets look like new, simple vinyl tiles can make a floor pop with color, and the right appliances can get attention.

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Give your house curb appeal

The first impression potential buyers have of your home makes a big difference in their final decision. If you can wow them before they even open the door, chances are you could have a sale. So now is the time to install that gorgeous fiber cement siding, or vinyl siding. It’s time to  spruce up that flower garden and install a new steel entry door that provides a sense of both security and welcoming warmth.

Include the appliances

Many homes on the market today are foreclosures, and they have been stripped bare by previous owners. Many potential buyers have seen dozens of houses with no appliances, ceiling fans pulled down, doors taken away and other things that can make you scratch your head with confusion. Make life easier for them by including all appliances with your house when you list it for sale. That will definitely get your place noticed.

Change what you’ve learned to live with

You know that closet door that sticks just a bit? Or that step that is a little soft and needs to be replaced? How about the crack in the driveway that you sometimes trip over if you aren’t paying attention? Those little nuances of your home are commonplace to you, but can be annoying to potential buyers who come to look at your property. Now is the time to fix those little things, because the saying is true: It’s the little things that count.

Make no mistake about it: Selling your house is a competition, and the challenge is fierce. If your home stands out from all others in the neighborhood, chances are you will soon be packing up your bags and arranging a closing.

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.