Rick Bisson“You’ll never get a second chance to create a great first impression,” rings true as ever when it comes to selling a home. No matter how good the interior of a home looks, buyers judge a home before they walk through the door. Simply mowing the lawn, raking fallen leaves and pulling weeds can do wonders to improve the overall appearance of the home’s exterior. Go above and beyond by adding a new doormat, a potted or hanging plant and new house numbers.

Most buyers decide if they want to buy a house within the first few minutes of entering it. The entryway sets the tone for the whole house. That’s a big responsibility for what is generally a small space. Staging the entryway communicates the desired feelings potential buyers should have as they walk through the home. Add a runner and a mirror that match the home’s aesthetic to make the space look bigger. Add a few finishing touches by putting in a small bench, a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies.

For potential buyers, the kitchen is the room that can make or break the sale. An upgraded, attractive kitchen can make the home irresistible. Countertops are highly visible, so if any kind of rip-and-replace work will be done, this is the place. Fixtures and hardware are also surprisingly effective kitchen upgrades. Polish off the kitchen by clearing extra appliances off the counters, removing all messages and clippings from the refrigerator and adding a new throw rug.

When buyers tour homes for sale, they’re taking a close look at the bathrooms. For some, the sheer number of bathrooms in a home is critical – for others it is the condition of the existing bathrooms. If the bathroom is outdated, consider replacing the vanity and sink with a more updated look. Much like in the kitchen, fixtures and hardware are also surprisingly effective kitchen upgrades. Give the bathroom a new feel by replacing the old shower curtain, adding coordinated towels and accessories and organizing the linen closet.

As homey and warm as a bedroom may be, a personalized, lived-in look won’t help it sell the house. Consider swapping out window dressings and bedding for a more spacious, calm, neat and elegant look. Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of the closets then neatly organize what’s left in there. Round out the bedrooms by adding a few elegant decorative pillows and a new accent rug.

The living areas are often the focal point as they may be the main entertaining spaces in the home. If the room tends to be dark and crowded, consider adding additional lamps and removing excess furniture. If applicable, consider cleaning the fireplace. Add a few finishing touches by displaying linens on the table, adding a new area rug, and adding a vase of fresh-cut flowers.

To some buyers, the basement and garage are expendable. To others, these areas are indispensable. If the home has these areas, capitalize on them. Box up and store any unnecessary items, organize all areas and broom sweep the floor areas. Finish up by removing any cobwebs and adding additional storage systems.

First impressions are everything. If you are considering selling your home, be sure to get in touch with your local Realtor, who can take a look at your home through fresh eyes and advise you which updates will help your home create the strongest impression for potential buyers.

This column is produced by Rick Bisson and his family, who own Bisson Real Estate with Keller Williams Realty of Midcoast and Sugarloaf.