Selling a home can be difficult if you’re young or inexperienced. Even for housing-market veterans, there are still issues that crop up unexpectedly. However, I’ve come up with a plan that will allow you to prepare your home for sale by staying proactive to avoid any unpleasant mishaps.

Step 1: Check Your Utilities

Making sure your utilities are functional is a huge part of selling your house, and it can vary depending on the season you’re in. All year you need to have functional electric and water, but during the summer it’ll be more important to have air conditioning, while winter requires heat. You should check your hot water heater year-round, since few people take completely cold showers.

Step 2: Put Away Your Family Photos

House showings have the potential to be awkward if you don’t approach them the right way. You should always be sure to put away family photos and any keepsakes that are obviously personal to you. Instead, consider putting up some nice photos of nature or generic knick-knacks. Buyers don’t want to feel like they’re kicking a happy family out of their home, so don’t give them any reason to feel that way.

Step 3: Deep Clean

This one should go without saying, but deep cleaning is a must. Make yourself a chore chart for everyday chores and stick to it. Also, pick one day where everyone has off and tackle the entire house. You must make sure to clean in oft-neglected places, such as behind the refrigerator and under the bed. Potential buyers will picture themselves living in whatever house you present, and if the house looks dirty, they will envision their house being dirty and will move on. To make sure you don’t forget any nooks and crannies, write a list of places you need to touch up before each showing.

Step 4: Stage Your Home

Staging your home requires a few steps. First, you should aim to place your furniture in a way that gives the illusion of the most space. Then, you should focus on lighting. Natural light is the best way to go, but warm, bright indoor lighting can also be effective. Make sure the place looks bigger, not smaller, when you’re choosing your light sources. Finally, tastefully decorate the area. Less is more, and you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on trinkets just to make the place feel homey. Buying a cheap throw rug can liven a place up, and the right curtains can bring a room together. Focus on basic interior decorating tips, and don’t be afraid to buy cheap. As long as your décor is not falling apart or taking away from the home’s value, you can buy as cheap as you want.

Although it can be overwhelming to think of all the things you need to do to get your home ready for selling, it can be a lot easier if you have a list of all tasks and a schedule for when to have them completed. Furthermore, you can always ask for the aid of your realtor, who will be more than happy to give you suggestions.