Start now to sell fast As we countdown to the new year, it's time, too, to take the steps toward getting you in your new house. Preparation is key to making your house stand out in the market for a quick sale at the price you want. It takes an unbiased, unemotional eye to do the job yourself. But it can be done. Your goal: Make the place look inviting and more importantly, trouble free. Everything should be viewed with a buyer's eye from a ding in the door to a chip in the paint. To achieve this, many homeowners will want to invest in their home prep. The good news is that this can bring a faster sale and a higher price. Give yourself some time, if possible, to prep your home. Do the easier things first and then move on to the harder things. Start with the street view. Clear and landscape driveways and walkways. In spring, focus on landscaping with flowers and a well-manicured lawn. Have brightly-colored flowers by the front door. Paint and repairs are next. Make sure drywall is perfect. If there is a ding anywhere, patch and paint. A new coat of paint inside helps. Go for off-whites and beiges. After repairs and outside facelift, the next step is storing. At least two months before you put your home on the market, declutter and store. Store old or out-of-season clothes, collections, supplies (such as scrapbooking supplies), art and pictures on walls, and memorabilia. Get all the extras packed up so the closets and cabinets have only the essentials. This isn't wasted effort since you will have to do this anyway when you move. Don't forget the garage. Garages should be as spotless and clutter free as you can make them. One month before listing: Replace all old fixtures, handles, fix chips and dings. Dry clean or wash curtains. By this time, you should have a relatively clutter-free and repaired house. Now take another look at the furniture. Every extra piece of furniture should be stored. Two weeks before: Deep clean. First clean all surfaces and floors then inspect every corner for dust buildup. Cupboards should be cleaned inside and out. What contents are left should be arranged neatly with no sense of overflow. If your cupboards seem full, then store something. There should be no food smells. If you do nothing else, remember the words: clean and store.