A home is a big investment. When it's time to sell it, it's important for home sellers to do everything possible to protect their investments so they receive the highest home values they can. There are 5 key steps in preparing a home for sale.

Declutter and Start Packing

Homes sell faster and look bigger if there is less clutter in them. You have to pack at some point, so start packing now. Go through your home drawer by drawer, closet by closet and room by room. Get rid of everything you don't need or won't use in your new home. Host a garage sale, an estate sale or donate your goods to charity. Take down pictures. Pack knickknacks so that tables, dressers and counters are clear. Stage rooms with minimal furniture so they appear to have more space.

Update and Upgrade

Today's home buyers want homes that are move-in ready. They are looking for today's en trend colors, updates and upgrades in their home purchase. If your walls need a new coat of paint and your carpeting is worn, it's time to update them before you list your home. Today's colors are light gray walls with white ceilings, doors and trim. Carpeting with gray and beige specks is popular, because it will match almost all furniture. Hardwood floors and porcelain wood-look tiles are en trend as well. If your appliances are old, think about replacing them with stainless appliances. If your mechanicals are old or aren't functioning correctly, replace those as well. Buyers are especially looking for updated kitchens and bathrooms.

Pre-Listing Home Inspection

Many home sellers will benefit from a pre-listing home inspection. Hire a professional home inspector to perform an inspection and provide you with a report. He will be looking for major defects and safety hazards in your home. It's best to repair or replace anything that is found. This will save you time and stress. When your buyers have an inspection done, you'll have already addressed the major issues.

Curb Appeal

Spruce up your home's exterior and curb appeal before you list your home. When buyers are looking for a home purchase, the first thing they will see is the curb appeal. If a seller takes good care of the outside of the home, the buyers will think the interior is being taken care of just as well. Power wash the roof and siding. Clean the exterior of your windows. Power wash the porch, deck, driveway, walkways and sidewalks. Trim bushes and trees. Make sure the lawn and landscaping beds are weed-free. Keep the lawn mowed. Put down new mulch or stone. Plant some flowers to add a pop of color.

Sparkle and Shine

Right before you are ready to list your home, give it a thorough cleaning. Clean windows and light fixtures so they sparkle. Dust everything. Clean everything from the ceiling down to the baseboards. Clean the interior and exterior of the appliances. Make your floors shine. If you show a clean home, buyers will be grateful and think you really take care of your home. They may even offer you more money.

Getting your house ready to sell is time consuming and can cost money. It's well worth it, however. You'll end up getting among the top home values if you follow the 5 key steps.