When it comes to prepping a house for sale, sometimes what sounds like a good idea really isn't and it can cost you a lot of money in the long run, or it can even cost you a sale altogether.
1. Doing-It-Yourself When You Shouldn't - Can't paint? Please don't try. Want to try to get by with only one coat of paint? Don't paint at all. Stripping wallpaper but not bothering to repair any dings in the wall that result. Don't take it down in the first place. Pointing up mortar on walkways or patios using sand from a big box store? Don't. Just don't. Using synthetic wood decking as "wood" for a windowsill? Really? Please don't. Don't tackle any home repair or improvement projects that you do not have the skills to do properly. The repair of a repair is going to cost you more money and hassle in the long run.
2. Covering Up Smells with Smells - The smell of a deodorizer says one thing to prospective buyers: "This house smells even worse without this synthetic 'fresh' smell." Call me crazy, but I'd rather smell the cat urine (not really) or the old cigarette smoke than smell whatever the home owner bought to cover it up. Cookies baking? That's always a good idea, but anything synthetic, be it a scented candle or a carpet deodorizer just makes the smell issue more obvious.
3. Forgetting or Ignoring Storage Areas - It goes without saying that prospective buyers are going to open everything! So whether it is your clothes closet, your linen closet or your attic or basement, you must clean it up! A messy storage area is going to give the impression that you are messy or lazy in other areas of your life and your house...both of which can give a prospect a bad feeling about your house, or worse yet, a reason to start looking for trouble.
4. Re-decorating in a style that is just as personal as your original decorating. - I shouldn't have to say this, but don't replace wallpaper with wallpaper. Don't choose yellow paint when repainting your purple bedroom. Don't organize all your tabletop picture frames into sleek multi-photo frames and hang them on the wall. Think "neutral", personality neutral...in colors, styles and decorating.
5. Home staging? House prep? What's that? - This one should be a no-brainer but you'd be surprised how many home sellers just call a Realtor® and put a sign in their yard and expect their house to sell. Seriously, you have to prep your house to the best of your ability if you want to sell it for a decent price in a reasonable amount of time...and that is true regardless of the current condition of the real estate market where you live.