The rise in temperatures after this long, cold winter signals the arrival of spring (finally).  If you are thinking of putting your home on the market, Spring Cleaning can help improve the value of your home.

Here are some tips:


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Prospective buyers want to walk into a clean, spacious, clutter-free home.  This is my number one piece of advice, not only for entrance ways and living rooms, but also for the garage and basement.  If you have a half-used bag of salt remaining in your garage, get rid of it.  Presumably there won’t be any more snow or ice on the ground!  Spring cleaning is a good time to rid your closets of clothes that have gone out of style or things that your children have outgrown. Fill a few bags for an organization such as the Lupus Foundation, which usually can arrange a pickup at your home and will leave a receipt if you are not home. Set an appointment, and have the items ready for donation at that time.  This helps eliminate procrastination.

A Coat of Fresh Paint

Over time, paint on walls fade and can also lose their brightness because of dust, smoke, and other factors.  A fresh coat of paint can hide marks, such as kids' crayons that never completely washed off, and will simply make your home look cleaner.  Don’t just paint the walls; painting the garage floor and the basement floor makes it look good and adds a finishing touch.  Painting is not expensive or time-consuming; it’s a Saturday job that can help you sell your home at a better price.

Clean the Carpets

Carpets and rugs act like filters indoors because they trap dirt, human hair, animal fur and dander… and the odors that come with them! Cleaning the carpets and rugs of your home will make it smell fresher and look newer.

Brighten Your Tiles

Dirt that sits in wet areas can become hard to remove.  A little bleach or Tilex can help remove dirt and, more importantly, moldy spots that can be a big turnoff for prospective home buyers. Another suggestion is to re-caulk your tub, shower and sink to make it look cleaner.

Don't Forget the Outside

Power-washing the front steps may require renting a machine and investing an afternoon of labor. However, first impressions last the longest.  If prospective buyers are registering that the outside of the home is neglected, they may have a negative image before they even open the door.  Power washing the sidewalk and front steps can help eliminate this.  Take a page out of Tom Sawyer’s book -- if you have children who are old enough to safely help with power-washing, it's a task that many kids like doing.  Let them help! 

Also on the outside, some mulch and flowers around the front of your homes will go a long way in impressing people who are about to walk inside.  "Mulch provides a much needed protective layer over the soil," says Matt Ince of Ince Landscape Construction & Management. "Without mulch, your landscape is susceptible to the elements of the seasons - extreme temperatures, water loss and weeds."

The best thing about adding mulch and flowers is that it doesn't cost a lot of money, but it can add to the curb appeal of your home, thus making it easier to sell.

Paul LaMastra has been a real estate agent in the Scotch Plains-Fanwood area for more than three decades. He and his brother, Donald, are the owners of ERA Suburb Realty (1773 East 2nd St., Scotch Plains). Call (908) 322-4434, ext 161 or email