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If you're selling your home, your best chance at cooking up a sale is in the kitchen.

For today's home buyer, the kitchen is typically the most important room in the house -- an area where form and function are equally important. Buyers view kitchens as an area that has many functions -- preparing dinner, sharing meals, sorting mail, paying bills, and generally hanging out.

In fact, a recent survey by SieMatic Corp. revealed that 85 percent of respondents said the condition of a home's kitchen is a major consideration when making a purchasing decision.

A major kitchen overhaul probably doesn't make sense when you're ready to sell. But you'll want to do all you can to make your kitchen look its best. Some things you can do to make your kitchen shine include:

  • Think paint. Slapping on a fresh coat of paint is an easy, inexpensive way to brighten and revive any room. It's best to stick to neutral colors -- you never know what the preferences of potential homebuyers will be.
  • Freshen up your countertop. If your countertop tile is old, grungy or outdated, think about some new tile. This can be done pretty inexpensively, especially if you don't have a lot of counterspace. Again, try to keep it neutral. Although it may be tempting, now's not the time to try out the cobalt blue.
  • Make a splash. Get rid of that old stainless steel faucet and update it with a sleek, stylish replacement. Today's faucets come in a range of materials and colors.
  • Accessorize. How about replacing those old boring knobs and pulls? Today's furniture hardware comes in every shape, design, and material imaginable. New hardware can pull a room together and give it a polished, clean look.
  • Get rid of the clutter. You don't want bare counters, but try to leave the counters as open as possible. Hide away all the extra appliances, cookbooks, and paperwork that may normally consume your counterspace.
  • Let there be light. Make sure blinds are pulled and that plenty of light is shining in the room. If your kitchen or informal dining area is next to a patio or courtyard area, make sure that view isn't hidden behind the blinds. Also, take the time to tidy up the outdoor area and perhaps add some potted plants or flowers that can be seen from the kitchen. If your kitchen is naturally dark, or you're selling during the wintertime, be sure you leave the kitchen lights on when agents show your home.
  • Display function. If your kitchen includes a desk space where you house a computer, pay all your bills and answer your e-mails, don't feel the need to move the computer to make the area more clean and attractive. Buyers need to see how rooms can function.
  • Appliance check. Make sure all your appliances have been maintained and are working properly.
  • Bake off. If it's time for an open house, why not do some baking? Nothing is as enticing as the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Would-be buyers will feel at home the minute they walk in the door.

In summary, just use common sense in presenting your home in the best way possible. Just remember, because the kitchen can often make or break an offer, you'll want plenty of light, a sense of order, and a room that is odor-free (other than the smell of cookies, of course).

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