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You’re staging a home for sale, and the house is immaculate and welcoming. But what about the garage? Don’t use that space as a dumping ground for all your clutter: Curb appeal should extend all the way up the driveway and into the garage.

Just as you’ve beautified the rest of your house, making it open and clutter-free, you should give the same attention to your garage. Follow these guidelines:

  • Get rid of all that extra stuff. Gather the items you don’t use anymore — this would also be a good time to gather those final items from the rest of your house as well — and have a garage sale. Once you’ve sold everything you can, take what’s left over to a local charity.
  • Hang up heavy-duty hooks for larger items like bikes and equipment that are taking up space.
  • If you have cabinets, shelves, or ready-made storage systems, organize the contents. Get rid of anything you don’t need.
  • Try to get everything off the floor and into cabinets, shelves, or bins. Put tools away in drawers or cabinets or hang them on a pegboard.
  • Make sure all flammable items, tools, and chemicals are stored out of the reach of children. You don’t want potential buyers to wonder what else you may have handled irresponsibly.
  • If you don’t already have one, install a smoke detector in your garage.
  • Dust the walls and corners. Get rid of spiderwebs.
  • Paint walls and cabinets, if the space looks dingy even after a scouring.
  • Check lighting. Replace any burnt-out lightbulbs, and consider adding lights if the garage is dim.
  • Make sure your garage door opener is working, or install an automatic opener if you don’t have one. Are the extra functions operating properly: the automatic light, the automatic reverse (which reverses direction when something obstructs the door), the small opening for pets, the emergency release, and the wall control panel?
  • Clean the Garage Floors
  • If your garage has a workbench, extra storage space or any unique features, let your real estate agent know so that those features can be pointed out to potential buyers.

And don’t forget the garage door, part of the total curb-appeal package.  Make sure it’s clean. If it’s worn or marked up, a coat of fresh paint will make a difference to the house hunters who pull up and see the garage right away.  While a garage usually won’t make or break a sale, it could be a tiebreaker. Set the stage for a good first impression by making sure your garage is clean, organized, and in good repair.

Michelle Dawson wrote this article for Realtor.com