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Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president and CEO of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®.

Q: After all the chaos of the holidays, it’s likely that your home is a cluttered mess. Guests and all the gifts and goodies they leave behind can have you feeling overwhelmed by February. What do you recommend for homeowners who may want to get the house in shape to be sold this spring—or to simply live comfortably in?

A: This is a good time to look for places in your home that are now sealed. Because of the condensation that still exists outdoors, you can detect any leaks or problems.

Q: What are some other good tips for February house decluttering and fixing-up?

A: If you’re selling anytime soon, walk around your house feeling for cold drafts. These can be found through small cracks around chimneys, doors and window frames. Be sure to check any cracks around appliances, plumbing and ducts, as well.

Q: And decluttering?

A: As most people know, a furnished but decluttered house is much more appealing for a sale. Jump-start your spring cleaning routine. Recycle anything you haven’t used within the past year and dispose of old paint cans, chemicals and cleaning products. Make sure to find out where to properly dispose of these items.

Q: Are there any other steps homeowners can take to get their property ready for the spring selling season?

A: Walk around your property and check for exterior damage that could have been caused by winter storms or other inclement weather. Replace damaged siding, shingles or panels. Always keep snow clear of gas meters, appliance and exhaust vents, as well as basement windows.

Start prepping your curb appeal. Once the snow melts, it can be really ugly under there, so clean up whatever mess you find. Make sure to dispose of excess snow on the lawn as it falls, and be sure all gutters, window frames and doors are free of moisture. Curb appeal is the first impression, so be sure to make it a good one!

Keep all storage spaces clutter-free when showing your home. The garage, utility closets and even sheds are important property features, so the bigger they look, the better. Yes, they are a place to store things, but try to avoid huge piles and messes.

Make your entryway a showstopper. Once prospective buyers get past the curb appeal, the entry provides the first impression of your home’s interior. Make sure to keep it clear and open to be as welcoming as possible. No “throw-the-keys-down-here” table. No huge coatracks or boot mats.

Clear the hallways to feel less cramped. Make everything more streamlined and neat. Make sure the space is appealing to all so that a new family can envision their own things in your lovely home.

Be sure your kitchen is up-to-date and tidy. All countertop appliances should be put away, the area under the sink should be neat and organized, and the fridge should be cleaned out for optimal appeal.

Lastly, keep closets clear. Box up and store seasonal apparel and decor. The more spacious a closet, the better.

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