Take steps to increase your home’s appeal both inside and out when staging it for sale. (Photo: Dreamstime/TNS)

The house-buying market continues to move rapidly. It’s a great time to sell your home, but for the best results, take a few steps to make sure your home is attractive and will fetch the best price. The autumn season gives way to falling leaves, crackling fires and cozy family time.

Here are six ways to prep your house for a sale in the fall.

Keep up with your yard

Leaves are starting to fall quickly now. Rake and bag them on a daily basis; you never know when a potential buyer will show. Clean your gutters; potential buyers will take note of leaking gutters or clogged downspouts.

Make buyers feel your house offers everything they want in a home.

Check your furnace

Hire an HVAC pro to check your heating unit or furnace. Would-be buyers will be taking a close look at this, and you want it to be in the best shape. A furnace making strange noises or not working perfectly is a big turnoff. A professional inspection will address all parts of the system and head off potential problems. Make sure you stay on top of filter changes, too.

Focus on the fireplace

Hire a certified chimney sweep who can inspect and clean your fireplace. Too much creosote can cause blockage, reduce airflow and potentially lead to chimney fires. A crisp, clear fireplace makes a great impression. You never know if there’s debris up above or bird’s nests on the exterior that will create blockage or back up smoke.

Accessorize a clean fireplace with candles and garnishes.

Create a fall first impression

You want the first impression of your house to convey a look of fall. Place a fall wreath, but take care not to overdo Halloween decorations. Use lots of pumpkins, corn and gourds in different sizes near the front door to add pops of color. Avoid carving a jack-o’-lantern; those will quickly rot and attract flies.

Appeal to all the senses

While you want the house looking its best and looking warm, festive and fall-like, the finishing touch is smell. Bake up a batch of cookies or have an uncooked pie waiting in the refrigerator. When you know someone is coming, pop it into the oven and let the lovely scent fill the house.

For a quicker result, light a cinnamon or pumpkin spice candle.

Don’t overlook common home staging tips

Make sure you give your house a good cleaning, preferably by a professional, before you start showings. Try to minimize excess furniture or clutter in the house. Arrange furniture so it doesn’t block windows. Make sure your closets are clean and tidy; potential buyers pay a lot of attention to closets. And make sure your windows are clean and sparkly, shrubs trimmed and flowerbeds weeded. The buyer’s decision-making process begins at the curb, not the front door.

By Paul F. P. Pogue, Angie’s List. Paul is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.