Spring is usually the most popular time of the year to buy a home, which also makes it a great time to put your house on the market to sell. Whether you’re getting your home ready to show or are in the market to buy, you’ll want to follow these tips to make sure everything goes smoothly.

If You’re Selling

Clean up the outside
Create a welcoming entrance – sweep and clean your front porch or stoop, and add some flowers or a nice plant. Make sure toys and lawn equipment are out of the yard and put away.

Clean up the inside
Clean your house thoroughly and clear out all the clutter. Remove appliances from kitchen counters, and take that pile of mail off your desk. Wipe fingerprints from walls and windows. Sweep, mop and dust; be sure to get all those little cobwebs that collect in corners.

Lighten up
Turn on all the lights — even in the closets. You want to make it easy for the buyer to see everything without having to search for light switches.

Create an inviting atmosphere
Set your thermostat at a comfortable temperature, and make that your house is well ventilated. Rely on fresh air instead of room fresheners — not everyone likes the same scents, and some people are even allergic to certain smells. If it’s cool outside, light a fire in the fireplace. Set out snacks and water as a special touch!

Make the kitchen the star
Your kitchen can make or break the sale of your home. If your kitchen looks dated, invest just a couple thousand dollars to paint it (a neutral color is best), update the hardware, and add new countertops.

If You’re Buying

Know what you can and can’t live without
Before your realtor even begins making appointments to view houses, make a list of dealmakers and breakers. What type of layout are you looking for? Do you want a large, sunny lawn for gardening? Does the thought of doing major renovations get you excited or make you want to run the other way? Be sure to share these thoughts with your realtor so he or she will know what you’re looking for.

Inspect the outside
When you arrive at the house, check out the condition of the roof – are shingles peeling off? Are the gutters rickety and full of leaves? Is any vegetation covering the roof, such as moss? All of these are signs that the house could have water damage.

Inspect the inside
Once you step inside, begin opening up cabinet doors in the kitchens and bathrooms to check for leaky pipes. Look out for old appliances, loose wires and any cracks in the foundation. Turn water faucets and lights on and off. Flush toilets. Open and close windows.

Watch out for health hazards
Mold, lead paint, and asbestos can be present in older homes. If you discover any of these issues with the home, you can choose to either negotiate with the seller to make sure they’re taken care of before you move in — or you can move on to another house.

Get a C.L.U.E.
North Carolina requires an inspection by a Licensed Home Inspector, who will check the HVAC, foundation, plumbing, roof, and electrical and structural components of the home. But you can also request that the seller provide a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.) report, which lists the dates and types of claims on the home for the past five years.

Buying or selling a home is a major decision, but by following these guidelines and working with a knowledgeable realtor, you can alleviate a lot of stress.