In New Jersey and other states, more homes hit the market as spring arrives and temperatures begin rising. However, it's hardly ever safe to present your home "as is." A few simple tips can help boost the value of your property as well as your chances of attracting one or more offers.

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Steve Goddard, a regional vice president with the National Association of Realtors, suggests four quick interior upgrades:

  • Get rid of clutter. Remove anything that's not used on a regular basis;
  • Rearrange furniture to make the home appear more spacious. Consider having a professional come in to help "stage" your decor.
  • Apply a new layer of caulk in the necessary bathroom and kitchen areas;
  • Leave all the lights on when potential buyers are expected to view the home. A brighter atmosphere is more welcoming.

It may be worth taking those steps now, before you put your house on the market, because prime time for selling homes is still a few weeks off, according to most realtors. Houses look nicer when spring has fully sprung and people are more apt to go house hunting in comfortable weather.

However, the flip side of the timing argument is that you may have an edge if your house is ready to show right now. Randi Dickman, broker associate for RE/MAX Signature Properties, even favors putting houses on the market during winter months "because there's less competition."

She said: "Less competition means that you will get more money for your house and it well sell fairly quick because you have serious buyers coming out in the winter to look at homes."

Beyond timing, pricing the home correctly is crucial, according to Dickman, who handles real estate in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties.

"If you list your house too high, you're going to chase the market and end up with less," she said. "If you price it where you think you're going to get it, you're going to create a bidding war and you'll get over asking price."

Still, no piece of advice above will help if you don't have a well-maintained property, both indoors and outdoors. For some buyers, their first impression will be the exterior of the home when they first arrive. For others who start the process on the Internet, they can view dozens of photos of certain homes in order to weed out the ones they dislike.

Goddard said the quality of a home's exterior can be moved up a few notches just by washing the windows or shining the hardware on the home's doors.

According to Dickman, the kitchen and bathrooms are the most important rooms in the house. Even minor, inexpensive upgrades can go a long way in upping a home's value.

She said home-sellers will also be helped by the fact that  "now is the time to buy," due to increasing expectations that interest rates will rise by the end of the year.

"On a $300,000 purchase, when the interest rates go up within the next 12 months, you're going to be looking at paying an additional $243 a month in your mortgage," Dickman advises prospective buyers. "Get off the fence now."