It’s tough being objective about your own home when it comes time to sell. After all, it is your castle and you may think its worth more than it is. How do you know if your home is ready to enter this challenging market?

Answer: Take a hard, objective look at your home’s condition. Start with the interior. Do you need to make repairs or updates? Then move outside and make the same evaluation. If you can’t go through this process objectively, and you don’t want to hire a stager or hear suggestions from your realtor, then ask a friend you trust and whose opinion you value. Have him or her tour your home and give you a report. Make sure your friend knows ahead of time that you want an honest opinion, and your relationship will not be affected by the outcome. If you might be offended then stick with a realtor or stager.

Here are a few principles to guide your evaluation.

 Get rid of clutter. Too much furniture or too many accessories can make a home feel small and stifled. And always put things where they belong before showing your home to prospective buyers.

 Stick with neutral paint colors. If your family room is lime green and the kitchen is lemon yellow, most buyers will have a hard time imagining their belongings fitting in your home. Instead, consider … cream, tan, or white.

 Freshen floor coverings. New carpet or tile go a long way in improving your home’s appearance and can usually be installed relatively inexpensively. Chances are good that the money you spend will be multiplied back to you when you sell.

Finally, here are a few recurring updates many folks miss. In general, replace or repair exterior paint every five to 10 years, a furnace every 15 to 30 years, the roof every 13 to 15 years, a water heater every seven to 15 years and renew deck staining every four to seven years.