Focus on these tips to help buyers choose your house instead of your neighbor’s!

Airto Zamorano’s real estate game plan was solid: do a serious deep cleaning of his home every single time he had a showing. “The idea is that we wanted to project a fresh, clean feel,” says Zamorano, who lives in Marlton, NJ.

The tactic worked. Despite similar homes for sale in his neighborhood, within 24 hours the Zamoranos received a full-price offer. They even received several backup offers while they were under contract! “Everyone made a comment about the home being well cared for and how clean it was,” he says. “We take great pride in homeownership, and that was clear to people. I think having a fresh scent and everything vacuumed and wiped down right before the people arrived made a huge difference.”

Going head-to-head with your neighbors’ listing can make a complex process even more challenging. Here’s how to beat out the neighborhood competition to get your home sold first.

1. Focus on curb appeal

If your home is on the market during the spring — peak real estate season in many markets — you’re likely to be competing with your neighbors for a buyer. To draw buyers to your property instead of the house next door, invest in seasonal curb appeal: your landscaping. This tactic helped real estate agent Michael Kelczewski of Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Philadelphia, PA, sell a home that had been on the market for a year. “During the spring season, as comparable neighborhood properties came onto the market, we chose to completely re-landscape the property and hold large open houses,” he says. It worked! The home sold for close to full asking price in a competitive market.

2. Don’t skip staging

Staging your home for sale can feel like a luxury. But when you’re competing with your neighbors for buyers’ attention, staging your home can help sell your home faster. You’ll get better listing photos and make a better impression at a showing. This is especially true if homes in your neighborhood have similar floor plans and finishes. Great staging can make a space seem larger and really show off a home’s best features.

“Staging is always important,” says Pat Eberle of Raso Realty in Cape Coral, FL. “Reducing clutter allows buyers to see the features of the home and visualize themselves there.” But don’t just stage for your listing photos — keep the furniture in place for the duration. “You can stage a home for professional photos, but if buyers are turned off once they walk in the door, all that work staging and those great pictures go right out the window,” explains Dan Garrison of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Charleston, SC. “Spend some money and time going above and beyond to make your home perfect for a potential buyer for the first moment they walk in the door. That will make it easier to sell your home against the competition.”

3. Focus on photography

When your home is competing with a neighbor’s, those first impressions online matter even more. This is when a buyer considers whether to request a showing for your home — or your neighbor’s home. You want your house to stand out! If your listing photos are dark, blurry, or simply don’t make your home stand out, your home might not draw as many potential buyers. “Finding an agent that hires professional photographers is very important,” says Eberle. He recommends adding video or drone photography for an extra edge. “I also integrate drone video and photography into the virtual tours to go along with high-quality images.”