Prepare for rain.
Spring is notoriously wet, so pay special attention to rain gutters and downspouts and sump pumps (and battery backups), says Cliff Kornegay, owner of Capitol Hill Home Inspection, who recommends having your roof inspected for storm damage even if it isn't leaking.
Check the air-conditioning system before you have to turn it on to keep potential buyers comfortable. Kornegay recommends having the evaporator coil cleaned and drains checked, in addition to changing filters.
Often an afterthought, landscaping is essential, according to real estate experts.
"A lot of people make up their mind before they get to the front door," Thompson says.
If you do nothing else, edge the lawn and mulch flower beds, says Donna-Marie Despres, a landscape architect at Sun Nurseries in Woodbine, Md.
"Everything will look tidy," she says. For a pop of color, pansies, impatiens and nandina shrubs are particularly hardy. "If there is a frost forecast after you've planted, just cover with a sheet at night."
"Landscaping has one of the biggest returns on the investment," Valentino says.
The Frenches rented out their apartment for several years and timed the lease to be able to put it on the market early in the season. Chris French says he wanted to get it on the market "ahead of any rush in inventory."
Some local sellers were surprised last year when the spring season heated up earlier than normal.
"It depends on the weather," Valentino says. "Traditionally, 'spring' starts in mid-March. But last year, it was unseasonably warm, and we started seeing buyers in mid-February. It catches sellers off guard, because it always takes them longer to get ready than they expected."