5 tips for maximizing the value of your home when you sell

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large home, residential, house

1) First, do your homework. Find out the state of the local market in your area. Depending on your neighborhood, there may be better or harder times to sell. If you decide to sell your home, you may want to consider three different levels of service:

  • Sell the house yourself (FSBO).
  • List with a broker at a discounted or flat fee
  • Use a full-service real estate agent/brokerage firm.

If you decide to sell your home on your own, keep in mind that you will be responsible for marketing your property as well as full disclosure of legal information, inspections, appraisals and the like. You should be well versed in real estate documents and be familiar with the legal ramifications of the transaction.

You can also use the services of a discounted or flat fee broker to help you sell your property. Depending on the broker you choose, you may be able to get help with marketing, open houses, disclosures, title/escrow processing, etc. Make sure you understand exactly what services you are willing to pay for. Make sure you understand what services are included in each plan. Find out if your listing will be published on the website, what signage will be available to you; find out if the house is published on the appropriate MLS (multiple listing service) in your area. All brokers are different, so be sure to get references from past clients.

If you want to offer your property to the largest number of potential buyers, contact a full-service real estate agent/broker. Be sure to take the time to interview several brokers/agencies before pulling out the phone book or checking the postcard you received in the mail.

While your home is on the market, potential buyers will make appointments to view your home, along with any scheduled open houses that you or your agent may have planned. Try to evaluate the home as if you were seeing it for the first time. Buyers need to imagine themselves living in the home, so be sure to present the property in the best possible light. Put yourself in the prospective buyer’s shoes and look at the house from the front, indicating the most cost-effective improvements that can be made.

2) Clean up as much as you can. You may want to paint the walls (neutral colors are best) or wallpaper. Replace old flooring and worn carpets. Check and fix damaged or unsightly caulk in bathtubs and showers. If possible, hire a cleaning service. Lay out the best linens, towels and shower curtains. Make beds and place fresh floral arrangements on the table. Make sure there are no unpleasant smells in the house. Smells are the first thing buyers pay attention to, and they are often a constant deterrent.

3) Make your home their new home. Remove or pack away small appliances and other items that may be on countertops or tables throughout the home. You want buyers to have an idea of the space in each room, so it’s best to remove as many small items as possible. Remove personal items, photos and items to present uncluttered shelves, bookcases and walls. Rearrange unnecessary furniture to make rooms more spacious. Replace heavy curtains with sheer curtains that let in more light. Clean out and organize closets. Store boxes where they won’t get in the way. You can also rent temporary storage to keep any part of the house in order.

4) Don’t forget about the exterior! Proper landscaping can improve a home’s curb appeal. Remove weeds, patch bare spots, fertilize and water. Take a close look at your shrubs. Shrubs that have grown and cover windows should be trimmed to allow sun and light into the house. Fill in bare spots with small shrubs and colorful, fast-growing annuals such as impatiens and petunias. A few well-placed flower pots by the front door can be very attractive. Today’s shoppers want low maintenance. Your goal should be a beautifully manicured garden that is easy to care for.

5) Allow your agent/representative to show your home. Buyers don’t want to offend the current owners, so they may be very hesitant to show your home if you attend an open house. Be flexible about showings. It’s often frustrating to have a home ready to show in a hurry, but the more often someone can see your home, the faster you’ll find a seller.