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How Do I Fix Up a Home to Sell?

The first thing you need to do is stop thinking of your home as "home" and start thinking about it as a commodity that you want to sell. To be a successful seller you must detach yourself emotionally from your home and be brutally honest about how it should look in order to sell.

Property condition and appearance play a much bigger part in home sales now than they did in the run-away seller's market of the late 1980's, when even rundown fixer-uppers sold at a premium. Today's buyers discount the price if a home needs work, if they buy it at all.

You don't have to spend a fortune preparing your home for sale. In fact, you shouldn't. Concentrate on cost-effective improvements that will give you a good return on your investment.

Paint is the least expensive improvement you can make to a home. And, the transformation can occur quickly. A neutral decor may seem boring, but it is a safe bet from a resale standpoint. The same goes for floor coverings: stick to neutral linoleum and carpet.

It's always a good idea to get advice from your agent, or a decorator who specializes in fix-up for sale, before investing in a cosmetic make-over. Make sure the improvements will enhance the marketability of your home.

Moving-On Tip: A lot of what needs to be done to get a home ready for the market doesn't cost a dime, but takes time. Removing excess personal possessions and furniture is important. Buyers need to be able to see past the owner's belongings. They need to imagine themselves living in the home. In order to de-clutter, some homeowners rent storage space, if their own storage space is limited.

Counter-tops in the kitchen and bathrooms should be clear of almost everything. The easiest way to deal with this is to put kitchen and bathroom essentials, and cleaning supplies, into plastic bins that can be stored in cabinets. That way you can get what you need, when you need it, and stash it away again quickly when you know your home is going to be shown.

The way your house presents itself from the street (called "curb appeal") is very important. First impressions are lasting. A front gate hanging on a hinge, or peeling trim paint, can cause buyers to wonder what else is wrong. You want to convey the impression that your home is well-maintained.

Go through the house and fix defects--many of which you may have lived with for years. An irony of the fix-up-for-sale process is that most people's homes have never looked as good as they do when they are offered for sale.

Cleanliness is next to godliness when it comes to selling homes. The interior of your home should gleam. Wash windows inside and out. Hire help, if necessary. And plan to keep your home this way during the entire marketing period. Hire a cleaning person, or service, to come once a week if you are a busy person who doesn't have help.

Fix-up-for-sale decorators can assist you in adding the finishing touches and staging your home for sale. This often involves bringing in flowers and rearranging furniture to show your home off to better advantage. If the home is vacant, you may want to rent furniture. Vacant properties can be difficult to sell because most buyers have difficulty visualizing themselves living in an empty house.

The Closing: A real estate agent can recommend decorators, painters, gardeners, contractors, handymen, and cleaning crews to help you with fix-up-for-sale chores.

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