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  Home & Family Finance Resource Center

Prep Your House to Sell

Dianne Molvig / March 13th, 2017

Most realtors agree that some improvements can help sell a house faster, and many believe home improvements could boost the sales price—if those are the right improvements.

Given that most of us have a limited supply of time and money, how do you best invest yours in readying your home for sale? Here are some pointers:

  • Declutter your house. Agents will tell you that clutter eats equity. Descend on your bulging closets and storage rooms. Decide what to keep, toss, recycle, or donate to charity. Same with the knickknacks, family photos, souvenirs, and other items scattered throughout every room. Pack them up and move the boxes out of the main part of the house.
  • Thoroughly clean the whole house—every nook, cranny, and corner. Buyers don’t like to buy other people’s dirt.
  • Freshen up with paint. It makes a huge difference in a room’s appearance. Neutral colors are best. They’ll go with whatever furnishings the buyer owns. Most buyers today, real estate agents say, want to be able to move right in without having to immediately tackle redecorating and repairs.
  • Spruce up your entryway. Replace your front door or paint the old one. Buy and install a new mailbox and house numbers if they look old.
  • Install new carpet if yours is worn or outdated. Again, neutral colors are best.
  • Remove window treatments, unless they are current and good quality. Uncovered windows also let more light into the rooms.
  • Research before doing major remodeling. Don’t assume a new kitchen or bathroom will boost your home’s sales price enough to recoup the costs. It depends on what’s happening in your market. What are homes similar to yours selling for, and what level of finish do these homes have? For example, how much work has been done on other houses for sale in your market and what is the quality of that work? Then you can decide if you should undertake a more costly remodeling project before selling. A real estate agent can give you useful information.
  • Consider getting a professional home inspection before you put your house on the market. You’ll avoid nasty surprises and added stress when you’re in the midst of sales negotiation deadlines.

Agents say 95% of potential buyers can’t see past what’s there when they tour your home. They have a hard time envisioning a house’s “potential.” In preparing to sell, look at your house through a buyer’s eyes.

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