Home Sellers Find New Ways to Get the Most Value for Their Home

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In a competitive real estate market, home sellers are finding tips online on how to increase the value of their home; without spending a lot of money doing so.

Be sophisticated and simple—even if this is not to your liking. You want to give your buyers a clean slate so they can imagine their own belongings there. Don’t forget, to keep steps and walkways clear.

Nancy Johnson is a single woman who teaches kindergarten. She had inherited her grandmother’s home back in 1995 and was looking for ways to get the most value out of the home.

Nancy said, "its a small two-bedroom bungalow that lies in a suburb that borders a large city; the home essentially sits on a small city lot. I’ve lived here for a few years, but I would like to sell so I can move further into the suburbs to be closer to my work, but I only have a couple thousand dollars to fix it up for the sale."

The question Nancy and many others in her position ask is: Where and how should I begin?

Most experts agree that as long your roof and foundation are sound, you are in very good shape to sell, but there are steps to take to insure that you get your asking price.

William Anderson, a home consultant, reminds sellers that there are simple ways to increase a home's value without spending a lot of money.

"The first step begins with cleaning—inside and out. Clear your front and back yard of any debris. Clear out your garage of any excess clutter. If you cannot part with garage and household items, than consider an inexpensive storage unit off the premises," he said.

"Next, scour the inside of the house—walls, floors, sinks, tubs, doors, etc…If you have a pet, consider ripping out the carpeting; it holds odors and a bare floor can easily be made attractive with decorative accents. Do not neglect basement or attic if your home has these attributes. Once you have cleaned from top to bottom, the real fun begins," he continued.

He noted that curb appeal, or the measure of what the prospective buyer sees first, is most important when fixing up your place to sell.

"Start outside because this is what prospective buyers will see first. If it’s a brick bungalow, than you’ve just saved a considerable expense on outside paint. If it requires a new coat of paint, than so be it," he said.

He suggested that you choose a neutral color to the house. Even if you are more partial to lively colors, you don't want to turn off a buyer in case they are more conservative or what a home with a traditional look. Keep it simple is always good advice.

He also noted that simple additions such as window boxes of whatever you are able to care for—green foliage plants or colorful perennials would suit. He added, "If your porch is a bit crumbly, patch it up and also give it a coat of paint. Fresh paint is the elixir of house sales. You may paint the railing as well, but spending a bit of your savings on a new one is a good option."

Other touches he suggested would make your home stand out may be to add a brass house number and an outdoor brass lighting fixture—something hanging is more dramatic, but a sconce style works too. If brass is not to your taste, consider wrought iron. A single stone planter for the porch is another welcoming touch.

"But nothing cutesy like a plastic bunny sporting a wilting fern," he said, "Be sophisticated and simple—even if this is not to your liking. You want to give your buyers a clean slate so they can imagine their own belongings there. Don’t forget, to keep steps and walkways clear."

While you are out front, you have plenty to consider on the landscaping front. Be sure the plants on your property are healthy. Pruning large trees is more affordable than having them removed if they are indeed unattractive. Get rid of messy shrubbery that hides the view of your home. If the planting area in front of the house is messy, clear it and purchase some simple wooden trellises to prop against the wall. Climbing tea roses, English ivy or any other climbing plant or vine will add a delightful touch.

He continued, "A well maintained lawn instantly attracts a buyer to your house. If you have dead spots, patch them. If the edging needs to be done, do it. If you can afford a sod lawn, this might be a good place to spend some money. An alternative to the lawn would be an easy-to-maintain ground cover like creeping phlox. When it is not in bloom, it appears as tufts of luxuriant grass."

When decorating the inside, don’t be afraid to shop at flea markets and bargain retail stores. Arrange your furniture so that rooms appear airy and uncrowded. Consider a plain hanging light fixture for the front hall and dining area. You may want to sand and refinish your wood floors; this is labor intensive, but something you could do yourself for results dramatic results. Paint your walls an antique or off white and keep pictures to a minimum. Consider adding the following accents:

Area rugs, new plumbing fixtures, new door handles, decorative fireplace screen, ceiling hooks and hanging plants for windows, painted cabinets (if they need it!), grout your bathtub and replace grimy tile and add fresh draperies or shades. Optional ideas to incorporate—if you can afford them would be to: lay a small backyard patio, new awnings, fresh mulch for flowerbeds and to ring trees, new shrubs, new bathroom vanity and toilet, newly paved walkways and drive, painted garage, new kitchen floor, new mailbox, etc…

By taking many of these measures, sellers should be able to keep their asking price firm and possibly bump up the price. No need to do anything too major like add built in bookshelves or window seats—buyers may not need or want these more permanent features. Try to fix up what is already there. to save money. Clean and uncluttered is the look you want for a successful sale.

For more tips on selling your house, here are some online resources:

-Remodeling ideas

-Do it yourself tips

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Johann Erickson
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