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When selling your home, the goal is to sell it quickly for the highest price while investing as little as possible in renovations. With a limited budget and a little effort, you can greatly increase your home's appeal by focusing on what prospective buyers can see on their first visit. The experts at BuyOwner.com offer the following recommendations for preparing a house for sale and staging it for showings. For most people, their home is their largest financial asset, and deciding to sell it is a big decision that involves a lot of preparation and work. Homes101 offers home selling resources and the opportunity to connect with an experienced real estate professional to handle the details involved in the successful sale of a home for top dollar.

Tip #1: Refresh the exterior
First impressions count when it comes to selling a home. Most buyers won’t even leave their car if they don’t find the exterior appealing. The best ways to improve your home’s exterior include:
-Repairing and/or replacing trims, shutters, gutters, shingles, mailboxes, window screens, walkways and the driveway.
-Painting siding, trim and shutters and lamp and mailbox posts.
-Pressure washing vinyl siding, roofs, walkways and the driveway.
-Washing windows.

Tip #2: Spruce up the lawn and landscape
Home buyers associate the condition of your lawn and landscaping with the condition of your home’s interior. By improving the outside, you affect buyers’ impression of the entire property. The best ways to enhance the yard include:
-Mowing and edging the lawn.
-Seeding, fertilizing and weeding the lawn.
-Keeping up with regular lawn maintenance by frequent watering.
-Trimming and/or removing overgrown trees, shrubs and hedges.
-Weeding and mulching plant beds.
-Planting colorful seasonal flowers in existing plant beds.
-Removing trash, especially along fences and underneath hedges.
-Sweeping and weeding the street curb along your property.

Tip #3: Create an inviting entrance
The front door to your home should invite buyers to enter. The best ways to improve your entry include:
-Painting the front door in a glossy, cheerful color that complements the exterior.
-Cleaning, polishing and/or replacing the door knocker, locks and handles.
-Repairing and/or replacing the screen door, the doorbell, porch lights and house numbers.
-Placing a new welcome mat and a group of seasonal potted plants and flowers by the entry.

Tip #4: Reduce clutter and furniture
A buyer cannot envision living in your home without seeing it. A home filled with clutter or even too much furniture distracts buyers from seeing how they can utilize the space your home offers. If you have limited storage space, you may want to consider renting a temporary storage unit to place items you wish to keep. The best ways to declutter your home include:
-Holding a garage sale to prepare for your move, getting rid of unnecessary items.
-Removing clutter such as books, magazines, toys, tools, supplies and unused items from counter tops, open shelves, storage closets, the garage and basements.
-Storing out-of-season clothing and shoes out of sight to make bedroom closets seem roomier.
-Removing any visibly damaged furniture.
-Organizing bookshelves, closets, cabinets and pantries. Buyers will inspect everything.
-Putting away your personal photographs, unless they showcase the home. Let buyers see themselves in your home.
-De-personalize rooms as much as you can.

Tip #5: Clean, clean, clean
The cleanliness of your home also influences a buyer's perception of its condition. The appearance of the kitchen and bathrooms will play a considerable role in a buyer's decision process, so pay particular attention to these areas. The best ways to improve these areas include:
-Cleaning windows, fixtures, hardware, ceiling fans, vent covers and appliances.
-Cleaning carpets, area rugs and draperies.
-Cleaning inside the refrigerator, the stove and all cabinets.
-Removing stains from carpets, floors, counters, sinks, baths, tile, walls and grout.
-Eliminating house odors, especially if you have pets.
-Considering air fresheners or potpourri.

Tip #6: Make minor repairs
The small stuff does count, especially with first-time home buyers. Without dismissing the importance of repairing major items such as a leaky roof or plumbing, you do not need to spend money on replacing these items. Instead, focus on the minor repairs that will make your home visually appealing. The best ways to improve your home include:
-Repairing ceilings and wall cracks.
-Repairing faucets, banisters, handrails, cabinets, drawers, doors, floors and tile.
-Caulking and grouting tubs, showers, sinks and tile.
-Adding fresh paint to ceilings, walls, trim, doors and cabinets.
-Tightening door handles, drawer pulls, light switches and electrical plates.
-Lubricating door hinges and locks.

Tip #7: Showcase the kitchen
The heart of any home is the kitchen. If you are going to spend any money on renovations, this is the one area where you will see the greatest return. Even with a modest budget, focusing on a few key areas can make a great difference in getting the asking price for your property. The best ways to showcase the kitchen include:
-Replacing cabinet doors and hardware.
-Installing under-cabinet lighting.
-Replacing light fixtures.
-Replacing outdated shelving with pantry and cabinet organizers to maximize space.
-Baking cookies or cupcakes for a showing, to create a homey smell.

Tip #8: Stage furniture
Furniture placement can enhance the space of your home while giving buyers an idea of how to best utilize the space with their own belongings. Take some time to rethink how different areas in your house could be used. Some ideas to think about include:
-Moving couches and chairs away from walls in your sitting and family rooms to create cozy conversational groups.
-Creating a reading corner in the master bedroom.
-Clearing an empty room to set up a reading space.
-Turning an awkward space into a home office.
-Setting the dining room table with your best china.
-Set wine glasses in front of the fireplace or next to a Jacuzzi tub.

Tip #9: Light up the house
Create a sense of openness and cheerfulness in your home through its lighting. To improve the lighting try:
-Opening shades and drapes to let the sunshine warm and brighten rooms.
-Installing brighter light bulbs in rooms that tend to be dark.
-Adding additional lamps for ambient lighting.
-Turning on all the lights for a showing.

Tip #10: Add fresh touches
You can easily add color and style to your home by adding fresh touches throughout. Some ideas to consider include:
-Placing fresh floral arrangements in the entry and master bedroom.
-Placing bowls of bright-colored fruit in the family room and the kitchen.
-Filling an empty corner with a potted leafy plant.
-Setting new hand soap in the bathrooms.
-Displaying fresh towels near sinks.

Tip #11: Determine How Much Your Home is Worth
The asking price you set is the key to selling your house quickly and making the most profit. The weight of this decision is critical to a successful sale. A comparative market analysis (CMA) prepared by a local real estate professional will show you recent nearby sale prices of houses like yours, the asking prices of current competitive listing and even the asking prices of comparable neighborhood houses which didn't sell.

Tip #12: Estimate your Costs to Sell
Before you make the final decision to sell your house, be sure to consider the costs you will incur before, during and after the process. In a real estate transaction, the seller is responsible for the cost of certain expenses such as house inspections, surveys, paying the portion of yearly expenses such as property taxes and/or association fees during the period of time you live in the home. Additionally, check to make sure you don't have a prepayment penalty for paying off your mortgage early that would deduct from your final proceeds from the sale.

Tip #13: Choose the Right Time to Sell
Most people prefer the spring or summer months to move. So the market can start heating up as early as February. This is especially true of families with children, so they can move during the summer vacation and be settled before the new school year starts. The market can still be busy into the fall. But traditionally November and December have been the slow months. The holidays are the primary reasons, but also, because most people do not like showing their houses in the winter months.

Tip #14: Align yourself with an Expert
If you're ready to get serious about putting your house on the market, this is a great time for you to have an expert by your side to be your partner and sounding board, protect your interests, and make the selling process as convenient as possible, saving you time and money. Find a qualified real estate professional to assist you with selling your home.

Tip #15: Home Loan Pre-Approval
If your buying a new home while trying to sell your current one, you'll have to complete a new home loan pre-approval process. In addition to determining the best loan for you and current interest rates, you'll want to be pre-qualified to know what price range you can consider and any implications that may result should your current home not sell as quickly as you hope. Aligning yourself with a trusted mortgage representative early on will allow you to plan for special financing options so that you don't miss out on your dream home.

Tip #16: Prepare and Repair your Home
In an effort to boost curb-appeal, most houses need a little improvement and repair before they go on the market. Key strategies for staging a home to sell include removing clutter and personal items. Consider making easy repairs before you put your house on the market. Potential buyers will flick switches, turn appliances on and pull back rugs, so if something doesn't work or needs repair, fix it. Make sure your home has "curb appeal" by keeping your yard tidy. If your house looks dull or spaces look too small, painting may be the most economical investment you can make before you sell your house. Most importantly, really clean your house before you show it. It's simple and free, and it can make all the difference in the world.

Tip #17: Develop a Marketing Strategy
A local real estate professional will help you determine a competitive and fair price for selling your house, create a customized marketing strategy with details about what methods of advertising will be imployed to attract buyers to your house and a negotiating strategy for when you start to receive offers.

Tip #18: Receive an Offer
Receiving an offer on your house, accepting it and signing a purchase agreement is a huge step; it should not be taken lightly. Don't find yourself agreeing to something you don't want - make sure you know what it is you're signing. Remember all offers are contingent on certain conditions, so be sure you know what the buyers contingencies are and the time limits that have been placed on each condition. Real estate transactions are complicated and translating the legal documents can be challenging. It's never too early to start working with an expert.

Tip #19: Negotiating to Sell
EVERYTHING is negotiable. When it comes to a purchase offer, everything from the purchase price to the washer and dryer is negotiable. When you receive an offer to purchase, be sure to know exactly what the buyer is asking for and what you are willing to negotiate. Most home buyers are expecting a counter offer from the seller, so don't shy away from rejecting the first offer you receive. It's never too early to start working with an expert who will ensure fair negotiations and protect your best interests during the process of selling your house.

Tip #20: Closing
Congratulations! You've accepted an offer on your home and all that's left is the official signing of the legal documents. Once a closing date has been set, your title company will contact your mortgage company to take care of payoff procedures. An official survey of the home will be done. You will need to make repairs that were agreed upon from the inspection. And finally keys will be exchanged, documents will be signed and funds will be transferred on the day of closing. Most closings can be hassle-free if you have the right people working on your side.

When you're looking for a partner to help you negotiate the complexities of selling a home, you've come to the right place. The experience, dedication and strong communication you'll receive here will help ensure the successful and profitable sale of your home:

1. The Local Advantage - Take advantage of a broad spectrum of technologies and tools to support the sale of your home from start to close.

2. Internet Advertising - Since the lion's share of home buyers starts their search on the internet, top placement on search engines is essential. You'll gain access to placement on Google, Bing, and other websites. This will maximize your exposure and bring a large number of potential buyers to view information about your home.

3. Email Campaigns - It's important to "work the network." We can work together to identify the right people to target your home-and get in touch with them by email to drive excitement and interest.

4. Personal Touch - Of course, technology alone won't sell your home. Face-to-face interaction provides the advantage to sell your home-and you won't have to worry about a thing. The details will be handled with care and constant communication, to ensure the marketing and sale of your home go smoothly.


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