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Category:  Homes:  Buying and Selling 

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Frugal Strategies for Selling Your Home

By Nikki Willhite

Selling our homes is one of the most stressful things that we do, even if we want it. We call in the Realtors and they tell us that in order to sell our home, we must make $15,000 worth of improvements and our neighbors must do the same! Ever heard that before?

The person who sells your home wants to make the largest commission possible. Naturally they want you to improve your home. If they can sell it at a higher price, they will make a larger commission. I have nothing against Realtors. They are doing their job. Everyone has his or her own agenda. You must follow the one most advantageous to you. You do not want to spend money fixing up your home that you will not get back at the close of the deal!

Present home excluded, our past homes always seemed to end up surrounded by neglected houses and lawns used for parking old cars! The Realtor who sold our last home told me that I was to go to all my neighbors, ask them to clean up their properties, and if they didn't do it, I should! Right! (By the way, we sold that particular home in a week). Neighborhood is important, but I don't think there is much you can do about certain situations.

Concentrate on your own home, but don't waste your money on expensive upgrades or additions. In most cases you will not get all your money back when you sell your home. Since many people will put their homes on the market after the holidays, here are some suggestions. These are the things you can do for the least amount of money that will make the biggest difference in the time required to sell your home and the price you get for it.

Curb Appeal- First impressions are extremely important. Enhance the front of your home as your first priority. People are so busy these days. They want a home in "turnkey" condition. In other words, they want to move in and they just start living. That is what you want to convey with the first impression of your home.

Overgrown landscaping makes any house look like it needs work. It doesn't cost anything to pull it up if you cannot prune it into an attractive shape. Be brutal! Your house is more attractive than that overgrown landscaping.

Take a good look at your front door. If it doesn't look good when cleaned, paint it. If you have a screen make sure it is in good condition. If it is not, just remove it and hang a nice wreath on the door.

If you have potted plants in your yard, move them to the entry to make it more attractive. If you have concrete that has turned dark, rent or borrow a power cleaner and make it light again. Remove any grease stains from your driveway.

Once inside your home the first thing people will notice is light and smell. We become so use to the smells in our homes that we don't even notice them. Sometimes they are not appealing to other people. Clean your home thoroughly and air it out. If it still doesn't smell fresh, try a little potpourri, or keep soup simmering on the stove.

If your home is dark, lighten it up. You will probably have to paint all the walls white. If you have wallpaper, take it off before you paint. It is going to hurt, but it's not going to cost you money!

If your drapes are old and unattractive, and privacy isn't an issue, just take them down. You will have more light, and the room will look bigger.

Remove excessive accessories. Most people accumulate so many things, the only way to accomplish this is to box them up and store them in a friend or neighbor's garage or rent a storage locker. Small, stuffed closets will turn away many a buyer. Keeping your personal items to a minimum helps the new buyer visualize living in your home with their things. They are going to pay a lot of money for your home. Help them do that!

Cleaning the carpets is always worth the expense. Rent a steam cleaner or have it professionally done. Families with young children or babies know how much time their children will spend playing on the carpet. Will they want them playing on yours? This is one area where sometimes you do have to outlay some money. Many a house sits on the market for 9 months until the owner replaces the carpet. Most people just can't visualize how it will look if they do it themselves, even with a carpet allowance.

Kitchens and Bathrooms almost always need new caulking. Grout will need a heavy duty cleaner. The level of cleanliness in your bathroom will need to be greater than normal. You are probably going to have to clean it every day. Make it shine!

The Basement- The biggest mistake people make in basements is putting up dark paneling. It just makes the room darker.

You have a few inexpensive options to make your basement look better. You can cover the walls with light colored pictures or posters. You can install better lights (preferably large fluorescent fixtures), or you can paint the paneling white. Painting is the most effective, and can look very nice. A lot of people are afraid to do it, but it has a nice cottage feel to it, and brightens up the whole room.

The Garage - Don't store your clutter here! Clean, dust, sweep, and paint the cement floor is you have to. Nothing dates a home more than a cluttered, grease splattered, and water stained mess of a garage. This will probably be your biggest challenge, but don't neglect it. With most people, a few trips to the dump would probably be in order.


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