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Old 05-03-2006, 08:51 PM
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Post The DIY Guy: Sold! 10 Home-Selling Strategies

You're anxious, worried and feeling as if you've lost all control. Your stomach is in knots and you have no appetite. You sit by the phone nervously, waiting for it to ring. These are the unmistakable symptoms of someone who has either: 1) fallen in love for the first time, or 2) put a house up for sale.

If you happen to be lovesick, you're on your own. But, if you're selling your house, there are steps you can take to ready the property--and yourself--for the sale.

First, you need to prepare psychologically. Once your home is on the market, learn to think of it as a commodity of certain value. Your job is to organize and present that commodity so it's attractive to potential buyers.

Unfortunately, letting go of a home can be an excruciating experience. "The sellers' motivation plays a key role in their emotional attachment to the house," explains Bonnie Garguilo, a Realtor for Sotheby's International Realty in Washington Depot, Conn. "If they're selling a house they love because of a job transfer, or leaving a family home after many years, the emotional ties can be extremely difficult to break."

Keeping sentiments in check is advisable because it allows you to make smart, clearheaded decisions. Buying and selling a home are easily the largest, most nerve-wracking transactions you'll ever complete. So, in order to sell your home quickly and at the highest price, keep your emotions under control and work closely with an experienced real estate agent.

Ready, Set, Show
The three most important factors in selling any home are location, condition and price. Now, you can't do much about your home's location, and the real estate agent will suggest a listing price. However, you can do quite a bit about the condition of your home, starting outside the door.

1: Prep the exterior A prospective buyer's first impression of your home is formed the instant he pulls into the driveway or clicks on its image on a Web site. "I tell sellers to stand back and look at their house with a fresh eye, just as a buyer would," says Amy Willaby, a Re/Max Realtor in Dallas. Take note of anything that needs to be cleaned, fixed or removed, and pay particular attention to obvious, highly noticeable areas. "I've seen buyers turned off simply because the front door was dirty and scuffed up," Willaby says.

Start by making sure the lawn is clean and trimmed. Tidy up shrubs and remove dead and broken limbs from trees. Add mulch to flowerbeds and plant brightly colored flowers during the warmer months.

Give a tired-looking asphalt driveway a fresh coat of sealer, and brighten concrete with a pressure washer. Freshen up a gravel driveway by raking existing gravel over bare patches.

Sweep paths and put away all items, such as lawnmowers, garden hoses, sprinklers, wheelbarrows and the like. And while I realize that one person's junk is another's treasure, no one is impressed by a '76 Ford Pinto resting on concrete blocks. Tow it away.

When it comes to the house itself, it's important to fix all obvious eyesores, such as tilting shutters, sagging gutters, dented downspouts and wobbly railings. Pressure-wash the siding and clean every window, inside and out. For larger improvements, such as roofing, windows or repainting, you may need to call in a licensed contractor. However, it could make more sense to lower the sale price rather than make the repairs. An experienced Realtor will be able to advise you on the best course.

2: Prep the interior The two best ways to spruce up the interior are to paint the walls and remove or replace old carpeting.

When repainting, play it safe and choose light, neutral colors. Dark colors might be dramatic, but they tend to make rooms look smaller and--surprise!--darker.

When it comes to badly worn carpeting, it's an easy call: Tear it out. If you find hardwood flooring, have it refinished, if necessary. If there's a bare subfloor, install new carpeting or a finished floor. Carpet that's simply dirty should be steam cleaned.

Check the operation of every door and window, examine closets, and fix sagging shelves and cracked clothes rods. Be sure all light fixtures and wall switches work.

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