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Get your home ready to sell

By Robin Becker
Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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For sale sign in front of house
Improving curb appeal is one of the most important things you can do before you sell a house
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Don't put your home on the market until you make it as attractive as possible.

Your house may bring thousands of dollars more if you spend a few hundred dollars and do some work in the right areas. What first impression will a prospective buyer have? A large percentage of home buyers decide whether or not to look inside a house or consider it seriously based on its curb appeal—the view they see when they drive by or arrive for a showing.

You can help make sure they want to come inside your house by spending some time working on its exterior appearance. If you're in the least bit handy, you'll probably be able to do most of the needed work yourself.

It's difficult to look at our own house in the same way that potential home buyers do – often we can't see its faults because we've become accustomed to the way it looks. Decide right now to stop thinking of the property as a home. It's a house—a commodity you want to sell for the highest dollar possible.

The next time you come home, stop across the street or far enough down the driveway to get a good view of the house and its surroundings. Park where a potential buyer would and walk towards the house, looking around you as if it were your first visit. This is the first view a buyer will have. With a notepad in hand, look at your house through a potential buyer's eyes. Since house buying decisions are emotional ones, the first impression is very important.

Keep in mind that most buyers cannot visualize changes, and often won't take a second look at a house if the first look doesn't appeal to them. And those home buyers who can visualize changes, and are prepared to make them, will usually expect you to reduce the price of the house to compensate for the work they plan to do.

Critiquing your property from a buyer's point of view

What is your first impression of the house and yard area? Take notes of every fault you can see.
  • Peeling paint?
  • Visible cracks in concrete or brickwork?
  • Cracked glass?
  • Clutter?
  • Poor landscaping?
  • Yard need maintenance?
  • Anything worn or looking old? Take photos of the home's exterior.
If you have a digital camera, view the color versions first, then remove the color and look at it in black and white – sometimes it's easier to see problems when colors are removed from the image.



Make a list of the problem areas you discovered.

Tackle clean up and repair chores first, then put some time into projects that make the grounds more attractive.

Easy fixes for problem areas as you get your home ready to sell
  • Kill mold and mildew on the house, sidewalks, roof, or driveway.
  • Stow away unnecessary garden implements and tools.
  • Clean windows and gutters.
  • Pressure wash dirty siding and dingy decks.
  • Edge sidewalks and remove vegetation growing between concrete or bricks.
  • Mow the lawn. Get rid of weeds.
  • Plant some inexpensive annuals and put fresh mulch in flower beds.
  • Rake and dispose of leaves, even if your lot is wooded.
  • Trim tree limbs that are near or touching the home's roof.
  • Trim hedges that are overgrown or blocking views from windows.
  • Don't forget the rear view. Buyers doing a drive by will try their best to see your back yard. If it's visible from another street or from someone's driveway, include it in your curb appeal efforts.


Evening Curb Appeal Do your curb appeal exercise again at dusk, because it isn't unusual for potential buyers to drive by houses in the evening. One quick way to improve evening curb appeal is with lighting:
  • String low voltage lighting along your driveway, sidewalks, and near important landscaping elements.
  • Add a decorative street lamp to the front yard or an attractive light fixture to a front porch.
  • Make sure lighting that's visible through front doors and windows enhances the home's appearance.
Other tips to make your house more attractive:
  • If you can budget it, a fresh paint job does wonders for a dingy house. Drive around your town to find color schemes that are appealing.
  • Install a more attractive front door, maybe something with leaded glass inserts.
  • If you can't justify the cost of a new door, consider replacing plain doorknob hardware with something more attractive.
  • If new hardware is beyond your budget, repaint or stain the door and polish the hardware.

Take the same approach to the inside of your home to make it appealing and uncluttered. Try to see your home for the first time. Take photos of each room to see the your spaces from a fresh perspective. As you get your home ready to sell, remember to put away collections, trophies, family photos and other items that make it hard for perspective buyers to see the home as theirs instead of yours.

If you're up for the challenge, you might want to do some interior work now that your curb appearance is up to par. A great place to start would be the kitchen – remodeling ideas for your kitchen offers many priceless tips and ways to give that part of your home the facelift it needs. Even in a bad real estate market, you can sell your home if you make it stand out from the other available properties.

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