Choosing an experienced realtorcan make selling your home aneasier and quicker process. Inaddition, there are simple and inexpensiveways in which your home will showbetter and will help you to fetch top dollarfor your home.
•Build curb appeal. Curb appealrefers to that critical first impression apotential buyer gets when they first seeyour home from the street, and it sets thetone for the entire showing. In fact, ifyour home has no curb appeal, manyprospects will simply move on to thenext house for sale. It's your job to polishyour diamond in the rough.
Start by standing in the street or inyour driveway and taking a realisticassessment. You may want to get afriend or realtor to do this with you.Everything should look fresh and trim.Your landscaping should appropriatelyframe your home and your lawnshould look healthy and well-maintained.If you have window boxes, putfresh plantings or flowers in them.Make sure that paint appears fresh,and no paint is peeling on your home,including your front door. Also repairany rotting wood on the house. Flyingthe American flag outside always addsa nice touch of color.
•Transform the inside of yourhome into a showplace. You've createda great first impression by sprucingup the outside of your home. Now youwant to confirm that impression on theinside. Start with fresh flowers in yourentranceway, and continue with flowersand plants throughout your home,which give a home a warm feeling.Recognize that most prospective buyershave trouble visualizing the way thingscould be. Clean your carpets (or replacecarpets where necessary) and wax orpolish your floors. Keep in mind thatprospective buyers prefer neutral colors.If your color tastes run a bit on the wildside, consider repainting the rooms.
•Eliminate the clutter. Start withthe outside of your home, particularlythe garage. Don't assume that prospectivebuyers and selling agents will notlook in your closets—they will. Neat,organized closets are a big selling point.Cluttered closets, attics, cabinets, androoms make your home seem small.Have a garage sale. The money youmake on the garage sale can be used tohelp pay for needed repairs.
•If it's broken, repair it. Becauseyour goal is to have everything in perfectworking order, you should performyour own home inspection to identifyany items that need repair. Even minorrepairs left undone can cost you a sale.Most buyers require, and pay for, ahome inspection before closing on ahome. Typically, the seller must repairany problems identified during theinspection. If you are going to have torepair any problems anyway, you arebetter off doing them before you putyour home on the market.
•Buy a home warranty. Thereare companies that, for a small fee,will agree to fix any problems thepurchaser has with your home duringthe first year after purchase. The typicalcost of a home warranty is lessthan $500 and is a great selling toolin that it gives the buyer confidencethat any problems after the purchasewill be handled.
Stewart H.Welch III, CFP®, AEP, is the founder
of the Welch Group, LLC, which specializes
in providing fee-only wealth management
services to affluent retirees and health care
professionals throughout the United States.
He is the coauthor of J.K. Lasser's New Rules for Estate and
Tax Planning (John Wiley & Sons, Inc; 2001). He welcomes
questions or comments at 800-709-7100 or visit www.
welchgroup.com. This article was reprinted with permission
from the Birmingham Post Herald. He thanks his partner
Scott Lee for his assistance with this article.