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Getting Your House Ready to Sell: 10 Simple Steps

Any realtor will tell you that the key to sell your house fast - and at your asking price - is to have it looking great. Here are ten simple steps to increasing the appeal of your home.

Step 1: Assess The Situation

You've been living with the flaws in your home so long that many of them may escape your notice. Grab a notebook, pen and fearless friend and spend a few hours taking stock of the situation. Start at the curb and work your way around the house from the outside in. Make a note of anything that detracts from the appearance of your house. Take special note of any minor repairs that need doing, and spruce-ups that you've put off.

Step 2: Take Care Of The Repairs

If there are needed repairs that you can't do yourself, you should schedule that work first so that you can work around it. Look beyond the house itself, and replace broken fence posts, repair or resurface cracked driveways/walkways, and get rid of overhanging limbs. Inside, look for things like loose flooring tiles, marred counter tops - all the little things that you've grown used to. (That missing inset on your bathroom sink hot water faucet may seem like nothing to you, but it adds to an overall impression of how well the house has been maintained.) Avoid making any negative impressions.

Step 3: Spruce Up The Landscaping

Curb appeal is the buzzword in the real estate industry. The first impression that your house makes as a prospective buyer pulls up to the curb is your most powerful selling tool. Trim bushes, prune trees and manicure flower beds. If you don't have a flowerbed, consider spending a weekend afternoon putting a border of flowers or easy maintenance plants along the walkway or property frontage. Even something as simple as placing a few potted plants on the side of the front steps can make a powerful positive impression on someone seeing the house for the first time.

Step 4: Clean Out The Garage

Get rid of any accumulated clutter in the garage, storage sheds and basement. The fewer personal effects that are in view, the easier it will be for the prospective buyers to see the possibilities in the house.

Step 5: Give The House A Facelift

You don't have to repaint, though if you can fit it in, it's the best picker-upper around. If you can't, give vinyl or aluminum siding a good scrub down, and then paint the trim and wash the windows till they sparkle. While you're up on the ladder, clean out the gutters and tighten up any loose fasteners.

Step 6: Redo The Inside From The Floors Up

Carpets and flooring make a major impression. Replace or remove worn or stained wall-to-wall carpeting. If you have real hardwood flooring, give it a good sand-and-buffing to make it shine. Hardwood floors are a major plus in today's house market. Invest a weekend in replacing any worn tiles in bathrooms and kitchens, or put down a new floor. According to most Realtors, kitchen and bathroom facelifts are the best ways to add value to your house.

Step 7: Give The Walls A Fresh Face

Your next step is to take down everything and give the walls a fresh coat of paint. Stick with neutrals - white, buff or cream colors that will go with anything. When you're done, don't put anything back up!

Step 8: De-clutter The Rooms

The look you're going for is pristine and ready to move into. As with garages and basements, the fewer personal effects that are in evidence, the easier it is for buyers to see themselves and their belongings in your house. Put away family photos and mementos. Clean out closets and storage spaces. Get everything off counters and tables to give the rooms a clean, airy appearance.

Step 9: Spic-And-Span From Top To Bottom

Get your house spotless. Wash down windows, sills and door trims. Scrub around light fixtures and doorknobs - places notorious for collecting dirty fingerprints. Give the carpets a good cleaning and wash and wax all the floors. Make sure that windows and mirrors shine, and clean tile grout in the bathroom and kitchen.

Step 10: Maintain

Once the house is on the market, it will be important to maintain all the work you've done. Keep the lawn mowed and bushes trimmed. Make sure that the kids' toys aren't scattered around the yard, and trash is kept out of sight. Inside, make the beds immediately in the mornings, keep dishes out of the sink and make getting clutter out of sight a part of your daily routine.



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