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Mary Hunt

So you're getting ready to sell your house. Just thinking about it can be an overwhelming experience.

Should you hire a Realtor? Do a FSBO (for sale by owner) to keep from paying that big commission? Should you spend a few bucks to paint and recarpet -- at least the front rooms? Where do you start, and what can you do to make sure you attract a qualified buyer as quickly as possible?


A Realtor who is successfully moving properties in your neighborhood and comes with references will likely get you a better price for your home than you could get on your own. Most nonprofessionals (owner sellers) end up losing more in the transaction than the commission they would have paid a professional.


Should you remodel the kitchen? Replace fixtures in the bathrooms? Probably not, unless those fixtures are not working. Frequently, such updates and changes done to achieve a higher sales price don't pay off. Almost anyone buying your home will want to make their own changes, so you are not likely to recoup that investment of time and money.

Unless your Realtor recommends major changes like a new roof or exterior paint job, hold off and put your energy into other areas.


"Curb appeal" is the impression your home makes when a potential buyer sees it for the first time. Here are quick and easy ways make improve your home's curb appeal:

--Repair cracks in the driveway and walk areas that approach the home.

--Keep the landscaping neat and tidy with blooming, weed-free and well-cultivated flowerbeds.

--Make sure the home looks freshly painted. A good scrubdown might do the trick.

--Keep the garage door closed.

--Make sure garbage cans, tools, etc., are completely out of sight.


You want the inside of your home to appear as large as possible. That means all of the clutter from all of the rooms has to go. And don't stuff it into the closets and cupboards. They need to be clutter-free and neatly organized. Motivated buyers will look behind every door.

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Remove most or all of the items from your kitchen and bathroom counters. You want storage areas to look spacious, so take items out of the closets, and clear shelves of knickknacks. Your goal is to create a simplified and calm atmosphere.

Remove quotations, signs or and family photos. There should be nothing on the floors but floor coverings and furniture.


Soap and water are cheap. Your cost to get your house ready to sell will come in terms of time and elbow grease. Your home should be so clean that a Marine sergeant inspecting it with a white glove could not find a single exception.

Windows: Clean every window inside and out.

Bathrooms: Sanitize and scrub the bathrooms until they sparkle -- even if they are old, they can be impeccably clean. Clean the shower door tracks with an old toothbrush, removing every trace of gunk and yuck.

Floors: No matter how old or worn, have the carpets shampooed. 

Furniture and fixtures: Dust and polish until there is not a speck of dust anywhere. Vacuum all upholstered furniture. If you have so much furniture that your rooms appear crowded, move some of it out. Stand back and look at each room through the eyes of a stranger. Then rearrange things to give the most pleasing visual impression.