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Preparing a Home for Sale

(A continuation of How to Sell a House)

By - 2006

Cleaning is one of the obvious things you should do when you are preparing a home for sale. Making any necessary repairs is another. Of course you know this, but the problem is that it is sometimes hard to be objective about how your home appears to others.

You don't necessarily notice the dust on the ceiling fan when you live with it. You might not spot the dirty switch plate covers. Maybe there is the screen door that you haven't thought about, because you know how to open it - but others struggle with it.

To solve this problem, show your home to someone who is more objective and critical. Get a friend or family member who doesn't spend a lot of time in your home to visit and inspect your home. Tell them that you want them to pick the place apart, pointing out every flaw, dirty spot and potential issue.

You even want to hear about the things you can't fix, so you'll be ready when buyers ask about these things. Get estimates for these repairs.

This will help you with things you might have missed, but you'll want to systematically check out everything yourself as well when preparing a home for sale. Here are some of the things to inspect:

Neighborhood
Mailbox
Yard
Driveway
Outside Of Home
Garage
Entry
Basement
Living Room
Family Room
Bedrooms
Bathrooms
Kitchen
Laundry Room
Closets
Systems

Improvements

You can go beyond cleaning up and repairing your home if you want to get even more for it. The next step is to add value by improving it in various ways. What improvements should you make? Start with a simple rule with which to start analyzing possible improvements.

Return On Investment

Remember the true story from earlier? The young couple was very disappointed when I told that the $40,000 they put into remodeling the kitchen had added only $10,000 in value to the house. This is a classic example of a bad return on investment.

To get not just a higher price, but more net profit when you sell your house, you have do things which give the most "bang for the buck." Try to aim for a three-to-one return on improvements. In other words, if you're going to resurface the driveway for $1000, it better raise the value of the home by $3,000.

Most of the time you'll just be guessing, but keep this three-to-one formula in your head. There is no point in doing $5,000 worth of improvements to net $5,000 more. Your time has value too. If you spend $5,000 on improvements that you think will increase the value of the home by $15,000, you could be off by half and still make something for your effort. You can't say for sure, and that is why you need a good margin of safety.

Better Guessing

When preparing a home for sale you can't really estimate the increase in value from things like new curtains. What you can do, though, is group together the many small improvements you are considering, and imagine how the house will look when you are done. Then you can estimate whether you will have increased the value enough to justify the cost.

There is more about this on the following page...

The book continues here: Prepare a House for Sale - More on maximum efficiency with improvements.


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Houses Under Fifty Thousand | Preparing a Home for Sale