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Home Selling Guide

Preparing for the Sale...

As the old saying goes..."You never have a second chance to make a good first impression!" When selling your home, good first impressions are very important!

Your home's "curb appeal" will most likely determine whether a prospective buyer will want to set up a showing appointment to view the interior your home. That's why it is important to have the landscaping and outside of the home in good condition. If a buyer's first impression is favorable, they will want to look further. If their first impression is not so favorable, they may pass your home up assuming that the exterior condition is a reflection of the interior condition.

As a seller, you should put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer. Things you see everyday and don't notice anymore like those scuff marks on the baseboards, hand prints on the light switch plate or peeling paint on the front door won't go unnoticed by a prospective homebuyer. Evaluating the condition of your home as if you were looking through the eyes of someone looking at it for the first time becomes paramount. If you have difficulty in determining what items should be done, ask your real estate agent to give your home a good looking over. An experienced real estate agent should be able to point out any items that you can do to spruce your home up without spending a fortune.

What can you do to make your house as desirable as possible? Find out by exploring the topics below:

. The Home Sale Preparation Checklist
. Increasing the Appeal of Your Home
. The 2 Most Important Rooms In Your House
. Where Do Remodeling Dollars Pay Off Most?
. How Much to Spend to Increase Curb Appeal
. Best Home Improvements to Ensure a Quick Sale
. Top Fixes Recommended by Home Inspectors
. The Scent of Your Home is Important to Buyers
The Home Sale Preparation Checklist
Keep the lawn mowed, edged and the yard free of clutter.
Keep the walkways and steps free of ice, snow, toys and leaves.
Make sure that the front door (including storm door) is in good repair. Repaint and caulk around the front door and trim. Replace the storm door(s) if necessary.
Try to avoid having strong odors in your house during home showings - fresh baked cookies or bread however, would be great!
Do not smoke - if possible try to do your smoking outside during the entire time that your home is on the market. You could actually loose a sale to non-smoking buyers.
Clean your bathrooms and kitchen. Don't leave dirty dishes around.
Keep your closets free of clutter.
Clean those easy-to-forget rooms like the garage, attic and basement area.
Keep all your mirrors and windows sparkling clean.
The floors should be scrubbed and the carpets vacuumed.
Dust and remove any cob webs
Clean all those fingerprints off your wall switches, door jams, etc.
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Increasing The Appeal Of Your Home
If it is needed, paint both the inside and outside of the house. It is best to use neutral colors. Fill in all of the holes and cracks on the walls and ceilings.
Remove outdated wallpaper and replace with neutral color paint.
Remove the stains in the sinks and in the tub(s). Replace the caulk around the tub and shower if necessary. Replace any fixtures that are in bad shape. If your tub is in bad shape consider having it reglazed.
Replace the tile in your bath and kitchen if it is bad repair. However, most of the time, a good mildew remover and some grout cleaner will take care of unsightly tile.
Have your carpet cleaned.
Tighten or replace missing door and cabinet handles.
If doors are hard to open and shut or they squeak, lubricate them. (Soap can actually work as a lubricant on drawers and doors)
This is the time to have those cracked windows fixed. You can have the glass replaced at your local hardware store or glass shop. It's not as expensive as replacing the entire window.
Fix those leaky faucets and make sure the drains in your tub and sinks are not clogged.
If your roof, hot water heater, furnace or central air conditioning unit needs replacing, do it. Buyers have many homes to choose from these days and aren't as "forgiving" as they once were about taking on a home that needs items like these replaced.
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The 2 Most Important Rooms In Your House
The two most important rooms in your home (from a buyer's perspective) are the kitchen and bathroom(s). This is why it's important to have both of these rooms in tip-top condition.

For the kitchen...
If you are including the appliances with the sale of your home, make sure your stove, refrigerator and dishwasher are in good working order and very clean (inside and out). Replace any damaged floor and wall tile in kitchen - or at least make sure it looks as good as possible. If you need to spruce up this room, consider placing a new throw rug in front of the sink area. If your cabinets are in bad shape, get them fixed and replace worn and/or outdated hardware. Consider replacing old, worn or outdated counter tops with new ones. Replacing them may or may not be cost effective.

For the bathroom...
Replace the shower curtain, clean the tile around the tub (re-grout if necessary). Also, make sure to keep the fixtures, floor, vanity and mirrors as clean and sparkling as possible. Use some potpourri or room deodorizer to keep this room smelling fresh and clean.

For both of these rooms...
If the paint and/or wallpaper are old, discolored or out-of-date now is a good time to repaint (paint is preferable over wallpaper as it is easy for a buyer to change to their preferences). You'll be amazed what a difference a fresh coat of paint will do for the look of these rooms. If the window treatments look drab or dated, try replacing them with some inexpensive valances, curtains or mini-blinds.

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Where Do Remodeling Dollars Pay Off Most?
It's a proven fact that certain home improvement projects pay off when it comes time to sell, while others do not. If you're looking into doing some remodeling to improve your home's appeal now, don't forget to take into account which projects will make a difference if you sell in the future.

Kitchen and bath improvements are high on the list of what buyers are willing to pay more for. Also, additions such as sunrooms are very popular. Try not to do anything that would be considered extreme or outrageous. Homes with very unique tastes are usually hard to find the right buyer for later.

Removing wallpaper that won't go with someone else's furnishings is hard work but worth the effort. Repainting in more neutral colors almost always pays off.

If a remodeling project is done by a professional, it is worth more in the long run. Ask your neighbors for recommendations of contractors that they've used, or give me a call for my list of people.

A good rule of thumb is to confine your total remodeling expenses to 10% of the homes estimated value. If you stay within this figure and plan wisely, you'll most likely recoup most of your investment

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How Much to Spend to Increase Curb Appeal
When investing in landscaping, try to get the most bang for the least amount of buck. You never want to spend a huge amount of money on a property if you're planning on selling in the near future.

The idea is to do whatever is necessary to make the yard look clean and efficient. Buyers want a home that is easy to maintain. Prune the shrubs, keep the grass nicely mowed, edged and green, and add colorful flowers near the entry ways.

Make sure that your yard is not extravagant when compared to the other homes in the neighborhood. A buyer will only pay as much as the other homes in the neighborhood are selling for. Therefore, if you overspend, it is unlikely that you will be able to recover your expenses.

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Best Home Improvements to Ensure a Quick Sale
Here are a few ideas on areas that can be fixed up to allow a quick sale of your home:

Make a good first impression by working on the curb appeal of your home. Consider painting the exterior, keeping the lawn tidy and mowed. Don't forget to clear away any clutter that can be seen from the front.

Once inside, consider the carpeting and paint. Is it fairly neutral in color? You want the colors to appeal to the majority, so don't go with unusual colors or styles.

Is your home well lit? Letting as much natural sunlight illuminate your home will give it life. There is nothing as unappealing as a home that is dark and gloomy. If you can't get a lot of sunshine into the home, then make sure you turn on the lights to make it seem more open and bright.

Make any necessary repairs, unless you'd prefer to reduce the asking price to make up for the extra work that the buyers will have to do.

Do your spring cleaning now! Clean the appliances, floors, and especially the bathrooms and kitchen

Unclutter the rooms. If you can get storage space, remove unnecessary furniture to make the rooms seem bigger. Also, get rid of personal items that are not needed, so your home will appear clean and tidy.

Consider painting the front door. Again, the first impression is very important.

Spend time making the kitchen and bathrooms looking as nice as possible. Clean the tub and sinks. Replace the shower curtain. These rooms are very important to potential buyers so make them shine.

When all is said and done, take a good long look at your home, and ask yourself, " Would I be impressed if I were seeing this home for the first time?" If the answer is no then go back to work. If the answer is yes, you're ready to market.

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Top Fixes Recommended by Home Inspectors
Buyers today are more educated and demanding than they were in the past. It should not be surprising to a seller that a buyer would ask for a home inspection before signing a hefty purchase agreement. Therefore, it would be wise for homeowners to look at the areas where most home inspections fail. Start by fixing those areas up in advance, before you're ready to place your house on the market.

The most frequently found problem area is water in the crawl space or basement. Poor drainage can result in water damage that will be more than apparent to an inspector. This can be an expensive problem to fix.

Start by re-grading the soil around the foundation of the home where water seems to be entering, or invest in waterproofing. It's also a good idea to invest in a dehumidifier to remove moisture on an ongoing basis.

There are some areas that are more prone to water in the basement than others. Most buyers don't know if a little water is to be expected or not.

The second most common problem found by inspectors is poor wiring. The wiring in your home needs to be up to code, and has to have sufficient overload protection. Sometimes the best way to be sure the wiring in your home is in good shape is to hire a home inspector, or electrical contractor to check it out for you. Even if you're not selling your home right now, you would want to make sure your family is living in a house that is safe from fire hazards.

Other areas that should be looked at as potential problems are the heating systems of your home, leaking pipes, structural damage, such as extensive cracks in the walls or ceiling, or leaky roofs.

When deciding what is important to fix, put yourself in the place of the buyer. If you were considering buying the home you live in now, what would you consider important that the seller fix?

Handle problems pertaining to the condition or construction of your home with estimates and have them repaired by a reputable contractor. Sooner is better than later, especially when the demands of moving and evaluation of the buyer run high. Do it now!

Anything you can do to make your home more saleable in advance, will mean more money and less hassle when you're actually ready to sell.

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The Scent of Your Home is Important to Buyers
How a home smells when a potential buyer comes to see it for the first time, can make or break the sale. Imagine for yourself the difference between the scent of fresh cut flowers and the smell of a cat's litter box.

My experience with showing various homes over the years suggests that foul smelling odors do turn off a buyer from purchasing an otherwise perfect home. Even homes that are very attractive with great curb appeal, can be overlooked by buyers if they fail the sniff test!

It is important when preparing for a showing of your home to do everything you can to eliminate unpleasant odors.

Common odors to look out for are cigarette or cigar smoke, strong smelling foods, mothballs, pet odors, and the smell of trash left in receptacles.

Take whatever action is necessary to remove all of the above mentioned odors, and replace them with pleasant scents. Some fresh cut flowers placed strategically throughout the house, or mild potpourri could be used. One more tip, consider baking cookies or something with a cinnamon fragrance before an open house or showing. Everyone loves the scent of Mom's home cooking!

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  Steve Hatfield
REALTOR® ABR, CRS, e-PRO Certified
CENTURY 21 Curran & Christie
25636 Ford Road
Dearborn Heights, MI 48127
Office: (313) 274-7200
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Licensed Realtor® Since 1987 (#6501221773)
realtor Accredited Buyer Representative Certified Residential Specialist e-PRO

Steve Hatfield, Realtor® provides professional real estate / home buying services to buyers and sellers in Dearborn Michigan, Dearborn Heights Michigan, the Wayne County MI (Southeast Michigan) communities of Livonia, Canton, Redford, Westland, Garden City, Plymouth, Northville and the Oakland County cities of Farmington / Farmington Hills and Novi Michigan.

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