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Realty Reality
With Katie Howlett


The Holy Trinity of selling a home is price, location and condition. People always ask me about ways to maximize the value of their home and save money.

While there is not much you can do about your location, price and condition are well within your control - and being very diligent before you list, can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Pricing is based on complex factors, so this month I will focus on condition and reducing the time on the market.

The secret to condition is: Preparation, Preparation, Preparation! Because you will be moving out of the house when you sell, there is no better time than before you put your home on the market to declutter and thin out. Having your home feel as impersonal as possible will make it easier for potential buyers to see themselves living in the space. Depersonalizing includes taking down family photos, packing away knick- knacks, clearing out any old hiding places for junk (under tables, in closets, above refrigerators, etc.) and removing any extra furniture that may make your home feel cluttered. Less is more. Not only will decluttering help your home appeal to more buyers, it will make packing up before you move much easier!

The second step to preparation is neutralizing your home, especially if you have eclectic tastes. Remember, the goal is to have your home appeal to as many people as possible. Painting rooms a neutral color, like a tan or a grey, can transform the space. A fresh coat of white paint on trim will also do wonders.

The third step to preparation is freshening. You want your home to shine and to be free of any odors. Washing windows, dusting, shining your hardwood oors, are all good ideas. If you have wall-to-wall carpet, now is the time to consider replacing it. When a buyer has to put obvious maintenance and repairs on their to-do list for a potential home, they are really just making a list of reasons to say no or offer less money.

Last, but certainly not least, have pertinent information about your home available and ready for the buyer. Pertinent information includes average utility bills, ages of the systems (HVAC, water heater, roof, etc.), surveys and an elevation certificate, if your home happens to fall in a flood zone. When all the information is available for the buyer to make an educated decision about your home, they can quickly prepare an offer. In this information-driven world, get ahead of the questions with ready-to-go answers.

While you may be in a rush to get your home on the market, putting it on the market in poor condition will only hurt you. Even in today's sellers market, condition matters. Take the time to get it right before you list, and your time on the market will be a much more lucrative and pleasant experience!

(Katie Howlett is a Licensed Realtor in Virginia with Nancy Chandler Associates of Norfolk and is a five time Circle of Excellence Award recipient)


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