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Selling Your Home? Don't Make This Costly Mistake

And the good news is that if you have more time than money, Lynda says there's a lot you can do yourself to improve your home's appeal.

So how can you make your house best in show?

Five ways to make your house show-ready (and net more money)

Lynda says here are five things you can do to make buyers fall in love with your home.

  1. Start packing now. You're about to move, right? So get some boxes, packing tape, and a Sharpie and put your stuff in storage. “Decluttering your home makes it look bigger and cleaner,” says Lynda. “You can make your house more attractive to buyers and get a head start on moving.”
  2. Give it some elbow grease. “Clean your house like you've never cleaned it before,” says Lynda. “Windows should sparkle. Make sure the house smells nice and fresh, not like last night's fish dinner or grandpa's cigars.” Lynda says sellers can deep clean themselves, or if they have more money than time, they can hire a professional.
  3. Do a daily sweep. Steaming the carpets and dusting the ceiling fans is important, but all is lost if your bathroom counter is cluttered with hair products or there are dishes in the sink. “Do a daily wipe-down on all surfaces, especially in the bathroom and kitchen,” says Lynda. “Keep counters completely clear to make them look as big as possible, especially important in a small space.” Lynda had one client who put her toiletries in her travel bag while her home was on the market. “She'd get ready in the morning like she was on a trip, then put the travel bag away and out of sight.”
  4. Make a good first impression. “When a buyer pulls up to your house, you have five seconds for that house to sell itself from the curb,” says Lynda. “And when the front yard looks inviting, that creates positive expectations about what you'll see inside.” Take care of the obvious, like lawn care and putting your yard gnome in storage. Then give the front door some TLC. “Your front door should be warm and fresh, she says. “You can give it a coat of paint or replace it entirely.” Lynda also recommends adding some color. “Buy cheap, colorful pots, potting soil, and some flowers,” she says. “I like the combination of rosemary and flowers because it smells nice and looks attractive.” The bonus of potted plants? You can take them to your new home!
  5. Deal with the bigger issues. Here's where it can get expensive, depending on the condition of your home. But if your house is in serious need of a coat of paint and a new roof, you have to either deal with those issues or adjust the price accordingly and wait for a buyer willing to take care of it themselves.

Finally, consider getting a pre-inspection. Lynda says almost no one does this because people think, “why open a can of worms?” But the can will be opened eventually when the buyers have your house inspected. And then those problems might cost you a willing and able buyer.

“When a buyer falls in love with your home, then finds out there's a major problem you didn't disclose, they fall out of love very quickly,” she says.

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