the real estate market softens, what can Americans do
to still get the best price for their homes? According
to the U.S. Census Bureau, with 1.2 million homes for
sale in the first quarter of 2003, a 4% increase over
the same quarter last year, the competition among
sellers is stiff. So how do homeowners give their
properties an edge?
way is to increase the value of their home. In some
cases, that could mean spending significant money to
put in a swimming pool or tennis court, but there are
also less expensive ways to make one's home more
attractive--without jacking up the appraised value or
property tax bill. A fresh coat of paint or a
revarnished floor will go a long way toward impressing
prospective buyers without having to take out a home
may want to consult with their real estate agent or
other experts when they put their home on the market.
A home could be in mint condition--in the owner's
eyes, at least--but owners may be surprised at what
they hadn't thought about. For example, Bruce Taylor,
president of ERA Key Realty Services in
critical to attack home odors immediately,"
have all kinds of theories about which colors or
scents put consumers in the mood to buy. In the case
of home sales, cosmetic changes rather than major
renovations can make a huge difference in the sales
real estate brokers we spoke with use a general rule
of thumb: The average cost to make a repair could cost
the seller double during price negotiations if it's
not attended to or first disclosed. For example, a
leaky roof may cost $2,000 to repair, but if the leak
is not fixed by the owner or is first discovered
during an inspection, it could make a $4,000
difference in the final sales price.
small investment can offer a large economic
return," says Dorcas Helfant of Coldwell Banker
Professional, Realtors in Virginia Beach, Va.
"It's not about what you are comfortable with in
your home; it's about whether or not future home
buyers can imagine themselves living there
comfortably. A $4,000 to $5,000 investment in new
carpet may make a $10,000 difference in the sales
if a home's appearance rubs brokers the wrong way, it
may not get shown, and once a house lingers on the
market for too long, it becomes stigmatized,
decreasing the chances of its selling at the asking
the house has been on the market for a period of time,
the owner may want to go through the house and
redecorate and make repairs,"
it comes to major remodeling jobs, the entire cost of
renovations are rarely recouped in the sales price.
For example, Remodeling magazine's annual cost versus
value report, which looks at how much of the costs of
remodeling projects are recouped in the sales price,
found that on a national average, the most
cost-effective remodeling jobs were bathroom additions
and second-story additions. In both cases, home owners
saw 94% of costs recouped.
functional renovations, such as high-end window
replacements and roof replacements, weren't money
suckers, but in the end they didn't offer as
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