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How to get your home ready to sell

Local experts share their tips.We’ve ranked ideas from free to most expensive.

If you’re thinking about selling your home this year, then it’s time to think spring.

The real estate research firm CoreLogic is predicting an increase in home prices in 2013, as the housing market continues to improve. We asked local experts what you can do to make your home more appealing to potential buyers.

Free fixes

Many of the things that make homes attractive to buyers are simple and more importantly, free. “First and foremost, give your house a great cleaning,” said Kellee Markwell, a realtor with Roediger Realty in Springfield. “Buyers feel more confident buying a well-groomed home because they feel that if what they can see is well cared for, what they can’t see was probably taken care of as well.”

De-cluttering your home is at the top of every staging expert’s list. “Get things off the counters and put children’s toys away,” said homestager Trisha Rowland of ReDesign Mine in Beavercreek. “Only leave out about 20 percent of the toys your children own.” Don’t be tempted to cram everything into a closet, though. “Master closets are really important,” Rowland said. “De-clutter closets especially.”

If your walls are covered in family photos, then it’s time to bid farewell for now. However, an absence of photos can make a house look too stark. “If you have photos in frames, go to Google Images and print out some nature or beach scenes,” Rowland said. “And put them in the frame overtop of your current photos” for some instant neutral art.

Keep up curb appeal by mowing grass, keeping the garage door down and weeding flowerbeds. As Rowland said, afresh coat of paint on the front door and neat landscaping can increase buyer interest as much as interior changes.

“Think like a buyer,” Markwell said. “A house that looks clean and well-maintained will stand out.”

Low- to moderately priced fixes

Paint is a key ingredient in market success. “Repaint any dingy, dirty walls or walls that have a bright, bold color that may not appeal to the majority of buyers,” Markwell said. “You want to appeal to the largest number of potential buyers possible.”

A qualified home stager can help you choose what will appeal to buyers. “Trust professionals when it comes to choosing the correct paint color,” Rowland said. Neutral colors are generally the rule of thumb, but “not all beiges and grays are created equal.” A professional will assess your home to make sure the paint will look its best.

Staging services come in a range of options from a quick walk through to completely changing the feel of a home. “ReDesign Mine can rent furnishings and accessories to sellers who have vacant homes on the market,” Rowland said.

Kitchens and bathrooms are usually a big factor in a buyer’s decision. For an easy facelift, try Markwell’s suggestion: “(an) inexpensive, quick fix is replacement of kitchen cupboard or bathroom cabinet knobs and hardware. This simple trick can make your space look fresh and newer.”

Big budget fixes

If you need to sell your house quickly due to a transfer or other unforeseen circumstances, then you may want to consider a major improvement. Mark Adkins, a realtor with Woodlan Realtors in Franklin, said that some common big updates include new carpet or flooring, bathroom and kitchen remodels and even adding space to a home.

“With one home wasn’t selling for a while, a three-bedroom, one-bath ranch, the seller added a full bath, and that actually helped the property sell,” Adkins said. So sellers who need to sell fast might want to consider “adding a full or half bath in addition to cosmetic changes.”

Use caution when making major improvements, though. Markwell said, “You’ll want to improve for the market you are selling in. Over-improving will only cost you money that you won’t recoup in the end.”

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