Preparing your home for sale, steps to spruce up your property.

Whether you are sprucing up your home as a spring cleaning ritual, or preparing your home for sale, there are some tried and true tips to help you gain the most from your efforts. In fact, some of the most important fix-up projects a homeowner can perform may be accomplished on little more than elbow-grease, and they can help speed the sale of your home.

A thorough cleaning, a fresh coat of paint, and yard grooming are the ABC's of preparing for a sale. First impressions are important and a neat, clean look gives a good first impression to buyers.

Some additional ideas which you may want to consider:

  • Plan a yard-sale, or a tax-deductible donation to remove old furniture and toys, appliances and other clutter material. Your attic, garage, closets, cupboards and storage space will look so much bigger, and moving will be easier for you,
  • A newly painted wall (in a light or neutral shade) is a canvas to the eye of prospective buyers; and clean windows brighten and enlarge each room.
  • A well clipped yard - free of scattered toys - allows viewers to focus on the neatness of the home.
  • Fix dripping faucets and repair any caulking cracks. Bathrooms are a key selling point.

If you are prepared to invest some money to improve your home's presentation, start with the most cost-effective projects and remember to keep a journal of jobs and receipts. Home improvement costs are often deductible (when costs are incurred 90 days before the sale and paid within 30 days after the sale). While lawn-mowing and weekly cleaning bills do not qualify according to IRS regulations, new paint, a new water heater, or new gutters usually do apply.

Some hints:

  • Replace broken gutters and shutters.
  • New paint indoors or out is usually approved by the IRS for deduction if completed and paid for near the time of sale.
  • New floor coverings (in neutral shades) on kitchen and bathroom floors may be another affordable investment which can speed a sale by appealing to buyers' desire for a property that is "ready to move in," particularly if the current style of colors are dated.
  • Repair broken woodwork, loose planks, and creaky stairs. No buyer wants a home that needs structural repairs.
  • Hardwood floors are a plus. If you have hardwood floors, consider removing the floor covering, especially if the carpet is worn.

You may want to reconsider more ambitious jobs, however, if you are thinking of selling the home any time soon. While bathroom and kitchen up-grades generally help appreciation, not all home additions will add value to the property - other than that value which you personally enjoy. Not everyone wants a swimming pool that could be a safety hazard for young children, or an island kitchen design that restricts kitchen traffic flow. A new deck may recoup its installment costs, but new kitchen cabinets come in a variety of designs and styles that the buyer should choose. Talk to your Realtor about the improvements most appropriate in current market conditions and you will do your share to speed the sale of your home.

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