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The Best Way to Increase Your Home's Chances of Selling -- and Other Hard-Won Tips

If you are selling your home and want your home to appeal over your neighbor's home, the most important thing is also pretty easy: Clean it!

While a new kitchen and updated bathrooms are certainly important, a well maintained home is priceless. There is no bigger turnoff than walking into a dirty, cluttered home for a buyer, especially after they've seen 20-plus homes in a given day.

I've worked with hundreds of buyers, and I can tell you that it is easier for them to visualize what can be done to a home when it is neat and clean. To be honest, most people would rather not pay for someone else's upgrades that they will be re-doing anyways, and would rather just move into a clean, well-maintained home.

This tells the buyer that the home was loved -- and that when things went wrong, they were corrected, not just left to worsen over time.

When you see that the windows and window sills have been cleaned, when a homeowner has maintained the exterior of the home, you know that they respected their property and are passing along to you a gem, not a white elephant! 

Of course, this isn't the only factor affecting resale; let's look at some of the many things that affect your home's resale value -- things that you can affect, if you so desire to put so money into your home to have it stand out.  

The best value as far as bathrooms go is at least a 2.5 bathroom home -- this allows one for guests, one for the secondary bedrooms and one in the master. Having too few will definitely adversely affect your home value.

Storage and More Storage:
A three-car garage is ideal as this gives the extra storage space homeowners desire. I have some clients who have turned this third car space into a home gym, a home office or just an extra storage space, and this is definitely appealing to future buyers.

The Kitchen:
This is probably the most important room in the home. The larger kitchen, the better, and it should also have newer appliances. A lot of homes today have granite counters and while this is certainly an added feature, be sure that the granite is installed correctly (over the sink, not under), has been bull-nosed rather than the straight edge and is a slab rather than the tiles -- and be sure you like the colors.

Kitchen cabinets can also be extremely expensive but also deceiving in looks. You may think you are buying maple but are getting pressboard or some other far less superior product.

Be sure your dining room can withstand your dinner parties. I've also noticed today's buyers are really into the "great room," combining the family and living rooms as well as the kitchen. This is a really nice feature as well but if it is the only living space, be sure it is off of the kitchen in order to make the best use of the space.

Convenience for today's buyers is highly coveted, so easy access to the backyard is a benefit, especially if you're into barbecuing or entertaining. The little things like having to walk up stairs with groceries, versus coming into the kitchen off of the garage, also makes a difference to future buyers.

Everyone loves a good fireplace, and some modern homes will have two or more. The best place to have one is in the living room as it becomes the focal point of the room. If it were in the family room it is competing or interfering with the television and will remain largely unused. A lot of homes today also have a fireplace in the master bedroom and again, while this is a nice feature, it only adds value to those that will use it. In more temperate climates such as my home state of California, they go largely unused.

Swimming Pools:
A swimming pool will not add as much value as they cost. To a potential buyer who does not want a pool, it adds zero value. A pool with all the latest and greatest gadgets will only increase your home's value about 10 percent to 20 percent of the cost of the pool. Think of adding one simply for your own enjoyment and not as an investment. Something to also take into consideration with a pool is the safety considerations as well as the cost of insurance.

Suzanne Grace is a real estate agent in Thousand Oaks, California

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