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Before the Sale

By Gary Foreman

You've decided to sell your home. But before you put a sign in the front yard and hire a real estate agent what can you do to make sure that you get the most for your property?

We asked a twenty-year veteran of the real estate wars that question. Ron Maruca represents Caldwell-Banker in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He suggested a number of simple, inexpensive things that a homeowner can do to encourage a quicker more profitable sale.

What's the most important thing to do? According to Maruca, that's easy.

"Paint. Assuming that their house isn't in a shambles just clean and paint. Paint is cheap. Whatever you can do that doesn't cost you a lot of money, do it. Clean the yard. Fertilize. Different things like that can make a big difference."

Does color make a difference? Ron suggests that you "keep it fairly neutral. There are some new color combinations out that I'm seeing a lot. Yellow with a white trim is one. You're looking to attract as many people as possible. You're not looking to be super unique because that will narrow your market." Your personal style of decorating isn't that important as long as the furnishings don't dominate the home's structure. Don't forget to fix any cracked plaster before painting.

'Curb appeal' is very important. This is the first impression that your house will make. To get top dollar for your homestead you'll need to entice prospects into your home. If they never leave the car you can't sell to them.

Begin with your grass. Fertilize your lawn. Make sure it's properly cut and edged. Get rid of weeds.

Even if you don't like flowers, a few in your front yard will beautify your home for a small investment in time and money. Trim up any over grown bushes or trees.

Part of any successful project is avoiding mistakes. We asked Ron what was the most common error that sellers made in preparing their homes. "Clutter. When you're showing a property it has to have a nice flow. When we live in a property we don't realize the condition of it and how cluttery it is. Get it cleared out so that people can freely walk. A lot of times people aren't aware of what they live in. Rather than say 'I'm comfortable here', take a look from a buyer's standpoint. What are we going to look for? All kinds of stuff strewn around. It's even difficult as an agent to talk to sellers about it. But it should be discussed."

It's probably a good time to pack up any collections that you have on display. Each piece may be a memory to you, but they'll just make your home look smaller now. While you're at it, clean out the closets. You'll be sorting though those old clothes before you move. Might as well do it now.

Check for minor repairs. Fix leaky faucets and clean stained sinks. Tighten loose door knobs and drawer pulls. Oil squeaky door hinges and fix any doors that stick. Make sure that windows open and close easily.

Wash window screens and windows. You'll want to let in plenty of light. A bright home is friendly. You might even want to consider increasing the wattage of your light bulbs. Especially in darker rooms and storage areas. If outside shrubbery is providing too much shade you might want to trim them to let a little more light enter your home.

Consider a few minor decorating touches. Bedrooms and baths often clinch a home sale. Perhaps you should replace an older shower curtain or add some silk flowers. Clean, well fluffed bath towels are also an attractive touch.

Mr. Maruca suggests that the seller holds the key to a quick, profitable sale. "The main thing is simplicity. Keep it neutral. Keep it clean, painted, manicured lawn. That's the biggest thing. It's not a lot of money and it's things that people can do themselves."

You'll probably need to talk yourself into doing some of these things. After all, who wants to spend time painting just before you move? But, spending some time on your home now could actually save you time during the sales process. Waiting month after month for your house to sell wastes time. And money, too!


Gary Foreman is a former Purchasing Manager and Certified Financial Planner. He currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website <>. It contains the web's largest collect of free articles to save you time and money. There's even a free weekly email newsletter. Visit and save some money today! Every month, you will be reading Gary's column in WIRED! Philippines, called the Dollar Stretcher. While the column's title might be way off the e-zine's name, or while the Philippine currency is the peso, our Filipino subscribers abroad use the dollar. It is with these people in mind that WIRED! Philippines opens this column. Aside from this, practical tips on how to spend money wisely (dollar or peso or any other) and live frugally are what makes Gary's column have a bit of Filipino flavor.


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