House Calls: House Doll-Up
Ms. Lank: We need advice about fixing up the house for sale without spending much money. We are limited. What really matters? -- A.
Answer: Some brokers feel the condition of a house can make a difference of as much as 10 percent in the eventual sale price, or at the least determine how long it's likely to stay on the market.
You aren't going to conceal any defects, but your home deserves a doll-up, same as you'd give to a used car.
If you have a real estate agent, ask for suggestions. If you're doing this on your own, get frank opinions from a friend. You may have learned to compensate for that broken front step and no longer even notice it, but a fresh eye will see spots that need attention.
An agent may park across the street with prospective buyers. Sit there in your own car to get a first impression. Depending on season, are the walkways snow-free? Could the lawn use a little fertilizer? Are the bushes trimmed? Is the car garaged and the garage door closed? Are the rusty toys removed?
No matter how attached you may be to your flamingos, wooden whirligigs, decorative eagles and artificial flowers, they're a matter of personal taste. Your exterior will look more serene without them. And keep trash cans as concealed as possible.
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By the Doorbell
Then, stand at the front door, as prospective buyers will, and look around. Is the overhead light and doorbell working? It goes without saying that your screen or storm door should be in good shape and any muddy paw prints should be scrubbed. The glass panels in the door should sparkle, as should every window in the house. And a bit of black paint can revive a worn threshold.
Your front hall should be free of clutter. In the closet, remove out-of-season clothing and dead storage. All your closets will look larger if they are orderly and uncrowded.