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10 Tips | By Laura T. Coffey

10 tips: Change house's 'for sale' sign to 'sold'

Are you a home seller enduring the stress of watching your precious piece of real estate languish on the market for months on end? If so, you're coping with one of the most angst-inducing situations imaginable — and, truth be told, your best bet may be to wait the doldrums out and relist your home later. But in some cases, you might be able to employ some simple steps to generate more interest in your property. Consider these tips.

1. Examine your home with fresh eyes. Carefully study both the interior and exterior of your home. Look at the lawn, shrubs, sidewalks, front door and paint job, and ask yourself whether the interior is meticulously clean and neat. Is your color scheme neutral? Do the carpets need to be shampooed? Does your home smell of pets or cigarettes? Are the walls crying out for fresh coats of paint?

2.Get cracking on that "honey do" list. If you've been putting off a list of maintenance and repair jobs — perhaps in the hopes that you may never need to do them at all — it's time to face the music. Would-be buyers who spot even small repairs that need to be done may fear that you've been neglecting maintenance for years. If you just can't stomach the thought of doing all those projects yourself, spend $200 or so and hire a handyman to do the work for you.

3Drop your listing price if necessary. Determine whether similar homes in your area are priced lower than yours. If so, you just may have to lower your price. And if you really need to sell, figure out the lowest price you're willing to accept — and then take such an offer if you get it.

4Seek out constructive criticism. Your listing agent can consult with buyers' agents for you and find out how potential buyers reacted when they viewed your home. The feedback you receive could prove to be invaluable.

5Opt for a weeknight open house. Is competition is particularly stiff among sellers in your neighborhood? If so, an open house on a weeknight could be to your advantage because you would likely have less competition than on a weekend. You could even attract a whole new crop of buyers.

6Make yourself scarce. Try not to be present when people view your home so they can talk openly and honestly. Set the right mood by leaving out fresh flowers, snacks, drinks and clean guest towels in the bathroom. And here's another idea: Heat up a batch of cinnamon rolls just before you leave so the house will smell nice and feel cozy and welcoming.

7Location is everything so obscure your location if you must. Maybe you have a perfectly nice home, but it's within earshot of a highway, unruly neighbors or the airport's flight path. If you're dealing with this problem, put on your thinking cap. Could you use a combination of foliage and fencing to reduce noise and also block the view of unattractive properties or roads? If so, do it!

8Remove all clutter. Knickknacks and piles of papers may make you feel right at home, but they will alienate potential buyers and also make your rooms feel small and crowded. Stop and reflect: If you're hoping to move in the near future, won't you need to organize and pack up all of that stuff anyway? Resolve to do so before anyone stops by to view your home.

9.Stage your rooms with care. In addition to eliminating clutter, it's also important to get rid of heavy drapes and unnecessary furnishings and then arrange the remaining furniture in such a way that it draws visitors' attention to focal points in each room. Also, neutral tones are almost always a plus.

10.Become a landlord if necessary. If you really must move and your home hasn't sold yet, you can always rent your house out until the market rebounds. It's a good way to avoid being stuck making two mortgage payments without any outside help at all.

Laura T. Coffey can be reached at laura@ tentips.org.

Sources: MSN Money (moneycentral.msn.com); Bankrate.com (www.bankrate.com)

10 tips: Change house's 'for sale' sign to 'sold' 01/02/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 5:43pm]
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