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How to prepare a home for sale

I've been hearing lately from homeowners who are preparing to list their homes for sale.

They know the market isn't great, but they've been waiting for a year or two to move on with their lives (this is known in the industry as "pent-up demand") and have decided to go for it.

Whether your home is priced at $100,000 or $6 million, there are a couple of basic truths to listing a home in today's market. Keep them in mind when preparing to list your home for sale.

The first truth is that today's homebuyers are far less forgiving than they were in the past. There was a time when sellers ruled the market. And they didn't have to do much in order to sell. Cleaning, decluttering and packing away unused items were optional. You didn't have to stage your home so it looked HGTV-ready. And you might not have had to negotiate with a buyer over items that came up in a professional home inspection.

Today, homebuyers have their choice of homes for sale. They can choose a lower-priced foreclosure or short sale over your more expensive home and then build in value by renovating to their own standards and taste level. They can buy in a better neighborhood than they could afford before. And they expect your home to be in perfect condition.

An extremely strong homebuyer's market means sellers have to be on their toes. They'll expect you to sweat the small stuff along with the big stuff. And if you decide not to toe the line, don't be surprised when they move on to the next property.

The second reality of today's market is that sellers must create a value proposition for potential buyers.

As a seller, your job is to overcome any obstacles to a sale. Dealing with the buyer's state of mind should be a top priority.

Today's buyers want to feel as though they're getting the deal of the century. You can help them along the path by creating what business calls a "value proposition." Essentially, that means helping them feel as though their money is extremely well spent.

To that end, staging your home will help make it feel more put together and have better flow. Renting a storage "pod" to help clear out closets, the attic, and your garage will help them feel that your home is bigger (and allow the buyer to feel as though he is getting more for the money).

Hiring a professional home inspector to take a look at your home before you list it for sale (also known as a "prelisting inspection) to point out potential problems with your home will allow you to fix them before a buyer even crosses your threshold. If you eliminate those issues in advance, your prospective nervous buyers will see that your home is in excellent condition.

When your prospective buyer looks at your home, it will look great. And when the buyer undertakes a professional inspection of your home, it will pass easily.

What will make your home stand out from the competition? Visit other homes for sale in the neighborhood to figure out where you can add value for a buyer. If all the homes for sale are identical, can you make yours stand out by replacing your carpet and repainting the walls?

At the end of the day, you just want the buyer to believe your home is a better deal than the one next door.

(Ilyce R. Glink's latest book is "Buy, Close, Move In!" If you have questions, you can call her radio show toll-free (800-972-8255) any Sunday, from 11a-1p EST. Contact Ilyce through her Web site,



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