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Tips For Getting Your House Ready to Sell in a Tough Market

By Brett Freeman
Tips For Getting Your House Ready to Sell in a Tough Market

It's a buyers' market right now in the residential real estate market, which is terrible news for people trying to sell their homes. Inventories of new homes for sale are at record highs, and unprecedented foreclosure rates and the dismal economy have resulted in a huge number of existing homes for sale as well. If you are putting your home on the market, you need to remember that competition for home buyers is fierce. Give yourself an edge by making sure that your home offers buyers the best possible first impression.

A Clean Exterior
It's highly unlikely that you're going to have your house repainted right before you sell it, but you can still give it a "just painted" shine by pressure washing the exterior. Pressure sprayers generally rent for under $50 a day--quite a bit less than the cost of a new paint job. Experiment with the sprayer before turning it on your home. The last thing you want to do is blast chips of paint off your home along with the dirt. Instead, make sure you rent a pressure washer that has an attachment that lets you siphon diluted detergent into the spray. This allows you to get your house just as clean, but with lower pressure. You can also use the pressure washer to blast away any stains on your driveway, sidewalk, or patio.

Clean Landscaping Lines
Keeping your lawn mowed while your house is on the market is a no-brainer, but you can do other relatively simple things to make your existing landscaping an asset. Use an edger--you can get a manual edger for under $20--to create a clean line between your lawn and the sidewalk and driveway. Do not use a weed trimmer to do this. Too often the trimmer scalps the edge of your lawn, which destroys rather than creates the sharp edge you want. You should also use the edger to reestablish the borders of any planting beds. If there is grass creeping into the beds, spray it, let it die, and pull it out. Do the same for any visible weeds. Sharpening up your landscape goes a long way toward creating a sense of a tidy home before potential buyers even step through the door.

Add a Touch of Color
Like exterior painting, extensive landscaping upgrades aren't in the cards for most homeowners who are putting their houses up for sale. But adding flowers around your home's entrance is relatively inexpensive, and the color and beauty they add can really have a positive impact on prospective buyers' first impressions. If time and weather permit, you can simply scatter seeds from seed packets in planting areas (remember to thin out the weaker looking plants as they start to grow). For a few dollars more--but still a modest investment--pick up a few flats of flowers from your local garden center. For best results use native species of flowers, which generally cost less, grow better, and require less care than exotic plants.

Selling your house in the current market can be tough. It's worth investing your time--and only a little money--to make sure that buyers have a positive impression of your home from the first moment they see it.

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