Preparing your home for saleBetween reluctant buy-ers and a tightening up of bank lending, many people have found in recent months that it’s a tough time to be selling a home. All is not lost, however, according to the Minnesota Society of CPAs (MNCPA). There are several steps you can take to make your home more attractive to buyers.
Editor’s note: This col-umn on personal finance was prepared and distrib-uted by certified public ac-countants.
Between reluctant buy-ers and a tightening up of bank lending, many people have found in recent months that it’s a tough time to be selling a home.
All is not lost, however, according to the Minnesota Society of CPAs (MNCPA). There are several steps you can take to make your home more attractive to buyers.
Price it right
We all want to get a fair value when we sell our homes, but setting the price too high will discour-age buyers and increase the chances that your home will languish on the market. That’s because many people who might have been interested in your house may not even come to see it if they think they can’t afford it.
If you’re working with a realtor, he or she will give you advice on the best ask-ing price based on the sales of comparable homes in your area. If you want more information, ask the realtor to provide you with details about specific re-cent sales in your area, including data on the size, age, location and condition of each property so you can see how they compare with your home.
You can use this infor-mation to settle on a price that will be fair to you as well as attractive to buy-ers.
Buyers want to find their dream house, but the first thing that most will do is scrutinize your home to see if they can find the hidden problems. Your best step is to repair or resolve as many of these trouble spots in advance so that interested buyers are not immediately discouraged when they walk in the front door.
The presence of asbes-tos, often used as insula-tion in older homes, will certainly be a red flag for most buyers, as will any problems with mold. Be-fore you sell, find out if you have such environmental hazards and how much it will take to address them.
If you’re aware of other major repairs that should be undertaken, such as fixing a leaky roof or up-dating an older electrical system it may be better to do them now rather than be forced to take care of them when you’re trying to close on the deal.
Set the stage
In addition to needed repairs, there are also some simple, common sense steps you can take to prepare your home for sale. The key is to spruce up rather than redecorate. That means repainting walls that look worn or shabby, repairing sagging porch steps or missing bathroom tiles and fixing a leaky faucet.
You’ll also want to en-gage in a full cleanup of the interior and exterior of your home so that it looks its best. As part of your cleanup, one of the best steps you can take is to get rid of as much clutter as possible. This essential step will make your house and property look larger.
Since we all have very different tastes, it’s not advisable to embark on any expensive redecoration projects. No matter how much money you spend, there’s no guarantee that all buyers will like what they see. Small cosmetic repairs work best. It may be a good idea to resurface worn kitchen cabinets or paint, but don’t remodel your entire kitchen in hopes it will appeal to more buyers.
Consult your CPA
For most people, their home is their most valu-able asset. If you have questions about selling a home or financing a new one, your local CPA can help. He or she has the answers to the financial questions facing your fam-ily.
Information and re-sources are available to the public on the MNCPA Web site www.mncpa.org/information and at MyTaxTime.com including tax and financial planning information for individuals and small businesses. A free CPA referral service is also available on the Web site or by calling 1-800-331-4288. The MNCPA is part of the national 360 De-grees of Financial Literacy campaign to help Ameri-cans improve financial lit-eracy; information and re-sources are available at www.mncpa.org/360.