4. Know the eight-second rule
In that time, many buyers decide whether they'll buy the home, says Corcoran. For better curb appeal, ensure that the lawn and entryway look neat and crisp. And plant yellow flowers. Studies show that yellow excites and stimulates buying, says Carney-Schoepe.
5. Get an appraisal and inspection
Two big reasons why deals fall through: A lender-required appraisal is lower than the buying price, and unexpected and potentially costly problems are discovered in a buyer's inspection. The inspection lets buyers know about potential problems "and what could be negotiated," says Pipkin. If these reports are positive, then showing them to prospective buyers can be a great marketing tool.
6. Painting pays
Fresh paint provides the best bang for your buck, so apply a fresh coat to walls and even ceilings. Bright white ceilings enhance perceived height and natural light. For wall colors, visit new neighborhood developments and see what colors and finishes are being used. Then copy those in your home, says Corcoran.
7. Offer a financial goody bag
Many sellers offer to prepay taxes or closing costs. But it may cost less to offer to pay for a year's landscaping, pool cleaning or maid service — before negotiations begin. "If you have a great garden, people respond to it … and immediately think, 'Oh, so much work,'" says Corcoran. "So remove any potential problem by offering up front to make that beautiful garden come with a gardener for a year."
8. Consider add-ons to stand out
If you're trying to sell in a competitive area, you could drop your price for a quicker sale. Real estate investor and professional flipper Mike LaCava, who founded the online House Flipping School near Boston, has another strategy. "To make a home stand out from the pack, I install features desired by today's younger buyers — such as a wall-mounted flat-screen TV and/or a wine cooler. It may cost about $1,000 or so, but for homes that are competitively priced, it often can mean a faster sale than your neighbor's house. And time is money — especially in real estate."
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling. He writes the Scam Alert column for AARP.
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