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Murray Goldkind, Broker of Record


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With record home sales nationwide, low interest rates, and predictions from the Canadian Real Estate Association that home sales will remain strong into 2009, it's no wonder that most sellers anticipate a quick sale. However, not everyone will have this experience. Some people list their home and wait...and wait. If your home has been on the market for a few months or longer, there are a number of things you can do to help sell your home.

First, examine your home for any major problems such as a leaking basement or pipes then make the necessary repairs. Some problems are less obvious and require the skills of a professional home inspector to uncover. Most buyers will hire a home inspector to examine the property anyway so it is wise to discover and address any problems sooner than later. The Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors (http://www.cahi.ca/) is one resource for finding a qualified inspector in your area. Among the most competent in the Mississauga area is Ray Zammit of HouseMasters Home Inspections. Home inspectors will conduct a thorough examination of your home, including an inspection of plumbing, decks, furnace, air conditioning, insulation, and electrical wiring.

The next consideration is price. Most agents conduct a market analysis to determine a competitive price for your home. He or she will take into account the age, condition and location of your home, any repairs and upgrades, the recent selling prices of homes in your area and unique aspects. These unique aspects may be an extra large lot size, a scenic view, historical significance, or maybe the fact that a famous architect designed your home. After a detailed analysis, your agent can provide a competitive price.

If you had set your asking price on the high side of the suggested price, it may be time to lower it. Even in a hot seller's market, buyers want value for their money. Another reason to lower your price is to avoid having your listing become 'stale'; people are often leery of a home that has been on the market for a long time. Although home prices have reached record levels, your home should still be priced to compete with other similar homes on the market.

Once you have repaired any major structural and system problems in your home and reviewed your price strategy, consider the aesthetic aspects. Aesthetics refer to the appearance from the outside (curb appeal) and the inside. Although buying a home is a financial investment, it is also an emotional decision. You want to make it easy for people to imagine themselves living in your home. If your entry hall carpet is stained, the walls are painted bright blue and the home is cluttered with belongings, it becomes a leap of the imagination - one that many people might not bother to make. Consider the following suggestions to improve your home's appeal.

Start with curb appeal. Walk to the end of your driveway and take a good look at your home. Is the roof in good repair? Are there toys strewn around? Is the lawn mowed? Does your home need a paint job or does siding need to be replaced? Spending a couple of days repairing a roof or painting the house is time well spent. Trim back dying plants and keep the lawn mowed and raked. Driveways and paths should be kept cleared of snow. The outward appearance of your home makes the first impression on buyers. Just be sure it's not the only impression your home makes.

Another feature that makes a strong impression is the front door area. Give the door a new layer of paint or stain and update the doorknob hardware if it looks dated. Insects tend to build nests around the doorframe where heat escapes, so be sure to sweep away webs regularly. If you have sickly potted plants on the front landing, replace them with a hearty plant (even a fake plant) in a stylish urn. A wreath can also be a welcoming decorative touch.

The colour and condition of the interior walls can also make a significant impression on potential buyers. If the walls are painted in bright or unusual colours, most people will find it difficult to coordinate with their own furnishings. Neutral tones such as white and light beige provide a blank canvas for buyers-making it easier for them to imagine making your home as their own. Use filler to repair damaged walls and finish with a coat of paint. Remove garish wallpapers. If you need some guidance on selecting appropriate colour schemes, call around to find an interior decorator willing to tour your home and provide suggestions. The investment of a few hundred dollars in a professional assessment may reap greater returns.

Flooring also makes a significant impact. Have your carpets professionally cleaned. If your carpet could be considered eccentric in colour or design, consider updating it with a neutral, classic alternative. Hardwood should be polished and waxed or sealed.

Next, fix the small things around your home that are in need of repair. Buyers tend to think that homeowners who ignore the minor tasks will also be ignoring the more crucial maintenance issues. Fix creaking doors and windows with some oil. Be sure all the light bulbs inside and outside your home are working. If you have a room that is dark, use the highest acceptable wattage light bulb in your fixtures or add more light fixtures.

Lastly, make a list of all the positive attributes of your home such as energy efficient appliances, a new water heater, new carpets, professional landscaping, low emission paint, etc. Make copies of the list and make them available to your agent and to potential buyers. Also have a copy of your home inspection report available. If the home inspector found problems, include a list of the repairs that were completed along with receipts.

Don't rely on luck to sell your home quickly! Proper pricing, maintenance and improving your home's visual appeal are the only 'secrets' to success.

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