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How to Streamline the Home Selling Process

Whether it's your own home, an investment property or Grandma's house, there are some basic steps that will make the selling process easier. While most homeowners dread the process of readying a home for sale and preparing for a move, experienced sellers have managed to pare it down to a science. Here are a handful of ways to make it all easier on yourself.

Dispose of Unnecessary Clutter

It matters little if you have lived at the same address for 10 months, 10 years or a lifetime, the time to start shedding some of your belongings is the moment you first think about selling and moving on. Everyone collects. However, the time to lighten the load is before the move, not after. The sooner you begin to sort, organize and dispose of unnecessary belongings, the easier the selling process will be.

If you are in the position of having to sell an inherited house or dispose of a relative's belongings, consider asking for help from other family members or even an estate sale service. It can be agonizing to have to cull through a lifetime of memories without some physical and emotional support.

Collect the necessary documents in advance

You will need ownership papers, including deeds and surveys, tax documents, appraisals, insurance policies, mortgage records, itemizations of improvements and repairs, utility service contracts and bills, and a myriad of other real estate records that might be required by your attorney, tax accountant, real estate agent or title company. If you don't have them all filed and easily accessible, make that Priority Number 2 on your To Do List.

Update, Update, Update

Take a long, hard look at the property with wide-open eyes. Or, better yet, enlist a trusted friend, a professional stager, or a real estate broker to perform a walkthrough with you, pointing out strong points and possible areas of improvement. This is the time to freshen up the landscaping, jazz up the home's street appeal, replace sagging gutters, repaint a room or two, add a ceiling fan or change out a dated light fixture. Statistics show that buyers today expect to spend some money after move-in to personalize a home, so this is not the time to knock out walls, add bookcases or build an outdoor fireplace.

Clean and Make Repairs

Get serious about cleaning and shining. Make sure everything from the doorbell to the screen door lock operates correctly. Replace hardware and doorstops that are broken, broken tile and missing weatherstripping. Have the carpets cleaned; replace all light bulbs and be sure they all match; install new furnace, vent and air conditioning filters. Clean kitchen and bathroom cabinets, pantry and closet shelves, and the garage. Cleanliness and minor repairs to make the house seem put together can improve a buyer's impression of the home.

Stage and Take Professional Photographs

If your real estate agent doesn't suggest professional staging, consider scheduling a brief consultation with a professional stager yourself. The fees are typically reasonable, and the benefits, according to nationwide reports, include fewer days on market and substantially higher initial offers. Also, because up to 90 percent of buyers today first view home listings online, insist that your house be treated to a professional photo shoot by a photographer who specializes in real estate or architectural work.

Consult a Real Estate Agent

Even if yours is a "hot market," look for someone you'll feel comfortable with. Ask about experience and professional certification, local market knowledge, selling experience, closing stats, comparable properties, and marketing plans. Develop a time table for listing, and determine workable procedures for scheduling showings and holding open houses. Ask for suggestions or advice about ways to boost your home's appeal and consult them about any questions you may have during the selling process.

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