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Does it need remodeling?
If you want to get the maximum amount out of your home, you might be asking yourself whether or not you should remodel. If you've been in the house for, say, 20 years or longer and have not made any serious upgrades recently the house may be looking a little out-of-date.
Why to not make major upgrades
Even if the house does look a bit long in the tooth, you probably shouldn't make any major upgrades. The reason for this is that very few home improvements will come close to paying for themselves. You could spend $50,000 upgrading your kitchen but that doesn't necessarily mean you would get $50,000 more for your home. If you're lucky, this might increase the value of your home by $30,000 to $40,000, which would mean a loss of $10,000 to $20,000.
Make the small fixes
There are things you can do that will give you a better return than what they cost. This includes painting, trimming and freshening your landscaping, deep cleaning and de-cluttering. You might also consider putting half or more of your possessions into storage. You would have to pack them up anyway before you move and if you get them out of the way now, your house will look better and bigger.
Your real estate agent can help
Your real estate agent is the best person to advise you as to what you should do to make your home more marketable. For example, you might ask him or her whether or not you should replace your flooring. If you have floors that are seriously worn, replacing them could pay for itself. Ditto if you have very worn carpeting. However if your flooring is in decent shape, a good cleaning might be enough.
Make sure the price is right
Instead of making major upgrades to your home before you put it on the market try to price it right to reflect the fact that it does need updating. Also keep in mind that one of the major factors in pricing your house is what comparable houses are selling for. Your real estate agent should "pull comparables," and help you determine what your selling price should be. There are also websites today where you can check the value of other houses in your area. One of my favorites is www.zillow.com. It won't give you true comparables but should give you a pretty good idea as to what your home might be worth. For example, I recently checked to see the value of our home and found that Zillow had it for about $20,000 less than we think it's worth but then Zillow did not have the right square footage for our house.
Should you sell the house yourself
Another great question is should you get a real estate agent or list your home for sale by owner (FSBO). If you were to sell it yourself, you would certainly net more on the sale but you would give up all the marketing that a real estate agent could do for you. Do you feel you could do a great job of marketing and selling the house yourself? Then you should probably give it a try. If not, it might be well worth paying a real estate agent to take responsibility for doing all that marketing for you.