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Getting the most $ out of your house sale

Created date

March 22nd, 2011

The real estate market isn t inflated like it was five years ago, but that doesn t mean you can t sell your house for a good price. Virgina real estate professional Karl Trommler ( ) recommends interviewing three agents 18 months before you want to sell. Your agent doesn t get paid until he or she sells your house, so take advantage of the expertise early. A savvy real estate agent can save you money during the sale process and get you a better price on closing day. For example, Trommler says an experienced agent will have relationships with vendors like carpet cleaners who may give you discounts. Also, select someone who presents creative marketing strategies. Outdoor brochure boxes can waste money, Trommler says, because they don t enable agents to connect with potential buyers. He recommends a more novel approach like posting a phone number people call for information about the property. That way, agents can speak directly to buyers and, ultimately, increase your chances of a successful sale.

Choose upgrades wisely

Trommler advises consulting your real estate agent before spending a penny on renovations. If your furnace, roof, and kitchen appliances are older but in good working condition, Trommler says, don t waste money upgrading them because you won t recoup your cost. Buyers expect a good furnace, but they don t expect to pay extra for it, he says. On the other hand, neglecting to stage your house properly will cause most buyers to pass it over. Peter D Arruda (, financial advisor and author of Fine Print Fiasco, says you re shooting yourself in the foot if you show a house with dingy carpeting, clutter, or an unattractive exterior. But, he says, you can save money getting the house up to snuff if you opt for low-cost solutions. Instead of replacing carpeting or siding, have them professionally cleaned. And, he adds, there s no need to hire a landscaper. Simply make sure the grass is green and mowed, hedges are trimmed, and plant some inexpensive flowers. People do judge a book by its cover, and a lot of times less is more, D Arruda says.

Think outside the box

You can t turn back time and make your house worth what it was in 2005, but you can work the system to get the best price in today s market. Bill De Ridder, president of QualityFirst Real Estate (, recommends exploring creative financing. A lot of buyers right now are purchasing their first homes, and may have good credit but not much cash. In that case, De Ridder says savvy sellers might offer to pay part of the buyers closing costs or buy down the interest rate on their mortgage. In the latter case, De Ridder says, It may cost the seller $5,000 to buy down that interest rate, but they can then achieve $15,000 more in purchase price. Trommler shares an insider tip. Instead of dropping your sale price, increase your real estate agent s commission. In a market where everyone is slashing prices, dropping yours $10,000 won t attract much attention but raising the agent s commission certainly will. When there is one house that has 2% increased commission on it, they are going to show it every single time, Trommler says.