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RISMEDIA, February 5, 2009-In today’s real estate market, sellers need additional advice on how to cost-effectively prepare their homes in order to sell quickly. With an abundance of homes on the market, waiting several months to sell a home could leave many recession-plagued sellers in financial distress.

For example, in October 2008, the median existing-home price was the lowest since March 2004 at $183,200. This means that a homeowner who lived in his or her home for four-and-a-half years is seeing the value of the home as the same or less than when the home was bought (, November 2008).

The good news is that although some homes may need extensive upgrades or renovations, many may only require simple changes. For a limited cost, or no cost at all, home sellers can fix their homes to appear more appealing to prospective buyers.

Here are some quick and inexpensive fixes to sell a home more quickly:

Focus on outdoor aesthetics. Cut back overgrown shrubs and plants. Hose down a dusty, dirty house. Sweep the driveway, sidewalk and any stairs.

Cost: $0

Eliminate odors. Before showing the house, open windows to let fresh air in; use air fresheners or baking soda to rid odors; sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and leave it for at least 10 minutes to make carpets smell clean.

Cost: approximately $15

Wash windows. Purchase a window-cleaning product to avoid professional costs. Clean windows make a home look well-kept and outdoor views more crisp.

Cost: approximately $25

In addition, consider scheduling a prelisting home inspection, an inspection conducted prior to putting the home on the market. These early inspections aid homeowners in identifying problem areas that can be easily repaired. For example, existing electrical, heating, or plumbing systems may need to be upgraded, or mold growth in a basement may require professional advice on how to eliminate dampness.

The home inspector can also suggest additional work to be done and what could be postponed. And, remember, a home inspector is an objective, third-party consultant who does not stand to profit from work suggested. A good assessment of the current state of a home and its systems will allow for more accurate planning and estimating as homeowners prepare a home to sell.

Dan Steward is president of Pillar To Post.

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