Small improvements help sell houses

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by Eric Hal Schwartz
Staff Writer

Spring is here, and even though it’s still chilly outside, the real estate market at
least is heating up as more people begin shopping around for homes. But for a
home owner looking to sell, it will take more than sunshine to convince potential
buyers to start planning a move. “Spring is when the market really starts to pick up,” said Margie Halem, an area Realtor since the 1980s.

Halem, whose spring market work begins at the end of February, explained that if people want to really get their house on the market when the most people are looking, they should make sure that their house looks its best.


“Buyers want a turnkey home,” she said. “They should be able to just walk right in.”
That turnkey look can come from obvious factors like clean floors and counters
and updated light fixtures as well as more subtle influences like changing air filters
and erasing food odors.

“It’s important to sort of neutralize odors,” Halem said. Another less tangible, but still one of the most important things to help make a house presentable is clean windows.

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“It can totally change the look of a house,” Halem said, explaining that it not only helps when there is a good view but that it makes a house more desirable and
livable.

When helping people prepare their houses to be inspected by prospective buyers, Halem inspects the outside of the house as well, bringing in landscapers if necessary and usually encouraging the homeowners to bring out patio furniture if it will help.


“The exterior is the first thing people see so it should look good,” she said. On the inside of the house she may suggest neutral paint colors, removing carpet, even installing new kitchen counters depending on the situation.

The look of the kitchen is vital, Halem said, and anything on the counters should
be removed. “I definitely think people need to ‘declutter.’ It makes a huge difference,” she said.

At most she will sometimes bring over a bowl of fruit for the look of it when buyers come looking. She also might bring some knickknacks to put around the house but most of the work comes from homeowners and any crew they bring in for larger jobs.

It usually takes only a few days to implement most of Halem’s suggestions to improve
a house, she said. But like any possible purchase, especially one with such a large amount of money involved, making the home appealing to buyers matters a lot and can make the difference between a sale or not and for how much the house goes for on the market. That’s the case even if the improvement just consists of putting away things left on a countertop.

“Little things can really improve the look of a house,” Halem said.

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