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8 Ways to Maximize Your Home's Sale Value

How to generate the highest possible return.

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The first step to getting the highest sale return for your house is, not surprisingly, a firm understanding of its actual value. Maybe you've checked around the neighborhood and have an idea, but an appraisal is the best way to get workable data, in part because there's a likelihood that the market has changed since you bought the house. An appraisal, therefore, should be a first step. This will also help you avoid the issue of the house staying in the market for too long.

Here are five additional steps for maximizing value.

1. Upgrades

Upgrading your house by giving it a modernistic appeal will scale its price, and this can be done via simple yet cost-effective finishes — perhaps natural stone countertops for the kitchen and/or stainless steel appliances. Look towards these and other changes that are likely to catch the eye of a buyer, such as new lighting, replacing the windows and upgrading the entryway.

2. Energy-efficient features

One factor at the top of home buyers' wish lists is energy efficiency. They are increasingly conscious of environmental issues, and also want to cut down on utility bills. So, swap older appliances for energy-efficient ones, and also consider upgrading to Energy Star-rated windows and smart thermostats.

Related: 5 Ways to Sell Your House Fast

3. Necessary maintenance

When you put your home on the market, yet haven't done the necessary maintenance, you're quite literally selling yourself short. Broken or damaged parts de-value this asset, so put yourself in the buyer's shoes and repair! This can include something as fundamental as painting — one of the simplest yet most cost-effective improvements. Keep in mind that neutrals appeal to most people, and if you're doing this yourself, don't forget to set aside sufficient funds for rollers, painter's tape, drop cloths and brushes. The results will show a buyer that your home is well maintained, provide a clean and fresh appearance, lessen buyers' work when they move in and highlight its features.

4. Improve interior air quality

Well air-conditioned and otherwise ventilated houses will be appealing overall to buyers, of course, and just about any HVAC system could use an upgrade/improvement, even if it's simply a thorough cleaning to cut down on contaminants and allergens. A great place to start is hiring a professional company with experience in testing indoor air quality to advise accordingly. And the results may surprise you; it could be that flooring is holding odors, so the suggestion might be to replace it with options that are easier to clean and odor-free.

Related: 5 Amazing Tips on Turning Real Estate Into a Real Fortune

5. Bathroom upgrades

Similar to the kitchen, upgrading baths is an excellent return on investment. Consider installing new plumbing fixtures and putting in a fresh coat of paint and vanity upgrades.

6. Landscaping

Thoughtful beautification and accentuation of the grounds and garden gives your house that jaw-dropping appeal (it's all about first impressions). So, make a habit of cutting grass or engage a service to do both that and trim shrubs and bushes. Also consider new plantings; depending on the location, a tree can add $1,000 to $10,000 to a home's value.

7. Adding interior space

Homes are priced in part by determining square footage and comparing it with similar homes in the neighborhood, so investing in refinishing a rough basement, for example, increases both space and value. If there are any other unfinished rooms or other areas, it's time to work on them, too!

Related: The Real-Estate Game Is Changing Fast. Are You Ready to Win?

8. Staging

Instead of letting potential buyers see a vacant house, consider liaising with a staging company to help maximize visual appeal, and so value. Staging helps buyers appreciate curb appeal (exterior considerations are often attended to as well), and help them picture themselves living there, which increases the likelihood of buying. Staging helps buyers see a home in its very best light.

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