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Local Home Expert Offers Advice to Get Best Selling Price

A new crop of television shows designed to boost the value of a home for sale by making cosmetic improvements point out the fact that a few, inexpensive updates can make a home much more attractive to potential buyers.

"However, a new coat of paint, organizing the clutter and re-arranging furniture to make rooms look bigger won't make up for expensive structural or systemic problems that will likely be discovered during the buyer's own home inspection, since 80 percent of homes are inspected prior to finalizing the contract," says Joe DeMars, Riverside - area director of HouseMaster(r), the oldest home inspection franchise organization in the United States and Canada.

DeMars advises that sellers get their own, objective home inspection to give the house a once-over, pointing out underlying conditions that will need to be repaired to get the best listing price. "If you've lived in a house for 20 years, you've probably learned to live with a few problems, since you see them everyday. A potential buyer will see these as turnoffs," explains DeMars.

"With so many buyers getting a professional home inspection, cosmetic improvements aren't necessarily enough to get the best price, considering that for every $100 of repairs a home needs, a buyer is likely to try to negotiate about $200 off the asking price." For high-ticket items like a new roof, moisture problems or heating/cooling/plumbing issues, a seller can potentially lose tens of thousands of dollars.

Since homes are usually the biggest investment of a lifetime, DeMars offers this important home-selling advice:

• An inspection helps set a realistic selling price. The market analysis prepared by the real estate agent will help in determining a fair selling price for the home based on the prices that other homes have sold for in the area. However, such comparison doesn't usually reflect the true physical condition of the home and its systems, which may not be readily apparent to the untrained eye. A home inspection for the seller can give a good, overall picture of a home's condition.

• The listing price should reflect deficiencies. If a house has deficiencies, the price should reflect them for a faster sale. The combination of a professional inspection report and a listing price that reflects the true condition of the house can help minimize any re-negotiation of the sales price late in the deal and, possibly, even speed up the selling process. "No one wants a house that sits on the market for months at an unrealistic selling price," adds DeMars.

• Disclosure is key. It has become a legal necessity to disclose, up front, any problems that buyers will most likely find out on their own or through their own inspection. Failure to disclose these items/defects can mean problems for the seller later on. By having their own inspection done, sellers will be alert to these issues - one's the buyer's home inspector will likely find anyway or those that will become apparent once the buyer moves in.

• Make repairs before you sell. Sellers can turn lemons into lemonade with their own home inspection. For instance, if the roof needs major repairs or if the bathroom has an ongoing leak, any potential buyer is likely to negotiate the cost of these repairs off the listing price up front. The seller may save half the profit by fixing the roof and any other items on their own, positioning re-caulked bathroom tiles and new roof shingles as new upgrades or improvements versus just a needed repair.

For more information about home selling and inspection, visit www.housemaster.com or call (800)773-1125.

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