The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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February 12, 2013

Start now for spring selling season

WASHINGTON — Architect Chris French and his wife, Anya Landau French, turned up the volume on their vacant condominium apartment with designer-inspired contemporary furnishings — leather living room furniture, glass and metal side tables, a black dining room table and a fake TV.

The aim of the makeover was to draw a buyer who would snap up the property — a person their professional stager imagined would be in his or her late 20s or early 30s, seeking the stability of homeownership.

"It's a bit of a mad rush," Chris French said about his efforts to get a head start on the spring market.

There are plenty of good reasons spring is the traditional start of the real estate season: Sellers' yards look more photogenic. Buyers are more apt to take a fall-in-love-with-the-neighborhood walk in warmer weather. And a summer move is preferable for families with school-age children.

It may be weeks or months until most spring listings go up, but local real estate experts say now is the right time to get ready. The to-do list is long, from researching agents to painting and planting.

"There are so many things, sometimes you kind of freeze," says Jennifer Nangle, an agent with Re/Max Realty Services, the Nangle Group. "It can seem daunting, but so much of it is tidying."

To help you manage all the tasks, we've consulted with local real estate brokers, mortgage lenders, contractors and other experts about the most essential preparations.

Choose agents, contractors and other professionals carefully.

Many agents have preferred professionals they deal with, including mortgage companies, home inspectors, photographers, stagers, professional cleaners and contractors.

"We can save people a lot of headaches," says Rachel Valentino, an agent with Keller Williams.

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