The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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February 12, 2013

Start now for spring selling season

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Some real estate teams offer packages of services, which might include professional photographers and designers or discounts on movers and home warranties.

Although buyers generally get home inspections, some sellers also arrange for a pre-listing inspection. (Nangle and some other agents recommend it.)

"They don't want any surprises," says Joseph Walker, a home inspector and president of Claxton Walker & Associates in Annapolis, Md.

An inspection provides not only important information — how many years left before a roof needs to be replaced, for example — but a thorough to-do list.

"That way there aren't a lot of things that could clog up the sale," Walker says. "The seller isn't trying to make repairs at a panic pace."

Gather paperwork and do the math.

Now is the time to crunch numbers. What are the comparable sales? What do you owe on the mortgage? How would making various repairs improve your bottom line?

If you don't decide to make a particular upgrade — replacing a worn floor, for example — Nangle recommends getting estimates for the work.

"I think it's a good idea to get photos or illustrations of how it would look, and show the numbers," she says. "It gives [potential buyers] an idea of what can be done."

De-clutter.

While you're looking through file cabinets and drawers for tax returns and receipts, you might as well clean them out. "Seventy-five percent is a matter of freshening up and de-cluttering," says Brian Block, managing broker of Re/Max Allegiance.

You probably know the golden rule about clearing off counters, dressers and tables, but don't forget inside the refrigerator and inside closets, because potential buyers will look in them.

"No one likes to do it," Valentino says. "We all procrastinate."

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