Part 2

Maximizing Your Return.

The secret to making top dollar when I sell your home isn't really a secret at all. It involves a lot of self discipline and hard work, and for this reason many people decide to take short cuts. And that's when the price you could demand begins to drop. I hope you choose not be one of those people.

During my time in real estate, I've seen examples where well-thought out, well-placed investments of time, effort and little cash have dramatically improved the asking/sale price and decreased the time period in which a property has sold. These tips will show you how even minor home improvements can substantially improve the worth and marketability of your home.

In today's real estate market, there are no guarantees that you will recoup the time and/or money you spend to improve the value of your home — and this is why it is important that you pick the right items/investments. But even when you don't recoup all the money you invest to upgrade, many improvements can give you a significant edge over other properties on the market. And the failure to make some improvements can leave you at a tremendous disadvantage as buyers compare your property with other similar properties on the market.

Believe me, I have witnessed it time and time again.

Spend time before you spend a dime

Unless your home is in excellent condition or you're selling it as a 'fixer-upper' there's probably quite a list of repair or remodeling projects to consider.

These can range from very simple jobs, such as painting a bathroom, to more complex room additions or remodeling projects. In considering any home improvement project, you need to keep in mind a couple of important questions: Why are you doing it? Is it work that really needs to be done-such as a paint job or replacing a leaky window, or is it an item that you think might appeal to a potential buyer - a hot tub or sun room addition, for example. Will it aid in increasing the value of your home, or will it have no impact at all? Will it make the home or property more difficult to sell?

Some investments, like painting and landscaping, involve relatively little investment of money and yet return many times your cost. Other improvements that you think may add value have no meaningful impact. Adding a swimming pool is a good example. Besides the hassles of maintenance, a pool can reduce your home's appeal among young families because of safety concerns.

Spend time before you spend a dime

If there's one piece of advice I would really like you to take to heart it's this: Plan first, do second. Careful planning on your part is a necessity to undertaking any home improvement project, major or minor. In fact, the most rapid way a 'minor' project balloons into a major one is when you haven't thought things through in advance. I want to stop you from getting in over your head because you haven't thought things through before starting the improvement.

Whether you hire someone or do the work yourself, expect to spend more time and money than you initially anticipated. But by planning well, you can guarantee that the work you do adds the greatest value at the lowest cost. Be systematic. Try preparing your list into 'exterior' and 'interior' projects, then break it down further by room or outside area. Decide which projects you're going to do yourself and which will require outside help, and then prepare a rough estimate for each job.

One important factor to keep in mind is that if you do the work yourself, you'll probably generate more profit than what you paid out for the improvement. You can probably save anywhere from 10 to 30 percent by removing hired labour from the equation. One the other hand, you may pay more for work done by professionals, but the improvements can speed up the sale of your property.

Whether you tackle the work yourself or hire professionals depends on several things. Do you have the time? Can your friends or relatives help you, or are you going to do it all yourself? How skilled are you and family and/or friends in the task at hand? You may decide to divide the job—the contractor does the major work and you do the less complicated work eg. finishing and cleaning. Doing some of the work yourself can still save you money. Whatever you do, the key lies in doing it well. If that means hiring a professional, do it.

A poorly done job can do more harm than good. Now let's take a look at some projects you may consider, beginning with some simple steps that can reap huge rewards.