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Five basic ways to boost home value before selling

A seller may be able to boost the value of a home by an additional 12 percent with just a few smart pre-listing repairs, according to a new survey of 300 residential real estate professionals by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

“You don’t have to spend a ton of money to increase the value of your home,” said Dan DiClerico, senior editor for Consumer Reports. “Some simple, inexpensive fixes throughout the house can make it more appealing to potential buyers.”

Here are some of the fixes that the Consumer Reports survey of real estate professionals uncovered as being the most important:

1. Declutter – Cost range: $0 (do-it-yourself) to $2,500 (professional). Potential return: 3-5 percent

Clear away any clutter and “depersonalize” the space as much as possible.

2. Makeover the kitchen – Cost range: $300 to $5,000. Potential return: 3-7 percent

The kitchen was rated as the most important room to have in top shape before selling, according to the survey. Real estate professionals recommend focusing on minor repairs that center on the function of the kitchen first, such as repairing leaky faucets, loose light fixtures, or blemishes on the countertop. Then, they recommend small enhancements, such as painting the walls, updating the cabinet hardware, adding new curtains, or light fixtures.

3. Freshen up the bathroom – Cost range: $300 to $1,000. Potential return: 2-3 percent

Make simple improvements, such as caulking the tub or re-grouting the floor or adding new bathroom fixtures to brighten up the space. Updating the mirror and lighting also can have a big impact, the real estate professionals surveyed said.

4. Paint – Cost range: $100 (do-it-yourself) to $1,000 (pro). Potential return: 1-3 percent

Sixteen percent of the real estate professionals surveyed said that interior painting is an important part in bringing about a sale of a home. But the seller likely doesn’t need the entire house repainted, but maybe just a redo of one or two rooms to curb costs. The two prime candidates for being repainted: Kitchens and bathrooms. Paint in whites and off-whites and a neutral palette – such as grays and beiges-help buyers focus on the home’s features more than be distracted by bright colors, agents noted.

5. Exterior touch ups – Cost range: $150 to $7,500. Potential return: 2-5 percent.

Agents recommend that their clients concentrate on basic maintenance first, such as to mowing the lawn, trimming overgrown shrubs, and applying a fresh layer of mulch to the garden beds. They also recommend making any minor repairs, such as replacing cracked siding boards or repointing brick walls. The real estate professionals also recommended taking careful note of any repairs needed with the roof: 31 percent of agents surveyed said the roof is one of the most important parts of the home to have in good shape.

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