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Advance planning helps house sales

By Bonnie Coblentz

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Flowers and "for sale" signs are popping up in yards across the state, a sure sign that spring has indeed arrived.

It seems no one wants to move in the cold of winter, so spring is the perfect time to put a house on the market. Owners can move to a new location over the summer, and have things back to normal when the kids start school in the fall.

Mary Linda Moore, family resource management area agent in Corinth with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said buyers come out in large numbers in the spring. Potential sellers should plan their course of action before putting a house on the market.

"Think about what improvements the house might need and how much money you need to put into the house," Moore said. "Realize that you won't get all your money back out of things such as painting, repairs, a new roof or flooring that are considered normal maintenance.

"If your house is in need of repairs, the buyer is likely to ask for them to be made or for a reduction in the selling price," she said.

However, true improvements such as an addition or a new pool will add to the value of the property and should bring an increased selling price.

The first step in selling is deciding whether or not to use a real estate agent. Moore said a real estate agent can advise on how to prepare the home for sale, will show the house to prospective buyers, and can reduce the headaches often associated with selling a house.

Realtors come at a cost, usually a percentage of the final selling price of the house. Moore suggested potential sellers shop around for a real estate agent with whom they feel most comfortable. But some home-owners would rather pocket this commission and opt to sell on their own.

"You can sell your house on your own if you have the time to work with interested buyers, can advertise the property sufficiently, can handle the paperwork and can supply the needed legal documents," Moore said.

After the decision is made on who sells the house, an asking price must be set. Moore recommended owners determine typical selling prices of neighboring houses and hire an appraiser to give a value.

Appraisers are either certified or licensed. A certified appraiser is a beginner and works with a licensed professional. A licensed appraiser has at least 2,000 hours of experience, has completed 90 hours of course work and has passed the state exam.

Once the house is on the market, keep it neat and clean inside and out.

"The No. 1 thing is curb appeal. When someone pulls up in the driveway, if the house looks dirty and the yard is not kept, they can make a decision right then that they are not interested in buying the house," Moore said. "Inside, fix the little things that you may have lived with but that a potential buyer will notice right away, and keep the house clean and tidy."

Denise Cosper is a Starkville resident who sold her house this spring. She and her husband used a real estate agent to manage the sale, but she said the entire process was more difficult than they assumed it would be.

"Be ready for your life to be topsy-turvy," Cosper said. "We only had to fix two lights and do a little bit of touch-up painting to get the house ready to sell. But afterward, we had to make sure the house was always really clean, there were no dishes in the sink and the kids' toys were put away. Making sure the house was always picked up and perfectly clean for showings just made life generally more crazy."

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Released: April 15, 2004
Contact: Mary Linda Moore, (662) 286-7755

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