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Real Estate

Home Sellers Feature Failures Can Fizzle Buyers
By Mark Nash

The rise in home prices in the last four years have required homebuyers that are coupled to have two incomes and singles to work harder than ever to meet mortgage payments. These buyers are as choosy as never before when paying top-dollar for the American dream. Home sellers should be prepared to offer home features that appeal to these educated and savvy buyers.

2006 has been predicted as a housing year when prices will correct slightly. Increasing inventories of available homes will make competition stiff for home sellers. Take a good look at your home and take the time and if necessary the money to make your home appealing to buyers that no longer have the time or interest to update a home. Donít wait for feedback from prospective buyers about a lack of must-have features in your home before you deliver to buyers what theyíre looking and willing to pay extra for in their next home.

-Updated baths. Double-bowl vanities, separate showers and tubs, and ceramic tile are the must-have features. Keep finishes and fixtures neutral toned for visual durability. Having only one bath is a major deal-killer. Wallpaper, inexpensively re-surfaced tubs and wall tile are turn-offs.

-Updated kitchens. 1980ís euro style and Formica cabinets are passe. Quality furniture style cabinets with rollout shelves and deep, wide drawers for pots and pans attract buyers. Include a breakfast bar for early morning coffee and for a built in look install a 24-inch deep refrigerator. Stainless steel appliances arenít for everyone because of increased maintenance, as options choose white, ivory or black. Donít skimp on counter-tops and inexpensive stainless steel sinks.

-A home office. Theyíre not a trend; theyíre required for homebuyers in 2006. Many homebuyers today work from home part or full-time or want a space where they can organize their life and park a computer. Find an extra bedroom, walk-in closet or an unused corner and convert into a home office. Make sure there are convenient electric, telephone and cable supplies.

-Hardwood floors. Buyers love the durability and look of real wood floors. Install in living spaces at a minimum, some buyers prefer carpet in bedrooms. Spend the extra money for solid wood and by-pass wood veneers and wood-look flooring.

-Ample and organized closets. Female and male buyers demand organized and abundant closet space, and if theirs not enough theyíll move on. Install organizer systems in every closet. Solid shelves are preferable over wire ones and make sure you have a good mix of hanging and shelving. Paint the closet and install easy-to-reach lighting. Donít forget the built-in clothes hampers.

-Home laundry centers. Convert a closet or other space into a home for a washer and dryer. Install plumbing, electrical and a floor pan for overflows. If you donít offer the ability for buyers to do their laundry at home, you will loose them. Laundry tubs are not required and considered a throwback to earlier times.

-Off-street parking. Garages, carports and at a minimum off-street parking are usually near the top of homebuyers must haves. If you donít have a parking option consider including one years rental of a nearby space.

-Window blinds and shutters. Functional blinds and shutters are preferred over curtains and drapes. Buyers are attracted to streamlined window fashions that allow in the maximum amount of natural light.

-No dated paint colors, wallpaper or mirrored walls. Many sellers like to experiment with decorating and occasionally some wall tests miss the mark or arenít undone. Invite a designer or real estate agent to give you some constructive ideas on what needs to be done to make your home more buyer-friendly decorating wise. Dark colors and one-off trend looks give a home a tired and dated look. Wallpaper should come down and be replaced with neutral colors that are easy for buyers to overlay their style onto. Mirrors as back splashes, on dining room walls and anywhere else should go. Buyers think it costs major dollars to undo these fashion leftovers.

-Newer furnaces and central-air conditioning. Replacing older furnaces and air-conditioning condensers equate into major expenses for buyers. If your heating and cooling systems or hot water heater are more than ten years old consider replacing them.

-Operational and energy-efficient windows. With recent hikes in home energy costs, buyers are looking for newer windows and doors. In addition to not opening to allow the outside in, functioning windows and doors are drafty in winter months. Many buyers will walk from their perceived cost and inconvenience of replacing these major home systems.

-New roofs. Buyers, especially first-timers pay a lot of attention to roofs. Theyíre at the top of the list for buyerís remorse. If your roof is old and has missing or curled shingles, replace it. Donít let your roof become a cancelled transaction statistic.

-Cable, electric and Internet functionality. The ability to use a flat-screen TVís, and high-speed Internet on move-in day are non-negotiable with homebuyers in 2006. Make sure that you have these features in a minimum of two rooms. Every room is the preference. And you need adjacent power receptacles as icing n the technology cake.

Mark Nash's fourth real estate book, "1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home" (2005), and working as a real estate broker in Chicago are the foundation for his consumer-centric real estate perspective which has been featured on ABC-TV, CBS The Early Show, Bloomberg TV, CNN-TV, Chicago Sun Times & Tribune, Fidelity Investorís Weekly, Dow Jones Market Watch, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Realty Times, Universal Press Syndicate and USA Today.