Best of Q&A: How Can I Get More Money For My Home?

Sold Home

Q: I am looking to sell my home and move to another house within the next 18 months.

Based on real estate assessments, I am about $75,000 upside down on my home (the same amount I owe on my equity loan). My home is worth approximately $150,000. The only option I feel like I have now is to own both houses and try to rent out my current home to have the rent pay some of that mortgage. This feels risky to me so I would prefer to get out from under my current home completely. Is there a way to increase the value of my home so it is not underwater by only putting a fraction of the $75,000 into it?

A: Start by finding out its worth.

Contact a real estate agent for a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on the recent selling price of similar neighborhood properties. Or get a certified appraiser to provide an appraisal.

Next, get busy working on the home’s appearance. You want to make sure it is in the best condition possible for showing to prospective buyers so that you can get top dollar. This means fixing or sprucing up any trouble spots that could deter a buyer, such as squeaky doors, a leaky roof, dirty carpet and walls, and broken windows.

The “curb appeal” of your home is extremely important. In fact, it is the first impression that buyers form of your property as they drive or walk up. So make sure the lawn is pristine – the grass cut, debris removed, garden beds free of weeds, and hedges trimmed.

The trick is not to overspend on pre-sale repairs and fix-ups, especially if there are few homes on the market but many buyers competing for them. On the other hand, making such repairs may be the only way to sell your home in a down market.

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