The way you live in a home and the way you sell it are two entirely different things. From the moment you consider selling your home, it becomes a commodity, and your goal is to earn the highest possible return.

Here is the cold reality of real estate--when buyers walk through a home they are like adding machines, except instead of adding up they are subtracting! If buyers observe that your home needs work they will refuse to pay top dollar. So, it makes obvious sense to invest time and money to dress your home for success and avoid unpleasant surprises during the stressful home selling process.

The first investment you should make is to pay for a professional home inspection, which can range from $450-$750. A professional home inspector will go through your home from top to bottom and provide a detailed report listing significant deficiencies (most reports include digital photographs.) Most inspectors also now employ drones to provide an aerial view of your roof. Discover and repair your home’s defects now. Make the repairs yourself or hire a professional and insert the paid receipts in a binder on a prominent table for buyers to see.

Secondly, if your home has a well and a septic system, pay to have these professionally inspected. Be sure to have a “pick and shovel” examination of your septic system as this is the most comprehensive test. Make any needed repairs and place the inspections and receipts in the home inspection binder.

With the increasing prevalence of radon on the Shore, the third tip for a better sale is to pay for this inspection. If warranted, pay to have a remediation system installed, which could cost $700-$1,500.

Fourthly, because the kitchen is the heart of the home, if you don’t have stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops, upgrade immediately. If you have older, dark kitchen cabinets, repaint them or replace the doors and hardware to freshen the appeal. Make these renovations to increase your home’s “WOW” factor.

My fifth tip is to upgrade your bathrooms, in particular the master bathroom. Repaint, retile, or upgrade tubs and showers to win over prospective buyers. Consider lighting upgrades to make a brighter bathroom, especially over sinks where bright lighting is especially appreciated. If you have room to install a make-up counter with vanity seating, this will be a huge plus! Replace older bathtubs (or have companies such as Bath Fitter offer a quote for their product) and replace stained and rusted shower doors. If your home is on public water, consider adding a whole home water filter to eliminate chlorine, which is not healthy and dries the skin.

Here is another home selling reality. When you live in a home, you take many things for granted—the squeaky door, dented appliances, drafty window, dinged up walls, and more. My sixth and most innovative tip is to invite friends over for chili on a cold Saturday afternoon. While lunch is cooking, hand out clipboards and ask them to go through your house as if they were buyers and list anything that stands out as a negative. This honest feedback can be eye-opening and helpful. Thank your friends by offering them the same help in the future. Make any necessary repairs that your friends noted.

While these steps may seem unusual, this is a logical process. If you want the most money for your home with the least surprises and contract negotiations, then apply these tips today.

Reen Waterman is a custom content creator, writer, and newspaper columnist with his weekly column, “About the House.” He writes and co-hosts a daily radio program heard in 91 An avid outdoorsman, Reen is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI).

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