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Expert Advice: Selling your house for more

Do you have a financial question that's keeping you up at night? Ever wished you could get a second, or third, opinion on what to do with your money? Here's your chance: Bankrate.ca hosts a monthly feature whereby you submit [canadianeditor@bankrate.com] a question, and we ask industry experts to weigh in. The topics are up to you—you ask the questions, and we'll get the answers.

Here's this month's question: We're getting ready to sell our house and we want to get the best price without investing a lot of money. What can we do to boost the selling price?

With the real estate market being so hot of late, sometimes it feels like all you have to do is put a sign out front and any old dump will fetch top dollar. But savvy sellers know there's strategy behind making potential buyers salivate. So much so that it's given rise to whole new industry -- staging -- whereby a professional comes in and helps a seller position their home for maximum appeal.

But there's plenty you can do on your own. Our experts share their tips.

Andre Alves, a real estate broker with Homelife Realty One in Toronto
"One of the best returns on investment that a homeowner can make in advance of selling is painting," says Alves, adding this includes both inside and outside the house. "A simple coat of paint can transform a space."

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While it might sound boring, you really want to do away with your favourite bold vibrant colours in favour of something more universal. "My clients will often ask what colour to paint and my number one suggestion is usually white," he says, adding white will brighten the space and provide a backdrop for colourful accents, such as throw pillows or art.

One of the things people should be cautious about is over-personalizing a space. Pack away the family photos and heirlooms -- potential buyers should be able to envision themselves living in the house and it's hard to do that with your family staring at them from the portrait above the mantle. Start by clearing the clutter (bowling trophies, kids art, excess furniture -- it’s all got to go) and give the place a good cleaning.

Also, look up -- are your light fixtures broken or dated? "Changing old and dated light fixtures is a simple way to modernize a space," says Alves.

He also advises to think about curb appeal -- tidying up the front entrance and adding a few planters with bright flowers can make a huge difference. "If you can't get people through the door, you're going to have a tough time selling your home."

And while you may not want to invest in a professional stager, it can have a significant return. "When a homeowner decides to sell their house the goal should be to try to enhance the perceived value of the home to maximize the selling price, and staging is a good way to do this," says Alves. "At the end of the day, when selling a home, you're selling a product and we have a greater emotional reaction to something that is packaged nicely and with style. As a seller, you want to be sure your property is making the best impression it can."

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-- Posted October 1, 2012
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