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Selling your home? Choose remodels wisely

March 31, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
In L.A. and Orange Counties, a home is on the market for an average of more than 100 days, and in that time many homes don't sell at all. So why do some homes sell and others don't? It's not the major home improvements these days, it's the price. Bob Smith's five-bedroom house has been on the market since June 2007. A lot of people have passed through the home, some of them multiple times. "It's kind of like dating, you know?" said Bob Smith. "You have a couple of dates and then they never call you back and you wonder what went wrong." Pat Combs from the National Association of Realtors says the economy is making the market incredibly tough. "Buyers are making lower offers, sellers have bottom lines where they can go and it's making for a very interesting and competitive marketplace," said Pat Combs. So what can you do? The old advice was to upgrade, but that's not necessarily true anymore. "I'm not sure that always granite countertops and new stainless steel appliances is the answer," said Combs. And unless the rooms are in horrible condition, the advice right now is to skip major remodels on kitchens and bathrooms. Also, leave your flooring alone. Combs says the key to your sale: Price the home right, and make sure it's competitive with others in your neighborhood. "What things do they have in them that you need to compete with?" asked Combs. Then find some affordable ways to make yours look better than the rest. "There are a lot of things you can do on a really good budget," said Combs. "It might be just painting that bathroom and you don't have to redo all that tile. It might be just putting new hardware in your kitchen." Combs says a little extra incentive may help clinch a sale. She's seen everything from vacations to big-screen televisions thrown in, or more traditional extras. "A seller will help pay for closing costs for a buyer," said Combs. "They might help with down payment assistance. They might also throw in a decorating allowance." That's a tactic the Smiths may try. "Maybe the first time, homebuyer incentive. We might start looking into something like that," said Bob Smith. Remodeling Magazine has conducted a cost-versus-value report for the past 20 years, and the study is designed to help remodeling customers determine how much the project will cost and if their money will be recouped if a house is sold. www.costvsvalue.com   Click here for more headlines from ABC7 Eyewitness News