Best And Worst Home Improvements For The Buck

If you plan to sell your home in the next year, you're probably keen on finding a few ways to gin up its value. For many people that means donning an old pair of overalls, pulling out the power tools and going to work on some ambitious renovation projects.

Here's a smarter idea: Leave the work duds in the closet, the tools in the garage and the renovation plans on hold. Instead, get out a large trash can and a dust rag.

"Just clean up your act," "Put your junk in a storage locker, neaten, fix the wobbly ceiling fan - and do it before you call your Realtor."

An important point that many home sellers fail to realize: Their first sales job involves hiring a top-notch agent. Many of the best professional home sellers will shy away from putting a lot of time into selling your home if it's a mess.

The only home improvement - is painting. Even there, he advises limiting the work to covering blemishes and repainting any rooms that have overly bright or outdated colors.

On the bigger pre-sale improvement projects, real estate pros tend to have a fairly uniform view: They're rarely worth the money and effort. For most, the value added is a mere fraction of the cost.

To be sure, home renovations can have enormous benefits - to residents rather than sellers. Air conditioning or a new kitchen might dramatically improve your lifestyle. But the incremental amount a buyer will pay for a home after such projects are completed is likely to be well below the seller's cost.