Real Talk: Real estate is about more than buying and selling

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Don’t be afraid to adapt your home to your needs. Just keep a “house notebook” documenting renovations and how much they cost so you have the information ready when it comes time to sell. (Courtesy Photo)
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By Ann Duff 

Real estate involves much more than just the buying and selling of a residence. It involves a lot of juicy “in-between” details to savor.

Focusing on those details while living in a residence can help make your home all the more marketable when it comes time to sell. Consider these tips to better enjoy your home while you’re living in it and to ease challenges you’ll likely face when it comes time to sell.

Adapt your home to your needs

Be adaptable and make the property work for you.

That formal dining room can become casual space by removing the chandelier, adding some bookcases and installing a TV connection.

If you find you seldom go downstairs to a basement room, spread out and leave your hobbies down there. The door can close the mess away but still be ready for the paint brush, sculpting tools or your not-ready-for-Carnegie Hall performances.

Update whenever you’d like

Ready for the stainless appliances? Always wanted a gas fireplace instead of a wood-burning one? Looking to add a retractable awning over the deck? Just keep a list for when it comes to sell.

I recommend starting a “house notebook” where you keep track of important home improvements, the date they were completed and how much they cost. Write down even the mundane items, such as repairing wood rot in a window trim or replacing shingles after a storm.

Document your home at its best

You’ll want plenty of evidence to show potential buyers just how great you’ve made your home.

Take and keep year-round high-quality photos of the blooming plants, bushes and trees, so you can use them when the time comes for your move. That “house notebook” will also come in handy to brag about the constant garden enhancements you’ve made over the years. If you’ve put on an addition, hang on to copies of the permits, blueprints and paint brands. Also, be sure to keep your survey.

Try to avoid trends

This year’s special paint or fabric color will be replaced next year and “cool plum” will be supplanted with “citrus yellow.”

Use adaptable pillow covers or just one accent wall with the “it” color, so that you aren’t reupholstering sofas or buying new artwork. We can all date the dark cherry cabinetry in a 1990s renovation, can’t we?

Keep up with maintenance

Signing onto appliance, roofing and HVAC maintenance contracts, and even personally purchasing a Home Warranty Policy, are good ideas so that the life of the mechanical workings of your home can be extended.

Be strong and declutter

As tough as it is, ditch the beaten up old, dowdy furniture lurking in the corners of your home. Just because you have the space, it doesn’t mean hanging on to old futons or bean bags from college is wise. Go with fresh, sturdy furniture and put a plant nearby. You’ll enjoy a crisp new look.

While you are at it, take a look at your crammed bookcases and decide whether you’ll likely read a book a second time. If not, take a stack to a local charity or book drive.

Share what makes your house special

Hang on to any articles written about neighborhood events, your home’s history or recent transportation changes and commuting news.

Make a good first impression

Pretend you are a stranger walking by your home for the first time. Are all of the shutters in place? Are any windows cracked? Are the plants alive?

The exterior of your home is the first thing a potential buyer will see, so make sure it’s put together.

In my experience, people who have to crunch, prep, paint and scurry to get a home ready for public consumption will, 90 percent of the time, ask, “Why didn’t I do this before?”

Save yourself the headache and show your home the love it needs while you’re living in it. With a personal plan of action and care, you can be ready to quickly and easily put a well-loved home on the market for rent or sale.

The writer is a realtor with McEnearney Associates, Inc. An Arlington native and Alexandria resident, Duff began her career in corporate public affairs before changing years ago to selling and leasing properties in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland.

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