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You'll never recoup the value of a swimming pool, hot tub, finish basement, or most other major improvements when you sell your house. In fact, such additions can decrease its value.

Instead, concentrate on two rooms that can help sell a house: The kitchen and bathroom. Even cheaper:
1. Paint the front entrance and put a couple of pots of geraniums by the door.
2. If rooms are even the slightest bit cluttered, remove some of the furniture.
3. No matter what you have in your closets, take at least half of it out. Remove at least half of what your have on your kitchen counter.
4. Clean the house thoroughly and keep the windows clean. Hire a cleaning service if you must.
5. Tighten any loose knobs or faucets.
6. Make sure the porch light and bell are working.

And just before the agent show the house:
1. Close the garage door
2. Park the kids and the pets with a neighbor.
3. Put away the kids' toys
4. Turn on all the lights, and open the curtains.
5. If there's a smoker in the house, remove ashtrays and other evidence of tobacco.
6. Use an air freshener if the house does not already smell fresh. But don't bother if there is a nice cooking aroma form the kitchen.
7. Turn off appliances. It's good, however, to have very soft music playing in the background.
Reprinted from: Real Estate Today

Give Your Home the Look of Luxury Without Spending a Lot

. Create a "Move" file to store receipts and records, and keep it handy!
2. Find out which moving expenses are tax-deductible.
3. Contact moving companies and truck rental companies for estimates and moving assistance information. Tip: Reserve well in advance as companies are often sold out for key move weekends.
4. Take an objective look at what you own and figure out what goes with you, gets left behind or goes into storage. Most moving companies have a minimum weight restriction. Above the minimum, more weight means more cost.
5. Start collecting boxes and packing materials. Call truck rental companies or moving companies to order supplies.
6. Cancel any monthly services. Many require at least 30 days notice or you will be billed for an extra month.
Start packing, remembering to label your boxes so you can unpack with ease. Plan on carrying irreplaceable and hard-to-replace items with you (jewelry, photos, home videos, etc). Some state laws prohibit the moving of houseplants-consider giving your plants to friends or family.
8. Arrange for utilities at your new location.
9. Give forwarding address to old employer, lawyer, accountant, etc.
10. Update e-mail address, if necessary. Let your online friends and contacts know.
11. Close or transfer bank account, and get traveler's checks if needed. Clear out your safety deposit box as well. Make sure you have money to pay movers. (Some companies accept only cash.)
12. Notify the post office, and your insurance and credit card companies of your move if you haven't yet.
13. Arrange for house cleaning after you move.
14. Back up your computer files before dissembling and packing your system.
15. Contact utilities to cancel or transfer accounts. You'll want utilities on moving day, so arrange to disconnect them after your move date. Have utilities connected in your new place the day before you move in.
16. Confirm your new address with the moving company. If moving your household goods yourself, put heavier items in the front of the truck.
17. Be available when the moving truck arrives. Make sure all your boxes have arrived undamaged before signing paperwork and letting movers leave.
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