The sure-fire way to increase the value of your house

“Buy low and sell high.” Those words of advice apply not only to the stock market, but also to the housing market. Whether you’re looking to move up to your dream home or sell a condo your family has outgrown, you can tip the price scales in favor with one simple act

Get involved in your local community.

Yep, you can almost count on more money in your pocket when you sell IF you take an active interest in the people and events in your neighborhood. How? Here are some simple ways to get involved:

Join your neighborhood association or volunteer to serve on your condo board.  Both organizations will welcome you with open arms! You’ll find out a lot about what goes on behind the scenes (get the good and bad info first!), and you’ll have a chance to set policies that can boost property values down the road.

Join your community on Facebook. It’s a great way to stay involved with your neighborhood, especially if you don’t have time to serve on the board. However, make sure your Facebook (FB) page administrator keeps the site locked/closed. While FB is a great way to share information and spread the good news about your community or complex, it’s inevitable that you’ll have at least one or two “whiners” who will do nothing but badmouth the area and criticize those who are trying to improve your neighborhood. Negative comments could have a negative effect on home values, even if the comments are not valid. Let your homeowners’ association deal with these issues outside of the FB forum, and make sure your administrator monitors the pages and comments to keep an upbeat tone.

Keep the good in and the bad out. Promote and encourage good businesses in your area by patronizing them and talking them up to others. And take a stand against businesses that can hurt your resale value – yes, that would include the tattoo parlor that wants to move in next door! Remember, you ARE judged by the company “on your street,” even if that company is not related to you.

Pay attention to foreclosures. Often, foreclosed properties are neglected until they are resold. You can help ensure the property is maintained (appearance counts!) by cutting the grass, pulling weeds, or notifying the property manager if an empty condo needs some TLC. Nothing drags down property values faster than a shabby looking home or condo in your neighborhood. Although it’s not your responsibility to look after orphaned homes, you’ll reap the rewards (and suffer the consequences) of the property’s appearance.

Start a local farmer’s market. Fresh local produce draws potential buyers to the area and signals that “these folks work together and care about quality.”

Offer to help elderly/handicapped neighbors. Long-time residents who can’t get around easily will welcome the assistance, and being a good neighbor has advantages for you as well. Folks who are home most of the day are more likely to spot odd behavior or problems in the neighborhood or on your property, they give the area stability continuity, and they can “repay” you by signing for packages when you’re not home (a good way to keep things from “disappearing from your front door”). And, unless they have serious physical limitations, they usually keep their homes looking nice.

Make friends with a realtor. Find a local realtor you feel comfortable with and ask him or her to keep you updated on sales, pending sales, and possible foreclosures in your neighborhood. Think of it as a barometer of how the area’s doing overall. Is it a place folks will want to move to (and give you top dollar when you sell?) or is it starting to lose its appeal? A good realtor can help you keep tabs on the “financial health” of your home and the homes around you – a key factor in keeping your price “up” and problems “down.”

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