The little touches mean a lot when it's time to sell a home

In today's harried real-estate market, creative approaches to home selling are essential. But if you know you'll have to move in a few years, or if you want to speed up a sale, don't ignore the basic look and feel of the home a potential buyer will view.

There are many dos and don'ts in remodeling or sprucing up your home.

If you're adding on to your home, a family or recreation room is a sure-fire bet, according to Lucille Blomquist, a relocation officer with Employee Transfer Corporation in Chicago.

Most families want an area where they can all be together. An extra half bath is often a strong selling point. Other kinds of investments - a swimming pool, for example - don't always bring a full return when the house is sold.

At the same time, she warns, an addition shouldn't change the general look of the home or disrupt its normal traffic pattern. Walk-throughs, where one might have to go through a bedroom to get to another area, might work well for the present occupants, but a prospective buyer might not like it.

Ms. Blomquist encourages any kind of energy-related improvements to a home. Extra insulation is always a plus.

If you sell the house yourself rather than through a broker, get an early appraisal.

Barbara Masten of Action Realty, Warrensburg, Mo., suggests that a family not wait for a potential buyer to appear before getting an appraisal.

A realistic price is essential to move a house.

''Most sellers have no idea what their home is really worth, and they often price a lot of love into it,'' she said.

There are many simple things you can do to make a house more attractive to a potential buyer, adds Mrs. Masten, a real estate broker with 17 years of experience.

Start by stepping outside and walking in as a potential buyer, she suggests.

If you find a home that appears easy to care for, comfortable, and most of all, cheerful, you're in good shape. If there are too many loud or dull colors, reach for a paintbrush.

Generally, walls should be a neutral color, as should carpeting in the main areas of the home.

If carpeting is worn, it's often worthwhile to replace it. You can always recover the investment in the price of the home, and chances are good that fresh-looking carpets will enhance a home's marketability. Another good investment is in colorful bedspreads and drapes.

Make sure the house looks well-maintained before putting it up for sale. If the basement has a water problem, fix it. Too, a house should be spotless before it is shown - and don't forget the windows. Hire a professional if you're short on time.

Some say that fresh bread in the oven is a great way to sell a home. Mrs. Masten asserts that the small considerations often are as important to selling a home as a remodeling investment.

''Little touches - flowers, a full cooky jar in the kitchen, pictures on the stairway, a fireplace aglow - really contribute to the overall feeling,'' says Mrs. Masten.

''You want to convey the message that this has been a happy, active home.''

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