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Selling A Fixer-Upper In A Depressed Market? Which Remodels Can Make You More Competitive?

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Real estate is one of the most regional -- and cyclical -- investments available. While certain parts of the country (like Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles) are actually dealing with housing shortages, with newly listed homes being snapped up within hours, homes listed for sale in other parts of the country may languish on the market for months (or even years) without so much as a nibble. And if your home is still boasting its original fixtures or design elements, you may find it even harder to locate a potential buyer without lowering your sale price significantly. Fortunately, you may be able to improve your home's sales prospects (and price) with a few minor updates. Read on to learn about some of the remodeling projects you may want to undertake prior to listing your home to ensure your house is as marketable as possible.

Bathroom refresh

The plethora of house-hunting and interior design shows on cable television has led many buyers to lean toward move-in-ready homes that won't require many updates or renovations. While fully updating a home built in the nineteenth or twentieth century may not be a cost-effective prospect, refreshing the rooms that become "dated" most quickly -- like bathrooms -- can be a way to streamline this room's function and improve the overall aesthetic of your home.

Whether you're intent on tearing out your 1970s-bathroom's baby-pink or avocado shower tile or replacing the Hollywood-style lights over your medicine cabinet with a simpler LED light bar, you should be able to bring your bathroom into the modern age without dropping a hefty sum. Often, it's the simple fixes (like removing wallpaper or changing up the style of your faucets) that can have the greatest impact on your bathroom's appearance.

If you're not sure whether a new bathtub is in your budget but are certain its well-worn appearance is a turnoff to buyers, you may be able to have your current tub resurfaced or refinished rather than replaced. This process can remove surface scratches and stains, giving your porcelain bathtub a like-new appearance, even if it's decades old. Because bathtubs can usually only be refinished once or twice before they start showing signs of wear, you'll want to proceed carefully if your current tub is an antique or otherwise appears fragile.

New flooring

Stained or threadbare carpet or peeling linoleum tiles can immediately take a room from neat to shabby – and in markets where homes tend to sell slowly, you may find that your current flooring is keeping you from getting reasonable offers. 

If a thorough carpet cleaning isn't enough to get your floors back into top shape, you may want to consider replacing this carpet instead. Doing so is a fairly low-cost way to improve the function and appearance of the entire room, ensuring your home won't be written off by potential buyers who aren't eager to embark on a flooring project immediately after taking out a mortgage.  

While peeling linoleum will likely need to be completely replaced, laminate flooring that comes in removable squares may be able to be patched square-by-square (rather than torn up) if one or more pieces becomes damaged. This can prevent you from having to replace the entire floor just to take care of a few small imperfections, saving you both time and money.

Replacing the flooring in one or more rooms can also give you the opportunity to clear these rooms out and stage them for listing pictures without your personal effects. This ensures that your potential buyers will be able to create a mental picture of themselves (and their belongings) in your home, rather than becoming distracted by your family photos or collection of offbeat postcards.