With only 401 active residential units for sale last week, 2014 is sure to bring higher prices in almost all residential categories.  That 401 number includes every type of residential dwelling unit except multi-family.  Single family, attached zeroes, PUD's, and condos--that's all there is for sale in Anchorage, not including Eagle River which dipped to 96 units last week, another low benchmark.  That is the lowest number of homes for sale in my recent or distant memory on any given week. So now might be a good time, after taking down the holiday decorations, to think about putting your home on the market in the new year.

    There are really only five reasons why most people buy or sell homes--a change in their personal life whether due to marriage, birth, death, divorce or job change.  Yes, there are single family investors who regularly buy and sell their personal residence to take advantage of potentially rising home prices but most buyers purchase a home first and foremost as a personal lifestyle choice.  However, when it comes time to sell, there are some basic preparatory steps that can enhance your value that has nothing to do with an appreciating market.

    Most realtors will agree that good housekeeping will add $5,000 to $7,000 in value on an average priced $345,000 Anchorage home.  Good housekeeping means sparkling clean windows, dusted baseboards, no sheetrock nicks and well-scrubbed tile shower and tub.  It also includes well-organized garage shelves, a swept out floor with an unplugged drain, and in today's snowy environment a well-shoveled walk-way and driveway.  Fresh paint, shampooed carpets, well-oiled cabinet doors, replaced burnt out light bulbs, clean wall sconces and you are ready for your first showing.    It sounds simple but it is a lot of work to get your home ready for showings.  Make the beds, clear off the kitchen countertops, put the dishes in the dishwasher, pick up the dirty laundry and throw away old newspapers and magazines, if you still are reading hard copies and maybe even purchase some new lamp shades and a plant or two.  Take all those old clothes at the back of your closet that you haven't worn for three years and give them to Goodwill.  Some non-profits like the ARC will even pick up everything you don't want.

    Take the dog or cat with you when you have a showing instead of leaving them kenneled in the garage.  Garages are becoming increasingly important to homebuyers, particularly those looking over $500,000.  Leave the radio or TV off and turn on all the lights.  Now, comes the hard part for some home sellers. Take down all but one stuffed head.  Not all homebuyers are hunters. Anchorage now has a population of 300,000 and has a wide demographic of homebuyers.  Your job as a home seller is to make your home as attractive as possible to all buyers who may not enjoy your recreational activities as much as you do.   Not all buyers practice the same or any religion and homes that prominently display their religious beliefs make some buyers uncomfortable.  Your goal is to make your home attractive to as many potential buyers as possible.  This basic seller's rule applies to a $200,000 condo or a $1.5 million home.              

    Putting your home on the market creates a lot of mixed emotions.  Some sellers like their home so much after they do all this that they don't want to sell.  Others emotionally move out the day they make the decision to put their home on the market.  But one thing is certain.  You will receive a better offer if you take the time to prepare your home for sale before you put up the sign.