When a loved one passes on, there are a number of financial aspects that need to be handled, including in many instances the sale of one’s home. For most Americans, their home is their single biggest asset, and for those loved ones and heirs left behind, ensuring the proper preparation and sale of the home may be top of mind.

While some may opt to sell a home that is part of an estate as is, for others the desire is to maximize the return. From home staging to repairs, a thoughtful plan can help make the sale both smooth and in many cases more profitable.

Removal of personal items including furniture
The idea of removing personal items from documents to clothing and furniture may seem overwhelming.

The first step should be to try to locate all critical documents, including those related to the mortgage and taxes on the home.

Next, look to donate clothing to a local charity. As far as furniture and home decor items, these may become quite useful if you decide to stage the home for selling purposes. Professional staging companies have stagers on staff who are trained to handle the aspects relating to selling the home. Their services typically include the sale of personal items including clothing and furniture, delivering personal items to charities and disposing items that may no longer be of use.

Updates and improvements
In many cases, the home may not have been updated for years. From older fixtures to appliances, the home may need improvements and updates.

Fresh new bathrooms and kitchens are two of the most desired features for potential buyers. With this in mind, there is no need to do a gut renovation. Instead, consider investing in cost-effective improvements that will help increase the value without breaking the bank. In bathrooms, consider reglazing old tiles, replacing toilets, updating sinks and changing fixtures such as showerheads and faucets. These improvements will go a long way to create a fresher, more modern look at an affordable price.

For kitchens, if replacing appliances is too costly, consider improvements such as a new tile floor or inexpensive sheet vinyl. Cabinet refacing or even something as simple as replacing cabinet handles can go a long way. Another option may be to place a countertop.

Painting remains one of the most affordable improvements for a home. If you desire to spend little to no money, investing in a fresh coat of paint will be worth your investment. The reality is potential buyers see even small tasks such as painting as worry, money and work. The best color is to go with a basic white. Neutral colors appeal most to potential buyers as opposed to colors that are more personalized.

Home staging
Home staging is the process of preparing a property for sale. This can include everything from decluttering to repairs, furniture rearranging and bringing in
rental items and accessories.

A professional real estate stager will help ensure that a property shows in its best possible light, highlighting the positives and downplaying the negatives. In many instances, a real estate stager can oversee the entire sale process for you.

By Cathy Hobbs, Tribune News Service (TNS). Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at [email protected] or visit her website at cathyhobbs.com.