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As sales pick up, so are home improvement expenditures. But the customers aren't new owners. They are sellers who are learning that spending a little to make a house more attractive in a buyer's market can pay off handsomely.

Sellers Spiff Up to Cash In

As sales pick up, so are home improvement expenditures. But the customers aren’t new owners. They are sellers who are learning that spending a little to make a house more attractive in a buyer’s market can pay off handsomely.

A survey of Realtors by Realtor.com found that most (89.8 percent) think home improvements can help a home sell faster, and 72.7 percent think they can help a home receive a higher offer,.

On the other hand, 71.4 percent of Realtors said underestimating the power of simple home improvements was one of the most common mistakes made by home sellers and 65.9 percent of respondents included not making “the right” home improvements for the local market as a common mistake. Making specialty improvements based on their own taste, not a potential buyer’s is another a common home improvement mistake sellers make.

An April survey of Realtors by HomeGain found that cleaning and de-cluttering returned the most benefit for the cost, followed by lightening and brightening, making electrical and plumbing repair s, landscaping and staging.

Stronger buyer interest is translating into a mini-boom in the home improvement sector. The most recent 2012 IHS Global Insight/HIRI Home Improvement Products Market forecast calls for a 5 percent increase in 2012 after growing more than 3 percent in 2011, or $269 billion in sales. The forecast calls for a Consumer Market sales growth to accelerate to 5.4 percent.

According to the Realtor.com survey, 75.21 percent of sellers planning renovations will repair broken household items before selling their home. Some 53.43 percent of owners plan to add new flooring before selling their home and 53.37 percent of sellers plan bathroom improvements before selling their home.

Some 24.10 percent of home sellers planning improvements have a budget of $2,001-$5,000; 22.23 percent of homeowners have a budget of $5,001-$10,000; and 16.63 percent of respondents have a budget of $10,001-$20,000.

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