Open Houses: Saturday and Sunday, March 3-4, 2012

There are many, many open houses this weekend!!! The following properties will be holding open houses in the Brandywine Hundred, North Wilmington, Newark, Hockessin, Pike Creek, Newark, Bear, and Middletown, Delaware areas on Saturday and Sunday, March 3-4, 2012:

Can’t make the open house? No problem! Contact Brian Doreste today at 302-753-6398 to schedule your own private showing.

The most current open house list for New Castle County, Delaware can always be found at: http://deerhurst.net/category/upcoming-open-houses/, and is usually published every Thursday morning.

6012393 $599,000 111 Edgewood Rd Wilmington DE Alapocas
5884397 $99,900 224 Auckland Dr Newark DE Amberfield
6012463 $419,900 2312 Walnut Ln Wilmington DE Arden
5868928 $219,900 81 S Avon Dr Claymont DE Ashbourne Hills
5899703 $449,000 338 Clayton Manor Dr Middletown DE Back Creek
6008998 $235,500 701 Euclid Ave Wilmington DE Bellefonte
6012266 $245,000 235 Prospect Dr Wilmington DE Blue Rock Manor
5993496 $482,000 954 Old Wilmington Rd Hockessin DE Bon Ayre
6005384 $204,900 97 S Skyward Dr Newark DE Breezewood
5978504 $269,900 3 Jasmine Dr Bear DE Brennan Estates
5978827 $475,000 16 Kayser Ct Newark DE Briar Creek
5977805 $335,900 2604 Tanager Dr Wilmington DE Brookmeade
6003767 $265,000 99 Buena Vista Dr New Castle DE Buena Vista Park
5951530 $249,500 113 Margaretta Dr Middletown DE Canal View
5994794 $267,297 111 Margaretta Dr Middletown DE Canal View
6003762 $274,900 3 Anna Ave Bear DE Caravel Farms
5999719 $469,900 1000 Wynnewood Ave Wilmington DE Carrcroft
6003452 $159,900 4 Midfield Rd New Castle DE Castle Hills
5996522 $160,000 2301 Pine Ave Wilmington DE Cedars
5988688 $149,900 5 Gainor Rd New Castle DE Chelsea Ests
5966326 $150,000 1605 Maryland Ave Wilmington DE Cleland Heights
6012830 $174,900 402 Roseanna Ave Wilmington DE Concord Manor
5900441 $124,000 615 N Van Buren St COOL Wilmington DE Cool Spring
6011536 $197,500 429 Sweetman Dr Bear DE Crossings At Chris
5989043 $329,900 259 Ann Dr Middletown DE Crossland at Canal
6011959 $225,000 411 Baldini Blvd Wilmington DE Dogwood Hollow
5858408 $294,900 8 Holt Rd Newark DE Drummond Hill
6009374 $218,000 1021 Wilson Rd Wilmington DE Graylyn Crest
5869527 $174,900 144 E Green Valley Cir Newark DE Green Valley
5999663 $229,900 202 Townsend Ave Wilmington DE Greenmount
5978634 $775,000 9 Brandywine Falls Rd Wilmington DE Highlands
5996605 $24,900 916 Decoy Way Bear DE Hunters Run
6002038 $109,900 5201 Le Parc Dr 7 Wilmington DE Le Parc
6004447 $229,900 4657 Bailey Dr Wilmington DE Limestone Acres
6007179 $399,900 116 Fairhill Dr Wilmington DE Limestone Hills
5982853 $385,000 122 Victoria Falls Ln Wilmington DE Little Falls Vill
6004554 $129,900 1820 W 5th St Wilmington DE Little Italy
6012264 $239,900 1010 N Clayton St Wilmington DE Little Italy
6005865 $249,000 213 Florence Ave Wilmington DE McDaniel Crest
5896555 $449,900 654 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
5899237 $499,000 662 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
5899240 $399,000 676 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
5899241 $399,000 650 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
6012376 $325,000 253 Manchester Ct Middletown DE Misty Vale Farm
5860304 $390,000 512 Old Baltimore Pike Newark DE None Available
6007056 $160,000 2755 Frenchtown Rd Newark DE None Available
5981159 $489,999 105 Love Ct New Castle DE Northern View
6006338 $363,000 7 Moonlight Ct Newark DE Norwegian Woods
5995513 $337,500 219 E 2nd St New Castle DE Old New Castle
6006097 $169,900 49 Winsome Way Newark DE Pencader Village
6005485 $200,000 2202 W Huntington Dr Wilmington DE Pinecrest
6001103 $249,900 4804 Hogan Dr Wilmington DE Plum Run
5987929 $180,500 10 Riverside Dr Wilmington DE Riverside Gardens
6002571 $189,500 304 Taylor Rd Wilmington DE Rosemont
5992094 $775,000 11 Foxview Cir Hockessin DE Sanford Ridge
6012604 $375,000 230 Hoyer Ct Wilmington DE Springer Woods
5950052 $349,900 243 Olivine Cir Townsend DE Stonefield
6006844 $237,500 901 W 23rd St Wilmington DE Triangle
6012827 $239,900 1809 Lovering Ave Wilmington DE Trolley Square
6001627 $194,900 2 S Bancroft Pkwy Wilmington DE Union Park Gardens
5950318 $223,500 4773 Weatherhill Dr Wilmington DE Weatherhill Farms
6009806 $425,000 1007 Weldin Cir Wilmington DE Weldin Woods
6008470 $249,900 200 David Dr Hockessin DE Wellington South
6007514 $425,000 117 Dickinson Ln Wilmington DE West Park
5694728 $1,999,000 904 N Dupont Rd Greenville DE Westover Hills
6010357 $309,900 7 Westover Woods Dr Newark DE Westover Woods
6006918 $375,000 4 Rebecca Ct Middletown DE Wheatland
5999349 $85,000 408 W 25th St Wilmington DE Wilm #03
6012265 $289,900 1913 Sycamore St Wilmington DE Wilm #25
5936836 $294,900 1600 Tudor Pl Wilmington DE Windybush
6006916 $549,000 413 Stafford Rd Wilmington DE Woodbrook
6011226 $2,375,000 2 Foxhill Ln Wilmington DE Wooddale
5996131 $232,000 5 N Wynwyd Dr Newark DE Woodmere
5986794 $829,000 210 Wynleigh Dr Wilmington DE Wynleigh
5927717 $275,000 208 Somerton Ct Newark DE Wynnefield Hunt

Come out and see these houses this weekend!

6 truths about no-cost mortgages

While buyers avoid overcharges, they also pay a higher interest rate

By Jack Guttentag
Inman News®

“Is shopping for a no-cost mortgage a good strategy in today’s market?”

No-cost mortgages are relatively easy to shop because of their simplicity, and this is as true today as it was when I last visited the question in 2004. Greater simplicity increases the likelihood of finding a better deal or avoiding a worse one. Yet borrowers who expect to have their mortgage for a long time may be ill-served by a no-cost mortgage and would do well to consider an alternative strategy.

What are no-cost mortgages?

A no-cost mortgage is one on which the lender pays the borrower’s settlement costs, including the mortgage broker’s fee if there is one, with the following exceptions:

  • Per diem interest, which is interest from the closing date to the first day of the following month;
  • Escrows for taxes and insurance, which are borrower funds set aside to assure payment of the borrower’s future obligations;
  • Homeowners insurance;
  • Owner’s title insurance;
  • Transfer taxes charged by governmental entities.

Don’t confuse no-cost with no-cash

This is one of the worst mistakes a borrower can make. “No-cash” means the borrower does not have to pay the settlement costs at closing, but the lender doesn’t pay them either. The costs are added to the loan balance, so the borrower pays them over time, with interest.

Borrowers pay a higher interest rate on a no-cost mortgage

No-cost mortgages don’t eliminate costs to the borrower; they convert them from costs paid upfront to costs paid over time in the interest rate. The lender finds that rate by estimating the costs for which he would be responsible, and then finding the interest rate that justifies paying those costs.

For example, Doe is borrowing $200,000 on a 30-year fixed-rate loan. The lender’s price schedule on this loan includes the following quotes: 4.25 percent with zero points; 4 percent with 1.5 points; and 4.75 percent with a 2.125-point rebate. Points are upfront payments — one point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount. Borrowers pay points to the lender, but lenders credit borrowers for rebates.

Let’s assume Doe wants a no-cost loan. The lender calculates that it would cost $4,000 to assume responsibility for the settlement costs Doe would otherwise pay, including the lender’s own fixed-dollar fee. He thus charges Doe 4.75 percent for a no-cost loan. The rebate of 2.125 points at 4.75 percent is $4,250 on a $200,000 loan, or enough to cover the $4,000.

No-cost mortgages help protect against being overcharged

In selecting a loan provider, borrowers typically shop for rate and points, ignoring other settlement costs. They usually find out about these costs after they submit an application, and then they receive “estimates” that are subject to change. This provides lenders with opportunities to pad their own fees and mark up those of third parties.

When responding to a borrower inquiring about a no-cost loan, however, lenders do not have that luxury. A borrower shopping for a no-cost loan has only one price to consider — the interest rate — and lenders have to assume that they are being rate-shopped. The rates they quote, therefore, are likely to cover their true costs, which could be well below the costs faced by borrowers who don’t go the no-cost route.

No-cost loans can also limit broker fees

On no-cost loans that go through brokers, the broker’s fee is an additional cost that must be covered by the rate. This can limit broker fees because lenders cap the rebates they are prepared to offer for higher interest rates.

A study of brokered loans by Susan Woodward some years ago showed that total settlement costs including broker fees were $1,500 lower on no-cost than on other loans. While no breakdowns were available, it is likely that most if not all of the $1,500 saved was a result of lower broker fees.

Borrowers with long time horizons might do better with a different strategy

The benefit of the no-cost loan stems from the ability to avoid overcharges by shopping a simpler transaction. However, the cost of the higher interest rate on the no-cost loan mounts over time, and at some point the costs will exceed the benefit. If overcharges can be avoided, a borrower with a long time horizon will do better paying higher settlement costs in order to get a lower interest rate.

Such borrowers need an alternative strategy that will both assure competitive pricing and allow them to select the combination of upfront costs and interest rate that provides the lowest cost over their time horizon. Such a strategy can now be executed on my website, www.mtgprofessor.com.

The writer is professor of finance emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Comments and questions can be left at www.mtgprofessor.com.

Open Houses: Saturday and Sunday, February 11-12, 2012

There are many, many open houses this weekend!!! The following properties will be holding open houses in the Brandywine Hundred, North Wilmington, Newark, Hockessin, Pike Creek, Newark, Bear, and Middletown, Delaware areas on Saturday and Sunday, February 11-12, 2012:

Can’t make the open house? No problem! Contact Brian Doreste today at 302-753-6398 to schedule your own private showing.

The most current open house list for New Castle County, Delaware can always be found at: http://deerhurst.net/category/upcoming-open-houses/, and is usually published every Thursday morning.

5929651 $359,900 108 Miners Ln Newark DE Academy Hill
5884397 $101,900 224 Auckland Dr Newark DE Amberfield
5994548 $249,900 20 Cameo Rd Claymont DE Ashbourne Hills
5993096 $675,000 11 Crimson Dr Hockessin DE Autumn Hills
5999319 $279,900 702 Dora Moors Ln New Castle DE Bayview Manor II
5969251 $259,900 710 Woodsdale Rd Wilmington DE Bellevue Manor
5874220 $369,900 512 Summit Dr Hockessin DE Berkeley Ridge
6001872 $250,000 105 Alders Dr Wilmington DE Blue Rock Manor
5986878 $377,900 201 Breckenridge Dr Wilmington DE Breckenridge
5979454 $289,900 4 Briar Rd Wilmington DE Briarwood
5986830 $350,000 37 Calvarese Dr Bear DE Calvarese Farms
5951530 $249,500 113 Margaretta Dr Middletown DE Canal View
5951535 $246,087 417 Afton Dr Middletown DE Canal View
5994794 $267,297 111 Margaretta Dr Middletown DE Canal View
5979435 $299,999 14 Cannon Run Newark DE Cannonshire
5995989 $249,900 14 Variton Dr Wilmington DE Carpenter Woods
5996522 $160,000 2301 Pine Ave Wilmington DE Cedars
5949101 $245,000 101 Willamette Dr Bear DE Chandeleur Woods
5998823 $146,000 110 Delaware Ave Claymont DE Claymont Addition
5947231 $114,900 3091 W Court Ave Claymont DE Clearfield
5935040 $215,900 11 Coach Hill Dr Newark DE Coach Hill
5995230 $439,900 18 Tremont Ct Newark DE Cotswold Hills
5949146 $239,900 27 Green Meadow Ct Newark DE Country Hills
5974319 $259,900 8 Heron Green Ct Bear DE Country Woods
5963548 $449,900 118 N Landis Way Wilmington DE Courtyards at Brandy
5952761 $249,900 2 Neponset Rd Wilmington DE Dartmouth Woods
5858408 $294,900 8 Holt Rd Newark DE Drummond Hill
6002950 $149,900 4 Glenway Pl Wilmington DE Glenway Place
5999663 $229,900 202 Townsend Ave Wilmington DE Greenmount
6002597 $329,900 1513 N Adams St Wilmington DE Happy Valley
5993636 $199,900 12 Yew Rd Newark DE Heather Woods
5987950 $599,000 1402 Clinton St Wilmington DE Highlands
5951997 $334,900 5 Gates Cir Hockessin DE Iron Gates
5982853 $399,900 122 Victoria Falls Ln Wilmington DE Little Falls Vill
5980440 $129,900 1911 W 9th St Wilmington DE Little Italy
5899864 $174,900 225 Gordy Pl New Castle DE Llangollen Estates
6000355 $188,500 108 Meadowood Dr Newark DE Meadowood
5896555 $449,900 654 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
5899237 $454,000 662 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
5899240 $559,000 676 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
5899241 $429,000 650 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
5961399 $314,900 509 Straford Ct Middletown DE Misty Vale Farm
5902563 $299,900 845 Yorklyn Rd Hockessin DE None Available
5937292 $160,000 103 Merchant St Port Penn DE None Available
5972187 $254,900 725 Blackbird Landing Rd Townsend DE None Available
5975586 $449,900 720 Elizabeth Ln Bear DE None Available
6002032 $120,000 2712 N Jefferson St Wilmington DE None Available
5981159 $495,999 105 Love Ct New Castle DE Northern View
5938437 $198,500 702 Naudain Ave Claymont DE Northridge
5923424 $179,900 1307 Kenwood Rd Wilmington DE Oak Hill
5885603 $175,000 916 Gray St New Castle DE Old New Castle
5995513 $345,000 219 E 2nd St New Castle DE Old New Castle
5996132 $725,000 313 Delaware St New Castle DE Old New Castle
5917748 $995,000 203 Haystack Ln Greenville DE Owls Nest
5951648 $519,000 7 Perth Dr Wilmington DE Perth
5758208 $257,900 106 Pleasantville Ct New Castle DE Pleasantville Place
5939147 $242,900 113 Pleasantville Ct New Castle DE Pleasantville Place
5937135 $205,000 313 Derose Ct Bear DE Porter Square
5970498 $154,500 76 Holden Dr New Castle DE Rambleton Acres
5938137 $534,500 15 Waterton Dr Bear DE Red Lion Chase
5997695 $179,900 407 N Lake St Wilmington DE Richardson Park
5937232 $259,900 805 Del Grove Ave Newark DE Rolling Green
5985154 $125,000 312 Taylor Rd Wilmington DE Rosemont
5931821 $185,600 105 W Rutherford Dr Newark DE Rutherford
5963705 $207,000 129 E Rutherford Dr Newark DE Rutherford
5991557 $234,900 9 Sherin Dr Newark DE Salem Woods
5959765 $269,900 102 Jayson Rd Wilmington DE Shellburne
5991103 $139,900 205 Silview Ave Wilmington DE Silview
5836498 $389,900 214 Hoyer Ct Wilmington DE Springer Woods
5994438 $360,000 210 Hoyer Ct Wilmington DE Springer Woods
5976760 $132,900 124 Lynch Farm Dr Newark DE Todd Ests II
5997015 $199,900 2503 N Franklin St Wilmington DE Triangle
5873935 $294,900 1423 N Clayton St Wilmington DE Trolley Square
5995609 $239,900 1704 Howland St Wilmington DE Trolley Square
5996245 $209,900 406 S Bancroft Pkwy Wilmington DE Union Park Gardens
5880147 $189,900 115 Tuckahoe Ln Bear DE Village Of Becks P
5936576 $204,000 241 Becks Woods Dr Bear DE Village Of Becks P
5950318 $223,500 4773 Weatherhill Dr Wilmington DE Weatherhill Farms
5995231 $209,900 1700 Maple St Wilmington DE Wilm #25
5992434 $215,000 319 W Van Buren Ave New Castle DE Wilm Manor
5941234 $338,400 1401 Windybush Rd Wilmington DE Windybush
5941209 $289,900 2415 Greendale Rd Talleyville DE Woodbine

Come out and see these houses this weekend!

Exercising lease option during foreclosure

If tenants still want to buy, they must play by new rules

By Benny Kass
Inman News®

DEAR BENNY: We have been renting a house with an option to buy for two years now. We recently learned from mail the bank has sent that the property was listed for foreclosure. (No, we have not opened the letters addressed to the owners, but they are from the bank that holds the mortgage and they have been coming every two weeks addressed to both lien holders.) We also received a letter from an attorney indicating that the property was listed for foreclosure.

So it appears that the landlord has not been paying the mortgage. Is there anything we can do at this point?

I feel as though we are being ripped off if we are paying rent on time every month but the owner is pocketing the money. If the owner can’t pay the mortgage, what happens to our deposit and our option to buy next year? –Juan

DEAR JUAN: Why do you think you are getting “ripped off”? Are you using the house? Are you enjoying living there? I would assume the answer is “yes” because you are still interested in buying. No one is taking advantage of you, so I don’t agree that someone is “ripping you off.”

But I do agree that you have the right to inquire about your security deposit as well as your right to buy.

Here’s my suggestion: Before you stop paying the monthly rent, talk with your landlord. I doubt that he really wants to be foreclosed upon, and if you are interested — and able — to buy the house now, that might be a win-win for everyone. You may be able to buy at a bargain price, and the landlord won’t have a foreclosure impacting his credit standing.

Then, regardless of what the landlord says, you should contact the attorney who sent you a letter. Explain your position and see if the attorney can get you in contact with an appropriate, authorized representative of the lender. Unfortunately, too many foreclosure attorneys take the position that they are “hired guns” for the lender, and refuse to get involved, even if only to give you the name of an appropriate representative.

Basically, if you are interested in buying, you are looking for a short sale. You may want to get a real estate agent/broker to assist, as they should know the process. However, the owner/landlord will have to agree.

Finally, to answer your two questions: (1) Will you be able to buy? That depends on the lender, as discussed above. (2) What about your security deposit? Generally, most deposits are the equivalent of one month’s rent. If you know that you will actually have to move, I would just withhold the last month’s rent. I know this technically violates the terms of your lease, but you clearly want to protect your assets. Of course, if there is damage to the house caused by you or your family, that will be your responsibility.

Keep in mind, however, that even if the house is foreclosed upon, whoever ends up owning the property (either the lender itself or a third party) may still want you to stay on as a tenant.

DEAR BENNY: I read the response from your column, by a real estate broker for time shares, with tremendous interest. You did not post the name because you did not want your column to be used as advertising. I do respect that and understand that. I am wondering however, if you would be willing to share that name with me. I’ve been looking for a reputable time-share broker for years and I certainly would not hold you responsible for anything should I contact that person. –Elaine

DEAR ELAINE: I am sorry, but I will not provide such information. There are two reasons: (1) First, I don’t believe it is my role to provide free advertising to anyone; and (2) second, I really don’t know if that broker is honest.

I receive numerous emails from brokers (or companies) claiming they have experience in selling time shares. When I check them out on the Internet, I find that some of them have either been cited by a state agency for fraud/misrepresentation or have a negative rating from the Better Business Bureau.

DEAR BENNY: I am 74. Recently, I have been contemplating paying off my condo mortgage. The remainder is $98,000 at 6 percent. Can you help me through this? On the surface it seems like a good idea, but I’m not aware of all the particulars. I am in good health and will not need the $98,000 in the near future. –Dee Dee

DEAR DEE DEE: That is an excellent question, but not easy to answer. There are many factors that you should consider.

You say you will not need the money “in the near future.” But what about the “far future”? You are a young 74-year-old in good health. Will you need the money when you are 80, 90 or even 100?

Can you take advantage of the tax benefits associated with the mortgage interest you pay, which you will lose if you pay off the loan?

Over the years, I have represented too many clients who were “house rich but cash poor.” What’s the real advantage of having the house free and clear? Or turn this around: What’s the disadvantage of having a mortgage? If and when you die, does it really matter to your heirs whether you have a condo free and clear of a mortgage? I don’t think so.

In my opinion, assuming you can qualify for a refinance loan, you should contact your current lender and see if it will reduce the interest rate. You are currently paying 6 percent, but interest rates (as of this writing) are hovering around 4 percent.

If you can refinance, I submit you will accomplish your objectives as well as my concerns.

And whether or not you refinance, there is a compromise position. Every month, add a little extra money when you pay your mortgage. That will reduce the loan principal, and shorten the term of your loan. If you do this, however, make sure you note on your check and on the payment coupon that this is “extra principal.”

DEAR BENNY: Due to the death of my former husband, I find myself owning a rental cottage with my two children. Due to the tough real estate market, and also family sentiment, the kids (ages 20 and 24) and I want to hold on to it as a rental property at least for a couple of years. I fully understand that co-owning property with children is not recommended, but the real estate market and the family memories for now make our decision.

We will have the property retitled. As 50 percent owner can I require some sort of property use agreement for the kids (who’ll each own 25 percent) and me to sign? I want to avoid the family cottage from becoming a hotbed of nightlife or other misuse. And if some sort of property use agreement is done, who does that for us: a real estate or estate attorney? –Cyndi

DEAR CYNDI: Yes, you can enter into a property use agreement with your two children, and a real estate attorney can assist you. It’s no different from the co-ownership agreements I draft for unmarried clients.

But let me ask you a question: Why do you have to put them on title? As you know, in general I do not think it’s a good idea, primarily for the tax consequences.

You should go on title on your own, but prepare a last will and testament giving your two sons the property on your death. You indicated that this might be a rental property. If so, shouldn’t you keep all of the rental income?

And you further indicated that you might sell in a couple of years. Again, why complicate title, so that you don’t have to get your son’s consent for any such sale?

My suggestion: Put the house in your name, and if your kids want to use it, spell out the rules and regulations. You may even want to charge them a security deposit just in case there is any damage caused by them or their guests.

Incidentally, you should also check with your tax adviser to see whether there would be any taxable consequences to you should you decide to add your sons on title. The Internal Revenue Service might consider that to be a gift.

Benny L. Kass is a practicing attorney in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. No legal relationship is created by this column. Questions for this column can be submitted to benny@inman.com.

Sellers: Don’t overdo it on home improvements

Know which projects are worth the cost, effort

By Dian Hymer
Inman News®

Homeowners who are thinking about selling this year should be aware of what today’s buyers are looking for in a home. It will affect what you should do to get your home ready for sale, and how you should price it.

A survey by the National Association of REALTORS® in 2011 found that buyers favor walkable neighborhoods that are close to shops, restaurants and local businesses over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation.

According to the survey, 77 percent of the respondents said they would look for pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. Improvement in public transportation was favored over building new roads.

Most buyers (80 percent) still prefer to live in a single-family, detached home as long as it doesn’t require a longer commute. Although space is important to most buyers, 59 percent said they would accept a smaller home if it cut 20 minutes off the commute time.

Does this mean your chances of selling are slim if you don’t have a high Walk Score? No, but proximity to a popular commercial area usually brings a higher price.

In Oakland, Calif., this is evident if you compare homes in the Rockridge area with homes in the Oakland Hills. The housing recession has hit the entire area, but Rockridge prices have dropped less than home prices in the Oakland Hills.

One Rockridge home recently sold for $20,000 more than it did in 2005, and the house had not been substantially changed. From this location you can walk to trendy shops and cafes as well as to BART, the region’s rapid transit system. By rail, it’s a mere 20 minutes to the financial district in San Francisco.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Proper pricing is the key factor affecting the salability of your home in today’s market. Make sure you’re comparing apple to apples when you evaluate the probable selling price of your home.

The home-sale business is all about location. If you live in a neighborhood where you have to drive to get to work, school or recreation, you can’t expect to sell for the same price as a comparable home that’s in a desirable, walkable location.

You can’t change the location of your home, but you can appeal to today’s buyers who are typically looking for a home that is in good condition that they can move right into without doing any major work.

A common refrain heard from sellers is that there’s no point in painting or changing worn carpet — buyers will surely want to do something different. In some cases, this may be so, but many buyers don’t have extra cash to pay for extensive home improvements. They may ultimately change the color scheme, but don’t make them worry about making the house livable when they buy.

It’s a good idea to consult with your real estate agent before you make fix-up improvements. Review your list of preparation-for-sale projects and get your agent’s feedback before starting any work.

Sometimes, sellers think projects need to be done that are really not essential in successfully marketing the home. For instance, your yard may be in poor condition, but this doesn’t mean that you should have it re-landscaped. This is the kind of improvement you’d do for yourself if you were planning to stay in the house for years. A cosmetic redo will usually suffice.

Get your agent’s or stager’s input on colors, light fixtures, carpeting, etc., so that you can ensure a positive response to your efforts. Also, watch your costs. You don’t need to do a top-of-the-line paint job or use the most expensive granite for your countertops in order to sell. In fact, it will eat into your proceeds from the sale.

THE CLOSING: Stick to cost-effective, tasteful improvements for maximum appeal at a reasonable cost.

Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of “House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide.”