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Published: Friday, 9/17/2010

Time to sell? Your outdoor spaces can be the bonus buyers want

(ARA) - Many would-be home sellers are concerned about reduced housing prices, and those who are highly motivated are pulling out all the stops to make their homes more appealing than the competition.

If you're preparing to sell this spring but aren't in a position to invest in ambitious renovations, such as a kitchen remodel or new hardwood floors, the best advice is to look to the "bonus" spaces in and around your home and maximize their appeal.

Decks, patios, sunrooms and porches have always been popular with home buyers, but real estate agents say that too often those spaces are neglected or not used to their best advantage.

"Anything that adds living space adds value, and the least expensive way to gain space is to build a deck or turn the one you have into an outdoor room by staging it so that it flows seamlessly with the rest of the house," says Mary Beth Harrison of The Harrison Group, a Dallas-based real estate agency. "A great deck can set your home apart from others with the same interior floor plan or square footage, and deck additions typically add value when it comes time to sell."

A bonus space - for example, a tiny deck or rarely used balcony off a master bedroom - can be transformed into a romantic getaway by staging it with cozy, cushioned seating and a raised fire pit. You can safeguard your deck and add designer style with deck stones, 16-inch interlocking square tiles made of natural slate or granite. Deck stones can provide an effective fire barrier that's an asset under fire pits or grills, or when used to create an outdoor kitchen.

"More than ever before, people look at their decks as outdoor rooms," says Chris Fox of Universal Forest Products, producers of Latitudes and Deckorators decking material and deck accessories. "For some, it's a kitchen; for others, a living room. Decks can be party spaces or quiet retreats. With so many different types of deck materials, lighting, rail systems and decorative accents, it is possible to turn a nondescript deck into a great outdoor space."

Universal's Latitudes line features low-maintenance, top-quality composite decking and accessories. Their Capricorn line gives the exotic look of rich tropical hardwoods which are a current design trend that will instantly update a home.

Whether working with an old deck or a brand-new one, details count when it comes to staging. Outdoor lighting on a deck or patio provides ambience and adds versatility to the space, showing buyers endless possibilities for evening entertainment.

If you want to open up the view on a bonus space, consider replacing wooden deck balusters with contoured glass balusters from Deckorators, or update the rails with distinctive aluminum balusters. New rails will add a dramatic difference to your deck. Deckorators aluminum rail systems come in kits that allow easy installation and give old decks a fresh look at a fraction of the price of a total deck replacement or addition.

"Buyers always react positively to nice decks that look like a great place to hang out," says Harrison. "From a buyer's perspective, if all else is equal, it's true that the home with the best deck wins."

Courtesy of ARAcontent



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