Q. What are the most important repairs, renovations, and improvements I should make to my home before I sell?

A. When it comes to selling their home, homeowners generally fall into one of two categories: those who want to fix and rehab everything before they sell, and those who don’t want to do anything. As is usually true, neither extreme is the right choice.

The first thing you should do is decide whether you’re going to sell your home in “mint” condition or in “as is” condition, or somewhere in between. Scott, a top real estate broker in Wilmington, Delaware, describes “mint” (also known as “move-in”) condition like this: “What we expect to see are carpet and walls in neutral colors, and there is rarely wallpaper. Electricity, plumbing, and fixtures have been upgraded or replaced. Everything is fresh, clean and immaculate. “As is” condition runs the gamut from dirty (“With dust balls the size of tumbleweeds,” says Scott) to broken down and in need of repair. You’ll often see homes that need a lot of work and are referred to as “handyman specials” or “needs loving care.”

Homes that are in mint condition sell for more money than homes that need fixing up. The reason is simple: Most buyers don’t want to do the work, or they don’t have the time or they don’t have the extra cash needed to finance a major renovation.

Though it’s not possible or necessary for you to completely renovate your home before selling it to reap the most money possible, most sellers have some things they can do to their home to improve it before selling it. Once you get the clutter out of the way, you’ll begin to see the bare bones of your home and can assess what kind of renovation it will take to sell quickly.

Sept. 1, 2005