(BPT) - A new report reveals houses are selling faster and for more money, yet another indicator of a rebounding housing market. According to the National Association of Realtors, full-year sales of previously owned homes increased by 9 percent in 2012 over the previous year. Plus, home prices jumped up 12.3 percent, the biggest percentage gain since January 2005.
This will challenge sellers to sharpen their competitive edge as more homeowners, encouraged by promising indicators, put their house on the market. Josh Altman, one of the top 10 realtors in the country and star of Bravo's hit TV show 'Million Dollar Listing: L.A.,' shares three strategies for making houses more desirable to buyers.
Install hardwood floors
'Installing hardwood floors is one of the smartest investments a seller can make,' said Altman. 'Hardwood flooring is easy to install, never goes out of style and is extremely desirable to homebuyers.'
Countless hardwood flooring options, including popular bamboo varieties, allow homeowners to easily select a floor that looks great and fits within their budget. Homeowners can even differentiate their floors - and houses - by transferring the flooring's warranty to the new owner. For example, Lumber Liquidators' Bellawood brand of prefinished hardwood flooring offers a certified 100-year transferable warranty.
Laminate or vinyl flooring is another option for getting a fresh, updated look. Laminate enables homeowners to get the look of hardwood for less, and there are even options for DIY novices, such as flooring that easily clicks together without glue or nails.
Increase the curb appeal
First impressions matter, and home buying is no different. 'Making a few updates to a house's exterior goes a long way in making houses more inviting and valuable,' said Altman.
Homeowners can put their green thumbs to work by weeding their garden, trimming plants and branches and adding color by planting vibrant flowers in containers or planters. Simple repairs and updates offer a lot of bang for your home improvement buck, whether it's getting a new front door, updating house numbers or painting the trim, downspouts and gutters.
Update the kitchen
Remodeling a kitchen can bring a home to the top market value, and you don't have to tear down walls or break the bank to do it. 'No matter what budget a homeowner has, there are simple ways to add that wow factor to a kitchen,' said Altman.
Unique, stylish light fixtures can create a warm and inviting environment, while new appliances add visual interest and help increase the value of a home. Even subtle touches like updating cabinet hardware or installing a tile backsplash behind a stove can give a kitchen the facelift it needs.