HOM BRIEFS Planning to sell your home? While it's a buyer's market these days, there are still things you should do to get top dollar.

Paint inside and out. It returns two to five times its cost.

Replace worn carpets -- shabby floors bring down the price.

Spruce up landscaping to get into model-home condition.

Make badly needed repairs. Find the worst things about your house and fix them. Then get a professional home inspection to find and fix flaws that could delay closing the sale.

Clean and paint the garage. If it's dirty and full of junk, it works against you. If it's clean and bright, it's a welcome sight.


Easy identification

It's bad enough to lose something in a burglary, but it may be worse when police recover items and don't know they're yours. You can prevent this by marking all valuables for easy identification.

Police need a way to contact you. The best way, rather than name or address, is a telephone number and area code -- because stolen goods often cross many state lines. If such information is written with a pen, thieves might find and erase it. Instead, use a carbide or diamond-tipped engraver. Scratch your number permanently into a metal panel on the back or underneath.

For glass, there's inexpensive etching kits. One of the best is an ultraviolet pen that's invisible until placed under an ultraviolet lamp.

Check them out at home and hardware centers, so all your recovered valuables can "call home."

Safety precautions

After all your hard work getting your house spruced up, it would be a shame to spend the season on crutches. So take heed of these safety tips from the Home Safety Council:

Reduce the risk of falls by keeping stairs, steps, landings and floors clear of clutter -- even when you're reorganizing.


Carry loads you can see over, and keep one hand free to hold banisters and railings.

Safely tuck telephone and electrical cords out of the way of walkways.

Make sure toys and other items are always safely put away when not in use.

If you need to climb, use a stepladder or safety ladder. Climb no higher than the second rung from the top of a stepladder or the fourth rung from the top of an extension ladder. Before using, make sure the rungs are dry and the ladder is securely positioned on a flat surface.

When cleaning out cabinets, separate out products and medications with labels that say "Caution," "Warning" or "Danger." Lock them up, out of sight and reach of young children.

When using harsh products, follow safety recommendations, such as wearing gloves and masks. Don't mix products together, because their contents could react with dangerous results.

Never use gasoline as a cleaning solvent, and never use or store gasoline in your home, even in tiny quantities. Gasoline vapors can ignite easily.

Large buckets present a drowning danger to young children. Never leave a bucket or any standing water unattended, and store all buckets and barrels empty and upside down.


Quick tip

If you have had many unsuccessful attempts removing double-faced tape from a wood floor, turn up the heat. Use a hair dryer to heat the tape and then scrape as much of it off as you can with a plastic scraper.

Goo Gone ( is also one product that will remove adhesive residue. This method also works for removing bathtub decals, bumper stickers, labels and other types of tape.

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