Once the general steps in the pre-selling process have been completed - learning about financing, determining your needs for appraisal and legal services, and making appropriate repairs it is time to ask an important question: Do you really need to sell your home?

If you are selling to raise money or move, these goals may be consistent with retaining your property. Do you need $15,000 to purchase a home or to invest? Are you moving to a different state? If you answer positively then consider these questions:

Is there enough equity in your house so that it could be refinanced? Is there a market for rental homes in your area? Do you think the value of your property will decline? Is there an alternative investment as good as your present home?

Suppose you bought a home five years ago for $40,000 and today it is worth $65,000. You put down $5,000 and obtained a 7 per cent mortgage for the balance. Today your equity (market value less debt) is $27, 347. Your monthly payments would be $266.12. Assuming credible personal finances, a lender viewing this situation could suggest refinancing at 80 percent of your home's current market value, in this case of $52,000, or a second trust for $15,000.

If you elect to refinance you would get the best available rate and terms since you have so much equity in the house. Your loan would represent a small risk to the lender who would benefit then a low-interest mortgage is exchanged for one at a higher rate. If you choose a second trust you could retain your low-interest loan while freeing some equity for other purposes.

The cash you receive must be balanced against your income. If your salary has increased it may be a simple matter to afford enlarged financing. If you must move then you will have a highly-leveraged investment which will produce substantial tax benefits while hopefully growing in value.

Peter G. Miller teaches the course, "How to Sell Your House - With or Without a Broker" through the Consumer Information Institute in Washington.