As the market slows, more homes will linger on the market and buyers will have more choices. It has never been more imperative that sellers take extra care to make their house as appealing as possible to buyers.
How much should you spend?
In preparing your home for the market, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck possible. Buyers might be impressed by a much-needed new roof, but they won’t even notice it if the front yard is hopelessly overgrown and a shutter is hanging askew, and they aren’t going to pay a higher price simply because your house has a new roof. “Polishes” and “touch ups” are what you want, not extensive and costly renovations. As an experienced real estate agent, I understand buyer expectations in our local area, and I can advise you specifically on which improvements need to be made and which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment. I can also recommend the best professionals to help you get those improvements done.
Maximizing your house’s exterior and curb appeal
As the old adage goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Nowhere is this more true than with home sales. Strong curb appeal can go a long way toward making up for other shortcomings. And don’t forget the backyard, too. A well-manicured front yard and a neglected back yard will make buyers wonder where else you are cutting corners. To enhance your house’s exterior and curb appeal, check the following and repair as necessary:
- Have to lawn edged, cut short and watered, and make arrangements to have this done again on a weekly basis while the house is on the market
- The same goes for trimming the hedges, weeding the lawn, weeding the flowerbeds and pruning the trees – in front of the house AND behind
- Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling
- Inspect doors and windows for peeling paint
- Clean and align gutters
- Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles
- Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking
- Make arrangements to have somebody clearing walks of snow and ice as needed
- Re-seal an asphalt driveway
- Close your garage door and keep it closed
- Remove boats, RV’s and unused cars from the property
- Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door and new hardware, if necessary.
Maximize your house’s interior
Now that you have made a favorable impression on potential buyers with your beautiful curb appeal, don’t disappoint with the interior. A few simple “touches” and “polishes” will again translate into favorable impressions and higher offers. To enhance your house’s interior, check the following and make changes as indicated:
- Thoroughly clean every room in every nook and cranny, and remove all clutter, including excess children’s toys
- Make arrangements to have a professional cleaning service come in every 1-2 weeks while the house is on the market
- Items you rarely use, but intend to keep, should be packed up and moved offsite
- Mend cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the attic and basement
- Repair cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint and tiles
- Consider painting dingy, soiled or strongly colored walls with a neutral shade of paint, such as beige or off-white. Paint the ceiling and trim white for a sharp and clean contrast. Neutral colors make rooms appear larger and help prospective buyers picture their own belongings in your house. The same strategy should be applied to floor coverings that you replace
- Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings and other woodwork
- Inspect and repair your plumbing, heating, cooling and alarm systems
- Repair dripping faucets and showerheads
- Buy and display showy, new towels in the bathroom(s) and kitchen
- If your kitchen needs major updating, give it a lift with new cabinet hardware, new curtains and/or a coat of neutral paint.
Bonus Tip #1
The fewer belongings in your house and garage, the larger your space will look. Consider renting off-site storage for extra belongings while your house is on the market. Remember, buyers will also ask to see your garage. Stuffing the garage to the rafters will only give buyers the impression that the house is too small for the average family.
Bonus Tip #2
Hold your moving sale BEFORE you put your house on the market.
Bonus Tip #3
Many home shows on TV are dedicated to getting homes ready for sale. One favorite is HGTV’s Designed To Sell. Check out a couple of these informative and entertaining programs.