By: Jessica Cannon
We work with a lot of real estate agents on getting their client’s homes ready to put on the market. Often we meet with the agent and home owner at the property and develop a list of home improvements that will help make the home more appealing to potential buyers, and ultimately sell their home. Many of the items that we recommend come up over and over again in each property that we work on. Here is my “best of” list of recommendations on home improvements that will not only get your property sold fast and for the list price, but pay you back for the investment that you have made.
1. Paint: A fresh coat of interior paint can work miracles! Bring in some of this year’s neutral color trends (like grey and taupe tones). Your walls will look fresh and buyers will get the impression your home has been updated as they recognize popular color trends.
2. Carpet Cleaning or Replacement: At the least, you should have your carpets professionally cleaned (we recommend Stanley Steemer). When cleaning won’t cut it, replace the carpet with an entry level carpet in a neutral color. We have several carpet options for just this occasion in stock and ready to install next day. These carpets won’t break the bank and show really well. Your potential buyers will appreciate new soft carpet under their feet.
3. Hardwood Floors: Buyers love hardwood floors and it is definitely one of the most sought after upgrades to homes in this area. However, if your home has hardwood installed and areas are dull, scratched, discolored, or worn – – they may need a refresher. We most often recommend sanding and refinishing your hardwood floors. This process can give your old wood new life and make it look like it is brand new.
4. Lighting: Shed new light on your home. Upgrade your old and outdated fixtures and light bulbs. Most of the homes in this area have a fluorescent light in the kitchen, outdated brass fixtures, and Hollywood light fixtures in the bathrooms. An easy fix to update these lights is to replace the old fixtures with more contemporary ones. If you don’t relocate the lights, you will save on labor from your electrician. Most often a surface mounted light can be removed and replaced easily. This small switch will make a huge impact.
5. The Bathroom: Oh how we love a retro look; the classic pink bathtub and toilet … but your potential buyers most definitely won’t. Replace the toilet with a new white, high efficiency toilet and have the old pink tub reglazed white. Reglazing is a great way to save money and get the look you desire. A newly glazed tub next to a clean white toilet will have your potential home buyers tickled pink.
6. Upgrades: While freshening up the bathroom, change out the plumbing fixtures as well. Many of our homes have out-of-date brass or gold fixtures or builder grade specials. Changing out the faucet, shower/tub faucets, and bathtub drain (as well as the vanity light fixture mentioned above) is an upgrade that homebuyers will notice. I recommend brushed nickel or chrome fixtures.
7. The Kitchen: Many say that you’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part—you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. Update the countertop to either Quartz or Granite and add a stainless steel, undermount sink and new pull-out kitchen faucet.
8. Hardware: Change out all the hardware around your house so it matches. Get rid of the outdated brass door knobs and install new satin/brushed nickel or stainless hardware that all have the same style. Be sure to include the closet door hardware as well.
9. The Exterior: Buyers want to take basic systems for granted. They assume that the roof doesn’t leak and the windows are sealed. Be sure to have your home remodeler check the big 3 exterior items that will make your home super sellable: roof, siding, and windows. Basic home maintenance tops the list of best investment return when improving your home for resale. Make sure that the major systems of your home are in good standing before moving on to improve more luxury items that might show better.
10. Curb Appeal: If people drive by your home and you are not impressed – they’re not going to walk inside. Spending money on improving your curb appeal will be worth every penny and is one of the best investment paybacks. Consider a new front door, updating exterior lighting, power washing the walkways and front porch, changing your house numbers, and weeding. Cut and treat your lawn regularly and trim bushes, trees, and shrubs.
11. A Blank Slate: The easiest and least expensive way to make sure your house shows well is to clean up the clutter and de-personalize your home. Too much stuff makes your home look cramped for space. Use this time to go through your attic, basement, garage and closets. Throw away old papers, donate old clothes and furniture and store materials you want to keep in clean, color coordinated storage containers. I consider the process of de-personalizing making your home into a house. Potential buyers want to see themselves in the house, not see you. Edit your displays of knick-knacks, family photos, books, and other personal collectibles to de-personalize your home. Store away the items you remove for future display in your next home.
12. Basic Repairs: Hire your handyman now! Don’t leave small repairs and fixes for the new homeowner. All the items that have been on your “honey-do” list need to be completed before you put the house on the market. Your potential home buyers will not want to take over your fixes/repairs list. Though these items are small, they will be noticed.