Investing a little in your house before listing it can result in a much bigger return at the closing table. However, knowing where to put your dollars into prelisting improvements and repairs can help you save money.
“The way you live in a home is not the way you sell a home…”
Though it sounds like a cliche, it’s very true. Even the most well-maintained home may still have small fixes that can be made to really make it shine to buyers. Remember: a buyer does not have the emotional connection to your home that you do. The buyer is looking for flaws, where you may be overlooking them. Viewing your house as a buyer might is a helpful way to see past the emotional connection you have and see the property clearly.
Some simple, cost-effective ways to make a big impact to buyers are:
- Updating light fixtures and ceiling fans – Removing outdated light fixtures and replacing them with inexpensive but more modern fixtures can make a huge impact for buyers. A light fixture can change the entire look of a room.
- Neutralizing paint colors – Bright or unusual colors may appeal to you and your personal decorating style, but they may distract the buyer from the positive features, like the floorplan or room size.
- Updating cabinet and door hardware – Much like light fixtures and ceiling fans, cabinet and door hardware can make a huge impact and change the feel of a room.
- Professionally cleaning or replacing worn-out or stained carpet – All carpet can use a professional cleaning prior to listing, but if that doesn’t lift out the stains or if your carpet is buckling, worn, or damaged, changing it will take away the distraction of the defect and let the buyer focus on the rest of the room.
- Decluttering – Clutter can make a room feel small and crowded, even when it’s not. Clutter can also call a home’s storage into question: crowded bookshelves and overstuffed closets may give a buyer an idea that the home’s storage options will not meet his needs.
- Cleaning up curb appeal – Curb appeal is key – you want those buyers to get a great first impression of your home, get out of the car and want to come inside! That doesn’t mean you have to become a gardener overnight or spend tons of money on landscaping; a newly mown yard with fresh pine straw or mulch in the flower beds will be just as appealing. Think clean and fresh, just like you want your home to be. It will take some maintaining, much like the inside of your home – cleaning up after a storm (picking up those limbs and raking leaves), taking out dead plants, some watering – but it’s well worth it.
- Exterior maintenance – That mailbox with the peeling paint you’ve been meaning to take care of? The rotten wood trim around your bay window? The loose handrail on the front steps? If you’ve noticed it, a buyer will, too. Take the time to take care of these items now, and have less to haggle over with a potential buyer when contract time comes.
What else can you do?
If you’re ready to take it a step further, you may consider getting a pre-listing home inspection. As a seller, getting the most money for your home is a big concern, especially in a market where there is lots of competition with other listings. Why not consider spending a couple hundred dollars to get a pre-listing home inspection by a professional home inspector. Pre-listing home inspections eliminate the potentially negative surprises that might pop up when a buyer completes a home inspection, and almost all buyers do.
Getting your home inspected before putting it on the market will alert you to the major repairs and maintenance items that a buyer will find and allow you to fix them ahead of time. It may also give a buyer more peace of mind that you have been a conscientious homeowner and taken good care of your home.
Being able to advertise your home as a “pre-inspected home” gives you a leg up on the competition, and though the buyer’s home inspector will likely find something to put into his report (that’s what he’s being paid for, after all), you and your buyer can rest assured that the major items have been found and taken care of before the offer was even written.
Of course, every home is different…
When you list with me, we’ll complete a thorough walk-through of your home, during which time we will compile a list of items you may want to complete to get your home ready for buyers and show it at its best.