Boost the value of your home before you put in on the market
tips to sell a house
The listing price for a home on the market is important. But even more important these days is the condition of the home, according to Kristie Smith, a real estate agent with ERA Real Estate Links Carmel.
With so many homes available for purchase — and many already deeply discounted in price — the value of a home that’s clean and move-in ready is at an all-time high. Winning the crowded beauty contest can help sellers sell their homes faster, which will net them a higher return.
“The most important thing for getting your home sold at a good price is its condition,” Smith says. “If you drop the price $5,000 because you don’t want to do a bathroom remodel, the buyer doesn’t really care because $5,000 on a mortgage payment nowadays is $20 a month. They have the $20 a month. They don’t have the $5,000 to remodel your bathroom. (Many) buyers have to write a check (to get out of their old house), plus they’re having to come up with a down payment. So, they’re only buying the perfect houses, because they don’t have money to do anything; even adding paint and wallpaper.”
The first impression you’ll likely make on a potential buyer starts with the exterior.
“Curb appeal is very important,” says Tonda Hoagland, an agent with The Hoagland Group at Keller Williams Realty in Greenwood. “The front door is the greeting for the buyers and new potential homeowners, so you need to have that as beautiful as possible. Water the lawn; trim the trees and landscape so buyers can actually see your home. Sometimes tree limbs hang so low that you can’t see the house.”
Cleaning carpet and flooring, painting walls neutral colors, removing old wallpaper and decluttering the house are also important.
“It has to be hotel clean,” Smith says.
Though no remodeling improvement is going to generate a complete return on your investment, updating kitchens and bathrooms will yield the greatest dividends.
“Make sure bathrooms are freshened up,” Hoagland says. “Regrout tubs and showers and replace old shower doors. Replace dated light fixtures and brass fixtures with something that has a more updated finish; either nickel or bronze, which (are popular) now. How much you spend on that needs to be appropriate with the price of the house. If it’s a fairly inexpensive house, you want to keep those fixes as inexpensive as possible. If it’s a higher-end home, you might need to spend a little bit more.”
Adding solid surface kitchen countertops, like quartz or granite, can be a selling point that helps your home outshine competitors. Be careful not to overdo it, though. If the majority of homes in your neighborhood have laminate countertops, you could price yourself out of the market by adding granite.
“It’s very difficult to sell a house in this market with an outdated kitchen,” Smith says. “That is the most expensive thing to change. Not that the seller has the money, but the seller is the one who has to spend the money because you have to sell against your competition. It’s something you are doing for the buyer. You may not get back (your investment) dollar-for-dollar, but what it does is makes you desirable so someone will pick you.”
Having a pre-listing home inspection can also help the seller find and address potential problems before the house goes on the market.
“If something is broken, you need to fix it because it will show up on an inspection report,” Hoagland says. “It will usually cost you less to actually make the improvements, because you can select the grade and the price that you want. It’s going to look nice and you get to enjoy it while living there. Then, when you put it on the market, it will sell much quicker. If you just offer them money, the buyer still has to do the work. We want to remove any barriers between (the seller’s) house and their competition.”
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in February 25, 2012.