Moving On? Up Your Home's Resale Value
With a thriving real estate market and the advent of online shopping, it's more important now than ever before to give your home a leg up on the competition. From simple fixes like clearing clutter off the dining room table to repainting your kitchen, there are many ways you can get your home looking ship-shape in no time.
According to Forbes, about 5.3 million homes will change hands by the end of 2017. For prospective sellers, that requires getting the place ready for show. For a quick sale, experts recommend decluttering the home and staging it. You can do some of the basic work, like clearing off the counters and replanting the garden, by yourself. Many homeowners neglect to keep up with routine maintenance during the time that they occupy a home. That can add up to a significant bill when it comes time to actually sell a home. Fortunately, most preparation for staging is a simple fix. Experts recommend focusing on the big picture (overall cleanliness and space) when selling a home. Taking the time to clean thoroughly certainly pays off. According to Consumer Reports, doing a basic cleaning can yield a 3-5 percent return on investment. When showing the home, experts advise making simple and subtle changes to make the home look presentable. This includes raising the window blinds and lowering the toilet seats. The rule of thumb is to make the place look like you'd want it to if you were inviting your boss for dinner.
Since first impressions can easily sell a home, it's important that prospective buyers like what they see when they pull up at the house. Realtors consider the home's exterior to be "free" extra square footage that can be appealing to buyers, and that can also deter them. This means that minor issues like an unkempt yard or a broken mailbox could cost you a buyer. Luckily, you can avoid a deal breaker with some basic cleaning and tidying. In addition to simply raking and mowing the lawn, you can fertilize and water the grass, prune trees, and pull up weeds. But if you can't afford landscaping or a new stone wall, focus on improving the area between the driveway and the front door, as prospective buyers will pull in the driveway and walk up the walkway to the front door. Adding a few potted plants by the front door can make a big difference, and you might consider getting a cheery welcome mat.
Surprisingly, realtors say small details that you consider insignificant can be a major selling point in your home. Depending on the shape of your home, you may just need a few paint touch-ups or a full makeover of highly trafficked rooms. At a minimum, you'll have to wash the windows, replace any non-working lightbulbs, and remove personal photographs. If you have limited time and resources, one of the most effective improvements is replacing older windows with energy-efficient alternatives. You can also replace the kitchen's outdated appliances with new ones. Newer windows and appliances, realtors say, bring in more money and are major selling points.
Moving down the list, the kitchen and bathroom(s) are very important for prospective buyers. Renovations to the kitchen and bathrooms can increase your home's resale value by up to seven percent. If an overall kitchen renovation is not financially feasible, you can still make minor but meaningful improvements by repainting the walls and cabinets. For a minimal price, you can replace the kitchen faucet set, swap out the cabinet door handles, and update older and outdated lighting fixtures with new, energy-efficient ones. For a real makeover, consider hiring a refacing company. They can remove and replace the cabinet doors and drawers, revitalize and refresh cabinet boxes, and add new doors and drawers. Finish with a fresh coat of paint, and your cabinets will look new. If you're so inclined, make this a DIY project by getting supplies from retailers like Lowe's and Home Depot. If you have mismatching appliances, simply order new panels or doors for them. In the buyer's mind, a uniform kitchen is much more appealing than a mismatched one, and that could ultimately impact the home's selling price. If you decide to repaint the kitchen, a neutral palette, which appeals to the vast majority of tastes, is a safe option.
Next on the list are your bathrooms, which can be improved for just a small cost on your part. Making simple changes like adding a new toilet seat and a pedestal sink can go a long way. These transportable items are easy for homeowners to install, and they can really improve the look of your bathroom. While you're at it, replace any old and outdated bathroom flooring with vinyl tiles or a piece of sheet vinyl. You don't even need to rip up the old floor – simply install the new flooring over the old one for a refreshed look. If the tub and shower look shabby, re-grout the tile and replace cracked or broken tiles with new ones. If you need a more extensive cover-up, consider getting a prefabricated tub and a shower surround. They are both one-piece units that may require a professional's installation. However, the end cost is worth it.
After you've tackled the kitchen and bathrooms, think about open space. Minimal closet space is an issue in many homes, especially older ones. If you have limited storage room, experts suggest putting wire and laminate systems in bedrooms, pantries, and entrance closets. You can look online for a website that lets you measure and redesign your closets electronically without having to visit a store. On many websites, you can also get design inspirations and find parts for your projects at local home improvement stores. Updating closets can be quite simple, and it generally takes a weekend or less to do. Ultimately, your end goal is to make the closets look functional and appealing to the potential buyers who will eventually be using them.
In addition to renovating existing rooms, you can also create new ones. Realtors say that with some creativity, extra rooms can be converted easily into additional bedrooms. If you have a den, for instance, just add a closet to make it into a fourth bedroom. Homeowners can generally add a custom closet and drywall the new space for less than $1,500. Doing so increases your home's appeal, and it can add a lot of value to the resale price.
The mechanical work (plumbing and electrical) is more difficult, but it's often necessary if you are planning to sell your home. Realtors say that spending a little bit of extra money on things like wires, faucets, and outlets pays off. A qualified electrician or repair person can spot loose wires, faulty outlets, and leaking faucets. This little investment shows prospective buyers that the current homeowners have taken care of their place, which can in turn increase the home's asking price.
When you're focusing on the big picture, it's easy to forget the small details. Carpeting is an often overlooked, part of the house. Making it presentable, however, can greatly improve your home's image. A professional carpeting company can easily clean the carpets. This task can even be quite inexpensive if your rugs and carpet are in good shape to begin with. If they aren't, however, it might be a good idea to replace them with inexpensive rugs. But stop short of going overboard; if rugs and carpets aren't in terrible condition, realtors advise against replacing wall-to-wall carpeting right before your move, as new homeowners might turn around and replace the carpeting to suit their tastes.
Throughout the home, lighting can make a big difference. If you have generic recessed lights in the dining room, consider adding a show-stopping chandelier. You can also give a fixture in the bedrooms or kitchen a modern look by getting a ceiling and fan combination. If you already have a fan and light, just purchase replacement fan blades to update the fixture's look. Adding a new light to the front walkway provides a bright warm welcome. While you're at it, consider swapping out a flimsy old doorknob with a nice new one to make a show-worthy entranceway.
When it's time for show, industry experts advise spending money for good photographs. Since most homeowners will see photos before seeing the house in person, it's important to make a good first impression. In photographs and in-person showings, agents recommend making oneself absent from the pictures. This means getting personal favorite items – like sports gear, memorabilia, and travel keepsakes – out of eyesight.
Ultimately, buyers should be able to envision themselves living in the home, and bright colors or eccentric details might deter them. The worst thing hopeful sellers can do, say realtors, is to invest a large amount of money into items like the carpet, paint color, and aesthetics that a future homeowner may want to change. With just a few simple but meaningful changes, your home can be show-worthy in no time.