“Home is the nicest word there is.”
-Laura Ingalls Wilder
People sell their homes for many reasons. Some folks move on due to job transfers and others are left with too much space after the children have left the nest. Some sellers may have additions to the family, like a newborn or an elderly mother-in-law. Whatever the reason, when you decide to sell, you’ll need to do a careful and honest evaluation of what ought to be done in order to have your home market ready.
FYI: This is not a sprint. Touching up the paint and boarding up your teenager's room three hours before the open house is not going to get you a quick sell, or top dollar.
With years of experience as a realtor helping families buy and sell homes, I've listed top tasks to tackle when getting your home ready for the sale.
Curb Appeal Is the Number One Selling Factor
Surveys indicate most buyers make up their minds about a house the moment they pull up to the property. You can forget about getting top dollar with your dolphin-shaped tub spout and faux-finished powder room. Those internal pricey extras won’t change a buyer's perception.
So what do the real estate pros say? "If the curb appeal’s lackin’, don’t bother packin’."
Like your mother said, you only get one chance to make a good impression. What this means is the outside of your home should be appealing and not peeling paint. Reattach any loose shutters and repair torn screen doors. The rich and famous may spend ridiculous money on faded, ripped jeans, but generally don’t like their new home to look distressed. Buyers are in the market for their dream home, not your nightmare.
Purchase a New Garage Door
The garage door is one of the first items a prospective buyer sees when approaching the front door. If your garage door is dingy, dented, and in need of a makeover, definitely invest in purchasing a new one.
According to bankrate.com , when it comes to the exterior, garage door replacement ranks as the number one curb-appeal factor.
· Average cost of new garage door: $3,611
· Average resale value: $3,520
· Cost recouped: 97.5 percent
A good-looking garage door tops the list when it comes to getting cash back on your investment when you decide to sell your house, according to the 2019 Cost vs. Value report. The estimate for this job is based on the cost of removing and disposing of an existing 16-by-7-foot garage door (or two-car garage door) and replacing it with a new four-section garage door, with heavy-duty galvanized steel tracks, assuming the motorized garage door opener is compatible. This curb-appeal enhancer will get you back almost every dollar you spent on it when you sell your house.
Fescue to the Rescue
Is your grass looking green and healthy or does it look patchy, like you traded in your lawnmower for a toothless goat? Does the yard appear neat and tidy? Are the hedges trimmed? My home-selling friends, Jurassic Park is a movie, not a landscaping theme. Hand your teenager some shears. He may stomp and growl like a T-Rex but is harmless. You’re welcome.
Purchasing a home is a huge emotional and financial decision. Make sure when a buyer is waiting at the front door, everything around them sends a clear message that yours is the most inviting home on the block.
As a seller, this idea should be repeated when prepping your place to sell: Home is a place where memories are created. We loved our home. We hope you will love it, too.
First Impressions are Lasting Impressions
What’s the first thing a potential buyer sees when they walk through the front door? If it’s the life-sized stuffed giraffe you won playing Bingo, please move it to the garage. Clean and uncluttered is your mantra. Watch a few episodes of “Hoarders” a week prior to open house. When your stomach has settled, have a garage sale. Less is more, right?
Always Put on a Fresh Coat of Paint
One of the easiest ways to spruce up your home when you’re ready to sell is a full-house repaint. Why? Painting interior walls is relatively inexpensive, can be a DIY project, and will instantly improve the appearance of your home. A clean palette with light, neutral colors is best. Please contain your urge to suddenly become Picasso. Bright and airy are your buzz words. Live by them.
Invest in Flooring
I know what you’re thinking. Replacing flooring sounds like it’s going to cost me money. You are correct, but it will be money well spent. The nicer the house, the finer the upgrades, the higher the asking price. The more a home is well-maintained, the less a buyer will nit-pic. Don’t give them any ammo.
Try to look at your floors through the eyes of a buyer and seriously evaluate their condition. If your den still has green shag carpet from the 70s, replace it. If you walk in the home and it looks and smells like a crazy cat lady lived there, do we have to even discuss it? Just replace it. Fresh paint and new carpet will make buyers smile. You want buyers to smile.
Use good judgement if you're thinking about replacing old flooring with hardwood. Tile, stone, and grout can be easily cleaned and are a less-expensive alternative. If you want to keep original hardwood flooring, consider hiring a professional to refinish the floors. Laminate flooring is cheaper than hardwood and holds up well to spills and scratches. With flooring, you have many options, so do a little research and purchase wisely.
Backyards are for Barbeques
People love backyards. Homeowners love to barbeque, entertain, play with pets, and lounge in the sun. A well-tended backyard can swing a deal. Decks, if there’s enough room, are great selling points. Re-read the above section on Curb Appeal. Duplicate those actions for prepping the backyard.
A Realtor's Most Frequently Asked Question
What interior upgrades will give me the biggest bang for my buck when preparing to sell?
The answer is: It’s not in your remodeled, professional chef's kitchen with built-in juicer or the Galaxy GX49 Entertainment Spa in the backyard. The biggest bang for your buck is best spent remodeling the master bath.
Draw Me A Bath (Yes, Please)
If you’ve never seen a buyer’s face light up when they see an awesome master bedroom suite, it’s a sight to behold. Make sure to invest some coin in revamping the master bathroom.
Here are a few excerpts from an article by Michele Lerner, entitled, The Latest Trend for Bathrooms and Kitchens is Where High-tech Meets Low Maintenance, found in The Washington Post.
· The Smart toilet is here. Technology has tackled one of the most basic fixtures in the house.
· Whether you choose to replace your old toilet or retrofit your existing one with an LED night light, an automated sensor to open and close the lid, seat warmers and a cleanser that iodizes the bowl, high tech has taken over the bathroom
· Most homeowners surveyed say they plan to remodel to expand their shower to make room for multiple sprays.
· There are many tile options, including porcelain, natural stone and ceramic. Some people are using large slabs of stone for the flooring and walls and using a variety of tiles in the shower. Even if they are using all white tiles, they can add interest with different textures.
As your guide in the home-selling process, my suggestion to you is invest in upgrades that will bring you a higher selling price, but don't go overboard. Banks won't lend money if your home's price is markedly higher than the comps in your neighborhood.
My job as a realtor is to inform, educate, and serve my clients. When you're ready to purchase or sell, remember, no one knows homes like Jones knows homes.
-Carla Jones, Reliance Real Estate
P.S. Buyers can tell the difference between weeds and a drought-resistant garden. Gotcha.