Repairing and Improving the Right Items
Major repairs and complete remodels generally do not give a 100% return on your investment. It usually takes years before the expense of these items is recouped, if ever.
In contrast, minor repairs that improve the appearance of your home can be done with little expense and offer a return of over 100% on your investment. These minor repairs should be undertaken before you sell your home, as you will typically get more money back for each dollar you spend on them. Any improvements done for resale should have over 100% return on investments as the following recommendations do.
First Impressions Are Lasting. Enhance Curb Appeal!
Ask yourself this question; is the outside of my house as attractive as it could be?
A buyer’s first impression of your home is the most powerful and lasting one. A neat, attractive yard entices a buyer to view your home. We can help you determine which measures can improve your home’s curb appeal for a small investment of money and time, which will yield large returns.
- Fertilize and water the lawn to get it as green as possible.
- Remove all weeds the lawn, yard and gardens.
- Trim bushes and shrubs. Insure that they are away from the house and entryway. Consider removal of trees that block light.
- De-clutter the yard. Store lawn equipment, children’s toys, and other outdoor items.
- Have your lawn cut every week while your home is on the market.
- Ensure that your street number is legible. If not very visible, install new house numbers that are visible from the street.
- Porches, steps, verandas, balconies, patios and other extensions should uncluttered and in good condition.
- Paint all entrance doors. This is the point where potential buyers form an opinion of the house.
- Shades and awnings should be in good condition. Replace them if the color has faded. Remove windsocks, chimes, etc.
- Paint your mailbox if necessary.
- Keep trash cans deodorized, covered and out of sight.
- Gates, fences, sheds and other outbuildings should be cleaned, repaired and painted.
- Clean and shine all metal hardware (doorknobs, doorknockers, lamps, mailboxes, street numbers, etc.).
- Install new hardware such as the lock and knob on the front door, if they appear dated.
- Clean windows both inside and out to give your home a “light and bright” feeling.
- Clean, repair and paint all gutters and downspouts.
- All loose or missing roof shingles, tiles and the like should be secured or replaced.
- Repair and paint the garage door if needed. Make sure that the garage door opens easily.
- Repaint the home’s exterior if the paint is over 15 years old or stained. Painting with a neutral and bright color such as yellow, tan, or off-white works well. Painting provides an excellent return on investment. Investing in painting the exterior of the house can make the difference between “turning on” or “turning off” the buyer. Again, this is the first impression the buyer has of the property.
- Power-wash the exterior if the home was recently painted.
- In the front of the house, put out a new welcome mat and a clay pot or wooden box filled with blooming flowers.
Now Evaluate the Inside of Your Property
Through the Critical Eyes of the Buyer!
You May Lose Buyers Due to What You Consider an Insignificant Issue.
Ask yourself this question; is the interior of my house as attractive as it could be?
- Eliminate Clutter! Removing knick-knacks and unnecessary furnishings will make your home appear more spacious and attractive. Generally, about ½ of a seller’s possessions should be removed to make the home appear larger and less cluttered. To help remove these items you can hold a garage sale, store unused items.
- Use neutral colors, finishes, and styles. The goal is to have your home be a blank canvas where potential buyers can imagine their own belongings.
- Wash all windows, inside and out. This will add to the overall impression of the house and help show your property in a nice, bright light. Curtains should be clean and attractive.
- Remove or open curtains and blinds that block natural light. “Light and bright” homes are cheerful and sought after.
- Remove all smoke, pet and hobby odors from the property.
- Organize closets. Remove unnecessary items and put them in storage. Large closets sell houses and a well-organized closet looks much bigger than one crammed with clutter.
- Clean all light fixtures and chandeliers so that the property is brighter.
- Install higher wattage light bulbs to show your property brightly—in its best light
- Shampoo all carpets and vacuum them daily. If the carpet does not clean up well, replace it. Use a neutral color. This act makes your home show much more beautifully and has over 100% return on investment. Remove the carpet if hardwood floors underneath are in good condition.
- Clean everything in your house from top to bottom—from the attic to the basement.
- Remove all storage from the attic, basement, closets, garage, tool shed and especially from the storage area if your property has one. Large storage areas are appealing to buyers. Rent a storage area for those items that need to be cleared out of these areas.
- Remove posters and adhesive from walls and doors.
- Putty and paint any wall holes that are the result of nails or other mishaps.
- Clean or paint the basement walls and floors (if applicable).
- Wax hardwood floors.
- Remove all cobwebs.
- Spray for bugs. If a buyer sees a bugs it can be a huge “turn off”.
- Paint all inside walls with an off-white paint or some other neutral color. Use two or more coats to cover bold, bright or dark walls. Most walls should be painted—not just washed. This will brighten the property and making it look much larger.
- Repair or replace loose wallpaper. In most cases wallpaper should be replaced with painted walls.
- Ensure that the doorbell is in good working order.
- Make sure that all entrance doors (front door, storm door and screen door) are in excellent condition. If not, replace them.
- Repair or replace all room doors, closet doors, windows and openable screens so that they open with ease.
- Repair or replace any window screens.
- Repair, replace or refinish banisters and handrails.
- Repair or replace broken tile or wood flooring.
- Remove personal items such as photos, postcards, and religious and political material. Otherwise, potential buyers’ will focus upon who the seller is instead of the house.
- Rooms should have one function. The combination office/exercise room/children’s playroom confuses buyers and makes the house feel short on space.
- A large contemporary mirror can make any room appear larger.
Studies indicate that buyers consider the kitchen to be the most important area in the home. While a major kitchen remodel will not add more value than its cost, the minor aesthetic improvements suggested below will make your kitchen shine without costing you a great deal.
- De-clutter the kitchen countertops by removing appliances.
- Re-paint dark or old cabinets with light paint.
- Install new knobs on kitchen cabinets.
- Replace badly worn linoleum floors with a neutral colored flooring.
- Clean fans and vent hoods.
- Replace an old towel rack. Replace old towels with clean and fluffy towels.
- Re-grout any stained or discolored tile grout. Clients have had amazing results with re-grouting bathrooms.
- Repair or replace broken tiles on walls or floors in showers.
- Replace toilet bowls if you cannot get them spotlessly clean. It is a minimal expense and makes a big difference.
- Replace shower curtains and keep them clean.
- If leaking, replace the washers in the faucets. Remove any rust stains from drains.
- Re-caulk the shower or bathtub if the current caulk is not spotless.
- Place an air freshener in a discreet place.
- Consider replacing old sink faucets or other plumbing fixtures with new fixtures (usually brushed nickel).
- Organize closets to increase their perceived size. Store unused clothing.
- Throw away unused hangers.
- Avoid oversized beds in rooms that are too small or cluttered. Small rooms should have a twin bed and a nightstand, but no dressers.
- Remove televisions.
- Keep the garage somewhat neat and uncluttered to show its true size.
- Hang up gardening tools.
- Clean oil stains.
Landscaping, painting, and the minor improvements mentioned above will improve the potential buyers’ first impression of your home and will generally have a greater than 100% return on investment.
Ensure That Your Property is at Peak Showing Condition For the Day of the Showing!
Your house is being “interviewed” by the potential buyer. Use these tips to ensure that your home’s best features are displayed on the day of the showing.
- Keep your yard mowed, raked, fertilized and watered.
- Remove all toys, bicycles, tools, unsightly patio furniture, trash items, debris, etc., from your yard.
- Trees and shrubs should be pruned and trimmed. Lawns and gardens should be weeded regularly.
- All hoses and garden equipment should be out of sight.
- Outdoor furniture should be kept clean and repainted if necessary. Stack firewood out of sight.
- Walkways and driveways should be clear of debris. In the winter, clear off snow and ice (You definitely don’t want a potential buyer to slip and fall). At other times of the year, make sure that walkways, driveways and curbsides are trimmed with edge trimmers.
- Porches, steps, verandas, balconies, patios and other extensions should be uncluttered, swept and in good condition.
- Open the draperies, pull up the shades and let in the sunlight. Rooms bathed in sunlight appear bigger and make a positive impact on buyers.
- Turn on all lights.
- Remove all “clutter” from each room. Remove things such as coats, shoes, clothing, pet toys, pet-food bowls, trash cans, toys, child-safety barriers, playpens, and the like. Keep all nonessential items off the floor so that the room doesn’t appear cluttered. Uncluttered rooms appear bigger.
- Make sure that beds are made with bedspreads smoothed out. Also, linens and curtains should be fresh and clean. Keep laundry out of sight.
- Organize closets. A well-organized closet looks much bigger than one crammed with clutter.
- Dust and vacuum floors often.
- Don’t leave towels lying around. Wipe showers after each use.
- Create a positive mood. Turn on all the lights—day or night. Open the curtains during the day. If it is cold outside, keep your house comfortably warm. If it’s summertime, keep your property cool.
- Open doors to areas you want the buyer to see, such as walk-in closets, pantries, etc. Make sure that those areas are neat and clean. Place a subtle air freshener inside closets. Close all other closet doors and cabinets.
- Water and prune indoor plants. Less hearty ones should be kept out of sight.
- Remove excess electrical cords. Tuck them behind the entertainment center if applicable.
- Keep pets out of the way—preferably out of the house. Ask a friend to watch your pets while the property is on the market. Some people do not like animals or their odors, and buyers may raise undue concerns about the condition of carpeting.
- You should arrange to be absent during the showing of your property because buyers are more comfortable and candid if the owners are not present.
- If you must be present, be courteous and do not engage in conversation with the buyer. Never apologize for the condition of your property.
- Keep garage doors fully closed.
- Set the dining table for a formal dinner and place a centerpiece on the table.
- Finally, play soft music during the showing of the property. Turn off television sets.