In this competitive market, sellers need to know which projects and improvements are going to add the highest value to their home, as well as increase curb appeal and marketability. Tara-Nicholle Nelson at Trulia has shared with us five fairly simple and inexpensive projects that, with a little time and effort, can provide a huge return on investment for home sellers:
1. Painting: Adding a fresh coat of paint to ceilings and walls is a tried and true way to increase your home’s appeal to buyers. Go for white or neutral tones that help lighten your rooms. (Now is not the time to show off your fascination with fuschia and lime green.) Buyers will have an easier time envisioning how they will infuse their own personalities into your home if they’re looking at a relatively blank slate.
2. Landscaping: Everything you’ve heard about curb appeal is true. First impressions matter – especially if your house is one of eight or nine a buyer has seen in one day. Buyers will be more excited to look at the inside your home if the outside looks clean, charming and inviting. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, pull the weeds and plant some flowers, bushes or shrubs for the biggest impact – and be diligent about keeping your landscaping very well-manicured throughout the time your home is on the market.
3. Cleaning and de-cluttering: Start by removing all your family photos from the walls and all sorts of tchochkes and clutter from the tops of tables, desks, dressers and counters. Buyers want to be able to envision their lives in the house, not yours. Personal items – and the visual clutter they create – have been shown time and time again to block buyers’ ability to create this vision.
And then clean – and keep cleaning obsessively, the entire time your place is on the market. Kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms should look unlived in when they are shown. And don’t forget to clean less obvious places like windows, walls, doors and and floors, to dust off shelves and furniture, and to polish appliances.
4. Plumbing repairs and water stain/damage repair: Paying a plumber to make a few stops throughout your home can be well worth the investment. Leaky faucet in the master bathroom? Get it fixed. Does the space under your kitchen sink look like a science experiment? Leaks and water stains definitely provoke disgust and exasperation on the part of the buyers you want and need to impress. And they can be pretty cost effective to fix – ask your agent for a referral, if you need one.
5. Staging: Staging your home can make a dramatic difference in the price for which your home sells. When done well, staging can convert your home from just another listing on a buyer’s list to the setting for a fresh, new start to the fresh, new life of their dreams. Professional stagers, in particular, have special skills and materials they use, from convincing you to get rid of a bunch of things you value (but read: junk to a buyer), to items like mirrors, plants, art work, lamps, pillows and even furniture that tells a visual story of the life buyers can fantasize about living in your home.
Talk to your agent about staging – some agents have the skill to do this on their own, while others might have a professional stager they frequently work with.
In some cases, you might want to take on even larger projects. Before you go that route, talk with a local real estate agent; they are well-positioned to know what sort of updates and features will make the most impact on local buyers. Not all major, non-cosmetic upgrades to your home will create a significant difference in the price it commands, so take advantage of your agent’s expertise as you make decisions about whichproperty preparation investments to make (and which to forego).
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