If you are planning on putting your house on the market, leaving your house “as is” without steeply discounting the price will likely result in very few bites from prospective buyers (after all, there are so many properties on the market, why buy one that's not in good shape?) . At the same time, grand remodeling projects might not get the recoup value they did when the market was booming. So, what should you do?
During the housing boom of 2003 – 2006, major remodeling projects were well worth it. They were sometimes leading to recoups of 80 to 90 cents on the dollar. This is when the resale value of homes improvements was at their best.
We also might remember our parents telling stories of buying a “real fixer-upper,” because they were able to get to get a home at a great price, and saw the value in putting a little money and time into general repairs and basic remodeling. The end result, they had a dream house to raise their kids and retire in.
The truth is that times have changed and we have Generation Xers and the newest generation, the Millenials, ready to buy a home. Their priorities and desires, on average, are different from previous generations. The older generations, the Baby Boomers and the War generation, have all reached the age of wanting to relax and not have to worry about spending both energy and big bucks on buying a fixer-upper to retire in.
New times are ushering in new trends in buying. Couple that with the down market, what is yielded: Buyers who tend to look for home that is in perfect or near-perfect condition.
Before, the market had more buyers than sellers. At that time, it was easier to sell a house with wall that needed a paint job, broken light fixtures, or ratty carpet. Newer generations are now looking for “turnkey” houses. What this means, is that buyers want a house that is ready to use as soon as they turn that key to enter for the first time. A house that needs a lot of work may be a bargain, but it also means time, money, and additional headaches.
Buyers want to make sure that appliances are up to date. They want to make sure they can move in, and relax on a clean living room floor. They are looking to make sure that lighting fixtures work, the garage door opener, and that there is no immediate house odor that might be hard to get rid of. Therefore, very mundane improvements can add psychological appeal to your home.
Here are some quick and very affordable ways to get your house ready to sell that avoid the time and costs remodeling:
Keep your house looking good – Remove all of the junk from your house. You can add thousands of dollars in value just by spending the weekend taking out extra things from your house. Have that overdue garage sale and get rid of all the things you can do without. The additional space will also make your house appear bigger.
- Here are some additional ways of improving the walk through appeal of your house:
- Make your bed every morning.
- Buy new matching towels and make sure that they are always folded.
- Make sure all dirty clothes are hidden.
- Keep counter tops clean.
- Remove offensive posters and other décor that might turn off a buyer with a different taste. Try to keep everything neutral.
- Keep your windows sparkling clean.
- Make sure all light bulbs are working for when walk through buyers flip the switches.
- Create a stack of “House Features” sheets that can be placed on the clean kitchen island. When buyers walk through the house, they can pick these up and look at house related numbers and amenities. This includes square footage of the garage and basement, any newly added features, nearby schools and hospitals, if the house was just painted, etc.
- Get rid of offensive odors from pets or cooking.
- Keep waste baskets empty.
- Clean the oven and remove mildew from the inside of the dishwasher.
Getting that curb appeal – How does your house look from the street? Does the yard need to be cleaned up? Does your house need paint around the edges or whole coat? Are there oil stains on the driveway? Are there lots of cars in the driveway?
Clutter and mess is unappealing to people driving by and those who want to be able to visualize themselves in your home. Two many cars in the driveway and on the road in front will can both hide your for sale sign and make your yard appear small. If you used your garage for only storage, rearrange it and start parking your cars inside. If you park in the street, park further off to the side to open up the space in front of your house.
Some other simple and cheap ways to improve your exterior look or “curb appeal” are:
- Keep the landscaping neatly trimmed.
- Pick up animal feces in the yard.
- Put a fresh coat of paint on your front door.
- Fix any loose shingles.
- Make sure your gutters are repaired and painted.
The penny wise make over of the bathroom – In real estate, the look of bathrooms and kitchens usually bring the best return on investment than any other part of the house. This can be expensive; however, anything that you can do will make a difference.
Here are some cheap ways to improve your bathroom:
- Buy some simple framed art from a craft or retail store. Make sure they match the shower curtain and towels.
- As mentioned above, buy new sets of matching towels.
- Change the sink and tub faucets. Replace the door knobs on both the entrance door and on the cabinets.
- Get a brand new shower curtain. If you have a shower door, then make sure the chrome is shining or invest in a new door.
- Rip out that old fashioned medicine cabinet and replace it with a modern mirror.
…and what about that kitchen? – Updating your kitchen will probably cost the most. However, if you replace appliances, you can sell the old ones at the garage sale you were going to have or take them with you to your new home.
Here are some cheap ways to improve your kitchen:
- Install a nice modern kitchen faucet.
- If your cabinets are over thirty years old, you might want to consider replacing them. If not, semi-gloss paints for kitchen cabinets will eliminate that ancient look. If you don’t like either of these ideas, then consider resurfacing your cabinets.
- Replace cabinet door handles.
- Update lighting fixtures with brighter, more energy-efficient ones.
- Make sure those entire appliances match in color. This can be a little expensive, but a cohesive-looking kitchen can be a real grabber. If you buy new appliances, make sure you put them on that “House Features” sheet. People love to know that they have a brand new microwave or oven.
It is not necessarily hard to keep your house clean and looking good. Remember, you never know when an agent might bring someone by unexpectedly. Make sure your house is ready for a quick sale.