One of the joys of buying and moving into a new home is just that — everything is new. But if a seller doesn’t have newness to offer but rather a bunch of faulty features, the buyers may be scarce.
“Most people want to move in [to a home] and have the work already done,” says Jann Seal, a sales associate with Exit Realty Premier in Wellington, Fla.
If you’re getting ready to sell, here are four pre-listing preparations to get your house ready for buyers.
The easiest thing a homeowner can do to make his or her property more attractive is to touch up the little things. This includes restructuring anything with a functionality problem. Examples include fixing broken doors or cabinets or replacing failing windows. Replace any broken screens too, if more than the window frame is broken. And don’t forget the outside.
“The most common suggestion we make is for color to be added to the exterior either in the form of flowers or through painting,” says Scott Newman, of Newman Realty in Chicago. You should also depersonalize the property. “Remove all personal photographs. Take the magnets off the refrigerator,” Seal says. “Let the potential buyer imagine himself, his family and his belongings in the house.”
Painting may not be the first thing on a seller’s mind, but it can completely change the look of a home. In addition to outside touch-ups, fresh coats on the interior can transform the way someone feels when walking into a room. Seal says neutral colors are the best. “Latte or dove gray gives the rooms a clean, modern feel,” she says. “Keep the trim white.”
Adds Todd Polinchock, a Realtor in Doylestown, Penn.: “Paint is worth its weight in gold.”
Carpets and flooring
Alongside paint, new flooring affords the homeowners the opportunity to change the look and feel of a property.
Both Newman and Polinchock suggest replacing old carpet, noting it’s a “relatively small” investment compared to other home repairs. Besides, stained or dated carpet can be an eyesore to potential buyers,
The same goes for hardwood flooring. Though it is more expensive per square foot than carpeting – the World Floor Covering Association says carpet can start at just $2 per square foot installed, with wood starting at $6 per square foot installed — a study using data from the National Association of Realtors found that buyers are willing to spend more than $2,000 more on a house with hardwood flooring than a house without. Both routes will make your house look much newer, but if replacement is not an option, try to find a cost-effective professional cleaning method to get flooring looking as fresh as possible
The largest project a seller needs to worry about is updating the house that’s for sale. Ask your agent about what items or systems in your home need to be upgraded to compete with comparable houses. It could be anything from kitchen upgrades (new countertops or appliances) or bathroom updates (new sinks, faucets and showerheads).
“Today’s buyer is increasingly interested in modern, sexy upgrades from a much more expensive home and are the kinds of things their friends will say ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ to when they come over,” Newman says. “People love an eye-catching backsplash in the kitchen and hotel-style bathroom upgrades that look like something out of a five-star spa.”
While pricey updates may make your home attractive to buyers, Seal recommends not going overboard. Not all upgrades and projects will bring in large returns on your investment.
Instead of a full-on upgrade, Polinchock suggests picking one or two items to replace.
“It’s about making those changes [that] will give you the best chance to sell in the shortest period of time for the best price,” Polinchock says.