Sell Your Home for Top Dollar F-A-S-T!
Author: Lane Keating
I recently had the opportunity of talking about right-sizing your home with certified Senior Real Estate Specialist and Staging Professional, Whitney Smith. This is the final installment in our 3-part series.
Now that you have cleared a lot of the excess belongings out of your house, it is time to get it ready to sell. Less stuff is good! Remember, home stagers always say, “Clutter Eats Equity!” The more personal stuff you have sitting around, the harder it will be to find a buyer for your home.
Buyers are easily distracted when looking at houses – especially if there are college diplomas and wedding portraits hanging on the walls, family pictures scattered everywhere, or a wall of sports trophies proudly displayed.
If your home makes up a significant portion of your assets, you’ll want to maximize the amount of money the sale generates. That means you probably want to do some repairs and updating to make your home more attractive to young buyers.
Not up for doing repairs? The option is to set the price lower and sell “as-is.” This can be tempting, especially if your health is poor or you are low on funds. But you are almost guaranteed to be disappointed with the price you get for your home, not to mention the amount of time it takes to sell it.
Do a careful survey of the condition of your home. How old are the roof and furnace? Do you need to replace the windows? When was the last time you updated your kitchen or bathrooms? Does your house look tired and outdated or fresh and ready to welcome a new family?
First thing’s first. If you have ANY wallpaper, remove it and repaint. This includes borders. Wallpaper is a very personal choice – and no one is anxious to take on the job of removing it. Believe it or not, I have had several listings that languished on the market until the sellers removed all the wallpaper – and then the homes sold almost at once.
The walls should be a neutral, “Pottery Barn” color throughout with gleaming white woodwork. (Don’t paint woodwork unless it is already painted). If your daughter, who now has children of her own, talked you into painting her room purple or pink, repaint it. If the kitchen is green, yellow, or orange, repaint it.
Speaking of the kitchen, were your appliances purchased during the Nixon administration? If they were, they are probably a dated avocado green, harvest gold, or chocolate brown. Consider investing in new, up-to-date stainless steel appliances. Many national chains have specials offering stainless steel refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and microwave for $2000 - $2500. They will also install the appliances and haul the old ones away.
Are your countertops marred and scarred? Could your cabinets use a coat of paint and some new hinges and pulls? Or are they beyond hope? Is the overall effect dark and dreary or bright and welcoming?
Often a little paint and elbow grease is all that is needed to give your kitchen a fresh, up-to-date look. Consider new granite counters with a new sink and faucet. Or perhaps cabinet refacing will provide you with the right look. Much cheaper than new cabinets – and they can do it in just one day. Don’t forget the floor. Worn linoleum or a floor with years of built-up wax is less than inviting.
Take down the curtains you’ve had for years, and install new plantation shutters or blinds. Or leave the windows bare. Maybe a new light fixture or track lighting is all you need to create a bright, new look.
If your carpeting is stained and worn and you have hardwood floors underneath, consider removing the carpet and refinishing the floors. Otherwise, you should have the carpets professionally cleaned. Better yet, replace the carpet with something that is neutral in color. Avoid Berbers. Although they wear like iron, every fly-by-night house flipper in America has been installing Berber carpeting for a quick, cheap fix to the flooring dilemma.
A clean-smelling house creates a positive image. If you have pets or there is a smoker in the house, be especially diligent about this. Mildew odors are another buyer turn-off, and many people are allergic to mold. If your basement is damp, install a dehumidifier.
Don’t forget the outside of your house. Be sure to work on the curb appeal. You’ll need to keep the lawn mowed and edged, and the weeds pulled. Prune and shape the shrubbery – especially any that are blocking windows.
Get fresh mulch for planting beds. Consider adding seasonal flowers along walks and planting areas. Maybe you should paint your front door and shutters in an attractive new color. Polish or replace your house numbers and door accessories. Buy a new “WELCOME” mat to greet your prospective buyers. Put a seasonal wreath on the door or a planter full of pretty flowers on the porch.
Sweep and wash the driveway and walkways to remove dirt, debris, and stains. Repair and patch cracks. Edge the sides, pull the weeds. Maybe reseal the driveway to make it look like new.
If your roof has algae and moss growing on it, have it cleaned, so it looks new. Be sure your windows are sparkling clean – inside and out.
Getting your home ready for sale will probably involve some hard work and might end up costing you as much as $10,000 or more. However, you will find it will make all the difference in the end. Your house will sell faster and for money, efficiently compensating you for your investment in time, money, and effort.