Fix This, Not That: 6 Tasks to Do (or Not to Do) Before You Sell
Online, you can find dozens and dozens of return-on-investment (ROI) calculators which aim to do the math on whether a given home improvement project is worth the money (or not). They tend to focus on how much of the remodeling spend will come back to you in the form of added value when the home is sold. I submit that this is only one part of the equation, as the primary measurement for many home improvement projects should be tallied up in terms of lifestyle improvement over the years you plan to benefit from the increased comfort, joy or efficiency of your newly-improved home.
Surprisingly, this calculus of what home upgrades are (and arent) worth doing gets slightly more complicated in the context of preparing a home for sale. It seems like it should be even more simple - dollars in vs. dollars out. But most agents or stagers will tell you that preparing a property for listing is more art than science, in that there are many human factors that must be weighed and balanced against the costs involved.
For instance, whether a given project is worth doing sometimes depends on the current state of the property vis-a-vis local buyers expectations at that price range. It can also depend on the relative aesthetic and perceptual boost that a particular project promises, and on any negatives that the property needs to compensate for. The sellers budget and even local municipal codes all must be factored in.
Accordingly, theres no single set of black-and-white rules that apply to every property and every seller. But here are some rules of thumb and food for thought that you should walk through with your agent or stager if youre in the process of trying to figure out which tasks to do - and which to leave for your homes next owner - before you put your place on the market.
FIX: Paint. There is simply no accounting for the massive upgrade a fresh coat of paint can bring to the look and feel of your home, inside and out - especially given the relatively low cost and high do-it-yourself-ability of painting. A home that is freshly painted inside and out reads as fresh, clean and ready for new life, from a buyers perspective. A taupe wall with white trims and moldings has essentially become the new white wall of this generation - the aim is to go neutral, not boring.
If you cant afford the time or cost to paint everything, take a hard look at your walls and rooms and see which hallway or room(s) need it the most. Also, painting your trims, doors and moldings can go a long way toward de-shabbifying a place. Similarly, on the exterior of your home, I cannot overstate the polish potential of painting the trims a bright or deep, color. Changing the color and refreshing the paint on your exterior shutters, doors and eaves gives a powerful update and burst of color to the place.
Check in with your stager and agent about your color palette for any pre-listing paint projects before you have the hardware folks mix up a vat of chartreuse semi-gloss for the kitchen walls.
Here are four reasons why your home may be lagging on the market, the #1 Culprit is PRICE!
Even though the current market climate is hot in most places, every neighborhood, town&county has those homes that simply sit on the market for days, weeks, even months longer than average.
These are the outliers. And being the outlier, in this particular context, is not a fun place to be. When all the other listings seem to be flying off the market and yours seems to be stuck, its easy to delve into fear, panic and even depression.
There is a pretty short list of reasons that most slow-to-sell homes lag on the market. Youve probably heard at least a couple of them before, maybe even from your real estate agent. But sometimes hearing things a few times, from different people and at the right moment in time can cause the shift in position that will power a shift in the situations that are keeping your home sale stuck - and your life plans stuck with it.
1. Youre stuck on a too-high price. If your home has been sitting on the market for significantly longer than average, the market has spoken. And its saying: the price is too high vis-a-vis the current condition of the market and the property. Period.
There are only three variables in this equation - which is helpful, because it means there are really only three ways to fix this situation:
change the condition of your property
wait until your market conditions change to support a higher price
change the list price.
Thats it. Thats all there really is. For most sellers the simplest, most sensible of these three variables is to modify is the list price. This is especially so in cases where the home is in good basic condition, is well-staged, and other homes nearby are flying off the market. The fact that you dont want to hear that your home is overpriced doesn't mean its not the truth.
As a home seller, youve got about two or three seconds to wow a buyer when they first walk in your door. These 3 seconds are critical for making your home stand out - especially in a neighborhood or town home community where houses look very similar from the outside.
How do you feel upon entering your own home?
Are you impressed? Is your entryway spacious, peaceful and well lit? Or, are you greeted by a dark wall, a pile of shoes or miscellaneous objects dclutter?
Whether you have a dedicated spacious entryway, a grand foyer or your front door opens right into your living room, you should make sure your homes entrance feels welcoming.
The first thing to do is remove anything unattractive and make sure your door swings open all the way.
Theres something subtly stressful about a door that wont open completely because theres a stack of coats on a peg behind the door or something has been stashed there, in hopes of nobody noticing.
If your entryway is small, there are a variety of tricks to make it look larger:
Paint the area a light color, put up a decorative mirror to capture incoming light, or place a painting or photo on the wall that provides a sense of depth, such as a landscape with a far off view. If you have room, keep a fresh vase of flowers near your door, which always sends a welcoming signal.
If you live in a condo or home that doesnt have a designated entryway, you can create one by using a few props.
For example, place two tall, slender potted plants on either side of the entryway to give the feeling of walking through a threshold.
You can also use an attractive screen divider or a strategically placed table with a striking plant on top of it to direct the flow of traffic into a certain part of the room first, instead of walking right into the middle of the action. A non-skid area rug also creates a sense of an entryway experience, while preventing visitors from tracking winter mud and moisture into your home.
Remodeling Projects With Maximum Payback
If youre getting ready to put your home on the market, replacing dated cabinets and out-of-style wallpaper is essential in order to not only sell your home more quickly, but for a better price. Here are a few key spots around the house that yield the best payback when it comes to selling:
- Put in a new front door or paint your old one. The front door is one of the most important things in selling a home that many people tend to overlook. The typical cost for this project is usually under $1,300 and pays back around 73 percent when selling your home. Use bright colors for your door. Colors like reds, tangerine, and indigo are sure to impress buyers.
- If you have an attic, turning it into a bedroom will pay you back about 72.5 percent on a $50,000 project. Thats a great investment! An eyebrow dormer in the attic provides light and space for a teenagers private retreat or a cozy master bedroom, complete with its own bath and dressing area. Using space that is already there doesn't impinge on the yard, though room for a staircase is needed.
- A minor kitchen remodel can also improve your homes chances of selling tremendously. The average cost of such a project is about $20,000 and can promise around a 72.1 percent payback. Skip new cabinetry, often the most expensive part of a kitchen makeover. Instead, just clean them up. Swap your old countertops for stone or granite, then add kitchen bling new glam knobs and pulls on the cabinets, a brushed nickel faucet and soap dispenser along with a new stacked-stone-style glass tile, metal and slate backsplash that dazzles and pops.
- A bathroom remodel also yields a great return on investment. A full remodel can cost around $16,000 and payback about 62.2 percent, but a minor remodel can cost around $500 and payback 172 percent! Remove outdated, busy wallpaper and paint the bathroom a light, neutral color. Changing the faucets and light fixtures can also add a splash of newness to the bathroom.
- Garage doors are an inexpensive way to add style to your house and make a great first impression when done right. A new, stylish garage door can cost around $1,500 and payback around 71.9 percent. When it comes to curb appeal, garage doors take up to 20 percent of a homes facade, expressing style and a homes personality. Choose heavy duty, low maintenance, energy-efficient doors. Personalize with windows, colors and decorative hardware. Source: Yahoo News
How to Stage A House With Kids
You're getting your house ready for sale and, assuming your kids are old enough, you're wondering - how can I get my kids involved in the process?
A friend of mine recently listed her home and she has a 3 and 6 year old. Her home is big - 4200 square feet and there is no housekeeper. She enlisted both her children to help clean the house and keep their rooms clean each morning, showing or no showing, by giving them a quarter for making their beds and keeping toys put away. Even if she had to go back behind them it still saved her time as things were mostly done right.
Give your kids a chance to have a positive part of the process, instead of treating them as if they are in the way for each showing. Even in last minute situations young kids can be a great help - provided you have shown them in advance how to help when there is no time pressure or showing looming. This is key - show the kids in advance how to do the things you are asking them to do - and do them with them as you show them.
For cooperation, you just have to present it in the right way such as a game. Give them their own special area they are in charge of, such as cleaning the windows and picking up the playroom, and share that you have to have it done by the time the big hand reaches the "6". Try whispering their duties as a secret, kids will listen to whispers long before they will conform to a screaming parent.
These parenting tips, in case you are wondering, came from my friend and her resources at Project Enlightenment in downtown Raleigh.
Reduce Your Living Space While Staging
Reduce your living space. If you have more than one child, have them share a room it's only for a little while. If you have one child, set them up in your room. And what about bathrooms? Can you all share the master bath?
Keep Toys Tidy When Staging
Everything needs to have its hidden place. Games, DVDs, books, and toys need to be stored behind closed doors. Some kids like to leave scooters or bikes in the driveway or on the porch. Show them their special parking spot in the garage - if they are old enough to scooter, they are old enough to park it! Again, kids in general like to please - give them the chance to do so!
Maximize Floor Space
A huge selling point is the size of the bedrooms. Help your kids maximize their bedroom floor space. Use closets or storage strategically. This is also the perfect time to get rid of unused or broken toys and old clothes. Call your favorite charity for a pick-up.
Prepping your house for sale can be a stressful experience. If you have children that are 3 years or older, get them involved with the process.
The Market is RED HOT!
The Triangle Real Estate market is up according to January Stats. Closed sales are up 33% and showings are up 50%! See Stacy Anfinson analyze the stats in this video: http://youtu.be/gR-Md5vDCcE