Most everyone will sell a home at some point in their lives. Whether they are upgrading, downsizing, retiring or moving to assisted living, the need is the same – sell the house for the highest dollar amount in the least amount of time.
This creates a whole set of questions, the primary one being “what improvements should I make to my home to help it sell?” This is not always an easy answer. Nobody wants to invest thousands in a home they are going to sell, especially if the renovations bring back only a portion of that investment. So where is a homeowner’s money best spent? Here are seven quick fixes that won’t drain your savings, but will help sell your home.
1. Declutter – This is the number one fix for anyone trying to sell their home? Why? First of all, it doesn’t cost anything, yet yields a 586 percent return on investment. (2011 HomeGain Survey) Why wouldn’t you do it? But this doesn’t mean putting away a pile of mail from the counter or shoving shoes into a closet. It means – get rid of anything that makes your rooms or closets look small. Take down that plate collection on the wall. Thin out the closets so you can see the floors and shelves. Place those 40 totes of Christmas decorations into storage. Why? Buyers may wonder what is hiding under all those boxes. Is the carpet stained? Are the walls damaged? Is the foundation cracked? The less you hide, the less they will suspect.
2. Depersonalize – This is difficult for most sellers. Think about it. You put hours of planning into your home and décor, and worked for months pulling it all together. The family photos, vacation memorabilia and framed certificates bring back pleasant memories. However, while all this makes you feel good, it isn’t yours to enjoy anymore. The new owners will have their own family photos, their own preferred palette of paint, and their own knick knacks to fill corners. They won’t be able to visualize their belongings in the home if yours are distracting them. Potential buyers want to see this as their new home, not your old one. The goal is to make the house generic so it appeals to what 85 percent of the population prefers.
3. Reduce the Furniture – This goes along with decluttering. The goal is to make the rooms look larger, yet show how it can be laid out and still be functional. You don’t have to get rid of everything. If there are two side chairs and a recliner in the family room, get rid of either the chairs or the recliner. If you have ten chairs around the dining room table, remove the leaves from the table and place only six chairs out. While looking at your rooms, also keep in mind traffic flow. Are there accent tables crowding entryways? Is furniture blocking windows or doorways? Get rid of it! If visitors have to squeeze past each other in rooms, they will assume their furniture won’t fit either.
4. Do Cosmetic Upgrades – Major remodeling projects rarely get your investment back. But smaller cosmetic upgrades like painting and carpeting can help sell your house. If your kitchen counters are in bad shape, but the cabinets look good, replace the countertops. If your wood floor shows excessive scratches and wear, have it refinished. If your fixtures are dated or broken, replace them. When potential buyers walk into your home, they won’t see the good if there are too many little things that need fixing. All they’ll be thinking about are the renovations the house needs.
5. Clean, clean, clean! – A decluttered home is NOT a clean home. Your home needs to be scrubbed top to bottom. This includes ceiling fixtures, baseboards, light switches, door frames, heating vents, microwaves ovens…you get the idea. All those places you usually pass over on your weekly clean. Your house should sparkle throughout. This might even mean closing up the kitchen (cooking odors penetrate fabrics and linger for hours), and finding temporary homes for your pets while you have your house on the market. Nothing turns potential buyers off more than a dirty litter box or dog hair in the corners. Especially if they don’t own pets themselves.
6. Infuse Warmth – You’ve decluttered and cleaned. Your house is spotless, even sterile. But that’s not a good look either. Your home can still be warm and inviting while maintaining its tidiness. Lighting is one of the easiest ways to add warmth to a room. Use the maximum wattage for light bulbs that a fixture allows. Neutrals and soft palettes are best for walls. Fabrics are better than shades for windows. That isn’t to say you can’t have some color in a room. But make it portable. That is, put bright colors into the towels, art work or pillows – things you will take with you. The buyer can easily look past these items because they know they won’t be staying there.
7. Remember the Exterior – This is the first image a potential buyer sees on the internet or driving by. If the outside of the house doesn’t look good, then no matter how clean and updated the inside is, they will pass you up for the house down the block. The yard, windows, gutters, walkways, etc., should all be in good condition. The lawn should be clutter-free too. If you have to paint, remember the rule of three – don’t use any more than three colors on your home’s exterior – one for the siding, one for the shutters and one for the front door.
This may seem like a lot of work, but if doing these quick fixes nets you thousands more when your house sells, isn’t it worth the time and effort?