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Should I Fix-Up My Home Before it Hits the Market?

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2022
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by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
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DIY Home

Today’s home buyers are savvy, and many seek move-in-ready homes that don’t require work. Today’s sellers also possess the ability to make reasonable judgments. They understand how frustrating it can be for homes to sit on the market without offers, a common conundrum for outdated ones that need improvements yet seek top dollar. To avoid such problems and to sell faster and for more money, sellers of outdated homes should make some changes by way of home improvements before hitting the market. But which ones are worth it?

Before jumping into projects, sellers should examine their competition. This can be done by searching similar homes for sale on reputable real estate websites and by asking a trusted realtor. This can help sellers, and their agents see what upgrades other homes for sale in the area are offering. You’ll want to seek out like neighborhoods, similar home and property sizes, an equal number of beds & baths, etc. If possible, visit open houses to gain a better understanding of your competition. This will provide an idea of how your home’s interior and exterior features compare to the competition. Another even more important step is looking at similar properties recently sold near your home. These are your comparable home sales, and realtors use them to help set home prices in your region. Your competition and all-important recent sales may help indicate whether your home needs improvements or upgrades. For example, you may notice that your paint colors are no longer in style or your kitchen is outdated. Often, those reasonable home improvements are likely worth making before putting a home on the market. But, since it’s not always cut and dried, it’s important to lean on your realtor for advice.

Since upgrading a home involves spending money, sellers are advised to think wisely to ascertain which changes are necessary to achieve a successful sale at the desired price. Major changes, such as tearing down walls or building pools, are generally ill-advised projects to do before listing. Not only are these big projects stressful, costly, and time-consuming, but they can open a can of worms. The seller’s risk uncovering problems they did not know existed and now must unexpectedly address. Additionally, massive changes may not get sellers much more money in return. So, ultimately, if they went ahead with those projects, they’d be wasting their valuable time, energy, and possibly money. However, it’s important to note that less expensive changes, such as removing clutter, modernizing dated lighting fixtures, replacing faucets and kitchen cabinet door handles, and repainting dark rooms, may often pay off big.

It’s been widely stated that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. While these are important rooms to consider, major upgrades may not deliver a large return on investment. Per Trulia, the rooms buyer most closely inspect are the kitchen and main bath. They explain, “A well-appointed kitchen will dramatically increase the value of your home, so it’s worth spicing up yours to grab buyer’s attention.” They state that this also applies to bathrooms, especially the main. But they caution you may not want to overdo it with costly improvements. In many cases, it’s good to make the most of what you already have and simply spruce things up. Presenting a home that is clean and clutter-free is important as it makes a home look larger. Giving the appearance of space makes a home more appealing as buyers will see that there is room for growth.

Though the state of a home’s interior is a major consideration when it comes to making improvements, the outside is also significant. Sometimes, buyers will refuse to look at an interior of a home simply because they dislike the exterior. Thus, a good first impression starts on the exterior. Curb appeal issues must be evaluated and fixed. This involves making a home look attractive when viewed from the street. Exterior improvements may include things like repainting the trim, shutters, or front door, repairing broken gutters, tending to the lawn or hedges, adding colorful flowerbeds, and replacing old fixtures such as exterior lighting.

When selling a home, the goal is to drum up a lot of buyer interest to get top dollar. It’s important to find a knowledgeable broker with whom you feel comfortable. Remember to think through updates and renovations and watch out for over-improvements that can lead to money losses. If you are unhappy with your furniture placement or fear that your home may not show well, consider having your home professionally staged to maximize and show off the livable spaces of the house. Staging is not just for high-end properties. It is effective in many different types of homes as it improves traffic flow and showcases the full potential of each room. Per Houzz, pre-listed staged homes spend 90 percent less time on the market than their nonstaged competitors, so it is worth consideration.

The seller’s carrying costs, such as a mortgage, utilities, and taxes, can add up quickly. Thus, most sellers hope to go under contract quickly and without encumbrances. Timing of projects is also crucial, as sellers seek to hit the market when it is most profitable. Many buyers on the market create must-have lists, highlighting features they expect or want in their homes. Since a significant number of buyers shy away from houses that need work and sellers want to maximize their profits, it is often advantageous for sellers to provide turn-key properties. Before making any improvements, a realtor may advise clients who are selling their home to see things through the eyes of buyers. They may be asked to consider the space, function, style, and condition of a home. Then, sellers must decide which projects are worthy of completion and choose only those which will yield positive results.

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