Selling season is upon us in the Ozarks! Traditionally, springtime is when sellers are readying their homes for sale. With the warmer weather and the school season coming to an end in a few months, buyers who have been poking around the market over the winter are getting serious about buying.
In readying your home to list, there can be a lot of anxiety over what you should and should not do to maximize the sales price. Much of it comes down to marketing and pricing strategy, as well as negotiating skill on the part of your real estate agent, but there are things that you as a homeowner can do to get the most money from buyers.
Will a full renovation of your home get you more money? If done well, without a doubt. The more important question is of course, “Is it worth it?” In most cases, probably not. Unless you bought your home as a distressed property at a deep discount, the numbers probably won’t work in your favor - at least not in our market. Real Estate reality television would have you believe otherwise, but keep in mind, the locations most of those shows are filmed in have much larger margins than what we’re working with in Midwest America, with construction costs more or less the same.
So, what can you do? Lots, actually! Here are 5 inexpensive things every seller should do to increase their home value!
Sweat the Small Stuff
While they may not affect the structural integrity or functionality of the house or any of its systems, to buyers who already have to deal with the stress of a move, minor repairs means more work for them to do and raises the question, "If the sellers didn't repair the small items, what bigger problems did they not address?"
If your house has missing trim, small holes in the wall, doors off their hinges, loose toilets, missing cover plates on electric outlets, torn weather stripping, or any other small deficiencies, buyers will start to see your house as a fixer-upper, and will offer you fixer-upper prices. Most of these things can be done yourself, with a basic toolkit, some inexpensive materials, and some know how (YouTube can be a great resource)!
Inspect your house and write down everything you find that needs repair, and tackle what you can. If you a repair is beyond your ability, you don't have the time, or it's potentially dangerous, ask your Realtor for recommendations on a handyman. If your home is in need of major repairs, talk honestly about those issues with your Realtor to figure out the best course of action.
Make it sparkle!
It's impossible to understate the importance of a clean house for showings. A dirty, cluttered house makes buyers uncomfortable, is not an environment that they want to spend much time in, and indicates to them a lack of care for the home.
First rule of a clean house - declutter! Having too much stuff in your house will make it feel smaller, and make it harder for buyers to envision themselves living in the house. Packed closets indicate the house is short on storage. Sell what you can, and pack the rest in boxes and put them in the garage. People understand that you are moving, and will be ok with some (well-organized) boxes in your garage.
If your home has carpet, consider having it cleaned by a professional. You'd be amazed how much dirt and staining has accumulated over the years so gradually that you haven't noticed. If the carpet is in really bad shape, or harbors pet odors, you may be better off having it replaced.
Next, scrub EVERYTHING. Walls can get dingy, hard surface floors (especially tiled floors with grout) can accumulate dirt and grime and will look amazing once properly cleaned. Remove mineral build-up from shower doors, and make sure toilets, windows, mirrors, countertops, cabinets, furniture, and decor are all spotless. Be honest with yourself - your idea of "clean" may be below the standards of picky buyers. If you need to hire a professional house cleaner, do it. It's important and worth the money.
Paint it Bright!
If your walls are dark colors, bold colors, have patches, scratches, or scuffs, a fresh coat of bright neutral paint will dramatically change the room for the better! Painting can be an inexpensive way to transform a space. Bright, neutral tones carried throughout the house are ideal for making a home brighter, cleaner, more inviting, and can even make it feel more spacious.
Consistency is important. It's not necessarily a good idea to have a different color in each room, nor are bold accent walls a good idea. Obviously, color choice is going to depend on the overall style of the home, the trim color, cabinet colors, flooring, etc. But generally speaking, whites, light greys, and beiges are great choices for freshening up the house, and creating a somewhat blank canvas for the potential buyer to envision their decor and furniture in the home.
While a "painting party" where you pay your friends in pizza may seem like a fun, inexpensive way to get your house painted, remember, quality is important. If you and your friends can't get crisp lines and avoid runs and accidental brush strokes on the ceiling, hire a professional.
To stage or not to stage?
Buyers have a hard time seeing past the furniture and decor in a house. A well staged house will sell faster and for more money than one with mismatched or broken furniture and decor. While it may not be feasible to hire a professional company to stage your home, you can make the most of what you've got.
Remember, less is more when it comes to staging. Remove any broken or dilapidated furniture. Depersonalize - remove family photos and any decor that is specific to you that might make it difficult for a buyer to picture themselves living there. Arrange remaining furniture in a way that highlights the space and functionality of the rooms. Avoid blocking any natural walkways.
Having some furniture will give potential buyers some perspective on what can fit in the house. Be sure the furniture is appropriate for the room size. Don't put a king sized bed in a small room. It's better to have no bed in that room. Having a home properly staged with nice furniture and decor will show buyers the full potential of the house, and will make them fall in love!
First Impressions Are Important!
From the moment a buyer first lays eyes on your home, you want it to impress them and cause them to want to come inside and see more of the house! And that moment occurs when the buyer first pulls up and sees it from the curb.
To increase your home's curb appeal, start with decluttering. Remove junk, children's toys, and overgrown plants from your front yard. Make sure the grass is healthy and the lawn neatly maintained. If the siding is dirty or has fungal growth, power wash the house. Hire a professional for this, as siding can be damaged with high pressure washing if done improperly.
Less is more with landscaping. Tall bushes can obscure the charm of the architectural features of the house. Too much landscaping may turn off buyers who feel it will be a big chore to maintain. Evenly-spaced, well-pruned plants and fresh mulch will make the house look amazing!
If you'd like specific guidance on what you should or should not do to your home prior to listing it for sale, give us a call! We'd be happy to consult you absolutely free of charge!
If you'd like to know what your home is worth in the current market, all you have to do is visit our Home Value page and fill out a simple form. We'll provide a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) for you free of charge!
Once your home is fixed up, clean, and show-ready, we've got a plan that gets our clients the most money for their homes, quickly! Download our Real Estate Services Proposal and read about our marketing plan and our pricing strategy!