"When residential real estate inventory is low, the market is hot for sellers. However, that does not mean buyers are going to overpay for a home."
A good rule of thumb for improvements is if it costs you $2,500 to update your bathroom, you should see a market gain of $10,000 to justify the improvement. The philosophy to not spend big money on improvements to sell your home is really geared toward those major improvements that are purely cosmetic. "I recently had clients who had a home that needed in excess of $20,000 in updates to get in line with the competition in the area that was attracting the higher prices," said Jared Hoylo, realtor. "The homeowners knew if they did the repairs they wouldn't get an $80,000 increase in value, and they elected to simply list below the competition by $10,000. The home sold within 25 days." With the price of improvements, the homeowner must consider the disruption to the household, cost overruns, and the general headache of dealing with the remodeling process. If a seller knows that an item is on its last leg, get bids from contractors before listing your home and be prepared for buyers to ask for a repair as a result of the inspection. The buyer always thinks improvements cost three times as much as they really do.
Having a good landscape contractor in your back pocket can help sellers out when preparing the home for sale. Mulching, bush trimming, tree branch removal, and simple plantings can go a long way in setting your home apart from the competition. These projects are generally affordable and can be done by the DIY weekend warrior as well. "I recently had a client reach out to me late last summer when they knew they were going to be moving the following spring," said Hoylo. "We had the professional photographer come out and snap a few exterior photos for our listing that was going to be active during January. These home pictures went a long way for the seller to convey what they had for plantings and curb appeal during the dead of winter."
When residential real estate inventory is low, the market is hot for sellers. However, that does not mean buyers are going to overpay for a home. Too often some sellers treat the real estate process like they are trying to sell something online, and will leave room to negotiate. "A home that is priced correctly regarding market history will receive an offer in the normal amount of time," said Hoylo. "Correct pricing allows the market to dictate how much the home is really worth by creating the possibility of multiple offers. The seller who shoots for the moon and asks for more than their home is worth ultimately loses out on ready, willing, and able buyers. The home can then become stigmatized as over priced and buyers may choose to skip the property outright.
Buyers will open the fridge, test the cabinetry, open the pantry closet, and view the bedroom closets. Remove and store—preferably off site—all valuables, medications, firearms, and other memorabilia that may have a monetary or personal value.
Obvious odors are pets and smoking. Refrigerators, rugs, and carpet can also retain many unpleasant odors. "I am in the process of dealing with an estate preparing to sell a home that was smoked in for years. The odor is everywhere," said Hoylo. "We tackled the odors first by performing an ozone treatment. The local restoration company came in and set up an ozone machine before the walls were sealed and painted." If there were heavy smokers or soiled carpets from pets, it may be necessary to replace light fixtures because the insulation in them can harbor the odor and is often an overlooked source. Duct cleaning and carpet cleaning are additional ways to tackle odors. "I've had the ducts cleaned in my own home," said Hoylo. "I about fell over when the contractor showed me the stuff that came out of them. Yikes."
While painting, staging, and sprucing up the appeal of your home is important for selling, don't get too trendy. Avoid using the season's hottest paint colors or furniture choices. Sticking to traditional colors and furniture styles for staging is the safest bet to improve the resale of your home. According to Zillow, this paint color can help you sell your house for $6,000 more.
Sometimes, sellers want to get creative with their asking price. A seller whose home was valued between $750K and $800K wants to ask $787,777. Say what? Such an oddly specific figure calls attention to itself for no good reason, like a house painted purple. Buyers will often wonder why the seller chose that figure. From there, they get curious about who the seller is, and so on. It’s best to keep the seller far in the background, if not entirely invisible. That’s why we have sellers remove all their personal stuff (such as photos, diplomas, and such) from their homes and decorate in neutral colors. The goal is to showcase the property, not the seller, and to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Getting quirky with your asking price counteracts this tried-and-true strategy.
Credit: Michelle LeBow