There’s a lot you can do to get your home into shape so that it can command a niftier price tag once you decide to put it in the market. In the past, I was quite stingy about maintaining my house, not really appreciating my role as a homeowner. I used to think “why bother?”, I was too busy working on my career and spending long hours at work anyway — so I couldn’t find the motivation to do much for my poor house.
Then I got married and the thought of having kids somehow turned on my nesting instinct like nothing else could. We decided to buy a newer house and put our older one on the market in 2001. Well, that was when I realized how far some tender loving care will go to help out your home’s price tag. We didn’t spend too much on giving it a little makeover — just a few touches, like you see in the sample images below (of someone else’s painted home, not ours).
How We Prepared Our House For Sale
- We painted.
- Did an exterior paint job to hide the slight cracks on the stucco that are the result of minor settling
- Sealed leaks in the home and painting away the stains caused by those leaks
- We made small repairs.
- Fixed non-functional electrical outlets
- Applied roof patches to our wooden roof to cover holes punched through by overzealous squirrels
- We cleaned up.
- Threw out tons of clutter. TONS. I couldn’t believe how much clutter we accumulated in a decade; t’was the equivalent of cubic space that was four times our 2 car garage. It was shameful!
- Cleaned our carpet for the first time in goodness knows when (these days I’m on a strict schedule as I insist on professional home cleaning services at least once a year!); it’s amazing how your flooring changes color right before your eyes after a wash!
- We fixed the yard.
- Installed some random plants from the local nursery to provide some color in our small garden
There were other more medium-sized repairs we had to do due to our lack of vigilance over some wear and tear that had occurred throughout the years. But barring those projects, our small fixes must’ve cost us but a couple of thousand dollars, if not less.
The reward? During a minor slump in the housing market due to the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, we were still able to sell our home for tens of thousands of dollars more than we expected it to sell for. But as seller’s regret goes here in California — looking back now, if we had just held on to that home and rented it out instead, well we would be making out like bandits right now. The property has since appreciated by 50% to 60% from our sale price back then.
But I digress. As we sob ourselves away from the bank (missing out on an extra opportunity to ride this century’s big boom in California real estate with our old home appreciating much more in percentage terms than our new home has), the moral of the story still remains, that by doing just a few small, inexpensive fixes to your home, you can potentially increase the appraised value of your home. If you’re a home seller who’s brave enough to participate in this sluggish property market, then it becomes all the more important for you to make your home stand out amongst similar homes in the market.
Here’s what real estate experts are saying you should do to allow your home to display it’s full value so you get your asking price (or more)!
Tips For Increasing The Value Of Your Home
Make a good first impression.
You’ve heard the saying that you never have the chance to make a second first impression? This couldn’t be more true when it comes to your home’s curb appeal. What do potential buyers see when they first glance at your home from the street? Lawns that are overgrown, patchy, or otherwise unattractive will really stand out, as will bushes that have not been maintained. For a few hundred dollars, you could hire a professional lawn team to come in and clean up, to provide a little easy-to-maintain landscaping and to allow your home to give that nice, first impression. A nice yard can add 5% to 10% more to your property relative to similar homes in your neighborhood.
Clean, clean, clean.
Once the potential buyer walks through your front door, they should be wowed by the cleanliness. A sparkling home just screams that it’s been properly maintained. Even if you clean regularly, chances are, there are things you don’t notice because you live there. Spend a couple hundred dollars and bring in the professionals for a top to bottom clean. With a pressure wash and window cleaning, your house will surprise you with a new look.
Become more energy efficient.
Replace your light bulbs with their energy efficient counterparts and consider upping the wattage; it’ll make your house look brighter! When you upgrade wobbly ceiling fans and change faucets that leak, buyers will see these as major advantages. And while you continue to reside in your home, you’ll be saving on your utility bills and doing your part for the environment.
Give the illusion of increased square footage.
Go for that light and airy feel: trust me, people will be more attracted to your home if it has a spacious feel. I was one of those home shoppers at one point who turned away from a fairly nice home just because it projected the wrong ambiance.
Obviously, a home addition is out of reach when you’re on a small budget, but you can make your home feel visually bigger. Clear out clutter, replace heavy curtains with blinds that let some light in, and arrange the furniture to create the illusion of more space.
Also, make sure you confirm the correct square footage of your home so you can price your home accurately. The county assessor may not always have the right information on file for your residence.
With a little decorating, you’ll immediately lift the mood in your home. How about appealing to all the senses and breathe life into your abode? Some people take it a step further by having their homes professionally staged, but it’s a cool DIY project if you have the knack and talent for this. My suggestion? Keep your home neat and tidy all year round and you won’t ever have to worry about staging your home.
- For the eyes: seal cracks, replace outdated and broken fixtures, add color through art, fabric and interior plants but use semi-gloss neutral paint for your walls.
- For the olfactory nerves: I’ve used potpourri, flowers and candles but too much may overwhelm.
- For easy listening: classical music may be nice, but it depends on whom you’re catering to .
Even though this work may have a cost, think of what you’re spending as an investment which you’ll be recouping once you sell your house. Many homeowners are able to get back 80% to 90% of what they’ve spent, in some cases! Knowing this, I’ve never been too guilty about shelling out the bucks for the professional help.
Image Credit: A Plus Painting Contractors
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