Tips On How to Sell Your Home
Here are seven ways to spruce up your home to make it more appealing to potential buyers.
While the housing market has improved over the past few years, buyers have become choosy. Many want a well-maintained home at the right price in the right location— with condition being a key factor. “A seller can’t change a home’s location,” says Vicki Tull, a real-estate agent with Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International Realty in Rehoboth Beach. “But a seller can control condition and price.” From cosmetics to major renovations, here are seven strategies to help sweeten a home’s appeal.
1. Add Space Model homes in new developments showcase open floor plans: Kitchens flow into family rooms, and only pillars delineate the foyer from the living and dining rooms. For owners of older properties—think 1950s-era split-level houses or colonials built in the 1980s— additions are one way to create that open space for today’s casual lifestyle. Or walls can be knocked down to join rooms. In the Mid-Atlantic area, homeowners can recoup up to 71.8 percent on a two-story addition and 68.8 percent on a family-room addition, according to Remodeling Magazine’s “2014 Cost vs. Value Report.” But it’s not cheap. The average cost of a two-story addition is $155,365 and a family room addition is $80,765. “This is a big expense that doesn’t always bring a good payoff,” Tull says. “If modifying a floor plan suits the current owners, then do it, and if it aids in selling the house down the line, even better.” Add space without breaking the bank by widening doorways or tucking a refrigerator in a little-used closet in or near the kitchen, suggests Patsy Morrow, a real-estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach in Greenville. One simple solution is to de-clutter the rooms.
2. Update Kitchen and Bathrooms Updated kitchens and bathrooms are still positive investments. Owners can recoup 82.7 percent of a kitchen remodel and 72.5 percent of a bathroom remodel, according to the report. “New counters, cabinets, appliances, vanities and toilets—even flooring—will remove the ‘used’ feeling of a house and increase value,” Tull says. “No family wants someone else’s used ‘stuff.’” When designing a totally new bathroom, consider that jetted or Jacuzzi tubs are “out,” says Tucker Robbins, a real estate agent with The Robbins Team at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach in Wilmington. “Everyone had one and only used it once.” Popular bathroom enhancements include walk-in showers, a “water closet” for the toilet and heated floors. As for the kitchen, stainless steel is still king. In addition to replacing old appliances, consider updating the cabinet hardware, Morrow says.
3. Create outdoor spaces Homeowners who add a deck can recover up to 87.4 percent of the investment when they sell—if, however, it’s a wood deck. A composite deck has a 74.3 percent return on investment. Why? Many buyers don’t consider a composite deck as sturdy as a wood deck, Robbins says. Early versions lacked the proper support, which only strengthened that perception. Morrow, however, says many buyers appreciate low-maintenance composite materials. Her high-end listings often realize a higher value with flagstone terraces versus decks. In either case, Tull says, pay attention to the landscaping around the deck or patio.
4. Make your yard tidy and attractive Speaking of landscaping, it costs little to take down tangled tree branches and cut back the straggly bushes. Also prune or pluck plants that intrude onto the sidewalk, Robbins says. If you have more money, consider professional landscaping.
5. Lighten it up “Light and bright sells,” Robbins maintains. Sun tubes—also known as light pipes or tubular skylights—are relatively easy to install and bring both sunlight and moonlight into dim hallways or rooms. Most buyers appreciate newer energy-efficient windows that help reduce heating and air-conditioning costs. Granted, unless sellers have owned the home for some time or they purchased it at below-market value, installing new windows just before listing the home may not increase a home’s value—but it could help it sell faster, Morrow says.
6. Have a place to park First-time homebuyers might be happy with a one-car garage, Tull says. A family or retired couple, however, generally wants larger two- or three-bay garages, not only for their cars but also for storage. “Two-car garages save marriages,” Robbins says, jokingly. Even in the city of Wilmington, sellers add a bay or two if space allows, Morrow says. No matter the location, homes in the high price range are competing with newer homes that routinely have three-car garages.
7. Clean, fix, paint and finish Some improvements simply require sweat equity and material costs. For instance, clean the siding and roof. Replace fixtures, hardware and aging switch plates. (Note: Gold is out and silver is in.) Paint rooms in neutral colors. “No one can see past purple,” Tull says. Robbins recommends “China Doll” by Sherwin-Williams for walls with bright white for trim and a flat white for the ceiling. Expose hardwood floors, if you have them, and make sure they’re in shiny shape. Address any signs of deferred maintenance, Robbins says. And get rid of smells. “Cigarette odors can cost you well over $10,000 in value,” he says. “Musty basements are deal killers. Don’t let a buyer even think the word ‘mold.’” Says Tull: “Clean, maintain, clean again, repair and replace as needed. Make that place immaculate.” And then? “Price it correctly.”