Hey everybody it’s Austin Solomon and welcome to this week’s episode of The Real, Wausau Real Estate Show.
Today we’re talking about top tips for preparing a home for sale and tips for maximizing returns as you prepare your home.
So as an outline here, we’re talking about: 1) what you should consider when you’re preparing the home for the sale, 2) and we’re also going to dive into which items are going to give you the best “bang for your buck” or which things you should really focus on if you’re trying to maximize the sale price and maximize the returns.
So as we dive in here, just as a preface, each home is going to be a bit different. These trends and patterns really apply to the masses, but if you’re looking for a customized plan for preparing a home for sale the best thing to do is consult an agent and consult someone that specializes in that area to help you out.
Let’s start from the outside in. When a buyer is looking at a house or an agent is looking at a home, obviously you have the drive up. They’re going to look at the exterior as they pull into the property and that first impression is really critical.
Some questions that are going to pop into their mind is, “How does the lawn look?, how does the driveway look?”… The buyer is basically going to be forming an opinion or first impression of the house. All of these exterior looks are going to go into forming the opinion of the buyer. So during the winter, is the driveway clear of snow and is it safe to travel on? Are their items lying around the house and the yard? Is it neat around the exterior or does it look kind of rundown?
First tip, as far as the exterior curb appeal is, we often hear “declutter the interior of the house”, but one thing that often gets missed is decluttering the exterior of the home. So removing any toys, tidying up any lawn chairs, grills and even if there is excessive lawn ornaments or landscaping ornaments, bird feeders, etc. You kind of just need to go through those items and make sure the landscaping is fresh, it’s clean but it’s not over cluttered where it’s distracting and taking away from the home.
The second thing with curb appeal, talking about the landscaping, is it neat and organized? Are there weeds in the beds? Little things that you can do like adding mulch or landscaping rock to give that home a fresh look is going to be really important and can often help set the showing off right.
Another thing too when we walk up to the house there is going to be a little bit of extra time spent up by that front door. This is typically when the agent is opening up the house and fidgeting with the lock box. And the buyers are also going to spend some time there, so that area you might just take a little bit of extra time to make sure everything looks clean and neat around that area. Consider painting the front door, as that’s something that again increases that first impression. Or maybe even replacing that front door if it’s old or dated. Another thing too, if the storm door is really dated or if it’s super… oftentimes one of the odd things as an agent when you’re showing a house and you’re opening up that lock box and there’s a high-strung storm door, that’s really old and rickety, sometimes it’s just best to take that right off, it’s a lot easier.
The other thing too is the roof and the siding. How do those look? If the roof has moss on it, it’s a really good idea just to get that cleaned up with a spray. Also consider a house wash and a power wash on the exterior. Again, all of these things are helping the exterior curb appeal and that first impression.
The second piece, as you walk into the house, the buyer is going to get a first impression of the interior. Is it decluttered? Is it clean? How does it smell? Decluttering is huge. This is one of the easiest ways to improve the salability of a house and improve the sale price, to have each room staged properly. And again when you’re selling a home, it’s really not your house anymore, you’re really just staging it to appeal to the masses and you just want the bear essentials in each room.
So in your living room you have your couch, coffee table, lamp and tv stand, but you don’t have a lot of your personal stuff out, you’re just staging the essentials.
The cleaner the house is the better. If it’s clean and it feels like it’s very well maintained. Obviously the buyer only has a very short period of time, 20-30 minutes or maybe an hour to formulate their opinion on this house and they’re going to look at how clean things are and they’re going to say well if it’s clean, it’s probably well-maintained and that’s how they formulate their opinion.
Another thing would be to de-personalize, remove any personal photos and personal items throughout. Again, this is just helping the buyers focus on the home when they’re looking at the house and visualizing themselves here and not getting distracted on other things.
And just circling around on the smell. The smell is a big thing, the feel of the house is a big thing. Just as a sub note a story that was super interesting, when Febreeze was started, it took off. Originally they marketed to a wide variety of people they thought would have issues with smell and it took off but then they found after they launched and had a bunch of sales, people didn’t return to buy the product because they thought after they used it, they never thought they needed it. Obviously if you live in an environment that’s normal to you, but someone else coming off the street, the house might have a different smell. You have to assume that my house has some kind of odor and it’s best to assume that and overprep and overclean than it is to disregard that.
Especially with pets too, that obviously adds an extra dimension and makes it a little bit trickier to keep everything perfect.
The next thing is increasing natural light throughout the house. This is huge. So cleaning the windows, opening up the blinds and making sure all the natural light comes in. When you have a lot of natural light, the home feels comfortable, it feels homey. Little things you can do for showings, you can open up the blinds and clean the windows. Even a small tip, if you have screens, if you take those off sometimes it can just help let more natural light in.
Another good practice is to turn all the lights on in the house and walk around and if there are areas that are a bit dark, consider adding lamps or maybe changing out the bulbs, maybe going with LED. Having the lighting right can really help during a showing.
Little things like this, when we’re talking “bang for your buck”. Obviously when we’re talking about changing light bulbs, natural lighting, taking off screens, and just making the home more presentable, it doesn’t really cost much, but it can make a huge difference.
# 4 is painting. This is what I like to call modernizing the house by making small improvements. This would be like painting, replacing hardware, replacing fixtures and things like that. This is one of the highest and best returns if you can do these items on your own, you’re definitely going to get a position return on them. For example you paint a neutral color, something that’s trendy, the greys, whites, beiges, those kinds of colors are trendy. That’s going to give the room a fresh feel and it’s going to lighten things up and give it a fresh look.
When it comes to hardware, like in your kitchen and in your bathrooms. Oftentimes if you were to… often people ask should I update my kitchen? Or should I update my bathroom? Well if you’re going to hire a contractor to do a full remodel it’s going to be very difficult to pull that money out of a house in most cases. But what you can do is maybe you can do those small things like paint the cabinets, update the hardware, and the same thing in the bathroom. You can replace the gold fixtures and the light and the hardware, and paint the vanity, and just kind of give it a modern feel.
So maybe you spend $100 and now that bathroom has a whole new feel now because you took that time and updated those things. So again, a lot of times we’ll see a lot of gold or outdated fixtures and if you replace them with something like brushed nickel or matte black, that’s going to be trendy. If you’re thinking “bang for your buck” that’s where you’re going to have the best “bang for your buck”.
Painting. Hardware. Fixtures. Curtains. Rods. Things like that where it gives that room that fresh look, that fresh feel and is going to definitely give you a good return.
As a side note, if you have wallpaper in your house, sometimes that can be tricky to remove. The most important areas to take that out of would be your living spaces which would be your kitchen, dining, living and if that’s tied into a bathroom in that area too, that would be the most critical spot to take it out of. Taking wallpaper down and painting can help modernize the house as well.
#5 kitchen and bathroom, just talking about those, we kind of touched on those in the last point. Again, consider the small things you could do, you could paint the vanity, paint the cabinets, trendy with white and grey, and replace the hardware and the fixtures, including handles. Those are things that … you don’t have to spend a ton of money or hire someone and pay $20,000 on a kitchen and $8,000 on a bathroom, you can spend a couple hundred bucks to give it a modern feel.
Other than that, there are a lot of other things too. You can talk about flooring updates and all those other things. Obviously there are a lot of variables that go into it and that’s why it’s best to have someone specialized to come out and say based on this home and this price point, and where the market is at considering the condition, I think this is a game plan we should put together to get the home ready for sale. And I’m happy to do that for anybody, if you’d like.
Let’s just recap here! Items to maximize the return. Again the first thing is you have to declutter and you have to clean, that’s going to be your top return on investment. Having the house staged, it’s definitely worth getting a storage unit and paying $60 per month to have the house be less decluttered.
Anything you guys can do on your own without having to pay out. For example painting, hardware, some basic fixture replacements, and updating curtains & blinds. These are small things that you can do that are going to definitely help you get that highest return. It’s when you start making larger improvements or hiring contractors to do bathrooms, kitchens, etc. you’re not going to get that money back out of the house in most cases.
Another sub note too. If something is broken and defective and it needs to be fixed, for example, if the roof is shot or the furnace is shot, get those things replaced. However, if they are older and still functional, just aging, most of the time that’s something you’d just leave. Like if the furnace is 20 years old but it’s worked and has been serviced, it wouldn’t be worth putting a brand new furnace in just to put a brand new furnace in. Obviously it’s still working and still has some life left. Same thing with a roof. If the roof is 20 years old and a contractor comes out and says you probably have another 5-years or so on it, again, I would just leave that. I wouldn’t put a brand new roof on because you’re not going to get that value back out.
Things that are tough to get money back out would be if it’s not shot, putting the roof on, or putting in a new furnace or A/C, those are tough to get money back out on. As well as any additions or extensive remodels in kitchens. That stuff is a little trickier to get the returns. Obviously that’s not to say those aren’t things you want to do because there is more to homeownership than just the economics and buying and selling the home. Obviously it’s a place that you live and you want to customize. In today’s episode we’re really just talking about preparing the house for sale. You wouldn’t want to go out of your way just to sell a house. So yeah, in summary, hopefully that helps with a little bit about how do you prepare a house for sale from the exterior – in. And if you’re thinking about doing updates, what things would be cost effective to do without breaking the bank.
Thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode of The Real and we’ll catch you on the next one.
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Austin Solomon | The Solomon Group – Coldwell Banker Action – (715) 212-4693