Real Estate October 16, 2015

Looking to Sell? Updates You Can’t Afford to Skip.

There’s a reason good house flippers are so successful.  Sure, you might get some people who are willing to put in some sweat equity, but on the whole, buyers overwhelmingly want move-in ready homes.  Even something as simple as burned out light bulbs can be a deterrent to potential buyers.  That’s why your Real Estate agent generally will suggest improvements that can get you top dollar.  At the end of the day, your home is probably your biggest investment.  Don’t you want the best return possible?

Updating your home to sell doesn’t mean you have to drop $30,000 on a brand new kitchen.  If your house is pretty well maintained, some simple changes can be made to get a dramatic new look.  Here are 3 improvements you can make to max your ROI without breaking the bank:

  1. A Modest Bathroom

Courtesy of

Time and time again, it’s been said that the best update to sell is a modest bathroom remodel.  Take a look at the bathroom(s) in your house.  Did you step into another decade?  Time for a face lift.  A fresh coat of paint can do wonders.  Choose a light color to open up a small space.  Remember at this point, you’re not designing for your aesthetic; you’ve already decided to sell.  Think light blues or grays–neutral colors that won’t scare potential buyers.  Same goes for the tile.  Subway tile is all the rage right now: it’s clean and modern, and variations can be found that fit within your budget.

A new vanity can breathe life into an old bathroom.  A full one including the top can be found at any home improvement store starting around $100.  To go along with your beautiful new vanity, make sure you’ve replaced the hardware (faucet, knobs, cabinet pulls, towel racks) with modern finishes.  Light fixtures should round out the new look.

If your tub and toilet are in good shape, a thorough cleaning should suffice.  If your tub’s got some stains that won’t come out but you don’t want to spring for a new one, there are options to do a refinishing on your tub to bring back that porcelain shine.  A quick Google search will give you professional and DIY options.

2.  Enhance Your Curb Appeal

Courtesy of StockSnap

Courtesy of StockSnap

You’ve no doubt heard the old adage, “You only get one chance to make a first impression” and that goes double for your home.  Your front yard is the first thing any buyer will see, so you don’t want to turn anyone off by having a less than stellar yard.  A warm, friendly entryway will bring people in and make them feel at home before they step through the front door.  Don’t have the money to hire a landscaper?  No problem.  First do a search for some inspiration.  When you think you’ve got an idea of what you want to do, hit up your local home and garden store to find some bright flowers and shrubs to give your walkway some pop.  Talk to the employees there.  They should be able to tell you which plants will give you the most bang for your buck.  Try to choose plants that don’t need a whole lot of maintenance–you’ll thank yourself in the weeks before the move, and buyers will appreciate not needing to hire a gardener.  Call up some friends and for the price of some lunch and maybe a couple bottles of wine or six-packs, you’ve got a planting party.

How’s the exterior paint?  If you’ve repainted recently (within the last 5 years or so) and it’s still in pretty good shape, you could probably get away without a full repaint.  You should still have either the paint color or some cans left over from the last time you painted.  Take that paint and go around the exterior, touching up any spots that have chipped over time.  Updating the trim can give you the same fresh look of new paint at a fraction of the cost.  Finally, take a look at the front door.  Is it giving off a warm, inviting vibe, or is it a barrier to the inside of your home?  Think of painting it a bold primary color to pull focus to the front of your home.

3. De-cluttering and Freshening Up the Interior

Courtesy of StockSnap

Courtesy of StockSnap

Hands down the most cost-effective way to improve the look of your home is to go through and de-clutter the space.  It’s totally free and can make a huge difference.  Take any family-specific items like photos or toys and make sure they are stored away.  It will be easier for buyers to picture themselves in the house if they’re not distracted by your family portrait.  If you’ve got bulky, ill-fitting furniture, think about storing it.  Simplicity is king when it comes to attracting buyers.  A lot of sellers don’t want to pay for staging, but the benefits can definitely outweigh the costs.  There are staging options for every budget; it’s up to you to do the research to find a company that works for you.  Staging can offer up to a 5% increase on the value of a home which would more than pay for the cost.

Painting walls warm, neutral colors is a great, cost-effective way to increase value.  Your child may love their bright orange bedroom, but it can be distracting to buyers.  Again, paint is inexpensive and can totally transform a space.  If your floors are in good shape, all you need is a deep clean.  Make sure wood floors are freshly cleaned and waxed.  Spring for a professional carpet cleaner, especially in high-traffic areas like living rooms.  Get tile grout deep cleaned.  It may be time-consuming, but clean grout can make old tile look new again.

With just a few updates, your home can sell quickly and get the outcome you desire.  Just remember to look at your home through the eyes of a buyer–don’t expect them to overlook things you wouldn’t.  Happy selling!