Right now, most of the country is in a “buyer’s market”, which is to say there are more properties for sale than there are interested and qualified prospects to buy them. That puts the buyer in the driver’s seat. If you’re trying to sell your home understand that in order to be successful you’ll have be as competitive as possible on all fronts.
That will mean not only pricing it right and achieving high marketing exposure, but also making your property as desirable as possible. You can do that by making certain improvements that will make your property more salable. Here are ten of those improvements.
1. Paint the interior and exterior of the home.
A new coat of paint gives a home a fresh, clean look, and can hide a multitude of cosmetic imperfections. At a minimum, paint over any areas that need it, or entire rooms if necessary. Also, paint the front door and any adjacent woodwork so that prospects are greeted by a clean entry.
If you repaint, be sure to use neutral colors. Buyers can be turned off by bold colors or even by wallpaper—too much of either creates redecorating obstacles.
2. Replace broken tiles on the floor or in the bathrooms.
Buyers won’t look past cracked or broken floor- or bathroom-tiles. In their minds-eye they’re not seeing some isolated tiles that need to be replaced, but an entire remodeling project.
Replace any tiles that are cracked or broken, make sure the grout in between the tiling is in good shape (re-grout if it isn’t) and be sure to clean the grout so it looks fresh and well maintained.
3. Seal any cracks both inside or outside the home.
Cracks can imply hidden problems, so be sure to repair any cracks both inside and outside your home. Caulk and repaint exterior cracks in the homes siding, trim and especially around doors and windows.
Go through the interior of your home slowly and carefully to identify any cracks especially in the kitchen and bathrooms, and repair as necessary. Those cracks that you learned to live with in your home might be a red flag to a buyer.
4. Tend to any system noises or other flaws.
This includes your furnace, air conditioner, hot water heater, dishwasher and any other mechanical devices in the home. While you may be accustomed to a certain piece of equipment making noise (while still functioning superbly) a perspective buyer will see it as a sign of big trouble.
Assume that buyers will want to test out all of your systems, if not on the initial visit then certainly on a subsequent one or at the home inspection at the latest. If a problem is found, the buyer may be more likely to require replacement than repair, and that will cost you a lot more money.
5. Replace the carpeting.
One of the first things people will notice about your home is the carpeting—if it’s worn, discolored or tearing they’ll probably move on to the next house.
At a minimum, have the carpeting thoroughly cleaned and stretched before putting the house on the market. Consider replacing the carpet in any rooms where cleaning doesn’t solve the problem. And if the carpeting is beyond repair throughout the home, be ready to replace it all.
Alternatively, you can offer a carpet replacement allowance upon sale, but that won’t solve the marketing problem caused by a carpet that’s past it’s useful life.
6. Fix any plumbing issues.
A leaky faucet, washing machine or toilet may be nothing more than a nuisance, but water on the floor or water damage caused by those leaks is a deal killer. People will assume that pools of water or even minor damage to be evidence of much bigger problems. Be sure to fix the leaks and correct any damage before marketing the home.
7. Replace malfunctioning doorknobs and locks.
Think of doorknobs as your homes equivalent of a handshake—they’re the first things in your home that buyers will touch. And how that goes may determine if a buyer shows serious interest in your home or not.
These are neither expensive nor complicated to replace, but since many prospective buyers don’t know that they may pass up your house because of a couple of difficult doorknobs.
8. Remove any clutter.
De-cluttering the home not only makes the rooms look bigger, but it also offers an unobstructed opportunity for a buyer to visualize their own furniture placements. That’s exactly what you want to have happen.
Be sure to remove clutter from closets, cabinets, countertops, tables and shelves as well. Buyers will be assessing storage capacity, and if every space you have is filled it will imply insufficient space.
9. Clean out your garage.
A lot of people use their garages as catch-all storage areas, not as parking spaces for their cars. In the process, a garage can come to look more like one of those rental storage units than what it’s intended for. Make sure that your garage looks as if it can neatly accommodate the vans and SUV’s that are typical in today’s households.
10. Keep the lawn mowed and the shrubbery neatly trimmed.
If a buyer doesn’t like what he sees on the outside of your home he may not even go inside. This is all about creating curb appeal—you don’t need to re-landscape the property, but it should be neat and well manicured. Nothing says “neglect” more than overgrown grass, out-of-control weeds or disorderly shrubs.
You’re getting ready to move and you’re busy, but keep on a regular lawn maintenance schedule throughout the sales process. And while you’re at it—plant some fresh flowers; a little bit of color here and there can go a long way.
It’s a tough market to sell a home in, so look at your home with a critical eye and get ready to fix or replace anything in it that doesn’t look right.
Buying a house? Here are some things you need to do before buying a home.
What are some other home improvement ideas that would be a good idea before selling a home? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!