Easy Ways to Spruce Up Your Home for Buyers
Now that the weather is warmer and home-buying season is in full swing, many Americans are likely looking for ways to touch up their property before putting it on the market. Unfortunately, for too many homeowners, there’s not very much extra cash on hand to spend on home improvement projects, even if it will pay dividends in the end by helping the sale of the home.
“A lot of folks I deal with now have little to no equity, so finding the funds to make big improvements is pretty tough,” said Paul Campano, senior sales associate at Keller Williams Realty. To make matters worse, Campano notes that we are still in a buyer’s market, which means homeowners have to work harder to emphasize the value of their property in order to make the sale.
Fortunately, homeowners don’t always have to spend tens of thousands of dollars redoing the roof or adding extra rooms in order to attract prospective buyers. Sometimes, it only takes a few basic tweaks to leave a great impression.
With that in mind, MainStreet spoke with several real estate professionals to find out simple and cost-efficient steps homeowners can take to make their property more desirable on the market.
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Prominent Address Numbers
Replacing the address numbers on the front of your house may be the simplest step of any on this list, but it’s arguably the most important. Installing numbers that are big and stylish enough to stand out can be a determining factor in whether buyers stop at your house or not.
“After you list your space on the market, people often do drive-bys before they decide to see the property. If they can’t find your house number, they won’t make an appointment to see your space,” said Julie Chrissis, a home staging expert who works with Chrissis and Company.
Fortunately, consumers can make this change for next to no cost, as stores like Home Depot sell individual numbers for as little as $5 a piece.
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Deck Out the Entrance
As with most things, it’s essential to make a good first impression when showing your home, and for most properties that means taking care of the front yard and entrance.
“First impressions mean so much. When a buyer gets out of the car and sees that the grass isn’t cut or the leaves aren’t raked, it sets the stage for what they expect from the rest of the home,” said Kit Hale, regional vice president of the National Association of Realtors.
As part of this, Hale and others recommend sprucing up the front of the property by trimming the grass, placing potted flowers along the entrance and power washing shutters on the house to emphasize the fact that the property is well taken care of.
But homeowners should also consider going above and beyond these quick cleanups if they really want to make a lasting impression on buyers. Hale suggests committing a few hundred dollars to install a nice wooden front door, and for those who have porches, to place a nice rocking chair or porch swing in front.
“All of this gives off the feeling of warmth to the buyer,” Hale said.
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Repaint and Re-glaze Rooms
Even if you can’t afford to break down walls or completely remodel rooms, you can still make the rooms in your house pop just by repainting the walls and re-glazing the floors.
As Hale puts it, “just because lime green is your favorite color doesn’t mean it’s the prospective buyer’s favorite color.” Instead, he and other real estate professionals recommend taking the time to paint the walls yourself with lighter, brighter colors, or to be safe, with neutral colors like white or beige.
At the same time, homeowners can improve the look and feel of their home by re-glazing the tiles or floors in the kitchen, bathrooms and elsewhere, a process where one strips the color off the surface and touches it up with a new design. According to Chrissis, the process typically costs a couple hundred dollars and is much more cost-effective than trying to rip out the tile or flooring altogether.
Photo Credit: Anika Malone
New Countertops and Hardware
While buyers may seek out homes based on the square footage or the total number of rooms, at the end of the day, the deciding factor for many may be the kitchen.
\Most of the real estate experts we spoke with argued that the kitchen is in fact the most important room in the house, rivaled only by the master bedroom, both because the kitchen is the place where the family is most likely to congregate during the course of a busy day, and also because of the costs associated with renovating it after purchasing the home.
“As soon as someone walks into a kitchen that looks dated, all that comes into the buyer’s head are dollar signs about fixing it up,” Chrissis said.
Home sellers can leave a better impression by installing new countertops in the kitchen, which can cost as little as $100-$200, and replacing the hardware on the cabinets for as little as $5 to $10. In particular, homeowners might consider installing granite countertops and brushed nickel hardware.
Not only does this make the kitchen look newer during a walk-through, but as Chrissis notes, it also makes the room that much better to photograph when listing your property.
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Clean Bathtub and Better Showerhead
While the bathroom isn’t quite as important as the kitchen, an old, grimy bathroom could still prove to be a deal breaker for buyers.
Campano recommends every homeowner take the time to thoroughly scrub their bathtubs and add nice smelling scents to the rooms to completely rid it of any grungy appearance. Beyond this, homeowners might consider installing a more powerful showerhead, which usually costs less than $100, to make the shower look newer, as well as replacing the countertops and hardware in these rooms as well.
Photo Credit: Joe Shlabotnik
If there’s a golden rule of showing a home or apartment, it’s that the owner should tidy up and remove the excess clutter from the place in order to emphasize the space itself.
“Ask yourself if there is a chair blocking the doorway or a television blocking the fireplace. If so, then move it,” Chrissis said. Likewise, if one has extra clothes or accessories lying around, it may give the buyer the impression that there isn’t enough closet space in the home, which could be a turnoff.
But that doesn’t mean homeowners should empty the space of everything they own.
“If the place looks lived in that’s good; if the place looks vacant, that can be really bad,” Campano said. “When you have a place that’s vacant, it’s hard to envision the space. You need to have a couple things in there that can show what it would look like so that the buyers can envision themselves in the property.”
Photo Credit: Fred Hsu
While it’s good to leave a little of yourself in the home when showing it, families should be careful not to leave too many photographs or paintings that may distract the buyers on their walkthrough of the property.
“It’s good to have some pictures of the family, for example, as long as they are nondescript,” Chrissis said. “You don’t want people looking at the photos and not at the house.”
That means limiting the number of catchy photos from your family trip to Paris, or of a family member’s extravagant wedding. In the same way, Chrissis argues homeowners should avoid leaving any eye-catching paintings, sculptures or other collector’s items out. They may be your pride and joy, but at the end of the day, the buyer may find themselves talking more about the unusual item they saw in the house and forgetting the house itself, leaving you high and dry with only your collector’s item (and an unsold house) to keep you warm at night.
Photo Credit: gruntzooki
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