One of the most common questions I get from people considering selling their home is, “What renovations should I do to raise my home’s value?”
Of course, this is a bit of a loaded question because the answer is to update EVERYTHING! Generally, though, this isn’t realistic or necessary. Factors that need to be taken into account are:
1. Your budget
2. How much time and emotional energy you are willing to put into getting your home ready
3. What the standard is for the neighborhood
4. What will the payoff (Return on Investment – ROI) be.
My suggestions in this article will be the “budget” versions of various updates that will give you the most bang for your buck and have proven time and again to get the highest ROI. If your home is in a luxury neighborhood, these suggestions may need to be amped up to keep up with the surrounding houses. Of course, for customized suggestions, give me a call, and we can discuss your personal scenario.
My Top 7 Money Makers:
Paint, Paint, Paint!
There simply is no better Return on Investment than paint! It’s the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to completely change and update the style of a home. Paint makes everything feel fresh and clean, and it often hides imperfections and makes the whole house more pleasing to the eye in photographs and in person.
The budget for this project has an extensive range – anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $10,000+. If you are willing to do the work yourself, you can save tons of cash, but it will likely take you way longer than having a pro do the job. If you don’t need to paint every room and the exterior, you could also save some major moola.
For the home’s exterior, focus on the paint being fresh. If it was painted in the last 10 years, you might not need to repaint it unless the color is particularly dark or drab. Painting the front door can go a long way in making a home more welcoming!
If you are low on time or money, focus on the entry and main living areas for the interior. These are the areas that typically make the most impact in photos and where the home buyer believes it is the most expensive to correct. First impressions mean everything!
Current styles lean toward light, bright, and neutral. Palettes can be anything from all-white to a mix of grays or even a blend of greiges (warmer grays). My favorite place to find great color suggestions is Pinterest, or ask me, and I’d be happy to help!
I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard home buyers complain that the flooring is outdated, isn’t consistent throughout the home, or is downright dirty. There are so many options these days to make your house’s flooring better that there really isn’t an excuse not to do at least a little something to improve the situation.
Option number 1 for those who have a low budget or the flooring is already updated: Get the floors and carpets cleaned! I just had an entire home steam cleaned for under $300 (ok, the home wasn’t huge, but still!). And what a difference it made! I wouldn’t say the carpets looked brand new because they were quite worn, but I no longer felt gross being in the house, and the carpets no longer stole my attention over the other features in the home. And if you didn’t already know this, one of your goals as a home seller trying to make the most money is not to have your potential buyers feel gross. Moral of the story: cleaning goes a long way.
If you have more of a budget, replacing older flooring throughout the home or in certain areas is recommended. I mentioned earlier that home buyers love when the flooring is consistent throughout a home. I’ve been in homes where literally every room has different flooring. This makes the home feel smaller and gives the home buyer the feeling that they have lots of work to do right when they move in. The trend these days is to have some sort of wood-look flooring throughout the main areas of the home, tile or the wood-look continued in the kitchen, and then carpets in the bedroom. This is a winning combo every time.
There are so many ways to accomplish this look that it doesn’t have to break the bank and will undoubtedly help you achieve a higher sales price and a quicker sale.
Light fixtures and ceiling fans are an easy way to give your house a consistent theme and updated look. There are tons of inexpensive options at the big box stores (ranging from $25-$300 apiece) that can really sell that your house is ready-to-go. If you are handy, this is a project you can do on your own in a couple of weekends. If not, hiring a handyman or electrician will raise the project’s budget, but you’ll still find a terrific ROI at the end of the day.
If you have a room with no overhead lighting, it’s a substantial value-add to add some! Canned lighting is excellent in living rooms and kitchens, chandeliers or statement lighting in dining rooms, and ceiling fans with lights in bedrooms.
Kitchens and bathrooms are the two spots where home buyers know they could spend bookoo-bucks to have them redone. My suggestion is not to gut these spaces if it can be helped and instead make intelligent choices to update them and make them as appealing as possible without breaking the bank.
In the bathrooms, this means changing out the light fixtures, faucets, and mirrors for something that coordinates and is updated. There are tons of choices online and in big box stores.
If budget and time allow, repaint the rooms and fix the vanity. Fixing up the vanity could be as simple as painting it. But sometimes, it means changing the counters and sink or buying a brand new unit.
Since I generally don’t recommend changing out the tub or shower because it’s the most expensive bathroom endeavor, please make sure they are clean. If needed, recaulk the tub/shower enclosure. Scrub the grout, and make it shine as best as possible.
To reduce costs (and time!) in a kitchen renovation, we hopefully want to save the cabinets and keep the same layout. This should be a reasonable expectation unless the cabinets are completely falling apart.
The key items home buyers DON’T want are yellow oak cabinets, mismatched appliances, and tile or laminate counters. If you only could do one thing, get rid of the yellow oak by painting out the cabinets. The safest bet is to go white, but if you have the talent, you could try some of the other color trends like grays, blues, and greens.
Regarding appliances, these will be checked during a home inspection, so first and foremost, we want them operational and safe. Homebuyers also want them pretty. Stainless steel is still the number 1 request. However, if your kitchen has all-white or black appliances, that’s fine. Matching is almost more important than having stainless steel. If you have multiple colors in your kitchen, you will have to make some decisions. Looking for an inexpensive method of replacement? Consider shopping online for used stoves and refrigerators. There are lots of great options at a fraction of the price!
The icing on the cake in the kitchen is the counters. Most home buyers want hard surface counters like quartz or granite. These, of course, are the most expensive options out there. Usually, warehouse discounters may have a limited selection but can cost thousands less for a great look. If it isn’t in the budget to get new counters consider painting laminate counters and getting the grout professionally cleaned for those tile counters.
Front Yard Curb Appeal
I said it before, and I’ll say it again – first impressions are EVERYTHING! Besides opening the front door, driving into the driveway is the second most crucial moment of a property showing. Clean, fresh, and welcoming is the vibe you are going for. Generally, you can spend a little and get a pretty significant transformation in this area.
Start with cleaning up the front yard and making everything presentable. To begin, wash the siding (unless you painted it). Clean the exterior of the windows – this will help curb appeal and indoor natural lighting. Work on making the grass green. Maybe that means extra water and fertilizer, or perhaps it means new seed or sod. Either way, get it green! Clear out any dead or dying plants. If you have a jumble of landscaping, it may be best to remove several plants to freshen things up.
Once the front yard is cleaned, you can start adding elements to make it more welcoming. I mentioned it earlier, but painting the front door is a great way to add a pop of color and/or freshen up the whole curb appeal. Then add a couple of potted plants with color and a new welcome mat. Voila! Brand new entry!
The last couple items on the front yard list include fresh bark, new house numbers, and new exterior lighting. Nothing’s better than freshly barked flower beds! Such an inexpensive project as well. Get some new, larger ones from any big box store if your house numbers are dated. And lastly, if your exterior lights are dated and dingy, getting some new lanterns can really up the curb appeal points.
Our seventh and final area to remodel is your backyard. Like the front yard, this is likely one of the lower-budget projects on the list. The main goal is to help home buyers visualize themselves using the space. If it’s a bramble pile or a completely blank slate, it’s a lot less enticing than a space that has well-designated areas.
So what areas should we designate? The main zones you’ll want to create are spaces for dining, lounging, BBQing, and playing. If you already have a patio or deck, this process is simply about strategically placing furniture. A smaller deck/patio could have the dining set and BBQ on it. Then in the yard, you can add lounge furniture or a firepit. A larger deck/patio could have dining, lounge, and BBQ. A play space could be an existing swimming pool or a grassy area. If you don’t have play equipment, just set up a yard game like Cornhole.
If you just have a big square yard with grass, it would be a great payoff to add a patio of sorts. Pebble or paver patios that you can make yourself are great options to keep the budget in line.
People love the shade, so if you don’t have a shade structure anywhere in the yard, adding a pergola or patio cover will pay off.
Let’s Get Started!
It may seem like a HUGE project to get your home ready for sale. Remember that the items above are suggested to get the optimum price for your home. This doesn’t mean all of these updates and remodels are required to have a presentable and saleable home. Speak with your real estate agent to develop a specific list for your house. It’s never too early to plan, and any reputable real estate agent (myself included!) would be happy to give you suggestions, even if it’s months before you’re planning to move. Give me a call anytime.
Most home sellers research what they need to do to raise the value of their home, but they often forget to find out what things will lower the value of their home.
The following list showcases what home sellers do wrong. Avoid these deal breakers and get your home sold quicker and for more money.
Dirty and Cluttered Home
I feel like the primary reasons home sellers leave their homes cluttered and/or dirty are laziness, the belief they can do the work once they accept an offer or sheer ignorance.
That lazy attitude can literally cost you thousands of dollars!
Imagine if a car dealership tried to sell a used car and they didn’t even clean it up. They would get far less money than the same car that had been detailed, right? The same goes for houses.
Homebuyers are finicky, to say the least. At a minimum, they want to be able to see the space they are purchasing and not think about how much clean-up work they are going to need to do before moving in.
As a home seller, the goal is to move. So why not start by sorting through belongings and packing? It accomplishes two things. You’re prepped to move, and the house will show better.
The Home Smells Bad
Have you seen those air freshener commercials where people are nose blind? They can’t smell their own house smells because they live in it.
Unfortunately, everyone else can smell it! People are always concerned that they won’t be able to remove smelly odors. And stink is not what people want to purchase or live with.
Ask your real estate agent if there are any smells you need to get rid of before you list. Then do the work they suggest.
Even if you don’t have any cat litter, dog, or trash smells, it is worth your while to get a couple of air fresheners for the home. Crisp and fresh scents work best – like fresh linen or lavender. Simple and not too flowery. Just fresh.
Too Many Types of Flooring
Yep, this is a real thing. It used to be the trend that every room had a different theme and, therefore, another type or color of flooring. Or sometimes, through the years, various sections of the home needed new flooring, but an exact match couldn’t be found, so the house ended up with all types of flooring.
Visually this is difficult for the eye. And it also makes it challenging to decorate a home. Thus the trend has become to have consistent flooring throughout the house.
Anytime a home buyer believes that they will need to do a project on their new home, they start imagining inflated dollar signs. Almost always, they overestimate the cost of the project. And where do they take that money from? The sales price of the home, of course.
The good news is that new flooring is a great value add. You don’t need to pick a top-of-the-line flooring to get the most bang for your buck—quite the opposite, and consistency matters more than quality.
A common trend is to have carpet in the bedrooms and wood or wood-look flooring throughout the rest of the home. There are many options, so consult your realtor about what they think.
Dark or Bold Paint Colors
I love unique and personalized homes! However, most home buyers aren’t imaginative and have an inflated version of what projects cost.
If you have dark or bold paint choices, you may want to consider repainting those spaces with a lighter, more neutral palette.
Paint is one of the least expensive, most effective changes a homeowner can make to their home. You’ll appeal to more home buyers by neutralizing your home, which ultimately gets you more offers and more money.
One of my biggest pet peeves is real estate agents who don’t hire professional photographers! You, my friend, are paying big bucks to hire an expert to help you sell your home. Don’t be fooled by the real estate agent who takes the pictures themselves.
There is no way you can take the same quality pictures on an iPhone as you can with actual photography equipment.
I’ve seen many homes being marketed with dark photos, bad angles, too few photos, people in reflections, and more. Ugh. So bad!!
The worst part is that most of the time, the home sellers have worked so hard to get their home ready for sale. The house is perfect – but the pictures aren’t.
Almost all home buyers are shopping online, and the first thing they see are the pictures. If the photos are bad, they zoom right past the home and are on to the next one in less than 20 seconds. If the photos are appealing, they study them. You want to be the home that is studied, not passed!
Being passed up means few showings. Fewer showings mean fewer (or no) offers.
Short or Vague Description
How many homebuyers do you think this description attracts?
3 bedrooms, 2 baths in established neighborhood.
Believe it or not, I see many descriptions just like this. Or worse. And I don’t understand how a home seller believes this is acceptable or worthy.
The description is an opportunity to evoke feelings in a home buyer. Feelings that make them want to view the home and own the home.
It’s a chance to describe things about the home and neighborhood that they might not know just by looking at the pictures. Maybe there is an excellent spot for a home office. Or there is the best restaurant in town within a 5-minute walk. Perhaps the backyard deck offers fantastic sunsets every night. These are the types of things that home buyers want to know.
Rather than losing out on home buyers and money, sit down with your realtor and brainstorm ideas about what attracted you to this home and what may attract future owners.
Need More Help?
Knowing what not to do is just the beginning. If you are considering selling your property, please consider giving me a call. We can discuss your plans, your particular scenario, address your concerns, and the best options for you and your family.