Sure we know this inherently, but a house is an investment. It may not feel that way all the time and resonate in our busy minds each day, but all of a sudden, after years of living there, the thought of your home’s value hits you upside the head.
Hopefully, if you’ve practiced good home maintenance over the years you can now focus on aesthetic changes to maximize value. These shouldn’t cost a fortune because many are typical do-it-yourself projects.
Deferred maintenance and cosmetic updates
All the cosmetic updates in the world won’t make a house that’s in poor overall maintenance or condition look any prettier. Sure, if you choose those repairs carefully you can realize a handsome sum at closing. If the house has major problems however, such as with the roof or heating system, you may end up having to make some adjustments on final sales price or during the escrow period and after due diligence making some repairs.
If you suspect there may be problems with your house, hire a home inspector to come in a do a thorough check prior to listing it for sale. It’s worth the cost because it may allow you to head off major issues in the future with a buyer. Home repairs that I see come up on inspections over and over again, which buyers routinely expect to be made prior to closing, and that may increase value if I might add, include:
- Plumbing repairs
- Updating electrical system
- Repairing damaged floors
- This would also include: leaking faucets, torn window screens and damaged countertops. You may have been able to live with these details, but a buyer will notice them.
- Roofing repairs
- HVAC deferred maintenance and repairs
- Septic system: how long since last pumped or inspected?
Did you know that well maintained, clean houses, sell faster and for more money than dirty ones? Buyers like houses that have been well cared for and a clean house looks like a maintained house. I had a buyer who was an engineer one time during a showing check the air filter to see if it had been changed recently. He said that something like that showed him how well the seller care for the home, or not.
Buyers also place a higher value on houses that appear to be move in ready!
Part of being move in ready is the condition of the paint in a home. Painting the walls creates an instant transformation in a number of ways. Paint adds a fresh feeling and an empty canvass for that buyer. It also makes a home look and smell cleaner. Keep to neutral colors on the color wheel, as they appeal to a broader segment of buyers.
Update the kitchen
As always, anything you spend in a kitchen (or bathroom), will come back to you in increased value. For this reason, kitchens are the most important room in terms of enhancing the return on the investment in your home. Attention to some of these kitchen details can add to the home’s value.
- Replace lighting fixtures. If you can, never a bad idea to add can lights. Above all, get rid of florescent lighting!
- Put in new cabinets if you have the budget, but at the very least, replace the existing hardware. Paint those cabinets to transform the room! I’ve seen old dark wood cabinets that seemed to suck the natural light out of a room, painted white and it created a welcoming space where before, it was a drudge.
- Replace old appliances. New appliances make a good impression on prospective buyers. Go with inexpensive stainless steel. Trust me, they make an impression to buyers today.
- Upgrade the faucet
- Depending on your price range, you might get new granite countertops or a ‘faux’ granite laminate. This will allow that new faucet to stand out!
Update the bathrooms
Nothing kills buyer interest quicker than a dirty outdated bathroom. Thoroughly cleaning the bathroom(s) and painting the walls provides an immediate transformation, but there’s more you can do that will add value:
- Install new lighting. New fixtures can create a statement!
- Replace old sink, shower and bath faucets with new decorative faucets.
- Install new towel racks.
- In the Master Bath, replace shower door.
- Re-caulk the tub and sink to freshen their appearance.
- Replace mirrors and medicine cabinets with a decorative mirror.
- Do some staging! Hang new towels and add throw rugs that compliment the space.
Last, but so not least, the curb appeal
Make sure your home’s exterior is inviting to potential buyers. Here are some general considerations:
- Clean up the yard. Remove toys, trash, leaves, and dead plants.
- Clean the front porch by making sure there are no cobwebs on the light fixtures, sweeping and applying a fresh coat of paint to the front door and trim!
- Keep the lawn mowed. If it’s discolored, de-thatch, and fertilize.
- At the right time of the year, plan to trim trees and prune perennials to make them look tidier during the growing seasons.
- Add container plants to the porch or next to the front door.
- Add surprising pops of color with seasonal flowers.
- Apply fresh mulch to the beds.
- Plant trees. According to the U.S. Forestry Service, trees increase property values by as much as 10 percent.
Keeping a perspective on all the work that you do in, on or around your home is important. Focus on the kinds of improvements that will enhance the return on investment, and bear in mind that improvements should be appropriate for the your neighborhood. While your aim should be to have the most attractive home on the block, don’t over-improve for your neighborhood.