Make improvements to your home before putting it on the market?

Now is the time of year when many of you are considering improvements to your home and some of you have thoughts of putting your home on the market. I know that so many of you have waited for the market to recover with prices re-bounding. The time has come for the real estate rebound and now you are having a reality check as you walk through your home. We all save way too much stuff! That is a given. The good news is that there are so many services today that will help you downsize without you lifting a finger. These companies are packing and sorting companies and my clients have had great success using their services. They are affordable, bonded, and know how to organize this thinning out process without the chaos and frustration we would experience if taking on this project without professional help. Some of you are fortunate and have family to assist so it may be time to sound the call to those in your family ready willing and able to help.

The question is what to take and what to leave. If you haven’t used something in the last two years, it may be time to part with that item. Of course, you want to keep heirlooms and antiques as well as heart felt items. These companies will help you make decisions as to what you want to part and what to leave to help with a future appearance of your home. Remember that a vacant home is difficult to sell and will sell for much less than a home with furniture that is nicely staged.

Now on to the fixes and repairs. There are many ways to sell your home. If you want to get a fair price and are willing to present your home to the public as a well-kept and structurally sound home, you may want to consider some updates. First and most important are structural issues. It is imperative that you address the following if in need of repair: basement, roof, furnace, electric and plumbing.

Basement; have a Senior Real Estate Specialist view your home. We as professionals are trained to spot warning signs as to basement issues. If we spot a wall that is cracked horizontally, or step cracks with ‘sheering’ (where the wall is shifted), we will suggest a basement inspection. This can be done by a structural engineer or by inspection services that are known by all Realtors who are independent from basement contractors. If it is determined that your basement needs repair…do it! The worst outcomes are the result of a seller offering a credit to fix a bad basement. It is like trying to sell a car with a cracked engine block…the buyer will run to the next car as fast as they can!

Electric; todays standards for electrical service is 100 amp minimum with circuit breakers. If you have fuses, and it is 60 amp service, have it upgraded. The average cost to do so is $1300. You will have to upgrade anyway as most insurance companies will not insure a home today with 60 amp service.

Plumbing: If you have a leak or the plumbing was done by someone other than a licensed plumber I would suggest calling a plumber to inspect and repair if needed.

Furnace: Have your furnace checked and cleaned prior to putting your home on the market. If repair or replacement is necessary spend the money and do what is needed. Keep the paperwork from the contractor so you can share with a potential buyer.

Roof: If the shingles are ‘blistered’, meaning that they are getting thicker in areas and the naked eye can see these defective shingles, have a roofing contractor inspect the roof. If there is little life left to the roof, I would suggest replacing as your home will show much better on a drive-by, and your potential buyer will not walk away from the sale when it shows up on the buyer’s home inspection. If you try to sell with a roof that needs replacing, the buyer will go with the highest possible estimate to ‘cover’ themselves. So, for esthetics and to avoid this negative view from a buyer, it would be best to replace if needed before marketing to the public.

Interior: You can sell as is, but make sure it is neat, clean, and uncluttered. If you have carpeting that is worn, replace it with neutral carpeting. Many times under the carpet you will find hardwood flooring. Today’s buyers love hardwood. So you could have it sanded and re-finished and your sales price will show the difference! If drapes are old, vertical blinds are the answer. They are relatively inexpensive and will give your home a great look. Look at your kitchen and bath flooring. If permanently stained or torn, I would suggest replacing with relatively inexpensive flooring that shows off the wood in your kitchen. As for the bathrooms, a new vanity can upgrade instantly as well as a new tub surround if your ceramic or plastic tiling is loose or unattractive.

Professional Staging: If you are looking for top dollar when you sell and all of your structural issues are solved, then I would strongly urge you to invite a professional stager into your home. These interior magicians can help you transform your home using your furniture (they can cover inexpensively), and suggest paint colors and flooring that appeal to today’s young buyers. They will help position the furniture and for vacant homes they will supply the furniture by rental. I have seen homes sell for as much as 30-40% more than they would have if sold as is. They also sell quickly. For a $200,000 home that can be up to $80,000 more than ‘as is’!

Well, I have  covered a lot of ground. For many of you my suggestions may or may not be possible as funds may be few and far between. If you have significant equity in your home, I would suggest checking into a home equity loan which may be much more reasonable than you may think. With interest rates as low as 4% for this type of loan, borrowing this money on the short term may be just the answer you are looking for. Check with your bank and investigate the terms and qualification for this financing.

Your home will sell in any market. It just is a matter of final sales price. Take some time to think about what type of result you are looking for when you sell your home. I hope that my tips for preparation will guide you to the result you will expect when it is time to sell your home. If selling your home is not in your immediate future, you may be well served by starting this transformation today. Breaking up your preparation into small projects can start the process so that when it is time to sell you don’t go into the panic stage. I wish you the best and hope that my information is both useful and understandable. You can always call me to discuss any issues from my articles at 262-242-6177 or you can email at: