As a realtor, part of my job is to help clients get the most value from their home when they sell it. All of my suggestions are always based on the foundation that clients should spend the LEAST amount of money necessary to get the MOST value when they sell. This DOES NOT mean that the client will spend the least amount of money-that would be a sale where NO money is spent by the homeowner and usually called an as is sale(which is sometimes what I recommend anyhow). For example, this DOES mean that I advise my clients to NOT spend $40,000 for a remodeled kitchen because you will NOT recoup that value when you sell the home.
Here is a list of things that in general can / should be done in order to maximize the value of your home when you sell it.
Use a Real Estate Agent: To a select small group of the general public known as FSBO’s (for sale by owner) they do not follow this advice.
Professional FULL-TIME real estate agents do this for a living. They are aware of the ins and outs of the market because they follow it daily and make their livelihoods from that knowledge. You can look up your medical symptoms online and come up with a pretty good self diagnosis for your illness, but when push comes to shove and your life could potentially be on the line, aren’t you going to find the best professional possible? Your home should be no different. For most of us, it is the most valuable assets that we own and for all intents and purposes our financial life depends on it. Shouldn’t you find the best professional possible to take care of it for you? FSBO’s are consistently a very small percentage of the resale market. Why do you think that is? There are many savvy home owners who have fancy degrees, multiple properties, and maybe are even full time real estate investors, BUT even full time investors usually use an agent to sell their home for them. There has to be a reason, right? Think about it. If an investor whose livelihood depends on extracting maximum value from a property is using a real estate agent, what makes the average homeowner think they shouldn’t?
Price It Right the First Time: This might seem obvious, but this does NOT mean price it as high as possible the first time. Value for seller can come in many forms-with the ultimate goal for most sellers is to get the most money at the conclusion of the sale. For example:
If the seller has already moved out of the home and it is vacant. He has already bought another home. Every day he does NOT sell the home, he is paying a carrying cost (usually a mortgage payment, property taxes, or utilities, but could include advertising costs, staging costs etc. In general, if the seller overprices his home he has already potentially lost 10-40% of his buyer pool. Now you MIGHT get away with it in a seller’s market if rising pricing catches up to the overpriced listing, BUT you might not and you still LOSE the carrying costs because of time and potentially might lose your buyer pool anyhow. Overpricing a home in a buyers market is the kiss of death for a home. You are playing catch-up the whole time and losing potential buyers, and carrying costs all the way down, all the while increasing the inventory of homes you are competing against.
Deep Clean It: This might sound obvious enough, but a quick look through any listings provider like Zillow or Redfin and you are guaranteed to find some awful, disgusting, and even frightening listing photos. No one wants to see rings around your toilet bowl, or pink slime stains in the shower, or dirty bathroom vents, or dirty plantation shutters, or open a smelly closet, refrigerator. In fact, no one wants to smell anything other than clean and fresh when they come to view your home. Don’t forget to clean the windows! A bright home sells almost always sells better so make sure potential buyers see as much sunlight as possible without having to look through a filthy window. If you are selling your car and want to get the most money possible, wouldn’t you give it a car wash and get the bird poop off your windshield? Wouldn’t you vacuum the mats, and wipe down wheels to make them as shiney as possible to make the car look as new and in as good a condition as possible so you can get the most value for it? Most homes are worth a whole lot more than most cars. Please get a proper professional cleaning before selling your home.
Stage It: Yes, even sometimes an owner who is a decorator might get some advice for me to stage their home. Why? Because the goal of selling the home is to get the potential buyer to feel and imagine that the home is already theirs. We want to appeal to the largest audience of buyers possible or to the targeted audience as much as possible. In order to successfully accomplish this, we usually want to present the home in a neutral palette and design. Meaning no jarring colored walls or decorations or furniture-even if that nude painting is worth a gazillion dollars it does not usually help sell the home. Or if your taste in decor is more Addams Family than Main Street, that might be great for your enjoyment while living there, BUT that does NOT help to sell the home – of course unless you are targeting that specific type of buyer.
A few thousand dollars is very well spent money to extract the most value from your home when selling it. The return is usually multiple or exponential the investment, unlike most large remodeling costs which rarely if ever even break even on the investment costs.
Do Some Small Remodeling/Repairs: Replacing out dated appliances or putting on a fresh coat of paint inside and outside the home are both relatively minor costs and can make a big difference in the overall feel of the home. Repairing and repainting old water stained ceiling/walls is usually a good idea. Obviously any holes in walls, broken windows or window screens, broken/damaged doors, are all minor costs that can go a long way in adding value to the home. Even freshening up the landscaping, getting rid of weeds in the lawn, reseeding the lawn, trimming the bushes, planting some blooming colorful flowers improves curb appeal with minimal costs and effort.
List the home contingent free: Homes that are contingent upon the seller finding a replacement property almost always take longer to sell and turn away many potential buyers. Be willing to temporarily move somewhere else if you must, but make the sale of your home contingent free. This makes it a cleaner and easier transaction and gives the buyer less reason to walk away from the deal.