Buyers only get one first look at a property, and they don't want to use their imagination. They assume the house they see is as good as it's going to get. If you want your home to sell, step out of your comfort zone and think like a buyer. Here are three ways to help you turn your house into the home of someone else's dreams. We've broken down each category into low-cost, "Basic" tips and tricks, and an "All-Out" blow-the-budget transformation. How far you take it is up to you.
No one likes a ditty house, and your what "lived in" is to you might be someone else's "messy." When in doubt, clean. It's the least expensive way to improve your home's initial appeal, and it's a good way to get a jump-start on your move.
Basic: The first thing you need to do is de-clutter. If your moving company offers storage, this is the time to use it. Extra furniture, oddball art, pots and pans that don't fit in the kitchen—it all needs to go. Don't go overboard—your house should still look like a home. It just needs to be airy enough for a buyer to put his or her mental imprint on it. Your hackey sack collection from college won't help. Next up is a good, solid scrubbing. Spend a weekend washing the floors, baseboards, and bathrooms. Be sure to get the tops of cabinets and corners behind furniture. Clean every piece of glass in the building. Too many people ruin a pristine home with spotty mirrors and doors. Don't forget the outside of the house. Hose down your exterior walls and driveway, trim the lawn and hedges, and remove any trash cans and clutter from sight. If your neighbors are less-than-tidy, you might want to offer them some free help, as well. And while you're cleaning the garage, wash your cars, too. They make an impression.
All-Out: If you have money to spend, install space-saving storage solutions in the garage, kitchen, and bathroom to reduce clutter. Consider paying a service to do the deep cleaning you're bound to miss. Rent a pressure washer for the driveway or (if it's a real mess and you're feeling generous), repave.
Part of the joy of buying a new home is starting with a clean slate. No one wants to buy an existing to-do list of nagging little fix-its. Making small fixes now can put the buyer's mind at ease.
Basic: Focus on inexpensive, highly-visible problems. Doorbells, window glass, cabinet handles, and holes in walls are all easy to spot and cheap to fix.
All-Out: Take aim at long-term maintenance projects, such as pool pumps, water heaters, and air conditioning servicing. Buyers probably won't notice these on their own, but your agent can call attention to these facts to help reduce worries about long-term costs.
Buyers like to see what they're viewing. Good lighting, vivid color, and a few visual cues can go a long way toward making your home a memorable one.
Basic: Repaint interior walls, particularly those in the bathroom, kitchen, and extremely bright areas. White walls are particularly important, as they get dingy quickly. Replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents, which put brighter lights in your existing sockets while saving money. Tie back curtains to let in the maximum amount of sun, which makes a house look more inviting than artificial light. Spruce up empty or colorless zones with potted plants. They add character to a room, but are obviously disposable if a buyer dislikes them. Repaint your front door, mailbox, and any street numbers.
All-Out: Repainting the entire interior if it's been more than a few years since the last paint job. Install additional lighting in cabinets and closets. Add new cabinet doors and countertops.
What Not to Do
While you can certainly overspend on any of the above suggestions, their value is well-established. Making a home cleaner, better-functioning, and more attractive is a no-brainer. However, some improvements can go too far, and actually hurt your investment. As a general rule, don't build for the sake of building. Bigger isn't always better, and if you take a project too far, you risk going in a direction the buyer will have to undo. For example, adding an extra bedroom might seem like a great investment, but a retired couple may prefer to use that space to install a pool in the back yard. Upgrade the home you have, but don't try to make it something else.
By Cormac Foster
This is not the opinion of Brad Bergamini, Realty Executives Northern Arizona or any of its affiliates. This post is for informational purpose only and is not guaranteed and does not render as legal advice. Buying and selling Real Estate in Arizona or Prescott Arizona is a serious task and should be consulted with personally with Realtor or Real Estate Attorney. Please visit my website for contact information