So you’ve decided it’s time to move out of your home and into a new one. That means you’re about to enter the housing market as you prepare to list your home for sale. For some sellers, this can be a complicated and time-consuming proposition as they have to get the home ready to show potential buyers. The goal, of course, is to get top dollar for your current home and, if you’re lucky, the home will have appreciated in value during the course of your time residing there. You can have an appraiser come in and check the place out to give you a ballpark figure as to what the house is truly worth at the time that you’re thinking of selling.
But even before you get that appraisal, there are some steps you can take to maximize the value of your home and make the most profit possible on a sale. It begins with putting together a smart and straightforward strategy towards remodeling, updating, even cleaning the dwelling in order to make it more attractive to potential buyers. That might require a little bit of research on your part by determining what components and elements are most desirable in the current climate of the market. It could be anything from rooms that have an open floor plan to simple decor accents.
Consulting with your realtor can help identify which improvements will add real value to the home versus those that might just be a waste of time and money. But when you decide that it’s time to start making the necessary refurbishments, having that game plan in place before you begin will be the most efficient method towards getting the home ready for the market while ensuring the highest amount of additional profit once you sell.
Your remodeling and improvement plan should take into account all of the projects you want to complete throughout the house. Explore each room and identify the areas that you feel could use work, whether it is just some minimal sprucing up or a dramatic change. Write it all down so you have a discernible list of things that need to get accomplished as part of your plan. Don’t worry about censoring yourself yet either, just jot everything down no matter how outlandish it may seem at the moment. You never know which of these improvements could add real value to the home and which ones are entirely superfluous.
That’s where your realtor comes in: He or she will be the expert on those matters. Just be sure not to get any wild ideas that are bound to break the bank. You’re moving out of this place and your tastes may not be the same as those of your potential buyer. Once you’ve completed your task of brainstorming, review all your ideas and get the realtor’s opinion on which areas need the most work and what can be left alone. Update your to-do list with the necessities and you’re ready to go.
This all may sound a little bit overwhelming and it can certainly be a lot to handle at first, but we’re here to make things easier. Before you do a walk-through to find the areas that could use some work, check out our list of the 15 ways to maximize the value of your home before you sell. These are the most common things homeowners usually consider when they’re making a plan for remodeling. Some of these may apply to your situation, some may not, but all of them could prove highly beneficial in getting you the highest purchase price once the house hits the market.
1. Start Outside
The inside of your home may be immaculate and gorgeous, but if the exterior is far from either then you’ve done all of that work for nothing. So the best place to begin is outside. When buyers (or anyone for that matter) show up to your home, what’s the very first thing they see? That’s why you want to make sure your home is making the best possible first impression.
Improving the curb appeal of your home might be as simple as putting up a new coat of paint to give your home a fresh, vibrant look. Be careful about what color you select, though. Fewer people are going to buy a pink home than those who might opt for something in a neutral beige or cream. It might be as simple as heading over to Home Depot and discussing color ideas with one of their paint experts or talk to your realtor to see what he or she thinks you should select to make the house more appealing to potential buyers.
Paint is only one part of the equation, however. You’ll also want to check the exterior of your home for any damage or wear and tear that needs repairing. The materials that were used in the construction of your home may show specific signs of disrepair that will need attention and the cost to make those fixes will likely depend upon what was used in the building of your home and the scale of repairs needed. Small improvements may not look like much but they will make a huge difference when buyers come around to inspect the house. There’s no need to devote a massive portion of your budget to make these small refurbishments, but if there are serious issues pointing to rot or termites, then you may have a bigger job on your hands.
2. Don’t Forget to Landscape
The outside appearance of your home can be greatly affected by the landscaping surrounding it. Be sure you put as much time and effort into bushes, shrubs, trees, any greenery you might have around the property. You would be surprised how much of an increased return you can get on investing some of your budget into pruning and cutting. Buyers don’t want to see an unkempt landscape obscuring the home and they certainly won’t be impressed with a lawn that’s overgrown and full of weeds. So cut the grass, trim those trees, eliminate the gnarled branches, and get those shrubs under control to give the exterior of the house a cleaner and neater look from the start.
These improvements can also prevent any exterior damage being done to the house in the form of falling limbs that are in dire need of cutting down or roots that are coming up from the beneath the surface of your lawn. Too many sellers neglect to invest in landscaping when looking to improve the value of their home, but it’s one of the most important places to consider for improvement.
3. Get an Inspector
Not every home improvement you may have to make will be for cosmetic purposes. Call an inspector to take a look at the roof, the foundations, and the overall structural integrity of your house. An inspector can find and diagnose problems that you can’t see or didn’t even know to look for previously. He or she can also pinpoint any potential problems that might arise should you not act now to avoid them becoming larger issues later.
The first thing to do before you start any type of home improvement remodeling project is clean up. Get all of the personal clutter and excessive detritus out the door. You’ve done spring cleaning before, now it is time to do it to the extreme. This is the part of the process where you start to depersonalize your home. You want to make it as neutral as possible so that your potential buyers can have an easier time of imagining themselves living there instead of seeing you living there.
The best way to do this is to make the home look as much like a model home as possible. The fewer knick-knacks, tchotchkes, artwork, and other personal touches of yours, the better for helping you sell the home. Clear out old closets and purge the junk and other unused stuff from your garage. This is probably a good time to start emptying what you don’t want anymore from the basement and attic as well.
Throw it all in the front yard and have a garage sale and make a few extra bucks on the stuff. Just do it before you start showing the house to buyers. This will also come in handy for when you start packing up to eventually move out once the home has been sold; less stuff to have to carry out to the moving van.
Once you’ve gotten the clutter out, start cleaning. Give everything a good scrubbing, you won’t be remodeling every room in the house so find the areas where dirt and grime have accumulated and wipe it all down. Wash the counters, the floors, the bathrooms, clean the house as if you were getting it ready for family to visit for Thanksgiving. A sparkling home is going to appeal to buyers.
5. Start in the Kitchen
When you’re trying to decide which room to begin with when making home improvements and upgrades, the answer is always the kitchen. Ask any realtor – the one room that can make or break a home for a potential buyer is the kitchen as it’s the area of the house that is often used the most by every member of the family. A kitchen is not only where meals are made, but it’s where they are usually eaten. Think of the last party or gathering you attended at a friend’s house and the kitchen is likely where you and the other guests spent the most time mingling together.
The kitchen is the center of any home so it’s absolutely crucial that you upgrade and update it for today’s buyers. This can mean new faucets, cabinetry, maybe some window treatments. Just make sure that everything in the kitchen is working properly and don’t go overboard with updating the appliances or putting in marble counter-tops. Buyers may be turned off by what they perceive as items that have been added merely to drive up the sale price and you can run the risk that they won’t like the look of these things anyway. Just find that delicate balance between making the kitchen look new and functional and going above and beyond with superfluous improvements that are unnecessary.
6. Next Head to the Bathrooms
Buyers put a heavy importance on the condition of the bathrooms in their home as well. As much as they want to see a clean and shiny kitchen, buyers put a high priority on the state of the bathroom when deciding on whether or not to purchase a home. Sellers who are looking to find additional value would be well-advised to turn their attention to every bathroom in the house to make sure they are all functioning correctly. Faucets, drains (make sure they’re not clogged), cabinets, mirrors – everything need to be in tiptop shape. If something is cracked, fix it. Check the grout in the floors, give the tub a look to see if the caulk needs updating, get those hard water stains out of the shower stall. Again, there’s no need to redo every bathroom in the house from top to bottom, just find the small details that need repairing, paint the walls, and update fixtures where necessary and you’re done.
7. Let There Be Light
There’s nothing less appealing to buyers than a house that doesn’t seem to be lit very well, unless you’re selling to a family of vampires. Lighting will not only make the house appear more vibrant but it will also enhance the way it looks to the naked eye. It’s all about good lighting and if your home has it, then you’re ahead of the game. But if you’ve lived in the same home for over fifteen years, it might be time to update the fixtures or even replace them if they’ve grown dirty, stained, or if any of the covers have been cracked.
Depending on how much work needs to be done, this could represent a considerable portion of your remodeling budget. You can also look for alternative ways to light certain areas such as installing skylights or sun tubes instead of expensive electrical fixtures.
8. Paint the House
Take a good look around and ask yourself: Which of the rooms in your house could really use a fresh coat of paint? If you’ve been in the house for a long period of time, it could be a majority of them. How about the kids’ rooms? Have your little ones badly marred and scuffed the walls? Painting a room is the quickest and cheapest way to update it without putting a lot of time and money into refurbishments. Sometimes all it takes is a little paint and you’re finished in that space.
Much like you did with the exterior of the house, consider more neutral colors for repainting each room. If your daughter decided she had to paint her room bright orange when she was nine years old and it stayed that color all the way until she left for college, then you’ll definitely want to repaint it. You don’t want buyers to talk about your house as the one with the orange bedroom when they discuss it with their realtor.
9. Hit the Floor
Another area that will attract or repel any potential buyer is the state of the floors. While it’s true that we don’t necessarily look down when we first enter a house, the eye will eventually wander down to that part of the square footage of each room. If it looks old or is in a state of significant disrepair, that can drive down the price of your home. If you have hardwood surfaces, then make sure they’re not excessively scraped up or dirty. Old stains and worn spots on wall to wall carpeting can make your home look ugly and buyers will notice it almost immediately.
10. Lower Your Energy Bill
Finding ways to make your home more energy conscious will go a long way to convincing buyers to make an offer. Inspect your current fixtures to see if you can replace them with more energy efficient models. Saving money appeals to everyone and it can maximize the value of your home if the new owners can keep more money in their pocket when the electricity bill shows up. Energy efficient lighting and ceiling fans are a great place to start.
11. Get to Those Maintenance Jobs
Every house has them – little maintenance jobs that need to be done yet no ever seems to have the time. Well now is that time so turn your attention to those nagging issues that you’ve lived with for weeks, perhaps even months, and finally cross them off your to-do list. It could be that creaky hinge on the door, the spackling job in the garage, or fixing that dripping faucet. Whatever you’ve been putting off until later needs to be handled now.
Not every house is going to need to do this, but for some homes it might be a smart idea. Going green is a great way to save money (we just discussed upgrading to more energy efficient fixtures in the house), and putting solar panels on the house could make it a lot more appealing to buyers who are interested not just in saving money on their utility costs but helping the environment as well. Consult with your realtor before you make this decision as it could be costly, but it may just be a smart upgrade to implement before you put the home on the market.
13. New Additions
This project may also be up for debate with your realtor, but adding a new deck or patio to the back of the house or even an awning or porch at the front could dramatically increase the value of your home. Exterior upgrades can be expensive, but they can also make a big difference in the look and feel of the house. Everyone loves having a deck in their back yard, so you won’t turn off too many buyers by installing one, and when you’re trying to get in the front door in the rain, an awning will be a nice thing to have overhead to help keep you dry.
14. Getting Better Air
One of the best ways to improve the value of your home is to improve the quality of the air inside of it. That means checking out carpets and other areas that can hold harmful airborne contaminants that you will continue to breathe in unless they get replaced. The same goes for your central air conditioning filter so be sure to replace those as well and you’ll be getting cleaner air in the bargain.
15. Organize Your Life
You’ve de-cluttered and purged the stuff you no longer need, but what about the stuff you’ve decided to keep? The way to make your home more appealing to buyers and maximize its value for a sale is to organize your things in a manner that is neat, tidy, and most important, makes every room in the house appear bigger and more open. This can be achieved through finding the best ways to organize and store your belongings so that they are not in plain view and won’t interfere with the look of the home. Good organization and cleanliness are two of the simplest and least expensive ways to add value before you put your home on the market.
Our Final Thoughts
Don’t panic! There’s a lot of ground to cover but if you just take a proactive and deliberate approach to the task, you’ll have it all accomplished in no time. Remember, this isn’t something you’re going to achieve overnight; maximizing value in your home will take time (and money). You may need to save a little bit before you begin this process and devise your game plan for remodeling. But once you’re ready you can start slow and work your way up to the bigger projects as you go, plus you can enjoy the fruits of your labors while you live there too! By the time you’re finished, you may decide you don’t want to sell after all since the new refurbishments look so great.