JoAnn M. Drabble's Blog
Selling your home in the spring doesn’t mean you have to actually wait until spring to prepare your home for a sale. After the holiday whirlwind of festivities and guests, it’s time to get your house in order this winter for a successful spring sale.
I asked two pros, Mary Cook, president of interior design firm Mary Cook Associates in Chicago, and Judy Dutton, deputy editor of realtor.com, for advice on what you can do now to get ready for spring showings and open houses. Here’s what they had to say.
Let natural light flood the rooms. “The best way to prepare your home for a spring sale is to open it up, lighten it up and brighten it up,” says Cook. For instance, she recommends raising shades and opening curtains to let in natural light. If your decorative valances have seen better days, remove them.
“There was a period of time when people were doing a lot of decorative valances,” says Cook. “They are not operable window treatments, and they are just hanging there. After six years, they become faded by the sun, and they are dust collectors, so take them down.”
Renovate what's outdated. “If your kitchen or bathroom screams 1980s and may give buyers flashbacks, they should be updated before you sell,” says Dutton.
For example, updating fixtures like bath faucets, towel racks and cabinet pulls can say a lot about your sense of style.
“Just know that on most renovations, you won't recoup all of your costs dollar for dollar,” Dutton says. “For instance, a major kitchen remodel will cost an average of $66,000 but will only add about $41,000 to your home's value with a 62% return on investment.”
Think small with renovations. “Rather than replace the kitchen cabinets, just replace the doors or repaint the cabinets instead,” says Dutton. “Rather than replacing the whole tub, reglaze it to make it look as good as new. If you're going to spend serious money on anything, focus on the exterior of your home, since this is the very first impression buyers get of your home and it counts.”
For instance, she says one renovation that pays for itself and boosts curb appeal is a garage door replacement, which will cost around $3,600 but net a 97% return on investment.
“Stone veneer outside the home is yet another upgrade that has a 95% return on investment,” says Dutton.
Cook says make sure all your lightbulbs are operable to show your home in its best light.
“There might be a chandelier where one or two bulbs are out, and you don’t really notice it,” she says. “Go around and check all your lamps and light fixtures and make sure that all your bulbs are working.”
Paint with whites and neutrals. A new coat of paint is a relatively cheap and easy way to give an instant facelift to your house.
“If the colors currently on your walls aren't all that flattering—for instance, yellow bathroom walls, what were you thinking?—now's your chance to make it right,” says Dutton. “Generally, the best paint colors to pick are neutrals, whites and grays. Anything more vivid might appeal to a few buyers but not a wide range.”
Fix anything broken. Cook and Dutton recommend getting your home pre-inspected so you know everything that's wrong upfront and repair accordingly.
“You'd be amazed how tiny flaws you've ceased to notice in your own home like a loose doorknob or creaky window can stick out in buyers' minds and make them think, 'What else is broken here?’ " says Dutton, adding: “Be sure to make any repairs, particularly to things buyers will notice, but also other things you just know must be done. After all, any home buyer who makes an offer will likely get your home inspected, and home inspectors scrutinize about 1,600 features from the foundation to electrical and beyond. So if there are any issues, they will come to light eventually, and you'll have to fix them anyway. So you may as well get a jump on that, rather than give buyers any wiggle room to negotiate.”
Repairs take time so it's smart to get these things rolling now so your home is in great shape by spring.
“Another bonus to tackling these repairs now is that many repairmen are cheaper in the winter—particularly for summery things like HVAC maintenance, roof repairs, gutter cleanings and window replacement,” says Dutton.
Pay attention to odors. The smell of pets, cooked food and tobacco can kill a home sale. Textiles such as carpet and throw rugs hold odors, says Cook. She recommends having your carpet professionally cleaned before putting your home up for sale. In the spring, the scent of fresh cut flowers can add a natural fragrance to your home.
An open approach to selling a home can make a world of difference for any seller, at any time. In fact, there are many reasons to maintain an open approach to selling a house, and these include:
1. You can consider all of your home selling options.
The prices of homes in one part of the country may vary from the prices of similar houses in another. Fortunately, a home seller who keeps his or her options open can map out the home selling journey based on the current housing sector's conditions.
As you prepare to sell your house, it helps to analyze the local real estate sector and keep your options open. That way, you can price your house appropriately, promote it to the right groups of buyers and boost the likelihood of a fast, profitable home sale.
2. You can wait to accept an offer that matches your expectations.
Let's face it – no home seller wants to deal with underwhelming offers to buy his or her residence. If you maintain an open approach to selling your home, however, you may be better equipped than others to avoid selling yourself short.
Ultimately, an informed home seller is open to any offer on a residence but will only accept a proposal that matches his or her expectations. If this seller receives a "lowball" offer, he or she will have no trouble politely declining the proposal. Or, if this seller gets a "fair" offer, he or she can accept the proposal and move forward in the home selling journey.
3. You can reduce the risk of making rash home selling decisions.
The pressure to sell a house can be immense, particularly for an individual who is selling a residence for the first time. But with an open approach to selling a house, you may be able to avoid making rash home selling decisions.
When the going gets tough for a home seller, he or she knows how to calm down and stay focused. By taking a deep breath and looking at the big picture, a home seller can think and act logically. Then, this seller can allocate the necessary time and resources to make informed home selling choices and increase the probability of making the right decisions based on his or her individual needs.
For those who are getting ready to sell a house, it helps to maintain an open approach to the home selling journey. Furthermore, if you need extra assistance as you prepare to list your home, you may want to reach out to a local real estate agent.
A real estate agent will help you showcase your residence to potential buyers and review offers. Perhaps best of all, he or she can provide honest, unbiased home selling advice and help you remain calm, cool and collected in even the toughest home selling situations.
Make the most of your home selling experience – take an open approach to the home selling journey, and you can move one step closer to accomplishing your home selling goals.
If you plan to sell your house, there may be certain items that you want to bring to your new residence. However, various items may prove to be too big, too heavy or too expensive to transport to your new address. But if you leave these items behind, you may be able to make your house more attractive to dozens of potential buyers.
Ultimately, there are many high-quality items that home sellers may choose to leave behind for buyers, such as:
Although your refrigerator has served you well for many years, transporting this kitchen appliance to your new house could prove to be difficult. Fortunately, a buyer may appreciate the fact that you're willing to provide him or her with a top-notch refrigerator as part of a home sale.
For a home seller who intends to leave his or her refrigerator behind, it is important to take some time to clean the appliance. That way, a homebuyer will be able to use the refrigerator as soon as he or she finalizes a home acquisition.
Also, scrub down the refrigerator's shelves, wipe down the appliance's exterior and remove any foods and beverages from the refrigerator prior to moving day.
2. Washer and Dryer
A washer and dryer may cost a homeowner hundreds or thousands of dollars to purchase and install. Luckily, a home seller who includes a washer and dryer in a home sale can make it easy for a buyer to avoid the hassle of finding, buying and installing these appliances.
Ensure that your washer and dryer are working properly before moving day arrives. Remove any dust and debris from the dryer's lint trap, and wipe down the exterior of both the washer and dryer.
If you own stunning outdoor patio chairs, a deluxe dining room table and chairs or other first-rate home furniture, you may want to include these items in your home sale. By doing so, you can help a buyer furnish his or her home in no time at all.
Selling a home can be challenging, even if you intend to leave behind assorted high-end items for a buyer. Thankfully, real estate agents are available to help simplify the process of selling a residence in any housing market, at any time.
A real estate agent understands that you want to enjoy a quick, profitable home selling experience. To accomplish this goal, a real estate agent will learn about your residence and explore ways to promote it to the right groups of buyers.
Furthermore, a real estate agent will offer expert guidance at each stage of the home selling journey. He or she will set up home showings and open house events, keep you up to date about offers on your residence and help you get ready for a home closing. And if you ever have home selling concerns, a real estate agent will immediately respond to them.
Consult with a real estate agent today, and you can move one step closer to selling your house.
1. Paint the walls
A bucket of paint doesn’t have to break the bank, and can make a world of difference. Tone down any vibrant wall colors and spruce up the other walls with a fresh coat of neutral paint. Avoid any tones that are intense and dark to ensure that your home appeals to the widest range of people.
2. Make repairs you’ve been putting off
If you’ve been working on some simple home repairs that have yet to be finished, or you know of some necessary maintenance needs that have to be handled, now is the time to take care of them. The buyer’s home inspector will find these issues anyway, so you’re better off fixing them now without holding up offers you could be getting in the meantime. In addition, it is not uncommon for a buyer to revoke an offer if the home inspection report comes back with an abundance of safety concerns and needed repairs.
3. Change up the flooring
Changing the flooring may seem like an expensive “fix,” but it doesn’t have to be. If you have a wood floor, re-stain it. If you have old carpeting, hire a professional cleaning company to make it look brand-new again, and replace any old, torn vinyl flooring. You also have the option of adding an area rug onto old flooring or carpets. Floors take up a huge part of the home, and if they are stained or dated, potential buyers will take notice—and more importantly, they will be turned off.
4. Install new countertops
Similar to the prior fix, this one can sound a little pricey, but as you’ve probably heard before, the kitchen and bathrooms are the main selling points of a home. If you’re serious about selling your property quickly, you may want to consider updating these areas with new countertops. Get rid of the laminate, and opt for natural stone, quartz or solid surface countertops. Buyers will notice.
5. Hire a stager
You will be amazed at how moving around some furniture can completely change the aesthetics of your home. Hire a stager, and let his or her expertise bring more value to your property, and a higher number than your asking price. It’s key to hire an experienced stager who has an excellent track record, and an even better portfolio, to ensure that you reap all the benefits.
With a few fixes, your home will be ready and primed to be put on the market. If possible, space these five fixes out over the course of a couple months prior to listing your home, and the renovations won’t feel like a major investment at all. With these small but effective tweaks, now you’ll be in a great position to sell your home and move on!