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The current real estate market is certainly in flux making it particularly challenging for sellers, especially those who cannot wait for values to return to pre-2007 appraisals. According to real estate experts, there are several things that can be done to elevate the sales potential, and value, of your home in this market.
First and foremost, assess your budget. How much can you reasonably spend to prepare your house for sale and where should those dollars be spent? We asked Marianne Pittard, Broker with RE/MAX River & Sea in Gearhart, if remodeling outdated spaces should be considered. According to Pittard, "Being fiscally conservative is key in this price-driven market. I advise that any money that would otherwise be used for home improvements should, for the most part, be put towards the sales price of a home instead of expensive improvements that may or may not be valued by a potential buyer."
Echoing that sentiment is Kay Covert, Principal Broker with Windermere Manzanita. "Sellers should avoid sinking a bunch of money into a remodel," says Covert. "They may just be trading dollars, or worse, getting back just a percentage of the cost."
If your budget allows, both of our experts recommend updating kitchen appliances to freshen up an outdated kitchen. Covert says, "There are few things as seductive as new appliances. Forget remodeling the kitchen."
Pittard cautions against replacement of kitchen cabinetry. "It's likely an expensive investment that the seller would unlikely recoup at this time." Both Covert and Pittard strongly stress keeping the kitchen sparkling clean and the counters clear of clutter.
Before putting the For Sale sign in the front yard, sellers should take an inventory of all the minor household projects that need to be completed. Broken electrical covers, missing trim, unfinished painting projects, leaky faucets, etc., should all be completed. Consider the cost of repairing these items yourself against a potentially reduced offer. Covert explains, "Whatever the cost of a needed repair, a buyer will take double that cost off the offered price."
Increasing curb appeal is also high on our experts' lists. The buyer's first impression is the outside of your home. Covert cautions, "Rust, peeling paint on doors or shaky handrails send a message of neglect that is hard to overcome." Pittard says, "Mow the lawn, weed the flowerbeds and add color with flowerpots and hanging baskets." The cost for sprucing up your curb appeal is minimal but will make a lasting, and valuable impression on buyers.
Another easy must-do is brightening up the inside of your home. "Lighting is very important, especially at this time of year. I always recommend that seller's leave all lights on for property showings. Doing so will make the home more inviting," says Pittard. Washing your windows will also enhance the interior of your home. Replacing outdated light fixtures and washing windows costs little, but offers a big return in impressing buyers.
Both of our real estate experts agree that de-cluttering is truly key. "Start packing now," they recommend. Too much clutter gives the impression that there isn't enough storage, which is a big selling turnoff. Buyers want to imagine themselves living in the space. If it is overcrowded, cluttered and full of personal decor and collections, buyers will be too distracted to imagine themselves living there. Covert explains, "You are selling square footage not a retrospective on your life."
Other suggestions include stripping old wallpaper, a fresh coat of paint, replacing outdated cabinet hardware, new bed linens, shampooing carpets and most of all cleaning and dusting. "Fresh and clean sells," insists Covert. While some items on the list cost more than others, there are certainly several that will enhance your home's appeal that cost nothing more than elbow grease. Don't sell yourself short, or your home for that matter. Give it a good cleaning and de-cluttering. No matter what your budget, real estate experts can help you spend your time - and money - wisely.