Spring and summer are considered to be the prime season for home buying and selling. While this can be good for sellers because it means there are more people out there looking for homes, there’s also more competition for buyers’ attention. So what can you do to help your house stand out? What improvements need to be made?
These are questions that many Realtors get asked when prepping a home for sale. First off, you want to make sure that the upgrades you make will provide you with a return on investment or ROI. After all, what’s the point in putting money into something that you won’t make back when it gets sold?
Don’t worry, not all improvements mean a major renovation; there are smaller changes that can make a big difference in the long run. In a survey conducted by Consumer Reports of more than 300 real estate professionals, here are some of the top things they recommend to help boost your home value and its appeal to potential buyers.
*Potential increase in asking price, assuming home value of $205,000.
Fix up the exterior – First impressions are important and the outside of your home is the first thing a potential buyer will see. Simple yard cleanup like mowing the lawn, pulling any weeds, trimming overgrown trees and adding fresh mulch can help with curb appeal. Necessary paint touch-ups are also a plus – you might even think about repainting the front door. It won’t cost you a whole lot (a top-performing exterior paint can cost around $40/gallon) and might be just the spruce-up your house needs. If your mailbox and house numbers look faded and worn, it wouldn’t hurt to replace those too. And don’t ignore the roof. Would-be buyers are sure to ask about its condition and it will come up on a home inspection. According to Consumer Reports, a typical reroof with three-tab asphalt shingles will typically cost around $6,000. Laminated shingles cost more, but prove to be stronger over time. One other tip to remember when selecting shingles – pick a product with a warranty that can transfer to the next owner.
Cost range: $150-$7,500
Potential return*: 2-5%
Clean thoroughly – Never underestimate the power of some good old-fashioned elbow grease. Dirt and grime can be some of the biggest turnoffs for would-be buyers when they step into a home, so you want to make sure the interior of your house shines. While the actual cleaning process can be a lot cheaper than other DIY projects, doing a good job will require a considerable amount of time and effort. You don’t need to invest in heavy-duty cleaners – just a vacuum and a bucket with warm water and soap will do the trick. Make sure to clean all visible surfaces as well as behind some of the major appliances.
Clear out the clutter – Hand-in-hand with a thorough cleaning is clearing out unnecessary clutter; that includes taking down family photos and other personal possessions. Removing these will make it easier for buyers to picture themselves in the home and imagine how they can make the space their own. If you’re hesitant on how to begin or really need a lot of help, consider hiring a professional organizer.
Cost range: $0 if you do it yourself – $2,500 to hire a pro
Potential return*: 3-5%
Upgrade the kitchen – Many homeowners will tell you that the kitchen is the heart of the home and that logic also translates to prepping your home for sale. A good kitchen will help make your home more appealing to buyers. That doesn’t mean you need to go crazy and gut your kitchen, but some upgrades can help. Fresh paint and new cabinet hardware are some first steps. Make sure to fix that leaky faucet and replace any faulty light fixtures. If your kitchen is really in bad shape, you might consider spending a few thousand dollars for new appliances and possibly countertops. Your Realtor can help advise what is most necessary for selling (especially if you are on a budget).
Cost range: $300-$5,000
Potential return*: 3-7%
Spruce up the bathroom – Like the kitchen, bathrooms make a big impression on buyers. Easy improvements like replacing the bathroom fixtures will give the room a fresher look (especially if your home has hard water). If you’re willing to spend a little more, a new vanity countertop and new floors can be added for less than $1,000 depending on what materials you choose. There are inexpensive vinyl and laminate floor options that won’t cost you a ton and look really nice.
Cost range: $300-$1,000
Potential return*: 2-3%
New paint inside – You don’t usually need to paint the whole house; that could set you back several thousand dollars. Instead, focus on areas that get the most use like the kitchen and the bathrooms. And if you used any bright paint colors in any of your rooms, now would be the time to paint over them. Just as it is hard for potential buyers to envision themselves in your house if you have lots of personal items lying around, it’s also hard for them to imagine themselves in a room with bright pink or dark red walls. Opt instead for neutral colors like whites, grays or beiges. Hiring a pro will usually cost several hundred dollars per room (paint included). Or you can grab the brushes and get to work yourself. If you haven’t done a lot of painting before, the Paint Quality Institute has some great advice and tips you can check out in their How-To Guide.
Cost range: $100 if you do it yourself – $1,000 to hire a pro
Potential return*: 1-3%
If you’re feeling more adventurous and are interested in which major remodeling projects can give you most bang for your buck, check out Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value report. You can narrow it down by geographical region and even major city.