Four Solid Remodel and Improvement Tips For Getting The Best Price For Your Home And Selling Fast!
As your Realtor, our team’s job is to get the absolute best price for your home and to sell it quickly. If you’ve tuned in to one of the many home improvement shows on TV, you may be wondering what changes will REALLY help you get the best price for your home.
Over more than ten years and hundreds of transactions, our team has seen home owners make solid investments… and also some poor decisions! The following items are guidelines and suggestions only; your specific property should be inspected and a market estimate should be conducted by a professional, licensed Realtor before you begin so that your expectations and goals are realized.
While there is an ongoing debate about where to focus, there are four specific areas our team encourages sellers to focus on as they prepare to list their home: Exterior Elements, Bathroom, Kitchen, and Staging.
According to a report commissioned by Remodeling magazine and the National Association of Realtors, adding an “upscale” (new fiber cement) siding will cost approximately $10,393 for 1,250 square feet with an average payback of 103%. Keep in mind that – like virtually every improvement we recommend – this is an improvement designed to make you stand out from the competition, versus the pragmatic knowledge that you’re increasing the insulation value of the home.
Buyers tend to be sensitive to how a property looks, which is why exterior improvements can definitely pay off. Particularly when a possible buyer is looking at eight homes in a day, some in the same neighborhood, built by the same builder, and/or with similar or identical floor plans… differentiating by having new, high quality siding compared to the vinyl or wood siding of your neighbors, can be a significant benefit. A good compromise here if the numbers don’t work for composite material, is to replace your old exterior with a new vinyl siding. It provides a quick and highly noticeable change and according to the same study cited above, you will see a 90-95% return on the investment.
In Colorado where we enjoy 300+ days of sunshine annually and people spend significant time outdoors, spending a little bit of money on your landscaping, deck, and even replacing or refinishing a front door can really pay off. We have worked with buyers who scheduled a showing at a property and then never made it past the driveway because the exterior elements of the home were a distraction; first impressions definitely matter.
Second, many sellers we work with are unsure how much they should invest in their Kitchens and Bathrooms. The rule of thumb here is that minor changes only are usually recommended. There are three kitchen items our team reviews: appliances, counter-tops, and cabinetry. Appliances more than 12-15 years old might need to be replaced. A formica counter-top could be replaced with silestone or granite. And cabinetry could be refinished, or the doors replaced.
A word of caution here – it’s wise to keep in mind the overall value of the home. (For example, installing Viking appliances and Italian marble in a $150,000 starter home is rarely the right move.) A good rule here is to keep the kitchen updates at or less than 1.5% of the overall value of the property. For example, a $300,000 home with a extremely dated kitchen might be able to make the minimum requisite improvements for $5-6,000. At this level, the typical homeowner will recover 100% of the costs of the improvement and the home will usually sell more quickly.
Even smaller, cosmetic improvements to bathrooms is the next area we encourage sellers to focus on when we are listing a property that is dated or has undergone hard usage. (For bathrooms, by “dated,” we usually are referring to rooms that are 20-25 years old.) Updating the counters and/or floors from linoleum and formica to tile can be a minimal investment if the room is small. Upgrading fixtures can also be a good move. In the bathroom and the kitchen, buyers are sensitive to dirt, mold, worn out caulk, and stains. In a national study, paying attention to these items and paying to fix them resulted in 100% recovery of the investment.
Finally – and maybe most important – our team nearly always recommends working with a professional “stager” to ensure that your house shows well. By staging, we do not mean simply re-arranging the living room couch and easy chair. A professional stager will evaluate and edit multiple aspects of the home including furniture placement, pictures, plants, window treatments, lighting, painting, and the overall decor of the home. Many times, this involves de-personalizing some aspects of the property and putting non-essential items in storage. Even something as seemingly inconsequential as an over-crowded bedroom closet can be a turn-off for a buyer.
There are a host of other areas that – depending on the property – might be the magic bullet for getting your home sold quickly and for top dollar. These include replacing windows, roof, furnace, and/or remodeling the basement. However, before embarking on these or any home improvement, check with a full-time Realtor in your area to ensure that the investment you’re making can be recouped.
LISA FISK is licensed and insured Colorado Realtor with multiple designations including CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) and CNE (Certified Negotiation Expert). She ranks in the top 2% of Realtors nationally and the top 1% of Realtors in the Pikes Peak Region.