When making over a property for sale, the main aim of the owner is to spruce the place up to get the highest possible return. While they may start out only wanting to update a few small things, as relevant questions are raised, more jobs are often added to the renovation bucket list.
Before the owner knows it, the makeover idea has snowballed into an extensive (and expensive) renovation. Big ticket items end up taking priority, which means the entire budget has been blown and they still may not have a property people want to buy.
So how do you know where to start and when to stop? Do you spend your makeover budget all in one spot, or do you spend a little bit on everything?
If everything in the house is passable and nothing stands out as being an absolute “must do”, start by getting the outside right, followed by the kitchen, interior living spaces, exterior living spaces and lastly, the bathroom.
People are often told that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. I’m not sure I agree. For example, the front exterior of your house is a very important element. It’s the picture potential buyers will see when scrolling on the internet or driving past. If they don’t like what they see in that initial photo, they may not investigate further or come for a look on inspection day.
The next most important area is the kitchen, but this could be a cosmetic update rather than a full-blown renovation. Try to prioritise what absolutely needs to be done so your costs don’t spiral out of control.
You also need to work out who your target buyer is and what they’re looking for in a house. For example, if it’s a family home, they might prefer a well-appointed en suite over a modern main bathroom, or be more focused on main living areas rather than bedrooms. Often they’re okay with everything not being perfect, so long as functional spaces work for them.
If you’re not sure who your ideal buyer is, contact a few real estate agents. Ask them for an estimate on what your property will sell for and give them a shopping list of what you intend to fix up. Discuss with your agent what your buyer will want out of a renovation.
Lastly, approach your renovation from a buyer’s perspective. The makeover you do for your buyer is entirely different to the one you would do for yourself, so keep this in mind.
Keep your house clean at all times. Wash the dishes after eating. Make your bed every morning. Hang bathroom towels neatly after using them. A messy home will likely receive lower offers.
The best day of the week to put your home on the market is Tuesday with no showings until the weekend open house. This will create buyer excitement and anticipation which will likely produce a busy open house. Busy open house will create the “auction effect” (excited buyers seeing that other buyers are excited and in turn try to outbid each other). When buyers try to outbid each other, the seller often gets a higher price than expected
If your home is empty, consider staging it. The fact is that some bare rooms can look empty and sad. The impact of staging your home can be substantial. On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than non-staged ones. If you’re on a limited budget and can’t afford the whole house to be staged, make sure at least the living room and kitchen are professionally furnished
Don’t Play Games, Price Your Home Right From The Beginning: I wouldn’t suggest you price your home high to make a killing or so you can be haggled down to fair market value. The risk of an overpriced listing is that your home may sit on the market too long which will make home buyers ask themselves “what’s wrong with that property”? Today’s buyers do their homework and will know if you’re price is too high. So price your home at market value from the beginning or consider pricing it slightly below market value to start a bidding war. A bidding war on your property is a good thing and may make it possible for you to sell at a higher price than you thought
First impressions are important. Here are some reasons why a home buyer is less likely to offer you top dollar:
# overgrown lawn and poorly maintained yard
# cluttered closets
# unpainted front door (or has chipped paint)
# blown light bulbs
# a pile of dirty dishes in kitchen
# a yard filled with pet feces
# unpleasant smells from pets or indoor smoking
# rooms with bad colors and/or wall stains
# poorly lit and dark rooms
# stained carpet
These are all cheap and easy fixes. Make sure to get them done/fixed before a home buyer visits your home
Make your property easily accessible to buyers. Lock boxes are a great way to make your home most accessible to agents for showing. Appointment-only showings are the most restrictive. If your lifestyle is not compatible with frequent showings, your agent will help you determine a solution to suit your needs. Keep in mind the easier your home is to show, the better the odds are of getting the deal you want.
Make sure your home looks great from the street. Here are some ideas
# make sure trash cans are put away
# lawn is green and freshly trimmed
# yard is cleared of leafs and papers
# fence is in good shape
# garage door works easily
# tools in garage are neatly arranged
# garage and driveway floor is clean, free from cracks and in good shape
After a buyer does their physical inspection of your home, they may ask you to make repairs.
No matter how well you’ve maintained your house, a buyer’s home inspector is going to find issues with the property. Be prepared to make repairs during the home inspection negotiation period—or at least offer the buyer credit at closing.
Whatever you do, “don’t fight over a few hundred dollars”. Even consider offering a few thousand dollars in repairs if the buyer is paying you $10k+ over your asking price