There are several things you can do as a homeowner to spruce up your home to help maintain value or even increase your home value. Sometimes in the busy-ness of life we forget about home maintenance. When we decide to sell our home, the mile-long list of things we need to do to get it market-ready can be daunting. If you find yourself in that position, consider doing the less costly fixes first.
1. Consider First Impressions. Cleaning up the yard and entrance to your home takes little more than muscle and energy. Cut back overgrown shrubs and plantings. Spray or sprinkle some kind of weed-and-feed product (Scotts has always been my fave.) Power-wash sidewalks, walkways, decks, and the outside of house, if needed. You can rent a power-washer for a day and it will make a huge difference. There are also power-washing companies that will take the work off your hands.
If you don’t do anything else, paint the front door and replace an old, worn door handle, and the kickplate if it’s dingy. Plant some inexpensive flowers, in pots if you don’t have a suitable garden area. These curb appeal items can be an easy part of yearly maintenance. Keeping your front entry in good shape can be an easy task throughout the time you own your home, so it can be checked off the list before you even decide to sell.
2. Consider flooring. Look down. If your carpet is not too worn, a simple cleaning will do wonders. If you need to replace carpets, find a mid-grade, neutral color. We’ve always recommended “Tea Stain”, but with today’s decor trends, a light gray is also a good choice. It will appeal to the most people. If your hardwoods are dingy, first try buffing to renew their gleam. If there are too many scratches and dings, you might need to refinish them.
As with all home maintenance, keeping your carpets and floors in good shape will help you get more longevity out of them. The expense of new flooring can be saved if the floors are already in good shape when it’s time to sell. Covering high traffic areas with throw rugs can help with longevity of your floors. One of the best ways to increase your home value is to take care of, and update the large areas, like flooring.
3. Consider lighting. Look up. If your light fixtures are dated, get some new ones at Home Depot or Lowes, or any other big box store. You can find some very nice fixtures for a reasonable cost. Make sure you use the brightest bulbs possible.
Keeping your lighting updated throughout the time you own your home will not only save you a chunk of money when it’s time to sell…you get to enjoy greater energy savings and more stylish fixtures while you live in the home.
4. Paint covers a multitude of sins. And it’s not expensive. Again, select neutral colors, as they have the broadest appeal. Remember, neutrals don’t have to be white and beige. Grey is a very popular neutral shade today. Most buyers need to be able to envision their furniture in your home, and if your colors and style are too much out of their comfort zone, they will usually not stretch their imagination too far. Even if a potential buyer likes bold colors, its still easy for them to “imagine” their favorite colors in your home if you have a palate of neutrals for them to start with.
Most homes take wear and tear with daily living. Decorators recommend painting every 5 to 6 years, just to keep the walls fresh and clean.
5. Get rid of the stuff! Its amazing how much stuff we collect, without even trying. Pare down, thin out, pack away, de-clutter, whatever. Consider renting a storage unit if need-be, people need to see themselves living there, with all of Their Stuff, so give them room to do so.
6. Give your house a good cleaning, even if it means hiring maid service for a single clean. A dirty house is a turn-off to prospective buyers. When you have it all clean, start making the small repairs that you’ve been avoiding. Replace window seals, fix the leaks, grout, etc.
7. Consider Staging. A professional stager will make a big difference. The psychology of space is an important factor, and the stager will help you present your space in the best possible light. [We know a couple of good local Stagers]
8. Pay attention to Bathrooms and Kitchens. Now we’re talking about more expensive fixes, but you can start small and work your way up over time. Start with small tasks, like cleaning or redoing grout, or caulk.
Replace fixtures one at a time. If you need a new appliance, make sure you replace it with an energy star appliance. Check out Lowes or Best Buy for their “Open Box” sales, the demos that they sell for 30 to 40% off. [We got a great dishwasher that way.]
They are the most expensive to update, so if they require little to no work, buyers tend to be more interested. Cosmetic updates can go a long way, but keep in mind the comparable homes that are on the market. If the norm for your home is granite counters and stainless-steel appliances, (although there are alternatives to stainless-steel appliances), then you will want to be competitive when your home goes on the market.
Keeping up with repairs and maintenance throughout the time you own your home is the best way to increase your home value and be prepared to sell without a lot of last minute, expensive work.
Contact us for recommendations for Stagers, Home Repair, Roofing, Handyman services, HVAC… we have a list of trusted services.
When you are considering the sale of your home, it’s never too early to start planning what you need to do to get your home into the best condition for the market. If you have done the basic things that we’ve explained in Part One, all of the things that are most important, the cleaning, painting, and de-cluttering, take a good look and see if there are any obvious deficiencies. Here are several things that might need attention:
1. Shampoo or replace carpet. If it is permanently stained, worn, or dated, replace it. Get a neutral shade, “Tea Stain” is our favorite, in an affordable grade; it needn’t be top-of-the line. [click on the image for carpet cleaning tips –>]
2. Repair damaged flooring. If the hardwoods are scratched or sun-bleached, have them refinished. If ceramic tiles are cracked, replace them. Make sure grout is clean and not cracked. If vinyl or linoleum is worn, damaged, or dated, replace it. Think about a material that is more contemporary. There are many affordable laminates on the market that look great and wear very well.
3. Repair electrical or plumbing problems. These systems must be “in proper working condition”, according to the MAR Contract. They will come up in a home inspection, so you might as well do the work before you put the house on the market. Replace or repair leaky faucets. Make sure all outlets are working properly, and make sure drains are clear.
4. Update Kitchens and Baths. In our part of the Country, kitchens and baths sell homes. Buyers today are used to granite countertops, upgraded appliances, stainless steel. Make sure that your home’s kitchens and baths are comparable to the homes on the market that are like yours and in your price range. Replace old fixtures, cracked sinks or yellowed and stained vinyl. Replace old medicine cabinets, and mirrors. Make sure grout is clean and regrout where neccessary. Replace worn caulk.
5. Take a good look at your lighting fixtures. You will want to replace the old 80’s vintage brass fixtures with something a little more updated. Consider some ideas from my Pinterest Board, “Fixtures & Finishes for Home Decorating Trends 2015”:
Consider using a “signature” piece in the best room of your home, or the best feature…to draw some attention and show it off. It could be:
For Color Inspiration, here are some ideas from our Pinterest Board, “Color Palettes for Decorating 2015”:
6. If your house looks worn out and old, paint or stain the exterior. Powerwash the siding, and the entryway and walkways if applicable.
7. Before you do anything else…paint the front door! It’s amazing how a fresh clean coat of paint on the door and trim will make a huge difference. First impressions count.
8. Lastly, clean up and update your landscaping. Simple is great. Add some potted plants and flowers if the season is right. Overgrown and wild is seldom the appropriate look for a home…it says [in a sad voice]: “This home is not cared for”.
When you have done all the updates, remember, you have just made your home salable. You’ve done what you need to do to get your house market ready. Don’t expect to get every penny out of your updates. For an idea about Return on Investment, read this yearly Cost Vs. Value report from Remodeling.
The Final Step:
Price your house to sell, and you will.
Making a move is a serious decision, and it can be an overwhelming task even when you’re prepared. For many seniors who decide to downsize and move into a smaller home, the planning stage is the most important. Knowing what you want, what you don’t want, and how to find help when you need it can be invaluable, yet many seniors don’t have all the information before they make these key decisions about their future, and this can lead to stress, anxiety, and a lengthy, drawn-out buying process.
Here are a few tips on how to make the right decision for you and find the perfect place to live.
Having a plan is essential before you even put your house up for sale. Think about the type of residence you want; do you want to buy a home, or rent? Do you need something that doesn’t have stairs, or a smaller lawn that won’t require much upkeep? How easy will it be to find a home with the amenities you’re looking for if you or your spouse is confined to a wheelchair or uses a walker? It might be advantageous to consult a real estate agent who can help you find exactly what you need and narrow down the field to save you time. They can also help you find financial assistance, which is available to seniors in many states.
It’s imperative to go through your belongings before you pack and pull aside items marked for “trash,” “keep,” or “donate”. It may be difficult to consider getting rid of some of your things, especially if you’ve lived in the same place for a long time and have accumulated a lot of memories, but remember that it will be a good thing in the end. You can get help from a friend or family member; in fact, it might be best to have family there if you want to pass down some of your belongings to them.
Also, keep in mind that things such as photo albums can be downsized if you scan the photos and upload them to a thumb drive, which can be used in a digital picture frame. This is a huge spacesaver and can also help with eliminating clutter around the house or freeing up shelf space.
If you’ve lived in the same place for a long time, it might be overwhelming to look at the rooms in your house and think about packing it all up. However, if you start in one area and pack smart, you can get it done quickly and efficiently. Prepare with lots of different-sized boxes and try to pack things from each area together, so they’ll be easy to find and put away in the new house. Make out a packing list to tape to the outside of the box; this will especially come in handy for kitchen items and necessities.
Moving is a big job, and getting it done will take some help. Enlist friends and able-bodied family members to help with the smaller things, and, if you have the extra cash, hire a moving company to help you get the heavy pieces to your new place. If you don’t have family members who live nearby, you might be able to ask your church or a nearby senior center for help.
Thanks to our Guest Author: Jim Vogel, for these excellent tips on how seniors can make a big move into a smaller home. Photo via Pixabay by Meditations
1. Overpricing their home. When the number of homes on the market is at an all-time high, about twice as much as a normal Frederick Market, sellers need to realize that buyers have the luxury of choice. They will choose the best house for the least money. Normal market forces make that fact more of a reality than ever.
When the inventory is low, like it has been for a while, homes that are priced right and in their best condition sell in a matter of days or weeks. When a house lingers on the market in a hot seller’s market, you can be pretty sure that the asking price is not right for the house. The home needs to be positioned correctly on the market to attract the attention of likely buyers. Remember, most buyers are trusting the advice of their buyer’s agent, who more than likely are educating them on the on the market value of each home they see.
2. Not keeping a house in the best Condition is a sure-fire way for a seller to send a buyer down the street. Even when competition is high in the real estate market, buyers are viewing homes in a certain price range, comparing them all as they shop. Buyers choose the house in the best condition at the best price. The only way to position the house in the market when the condition is less than other like homes is to adjust the price.
3. One of the best ways to keep your house from being sold is to keep it from being shown. Being unavailable or making it hard to show is not a good strategy. If a buyer’s agent has difficulty getting the OK to show your house, they will move on to the other houses on their list, and chances are, they won’t come back. The best way to sell a home is to be very flexible on showing times and to temporarily do as much as possible to arrange your life around the goal of selling your home. And keep your cell phone in your pocket. The sooner you sell your home, the sooner your life gets back to normal.
4. Lack of proper Marketing is another way to keep your home from selling. By proper marketing, I mean modern internet marketing, where over 92% of buyers are looking. Sellers need to make sure their listing agent is advertising on the many real estate websites that are on the web. Internet marketing demands professional photos, high-definition video, and a detail-rich description.
By following these tips and using an experienced local real estate agent, you will have success in selling your home in the least amount of time for the best price for your market. Your house can be one of the homes that sell in 30 days or less, instead of the house that lingers on the market.
Contact Chris Highland for our High-Touch High-Tech Listing Plan.
The Holidays are Are A Great Time to Sell Your Home!
Thinking about selling your home? Maybe to downsize, or move up, or even go somewhere warm?
Many sellers are waiting for spring, but why wait? Why wait for more competition? The Holidays are a great time to sell your home. Here are 10 good reasons to NOT wait:
Contact the Highland Group and we’ll help you get it sold!
Congratulations! Your home is under contract. It may seem like you’ve run a half marathon to get to this juncture, but the end is in sight! You’ve managed to find the buyer for your home. So now you want to see it to the end, right? You don’t really want to blow it up… I admit, I’ve sensationalized the title of this post… but not by a wide stretch. We’ve seen a few transactions blow up over the years. It’s best to be aware of some of the things that can possibly sabotage your home sale:
Mistake #1: Don’t make the effort to fix things that break.
If a fixture or system in the home breaks when the home is about to be purchased, sellers must make the repairs. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes it happens. If a major system of the house fails, get a professional to fix it, and let the buyers know. When you fail to maintain the home, the buyers will probably lose confidence in the condition of the home and back out of the sale.
Mistake #2: Don’t use licensed contractors
If your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If the buyers make the sale contingent on certain repairs, don’t do cheap patch-jobs and expect the buyers not to notice the fixes weren’t done properly.
It’s unfortunate, but sometimes sellers try to cut corners, when repairs have been agreed to. Sometimes we see that they’ve called in “handy uncle Joe” to fix items. If the home inspection negotiation has been signed by both parties, and the buyer requests a licensed contractor to make the repair, it is an obligation. Using a licensed contractor is in the best interest of the buyer and the seller. They are bonded and insured, and there is usually some kind of warranty to their work. It will be in everyone’s best interest to not only keep the home sale on track, but to mitigate against future problems that may arise.
Mistake #3: Ignore contingencies
Contingencies have deadlines. The first statement in the Maryland contract reads “time is of the essence.” That means when time runs out, you are out of contract. The buyer has no obligation to go through with the purchase. If you don’t meet contracted deadlines, the contract becomes voidable. Treat deadlines as the law. If you have three days to accept or reject the home inspection, make your decision within two days. Always leave a buffer for problems that may arise.
It’s not a good idea to assume you can just extend the contract. Sometimes buyers will think that you are not serious and might just walk away. Often buyers have hard deadlines that must be met: loan locks that expire, move out dates from their current residence, or a deadline for a new job, just to name a few.
Mistake #4: Become Rigid about further negotiations
Once you’ve negotiated a price, it might be easy to start your calculations about how much money you’ll walk away with from the closing table. However, problems uncovered during the home inspection may have to be fixed. The appraisal may come in at a price below the contracted price and the buyer and seller will have to negotiate what steps to take and what to do about the difference. Remain flexible throughout the transaction and remember that the negotiations aren’t over until the documents are signed and the key is delivered.
Mistake #5: Hide liens from buyers
Did you forget to mention that you owe six months of homeowners association fees or that Uncle Sam has placed a tax lien on your home? The title search is going to turn up any liens filed on your house. To sell your house, you have to pay off the lien. It’s great if you can do that with the sales proceeds, but if not, the sale probably isn’t going to close, and you’ve wasted a lot of time and energy and emotion.
Disclosing everything fully from the beginning will be your best opportunity to find out if there are solutions that will make your home sale possible. That’s much better than crossing your fingers and hoping.
Hopefully, no one will run into any of these issues. But it helps to go into the home selling process with information about the many possibilities, and an open mind. Selling your home is a stressful experience, so it always helps to have proper expectations from the start. When the unexpected happens, you want to have a game plan and a game face to get you through to the finish line.
And now that you know what NOT to do, here is a collection of great articles to help you keep your home sale on track:
I like to watch several series on HGTV. “House Hunters” is one of them. I like to see the different home values in different locations across the country. One of the things that always makes me scratch my head, though, is when they use the price-per-square-foot calculation.
In the real world of real estate, no one really does that, at least not when it comes to market value and what buyers will pay, and have been paying for a home. Builders use price-per-square-foot calculations for their own purposes, and commercial real estate uses that statistic to price out properties for lease.
When referring to residential real estate, comparing home values from one home to another is rarely ever an apples-to-apples comparison. Determining the market value of a home is a multi-faceted process. There are several reasons…
To calculate square footage, you take the dimensions of the first floor, and double that amount for the square footage. This traditional Colonial home has about 2000 square feet, 1000 on each level.
Now consider a contemporary 2-story house of 2000 square feet…If it has a 2-story foyer or a 2-story great room, like the picture below, it still may have the same 1000 square-foot footprint, the same square footage as the Colonial without the 2nd story rooms. The two don’t completely compare.
You might pay more for the dramatic 2-story rooms than you would for the basic home, depending on the market and location, even though the basic home had more actual floor space.
This is like comparing apples to oranges. Square footage isn’t directly tied to the “livability” of a home, or the home’s value.
Because mistakes are made, and human error is always a possibility, buyers should always make it their responsibility to check the square footage of a home they are interested in purchasing, and not rely on the owner, the agent, or even the tax record.
There are several apps available to serve the purpose, why not do your own quick measurements yourself?
Your listing agent or buyer’s agent will be able to do a custom CMA, Comparative Market Analysis, by carefully studying comparable homes that have recently sold and that are currently on the market. This is the best way to determine fair market value.
An experienced agent will do a custom CMA, taking into account all of the various market factors, unique features and neighborhood nuances. No other valuation can compare for an accurate measure of what a home is worth in the present market. After that, if the home is being financed, the bank will require an appraisal, which will be the deciding factor in the value of the home.
Use this quick online valuation to get a rough estimate of your home’s value:
If you’re considering selling your Frederick Md Home, contact the Chris Highland regarding our High-Tech, High-Touch Listing Plan. 301-401-5119. We’re happy to do a custom CMA for you, even if just for your own curiosity.