In many parts of the U.S., the real estate market is smoking hot right now for those selling a home or condo. And if you’re feeling behind the ball – no need to stress! You still have time to tackle a few projects to ensure you can get top dollar for your home.
Details really do matter. That’s why small improvements can make a big difference to the bottom line. Research from Zillow finds that nearly a quarter of sellers who put in some sweat equity on upgrades sell above list price, compared with 16% of sellers who don’t do things like power wash their patios, among other low-cost projects.
“Even in a seller’s market, strategic improvements can help your home rise above the competition,” says Levi Rodgers of Levi Rodgers Real Estate Group in San Antonio and Austin, Texas. “Projects that improve your online curb appeal and show your home has been well-maintained will help draw interest from more home shoppers.”
During a listing appointment, Angela Perry, an associate broker with Coldwell Banker Reehl Properties in Fairhope, Ala., says she offers clients her best tips to ensure their homes sell fast: “I am all about saving money and doing the small things that make a lot of difference.”
Always neutralize bold color
It may have taken three months and 17 swatches to pick the perfect shade and sheen of aubergine for your bedroom, but buyers won’t see that. They will see a project that includes multiple coats of base primer to cover up the wild purple walls you are leaving behind.
“It’s always better to have a neutral color scheme throughout the house,” Perry says. Think Almond Wisp (from Behr) or Elephant’s Breath (from Farrow & Ball). “If you have one room that is a bold color, it is always better to take the time to paint it. A neutral home sells better than one with different colors in each room.”
Here’s something else to consider: resale homes are competing with new construction. So the closer your lived-in home looks to new, the better it will sell.
When it comes to color, the most popular color schemes this year continue to be creamy whites and neutral grays, she says. Part of the color collection for the 2021 HGTV Dream Home used a pale shade of white with beige undertones called Bohemian Lace from Sherwin Williams as a neutral backdrop that made colorful accessories pop.
Selling curb appeal counts
Take a look at your home with fresh eyes, and then listen carefully when a real estate agent makes a list of things you need to take care of before the first open house. Moldy bricks or a dirt-stained sidewalk can be big turnoffs for potential homebuyers before they ever step foot inside.
Sellers can get big returns for inexpensive projects such as power washing the front walk, adding pine straw or fresh mulch to flower beds and sprucing up an entryway with colorful plants in stylish pots near the front door.
Forget the gut
While updated kitchens and baths can sell homes, you don’t always have to gut those areas to move your property. Do-it-yourself projects such as changing out lighting, counter tops and hardware can make a huge difference.
Make sure the bathroom and kitchen cabinets are also in good shape. If they are painted, Perry says, give them a fresh coat to make the room feel new. For inspiration, go online and check out what’s available at local home improvement stores to get a better idea of how little you can spend to transform a dated space.
Focus on flooring
Depending on the condition of the carpet, sometimes you can get away with just cleaning them instead of replacing everything. If the carpet is worn out though, Perry says it’s best to just replace it instead of giving a flooring allowance. “I think the allowance can lead to a negative feeling about the house before buyers even look at it.”
Don’t forget your baseboards. Devote some attention to the woodwork that frames your floors. Clean and paint your trim, being careful to keep your floors covered for this project.
For great photos, ditch personal items
On the day a home is going to be photographed, Perry arrives ahead of the photographer to make sure everything is as picture perfect as possible. She recently listed a home where things weren’t as clutter free as she would have liked.
“I quickly cleared the kitchen counters, dining room table and den,” she says, “making it look totally different. The pictures came out beautifully and the house sold in one day, just by taking the extra time to move out all the things that distracted from the view of the room.”
If a homeowner’s bedding doesn’t match, she asks clients to invest in inexpensive new bedding from a home store to complete the look of a room before photos hit the internet.
Declutter even more
Unless you recently hired Marie Condo to deliver joy and remove clutter, almost everyone needs to tidy up as they prepare to place their home on the market. Home sellers should remove clutter from the kitchen, bathroom countertops, and even closets and bookshelves: “Buyers want move-in ready, so sellers should try their best to make their homes exactly that.”
More on HerMoney:
- The 9 Most Popular Farrow & Ball Paint Colors and What Decorators Use Instead to Save Money
- Podcast: Stop Thinking Like a Seller and Start Thinking Like a Buyer
- Paying For a Home Reno Without Upfront Cash
- Redecorating Success Story: How to Transform Your House on a Budget
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