01-31-2014 11:00 AM
Content provided courtesy of USAA.
Spending money on a house you're about to sell isn't exactly an appealing thought. However, making it appealing to potential buyers is crucial to help in selling it quickly and for the right price.
Are you wondering which projects you should take on and which to put on the back burner? According to Jim Hamilton, a real estate agent and past president of the California Association of Realtors, "There are some basic things that can make your house more livable and more marketable."
Consider these low-cost ideas to help maintain your house and enjoy living in it until you decide to sell.
Ditch the Pricey Kitchen
Your kitchen is an important selling point. "If you choose not to install that new kitchen, many buyers will expect a deep discount on home price," Hamilton says. "Conservatively, I'd say they'd want 50% above the cost of the work. If it needs a $10,000 kitchen, they might ask for $15,000."
However, he says you don't have to break the bank to get results similar to a huge remodeling project. "Some inexpensive, cosmetic changes can help give your kitchen a fresh new look," Hamilton says.
Paint your cabinets and switch out chipped pulls and knobs for something new and eye-catching. Or spend a bit more and install new cabinet doors and drawer fronts onto your existing boxes. For the rest of the kitchen, roll on a fresh coat of wall paint in a white or neutral color. While you love your red kitchen, potential buyers may not. Keep in mind, this tip applies not only to your kitchen but also to the remainder of the house.
Replace outdated fluorescent fixtures with recessed lighting or even more affordable surface-mounted tracks of adjustable spotlights. "Those old fluorescent light boxes really date a kitchen," says Kingwood, Texas, contractor Fred Spaulding, a former officer of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
Install a shiny, new faucet. Many high-quality models are available for less than $200.
Spend Less on the Lavatory
Bathroom improvements can range from subtle updates to grand makeovers. Either way, upgrading the bathroom tends to garner rewards at resale.
Here are some affordable fixes:
- Remove dirty shower grout with a $10 grout-stripping saw and smooth on a new coat, or hire a handyman to do this inexpensive job.
- Peel up grimy caulk and lay down a bright, fresh bead in its place.
- Replace smaller, less expensive items, like the toilet seat and towel bars.
- Instead of ripping out old porcelain tubs and sinks, pay a professional to reglaze them.
Make Over the Master for Less
Staging the master suite is important. Outdated bedding and curtains can be a turnoff for buyers. By shopping in the home decor departments at stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, you can find name-brand items at discount prices.
- Consider adding built-in organizers to your closet. It's always a good idea to remove items from your closet to prevent it from looking too cluttered. Buyers like to see the storage potential.
- Installing crown molding can be an inexpensive home project that can help boost the elegance factor in your master. Not only will it increase your home's value but it also could be a great selling point.
- A well-staged master bath can reel in potential buyers. Without spending much, plush towels, candles and new cabinet pulls can make this space more inviting.
Cost-effective Curb Appeal
Buyers are judging your house before they even walk inside. This is why curb appeal and first impressions are so important. Adding some flowers to your front steps is an easy way to create an inviting feel. In addition:
- Keep your lawn cut and grass green. By using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, you should see results in just two to three weeks.
- Install a new front-door handle, hinges, house numbers and doorknocker to increase potential.
- Power-wash and re-stain weathered wood decks. If rebuilding, consider using synthetic materials that require less maintenance and hold up well.
- Touch up paint around entryway and make sure your windows are spotless.
When You Must Sell
If you need to sell ASAP, there's no guarantee you'll recoup the money you've invested. In some cases, you might be better off marketing your house "as is." "It totally depends on the local competition," Hamilton says. Here's what he suggests:
- Before you start any projects, study a list of homes that have recently sold and are on the market in your area to determine the market value of your house.
- Ask a local real estate agent to arrange visits inside current comparable homes in your neighborhood. If they all have brand-new kitchens, you'll probably either have to install a new kitchen or lower your asking price.
- Try to make cost-effective changes where you can. If this isn't an option, realize that you can't count on the same price as more updated properties.