by Maria Rini, Broker-Associate, RE/MAX Real Estate, Ltd
A recent study done by a major real estate firm says it all – 87% of first time buyers say a move-in-ready home is important to them. Savvy real estate agents will tell you the same – fix up your home for a quicker and more profitable sale. But which “fixes” are the most important and will get you the most bang for your buck?
First and foremost, you’ve got to clean out. Remember, the home will eventually be sold completely empty so you have to clean it out sometime. If you de-clutter ahead of going on the market, it’s going to benefit you financially. Buyers need to see space, not your stuff. Your “things” are distracting to a buyer looking at your home. Too much furniture in a room will make the room look smaller. And crowded closets will give the impression that the home lacks storage. By getting rid of unnecessary things ahead of time you are also saving on your move – you won’t be paying to move things at the last minute that you really don’t need in the next home.
You also want to get rid of anything intensely personal in the home like photographs, religious items and large collections. You don’t want the buyer to think of the home as “yours” – you want them to imagine themselves living in the home themselves, placing their personal touches in it. The best way to do this is to present a neutral setting without the distraction of your things.
Next take care of any major repairs – a leaky roof, an unused underground storage tank, problems with any of the systems in the home such as heating, air-conditioning, electrical, or plumbing. Most buyers won’t want to take these on – and if they do, the buyer’s estimates will tend to be higher than what you would have to pay to fix them. To save yourself money, time and stress repair these items ahead of going on the market.
Take care of any obvious delayed maintenance – cracked windows, stains from a past leak, missing trim or cabinet hardware, ripped screens, a dripping faucet. Look at your home through a stranger’s eyes. What imperfections or annoyances are you looking past everyday that they will see? Find them and fix them.
Lastly, spruce up the home. Painting the walls and pulling up carpet to expose the hardwood floors underneath are two of the least expensive and most important things you can do. Stand outside your home and see what a buyer sees when they pull up to the front. Curb appeal is very important. Clean up the yard, mulch, put out a fresh welcome mat, paint the mailbox or front door if they look tired. It all helps you make a great first impression.
Remove any outdated elements – within reason. Remove outdated cornices above windows, older wallpaper, swap out light fixtures. You can make a kitchen or bath look newer with a new counter-top, floor or vanity. In most cases, a full kitchen or bath renovation won’t give you enough return on your investment but these small improvements do.
Above all, clean, clean, clean! Make everything look and smell clean throughout the home.