In a tough real estate market, many home sellers will find that it’s difficult to sell their property. Whether it is a primary residence or an investment property, a soft market can force home sellers to make many home improvements to sell a house.
It’s important to remember that while there are many home improvements that could be made to a property, home sellers need to focus only on the home improvements that should be made. So how do you know what are the best improvements to sell a house? The answer is, it depends. Factors such as time of year, location and competing inventory all play a role. Generally speaking, there is no hard and fast rule. But there are general guidelines that apply to most home improvements. For example, the National Association of Realtors® publishes each year the Cost vs. Value Report, which features various home project costs and returns, including a national average. The most recent report for 2010 shows that creating a memorable first impression with home improvements pays off (and most of the top projects don’t require a major investment).
In addition, it’s important to remember the top five areas that most homebuyers are looking at:
Exterior Home Improvements
Many homebuyers will walk away from a home if the exterior is run down or uninviting. Home sellers should take a quick audit of the outside of the house. Are the sidewalks or driveway cracked? Is the exterior paint chipped or weathered? Is the roof leaky? Many of these flaws can be fixed easily and should be evaluated and fixed prior to putting your home on the market. Landscaping to sell your home may involve mowing and edging the lawn, pruning trees, and pulling weeds or planting fresh flowers depending on the season and property. Also, don’t underestimate the value of a tree in your yard – an attractive tree that is well cared for can be a selling point.
Flooring Home Improvements
When a buyer enters a house, one of the first things he or she takes into account is the flooring. Is the carpet in good condition? Is there hardwood or laminate flooring? Is there tile or linoleum in the bathrooms or entryway? Most buyers are looking for high quality flooring, such as tile or hardwood. Floors can be easily updated to appeal to buyers, even if only in the main areas such as entry or hallways. If the house has carpeting, be sure that it is in good condition and has been steam cleaned.
Paint Home Improvements
What are the best colors to paint a home to sell? The color of wall paint you choose plays a significant part in how attractive your home will be to buyers. You don’t want potential homebuyers worrying about how much time, energy and money they’ll have to invest in re-painting dark, shabby or just oddly colored walls. Neutral colors, such as off-white and beige, are traditionally the best colors to paint a home to sell. When deciding what paint colors to choose, steer clear of bold or gender-specific colors such as purples, reds and oranges. Also, be sure the paint has been applied by a professional. Even when the best colors are used, homebuyers can be picky and do not want to have to fix a sloppy paint job.
Kitchen Home Improvements
In most homes, the kitchen is the costliest room of the house. Homebuyers will shy away if they feel the kitchen needs to be remodeled or repaired. Therefore, the home seller must take an inventory of what needs to be replaced in the kitchen and determine the cost vs. value. In many cases, taking the time to update appliances, countertops or cabinetry can make or break the sale of a home.
Bathroom Home Improvements
Second to the kitchen, the master and guest bathrooms are the costliest rooms of the house, and buyers will be looking at items such as the shower, sinks, toilets and fixtures to make sure they are in good condition.
While the decision of what home improvements to make will vary by property and real estate market, these few home improvement guidelines should help home sellers prepare a checklist of the best home improvements to sell a house. In every instance, the home seller should carefully evaluate the cost of making home repairs versus the value to be derived from them in the future sale price. If financing is a concern, home sellers should take into consideration the potential increase in sale price that can be derived from the home improvements. For many home sellers, there may be federal government grants for home improvements as well as the potential to deduct home improvements from income taxes.