How your home looks to buyers matters…and it matters a lot. I’ve worked with many clients during my 15+ years as a residential real estate pro to identify what they should change to get the highest value for their homes, and I’ve prepped more than 1,000 homes in the Milwaukee Metro area.
Today, buyers’ expectations are the highest they have ever been in the last 15 years. Buyers do not want to do any work to a home, and so your challenge is to make your home as updated as possible (while spending wisely) before you list it.
Are these changes worth the investment? Yes. Consistently, I’ve seen improvements in these areas help homes sell faster and for top value. Here are my top seven home improvement recommendations for you to tackle before you list your home.
1. PAINT OAK CABINETS AND TRIM
Those oak kitchen cabinets need a new look if you’re planning to sell your home. They date a home more than anything else. Sure, you can reface them; however, painting the oak cabinets can give them new life at a lower cost, and buyers love the look. Sherwin Williams paint technology has come along way since I started selling real estate. Old oak trim and cabinets can be easily painted to a fresh white color that does not show the grain. Make sure you tell the employee at the paint store you are painting oak trim and cabinets and ask for their expert recommendations on which primer and paint to use or hire a professional. (Your real estate agent should have good recommendations for you.)
Your flooring should be seamless from room to room. If you can stand in the foyer of your home and see more than three different kinds of flooring, you need to tackle this project. When you stand in your foyer, you should see one consistent flooring; hardwood floors are preferable, followed by neutral carpeting. Ceramic tile, linoleum, or parquet flooring is out and probably should be replaced before you list your home. Buyers give your home seven seconds before they decide to keep going or walk out.
3. COUNTER TOPS
New counter tops, preferably in white quartz or Silestone, can give your kitchen and baths an updated look without having to make major renovations. Painting old cabinets and replacing worn, outdated surfaces can make a bathroom or kitchen look brand new. The return on investment is measurable. Outdated finishes cost sellers plenty in price reductions to accommodate buyers’ growing appetites for improved homes. The first reduction in the home price market of $500,000 and above is close to $50,000, and reductions in the home price marketing below $500,000 is $25,000. Consider how much paint and new surfaces $25,000 to $50,000 buys.
Old homes are notorious for poor lighting. Lighting is an inexpensive way to make your home look updated. Consider adding 4-inch recessed can lighting to your living room, kitchen, and dining room before listing. Dark hallways should be considered for lighting improvements as well. The approximate cost to add recessed lighting to a 20’ x 15’ living room is about $2,400 dollars and is much less expensive than a price reduction.
Replace all your old carpeting just before you list your home. It can be inexpensive (again, compared to a price reduction) to replace old carpeting, and it gives your home the feeling of newness. Select neutral carpeting only: beige, white, and light gray. No color. Remember, you are going for seamless flooring surfaces that make each room flow. If you have a finished basement area, replacing the old carpeting is a fabulous way to achieve your pricing goals. The Metro MLS now counts lower-level square footage in the overall square footage of a home. This will help you get to the optimal price-per-square-foot in your area.
Every wall surface needs to be neutralized. You may love yellow or blue walls, but buyers do not. Your favorite colors will need to go so you can be competitive and achieve your price goal. Discover the hottest neutral paint colors in my 2018 paint selections blog post.
Don’t forget about Alexa (or Google Home)…my favorite new home-selling tool. Having beautiful music softly playing in the background can help create a calming atmosphere for buyers. This is important as buying a home is as stressful as selling one, and anything that relieves stress and lightens the mood is a good thing. For this year’s home-selling season, I recommend George Winston’s Winter into Spring. Something soothing to the ear makes your home memorable among all the rest. People remember how they “feel” more than what they saw. The whole experience needs to be memorable in a good way.
Remember, this is all about maximizing your marketability in today’s marketplace to get top dollar. Every house needs staging, painting, and prepping BEFORE it hits the market. Home improvements are a necessity in selling a house in today’s market. Spend some time on Houzz.com looking at the hottest trends in living rooms and kitchens. This is what your home needs to look like, and you can do it with the help of a seasoned and resourceful real estate professional.
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