It is no secret that home improvements can add value to a home. While preparing dozens of home listings, we have witnessed well-prepared homes sell sooner and for more money than nearly identical homes listed concurrently. But the value is not entirely in the dollar invested or even the square footage. In fact, extensive renovations may actually result in a loss.
In our experience, surefire multipliers are basic upgrades that enhance the perceived (versus the actual) value of a home, and create an appealing overall package. The following are a few priorities in descending order of importance that will optimize returns.
Sellers leave the best impression by leaving nothing behind. De-cluttering and deep-cleaning take top priority as removing personal items (photographs, clothing, personal care items, and even art) will allow potential buyers to imagine their life unfolding in the home. Cleaning might include appliances, carpets, windows, grout, or stone where necessary (even soot from the back of fireboxes), and power-washing mossy or discolored exterior pathways and walls. The full process might take a crew of professionals a day or two and may even require a hauler, but the result will be an uncluttered home that shines.
Avoid using acidic chemicals or abrasives that might damage delicate surfaces (e.g., natural stone or stainless steel).
Homes in move-in-ready condition appeal to homebuyers, so it is a good idea to fix what is broken, even if buyers may want to make changes later. Re-grouting loose pavers, lubricating sticky locks, and replacing missing fence boards are a few actions sellers might consider.
Removing outdated security, telephone systems, or TV antennae may be too costly to provide a return.
Paint can create the most dramatic visual improvement for a relatively low cost. A professional paint job can increase a home’s value in several ways. It can provide a fresh, updated color scheme while erasing scuffs, repairing cosmetic cracks, and brightening old surfaces. Sellers should consider selecting a limited palette of harmonious and neutral colors.
For rooms that need only minimal brightening or updating, consider focusing new paint on dingy cabinets, yellowed canlights, sooty fireplace bricks, and worn floors in garage, basement, and exterior areas. While extensive exterior paint can look nice, sellers can often achieve adequate results by power-washing the exterior and painting only exterior trim and doors.
While it may be tempting to use bold or cheerful hues, neutral paint colors (like grey or beige) tend to layer easily, photograph elegantly, and offer universal appeal, so they are highly recommended for home-selling. It is also advisable that you remove wallcoverings before painting a room to avoid causing visible seams and bubbles.
Curb appeal is how a home makes its first (and last) impression on a buyer, and the backyard should not be overlooked as a valuable extension of the home. Sellers might aim for an inviting, lively, and wellmaintained appearance by manicuring, weeding, and watering plants, refreshing pots, garden beds, and mulch, and removing trash or items like grungy basketball posts or play structures.
Backyards can also be great opportunities to appeal to a target market by presenting grassy play areas for children, patios and decks for indoor/outdoor living, or native plants and low-water landscaping. Trimming back trees to show off views can also add value, while grouping plants of the same color creates eye-popping clusters of color.
Depending on the scope of work and level of skill required, a regular gardening service, landscaper, or landscape architect should be consulted for best results.
By completing these relatively easy tasks, you can make your home feel and appear warm, attractive, and revitalized. The harmonizing effect of these new features will simultaneously entice buyers while assuring them that their prospective new home has been lovingly maintained, and they will be even more likely to make you a desirable offer.