Upgrades That Sell

If you are looking at selling your home in the current house market or are several years out, the upgrades you decide to invest in can affect more than your wallet. Being smart about where you spend your money can help your home make a great first impression and command top dollar. The following represent three guidelines for making those smart investments when preparing to sell your home.

1. Curb Appeal: First impression is the only impression.

The exterior of your home is the first thing potential buyers see whether it’s online or in person. It’s important that they feel safe and welcome upon experiencing your home for the first time. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression so do it right in the beginning. Where to invest? Cleaning and landscaping are low cost with high impact. Start with scrubbing windows, clearing out gutters and power washing siding. Hiring a professional can be a great solution if you are not comfortable on a ladder. For landscaping options, purchase inexpensive shrubs or cut back existing bushes and plant bright flowers while freshening up mulch and pulling pesky weeds. Both of these areas can typically give you 100% return on your investment and its why curb appeal remains one of the top areas to invest in when selling your home.

2. Maintenance: Back to basics.

When a home is sold, buyers take the basics for granted. They expect the furnace to work, windows to open and basements to remain dry. It can be very tempting to splurge on a dream kitchen, but if your home needs a new roof (see #1 above) it can scare off potential buyers no matter how gourmet your new kitchen is. Buyers have a limit to their budget. They can live with outdated, but functional when they don’t have to worry about the foundation. Where to invest? Ensure your home is well maintained by keeping up with projects while you are living there. It’s inexpensive and less stressful when fixing or updating over time rather than right before you plan to put it on the market. It may seem like wasted money when no one can see the updated electrical or the new drainage system but potential buyers appreciate a movein ready and well maintained home.

3. Upgrades: Quick fixes versus overupgrading.

To upgrade or not is one of the biggest dilemmas sellers have before putting their home on the market. The best place to start is to evaluate how long you expect to be in your home before you plan to put it on the market. Where to invest: If you are looking to list in the next couple of weeks to months, quick fixes are your best investment. A fresh coat of paint on the walls and new cabinet or door hardware go a long way to update a space for little effort. If you are planning to remain in your home longer before selling, focus on kitchens and baths for upgrades that pay back. Smaller projects such as updating counter tops and flooring are great if your cabinets are in good shape while full scale remodels need to show money has been well spent. High end appliances, all wood cabinets and walkin showers are great upgrade decisions. How do you decide? Pay attention to what your neighborhood has. If you are the only home with one bathroom, spring for a second instead of the kitchen remodel. Ensure you don’t over upgrade. If no one else in your area has granite countertops, buyers are not expecting it and that money can be spent on other home projects.

While it may be tempting to splurge on a remodel overhaul, just because you spent $20,000 on new items doesn’t necessarily mean you can just add that on to the asking price. Be smart about your home project investment. If you don’t know where to start, begin with asking a realtor or an interior designer before taking on any project, no matter how far out you are from selling. Experts in the industry can help you decide where your money is best spent. That will set you up for success in any market.

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