Whether you’re up-sizing or downsizing, accepting a new job offer in another city, or fleeing to (or from) the suburbs, deciding what you need to do to get your house market-ready can be confusing. Should you go into renovation mode? Or should you sell as is?
Items that impact the home’s operation need to be fixed before you list. Is there a leaky roof, a broken furnace, plumbing or electrical system issues? These are all things sellers are legally obliged to disclose. If not, a home inspector will identify them to a potential buyer, possibly leading to an offer being withdrawn.
However, not all things need to be fixed up. Here are some things to consider when selling your house.
No Renovation ROI
Most home renovations don’t pay off instantly or at all. Complete bathroom and kitchen renovations add the most value but also cause the most disruption and can be very expensive. If these rooms haven’t already been renovated it could be a bad idea to start now, just before selling. Focus on making sure the existing selling features of the home are in great shape.
Stress of Living in a Renovation Zone
If you are fortunate enough to own a larger home with multiple bathrooms and a spare room or two, renovating may not be quite as challenging as it is for those in smaller spaces. However, if you’re not doing the work yourself (and sometimes even then), you’re at the mercy of your suppliers’ timelines of when they come and go from the home. That means you have to live there while renovating even though you’re not going to be the one to benefit. Before you sink $20,000 into a last-minute kitchen transformation, consider smaller renovations. You could just paint or replace cupboard door fronts or add some new hardware to update the look.
Buyers Like the Space or Don’t
If a potential buyer can’t imagine living in a particular space, they’re not going to make an offer, unless they plan to flip or gut and rebuild, regardless of recent updates or renovations. You can’t anticipate how someone else will want to use the space. A study may become a hobby room or a nursery. A small bedroom may become a big, luxurious bathroom. Concentrate on creating a space that suggests multiple possibilities rather than trying to anticipate the needs of someone else.
Don’t let past house wishes influence your renovation decisions when you’ve decided to move on. It is no problem that you never got around to expanding the master bedroom closet. Your next home may have the big walk-in closet you desire. Don’t just move — move on.
Start on the Outside
Curb appeal starts on the outside, not the inside. Focus your renovation motivation there first. All the energy you spend on interior renovations will be pointless if you neglect your home’s exterior. Get rid of all the bikes your kids have outgrown, re-seed those patches of lawn where the grass is yellow, paint the door and create an approach to your home that’s welcoming. If you’re going to invest in something other than landscaping for the exterior, make it something like new patio furniture that you can take to your new home.
Clean Outweighs New
Nothing will make an offer disappear faster than the sight of a dirty house and hard usage. Grubby walls, scratched floors, torn carpet, cracked tiles, appliances with fingerprints and ratty towels are small things that unpleasantly remind prospective buyers that other people are using a home. You want your buyers to see themselves living in the home. If you really can’t bear to paint over the door frame where you marked your children’s heights over the years, replace it and take the old one with you. Selling your major life investment is about being pragmatic, not sentimental.
Appeal to the General Buyer
While it may be your dream to own a home with a hot tub or a pool, it’s not necessarily your buyer’s dream. The same goes for a home theater, game room or built-in bar. Those renovations may have no appeal whatsoever for an outdoorsy family that spends every weekend off-roading, running marathons or hiking in the mountains. Don’t be the house that’s too much for the neighborhood, or you’ll end up being the house that’s priced way too high. You could end up taking a huge loss as a result.
Keep your renovations logical and do not dwell on the sentimental. It’s time to move on to your next chapter and sell your investment. Clean up the home and make sure it’s functional updating only what you think will appeal to the general buyer.