How to update your home for a quick sale
How to update your home for a quick sale
Once they are finished raising their children, many couples consider selling their family home and moving to a smaller ranch home, a condominium or townhouse, or out of town to a warmer climate.
But before they can make that big move, they generally need to sell their existing home in order to get the wherewithal to purchase something else.
We approached some area real estate agents for their words of wisdom about how to most successfully update the home in which you raised your family, so that you can embark on a new phase of life.
"In today's marketplace, which is a sellers market, you can freshen up a home on a budget and still get a great return on investment," Tom Hall of Huntley Realty said. If the home doesn't need major repairs, he recommends:
• Window cleaning and whole-house cleaning
• Replace the address numbers on your home with new fresh ones
• Professional carpet cleaning
• Seal coat the asphault driveway. It's all about first impressions.
• Fresh mulch. "You can buy mulch for as little as $2 a bag at Home Depot. Fresh mulch goes a long way," Hall said.
"These six technically different things can make all the difference between a home that sells and one that sits," Hall added. "If you complete them all, your home will give that pride of ownership feeling right when the potential buyer gets out of the car. It's all about those small details coming together to give the best impression during the buyers visit to your home."
However, if the home is in need of deeper repairs, Hall recommends:
• Whole house painting, including doors and trim. "There is nothing quite like a fresh coat of paint on white doors and trim to give a home that move-in ready feeling."
• If carpeting is really worn, Hall recommends carpet replacement throughout the home.
• New appliances can give an old kitchen a new lease on life. "You can pick up a package deal of refrigerator, dishwasher, stove and microwave for around $2,500 -- which is far less than the $10,000 you would have to pay for new cabinets and countertops in most homes," Hall said.
Tom and Mary Zander of Picket Fence Realty in Mount Prospect also weighed in with suggestions. They often help longtime residents declutter their homes and prepare for their next phase of life.
In one instance, they helped a couple whose home was on the market for a number of months with another Realtor. They had done no staging or preparation before putting it on the market and it didn't sell. After the winter, they called the Zanders.
"We made numerous decluttering/staging recommendations and after six weeks of hard work by the sellers, we came back on the market with staged photos and a higher price, and it sold within two weeks. They are very pleased with the results," Tom Zander said.
Here are the Zanders' rules of thumb:
• Declutter your decades of belongings. When we downsize, by definition, we cannot take everything with us. Beginning the decluttering process years before you move will make it much easier when the time comes. Your house will also appear much larger with half of your "stuff" gone.
• Kitchens and baths are probably the most important rooms when selling, but completely remodeling your kitchens and baths would be very expensive and may not fully return the cost. However, sprucing these rooms up can significantly add to your sale price. In the kitchen, if your cabinets are in good condition, updating cabinet knobs/handles, granite counters/new sink and new stainless steel appliances can really improve your kitchen's appeal. In your bathrooms, installing a new vanity, floor, knobs/handles and refinished tub will do the same for your bathrooms.
• If you are fortunate enough to have hardwood floors in your home, refinishing them is a great way to update your home's appearance. The cost of refinishing is similar to replacing carpet. The more hardwood you refinish, the cheaper it is per square foot. But it is important to remember that this is a job for professionals. It requires skill and experience to do a good job and it is best to get a personal referral from a happy customer. Ask the refinishers what the most popular colors are these days. Remember, you should be making choices with your target buyers in mind, not your own tastes.
• Don't ignore the walls. We have probably all heard the term "Pottery Barn colors" to describe trendy home decor. If you open a Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware catalog, you will see what appeals to today's buyers. If you paint, using those catalogs as a guide will help you make wise color choices. You will likely see a lot of white door and floor trim as well as crown molding in these catalogs. They are often wider/bigger than those used in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. The contrast created by the darker wall colors against the white trim is quite striking and is a foundation of the Pottery Barn look.
Terri Hunt of RE/MAX Suburban in Schaumburg has some helpful suggestions, too, for those who want to sell their longtime homes.
"Here are my top suggestions to help with the resale of aging homes," Hunt said.
• Change your countertops to a neutral granite.
• If you can't afford to update your kitchen cabinets, have them professionally painted.
• Remove all wallpaper and paint your walls in an updated neutral color.
• Replace dated carpeting.
"Making these updates will help sellers get a higher price and shorten the market time," Hunt said. "The updates don't need to be expensive. The ones I suggest are very cost-effective for the return on investment."
Chris Jacobs of Century 21 -- Affiliated's Pinnacle Group in Inverness had suggestions, as well.
"My team has this saying that when a home is draped in golden oak floors, doors, trim and moldings, the property's value suffers a prolonged and painful 'death by oak'," Jacobs said. "Owners who paid extra for all of this beautiful woodwork love it, but today's buyer is not impressed. Buyers out shopping for their new home want it clean and bright. White doors and trim packages is what they all desire. The oak hardwood floors still work, so there is no need to change them out, but consider a slightly darker finish.
"I also suggest that sellers invest in their kitchen. With people entertaining at home for friends and family, a bright and spacious kitchen sells. White shaker cabinetry with granite or quartz counter tops is what your buyer will go gaga over. No more soffits, replace that peninsula with an island and stainless steel appliance packages are still the way to go," he said.
"Finally, anyone spending so much of their hard-earned money wants to feel they are being pampered. A luxury master bath is a great way to set your home apart from the others. The days of a tub being the size of a small pool are gone. Take that extra space and redesign the area by putting in a small free-standing tub. Then build that luxury shower that everyone will love. Let's face it, most people rarely use the tub. But that shower will be something that is appreciated each and every day. The new tub will become a cool focal point rather than an eyesore. Also, consider installing the taller cabinet-type vanities. No more bending way over to use the sink."
Jim Regan of RE/MAX Suburban in Mount Prospect weighed in, as well.
"I know precisely the three biggest improvements that return the highest value to the average buyer (a 30-something person who is drastically affected by houses that have an HGTV look to them from all of the fixer-upper shows that are on that channel)," he said.
"The three biggest returns are the kitchen makeover, changing light fixtures to more modern ones from the glass and brass of the '80s and painting with the most popular HGTV colors, which are different shades of gray now," Regan said. "But most importantly, the biggest return on paint is painting the existing woodwork semi-gloss white to go along with the new color because if you don't do that, you're pretty much wasting your money on doing a paint job on the walls."
"What I mean by a kitchen makeover is to remove any wallpaper, take down window treatments that date the kitchen, change the light fixtures, change the floor to more modern tile, paint the existing cabinets white, change the hardware to a brushed nickel, install a white subway tile backsplash and install a granite countertop, usually a very attractive gray with a new stainless steel sink," he explained.
"And if the kitchen needs it, replace the existing appliances (usually white) with a stainless steel package that includes a refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and a built-in microwave," Regan said.
Sue Duchek of Picket Fence Realty in Arlington Heights also offered suggestions, but she instead focused on renovations for those older than 50 who want to remain in their current home.
"My three top senior renovations all deal with safety. Having helped my aging parents, as well as having a designation as a SRS (Senior Residential Specialist), I know that being able to safely live in their home is a top priority to the senior, as well as their family," Duchek said.
• Install a walk-in shower/tub. Trying to get into a shower by stepping over a tub is a major cause of falls for seniors. Having a step-in shower or a tub that is retrofitted to have a swing door will minimize the risk of a fall.
• Installing grab bars in shower areas and entry areas (by the front door or garage) is a great idea. Having that extra security of a sturdy grip really helps.
• Install lever door knobs. This is an easy way to make sure seniors don't get frustrated with a grip-and-turn knob. Lever door knobs are also very much in style.
• Make sure you don't have throw rugs around the home. Many times the area rug will roll up on the ends or move, causing an increased risk of injury.