Real Estate Insider: When prepping for market, start with the basics

Normally ROI means “return on investment.” But if you’re a home seller and want to spice up your property before it hits the market you want to know what your “return on improvements” might be.

Let’s start with the cheaper end of things, like a good spring cleaning. Toss things you don’t use and things you certainly don’t want to move. I always recommend obtaining a dumpster or hiring a local junk removal service to help move this process along.  Everyone has their own ideas of what constitutes trash or treasure, but when it comes to selling your home, the less clutter the better. No exceptions. It gives the buyers a better idea of what the property will look like with their own belongings in it, and as an added bonus, your house will look and feel bigger.

Next would be paint. If you are asking yourself if you really need to go to the trouble of painting a space, the answer is yes!
Does it need it? PHas it just been painted? No? Paint it! Properties always show better when they’re fresh. Besides, I’ve had clients clean, stage, and paint their house on my suggestion, and after they were done they decided that they liked their house so much they wend not going to sell after all!

Smells…This is important! Does your house smell?  Go outside and come back in. Ask a friend. Ask a stranger. Just because you love your animals, a cigar once in a while, or fried fish does not mean the potential buyers will! Air out the house—especially prior to showings! Most buyers decide whether or not to buy that house within 20 seconds of walking through the door. You don’t want them tasting mothballs ten seconds inside the door!

Take a good, hard look at your exterior. Here is a good test: drive up the street, then drive back and park in front of your house. Look at it like you have just arrived at an appointment to buy it. How does it look to you? Is the exterior neatly kept? Is there peeling paint? Is the mailbox rusty and falling over? How about the landscaping and driveway, could it use a resealing?
These are items that could turn off a buyer immediately when they pull up to the house or even worse, when they do a drive-by before making an appointment that they won’t end up making, because the house looks like a mess from the curb.

Lending, always a concern, plays into this as well. Most buyers are getting a mortgage, and the most popular type right now is an FHA. The appraisers for these types of mortgages are on the lookout for deficiencies in the property, such a roof that needs to be replaced, peeling paint or hand rails that are missing. Raise any red flags with an appearance of disrepair and you could easily  halt the sale.

As a seller you want to be proactive, not reactive. Before you put your property on the market, consult with your experienced Realtor and go over what needs to be done.  It will save you time on the market—and time in the medicine cabinet looking for aspirin.

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