Top DollarApr 01, 2019 ● By Carolyn Cameron
“The landscape of the homebuyer has changed immensely over the past several years. Many current buyers have waited to buy a home, so they are living in apartments much longer,” explains Linda Pardue, a licensed real estate agent and partner in the Pardue Group at The Associates Realty. “Consequently, they are accustomed to very high finish-outs and definitely do not want a home project. Instead, they want a move-in ready home with very little if anything to do on it.”
However, a few new projects and select touchups can go a long way towards leaving a favorable impression with potential buyers -- and maybe even cinch the deal. To get the best price for a property, homeowners can consider a few important items before putting their house on the market.
Kitchens are KingWithout a doubt, the most important room a potential buyer will look at in a home is the kitchen. In fact, according to realtor.com, “Americans spend more waking hours in the kitchen cooking, eating and socializing than ever before.” Of all the homes listed for sale on their site, 69 percent tout the kitchen as a selling point within their descriptions, compared with 49 percent which mention the bedrooms and 21 percent that talk about the living room areas. As one of the most focused-on areas of the house, it is truly the showpiece of the home.
John Todd, local owner of Elite Remodeling, notes, “Kitchens are social areas. Many families place kitchens in the centers of their lives, so it needs to work with their lifestyle and habits. A kitchen should host current appliances, have a great look and feel and be functional for a homeowner, meaning both the layout and efficiency make sense for what they do on a day-to-day basis.”
Today, luxury kitchens include light spaces with neutral palettes to increase the appeal for as many tastes as possible because buyers must be able to visualize themselves living in the home. “When someone is selling their home, you want prospective buyers to walk in and experience the ‘wow’ factor,” says Dee Frazier, owner of Decorating Den. “Really, the key is knowing what to update and what to leave as is. If a homeowner has cabinets in very good condition, then those are typically fine to not replace, as long as they are an updated stain or color. Many buyers like painted cabinets. I am seeing this trend everywhere. It is an easy, inexpensive update that can liven up a kitchen and make a lasting impact.”
Other facelifts within the kitchen include updating cabinet hardware and fixtures, installing new appliances (stainless steel), upgrading countertops (quartz is the new favorite) and adding interesting lighting. “Homebuyers today are much more educated and have a better understanding of what they are looking for than ever before -- whether it is special features and functionality, a design aesthetic or a specific price point,” advises Kelli Hudson of Ferguson Enterprises, a distributor of plumbing supplies, HVAC products and building supplies to professional contractors and homeowners.
Paint Prep and Fixed FlooringOne of the most cost-effective ways to upgrade the inside of a home is to add a nice coat of neutral paint throughout the house. Paint colors should be transitional and appeal to a larger pool of individuals. “Paint makes such a difference to buyers and helps keep the home maintained,” continues Mrs. Pardue. “Make sure to paint both the walls and molding because, often, the trim around a room is the first to become chipped and worn. New paint instantly brightens a room.”
Flooring also makes a distinct and impressionable impact in how a house is presented to buyers, and upgrading it makes all the difference. “Wood is a very popular choice, whether in the living room, family room, kitchen or all of the above,” continues Mrs. Frazier. “There are some great engineered wood options, which are durable and clean looking, but look expensive and high-end. Add it to a room and it can totally change the look.”
One Chance for a First ImpressionA homeowner has one chance to make a positive impact when a buyer pulls up to the home. Many realtors believe the best bang for a seller’s buck comes from enhancing curb appeal.
Making changes to a home does not have to cost a fortune. “Lighting can dramatically change the exterior of a home,” advises Ms. Hudson. “Beautiful design by day and ambience by night -- you cannot go wrong! Coach lights, landscape lighting and step lighting can have a huge impact.”
Improvements to landscaping can also make a difference. Refresh the mulch around flower beds, trim shrubs and plant seasonal, colorful plants to create an enchanting outdoor look. In fact, according to several realty sites, evidence indicates a homeowner will receive more than a 100 percent return on investment for money spent on landscaping.
Deceiving DetailsAs a homeowner, it is critical to keep a property in tip-top shape. Simply put, a well-cared-for home shows better. Small things such as leaky faucets, broken handles or squeaky drawers cause potential buyers to wonder if the property has larger issues elsewhere. More importantly, a little routine maintenance can help homeowners avoid a catastrophic problem down the line, such as critters in an attic, roof leaks or burst pipes, all of which could de-value a property and de-rail a future sale.
Additionally, a tidy property is a welcoming and warm property. Keep countertops clean and clear and try to have as few appliances as possible showing in the kitchen. Windows should be clean. This makes a huge difference in the showing. A home’s closets will also have a major impact on prospective buyers, so an uncluttered area will make closets appear spacious and streamlined. “Ultimately, a homeowner wants the future buyer to see the property as their own. So, de-cluttering and taking personal items out of the space only furthers the potential sale ability,” notes Ms. Frazier. “Maintenance of a house is critical and must occur all the time for the successful sale of a home.”
While these items help enhance the selling of a home, certain “green” design materials and environmentally-friendly features may not appeal to all buyers or perhaps deter the sale. Solar panels can be tough sell, and according to one broker, caused a buyer to walk away from the home because they did not want to take on the seller’s lease for the panels.
Mr. Todd adds, “While solar panels seem to be the wave of the future, it is still fairly expensive to get into, as the payback can be 15-20 years, at least. Until it is more economical for homeowners, especially with the expense outlay and power aspect, I do not expect it to take off.”
Whether your family is planning to place a home on the market this year or you are simply reviewing options for future possibilities, sellers can jump in project mode and implement changes to sell their home with confidence … and maybe make an extra buck in the process!